Everyone loves a little healthy competition (and maybe even a little friendly espionage), right?
We’re not talking about rifling through your biggest competitor’s files with a flashlight and spy pen with a hidden camera. Instead, we’re talking about using available web applications and other tools to gather information about what keywords, channels, and strategies are working for other organizations (and which ones aren’t).
This collection of applications is referred to as a group as “PPC spy tools,” and these tools are a majorly effective way to decide where and how to allocate your advertising resources. Ultimately, it’s information you can use to better your strategies and gain a deeper understanding of your industry and how it functions online. What could be better than that?
Grab your favorite spy gadget and your best pair of spy glasses: We’re going on a mission.
The Need for PPC Spy Tools
To find ways to differentiate your products or services, it’s helpful to know what the competition is doing to be able to set yourself apart.
A lot of points-per-click (PPC) managers use Google Ads’ Keyword Planner tool to find keyword opportunities and study the current keyword trends. Others use Auction Insights statistics to find out who else is bidding on the same keywords as them. Make no mistake: These are both very valuable tools.
The challenge with relying on these methods? Unless you manually search each keyword and click on a competitor’s ad, you don’t really get to experience the true funnel that a consumer goes through when searching your keywords the same way they do.
Take for example mobile search engine results pages (SERPs). Mobile SERPs are a burgeoning search engine optimization (SEO) field, and as such Google has made some important changes to their mobile SERP algorithms. According to one report, 60 percent of all online searches are now conducted on mobile devices, and in some industries like the food and beverage industry, this figure is much higher, at 72 percent.
Mobile SERPs are how the majority of users will come to your website, which means you need to take steps to optimize not just your mobile user experience, but mobile search engine results with tools like Google Ads as well. In this case, you should be asking yourself questions like:
- What are you doing to optimize your mobile user experience?
- Are you closely comparing your keyword funnel to that of your competitors? Which keywords?
- Have you evaluated brand, non-brand, and competitor-brand keywords?
Competitive PPC spying tools can give your organization the power to determine which keywords, ads, and landing pages your competitors are using. With PPC spying tools you can:
- Optimize user experience and conversion
- Pinpoint opportunities and encroaching market threats
- Learn from the actions of larger advertisers
- Discover competitor promotions to keep your ads fresh and current
Here are the top tools you should consider to gain insight, save time, and revolutionize or reinforce your Google Ads strategy.
Ubersuggest is a quick, easy tool you can use to find keywords that are both profitable and easy to win in bidding. The best part of Ubersuggest is how simple it is to use. By typing in your keywords, you gain information like:
- Traffic volume: The number of buyers searching these keywords
- Trends: The way the search volume for each term has evolved over time
- Difficulty: Information on easy-to-rank keywords
For example, by entering the search term, “search engine optimization,” advertisers are given a wealth of knowledge including:
- Search volume, SEO difficulty, paid difficulty, cost per click (CPC)
- Mobile and desktop volumes
- Related keyword ideas
- Content ideas
Without question, Ahrefs is one of the most useful tools for SEO. It is a paid, premium tool, but there is a low-cost trial available for anyone looking to test drive this PPC spy device. The best thing about Ahrefs is that it can be used for all aspects of your competitor analysis, not just the best keywords for Google Ads.
If you know anything about SEO, you know that it can get pretty complicated fairly quickly. Where Ahrefs really excels is in analyzing backlinks and selecting link targets. What else can be discovered about your competitors via Ahrefs?
- Domain authority
- Referring domains
- New referring domains
Especially important is the number of new referring domains, and where these new links are coming from. This is because it’s vital to know how quickly your competitors are gaining new links. If they are acquiring hundreds of links each day, you may want to consider setting a more achievable goal. Or, if you have the resources to ramp up your SEO strategy, this information gives you the green light to go for it.
SEMRush is another fabulous resource to conquer SEO competitor research. This PPC “spy tool” is very versatile, and provides enough information to track multiple aspects of your competitors’ SEO strategies all at once.
With SEMRush, all you need to do is type in your URL of choice, then you get access to all kinds of data including:
- The top organic keywords
- The ranking distribution of these keywords
- Their main organic competitors
- Branded search traffic
- Paid keywords
- Referred domains
- Landing pages
Especially when it comes to paid Google Ads and keyword bidding, knowing the paid keywords on a particular page can be immensely helpful. And? It’s free! There is a paid option, but the free version of SEMRush provides a wealth of information for the most industrious of PPS spies.
Having a grasp of traffic analysis is crucial for getting a full understanding of a competitor’s overall web performance. SimilarWeb is a great tool to discover a competitor’s monthly traffic, which channels are bringing them the most traffic, and where these visitors are coming from.
Like SEMRush, SimilarWeb is astonishingly easy to use; all you do is type in your website of choice and watch the results come in.
With SimilarWeb, you’ll get an overview of their traffic, which is a great opportunity to examine their traffic sources. SimilarWeb will let you know which channels make the most impact for your competitors, giving you an idea of where to do. You can also get a breakdown of these traffic sources, and compare traffic for several competitors, making SimilarWeb a valuable tool in the PPC spy tool game.
Pro Rank Tracker
Are you curious about how different keywords rank in Google?
You can spend dozens of hours manually checking one keyword against another, but this isn’t an efficient use of your time. The information you gather might be helpful, but it requires too many hours spent scouring Google Ads.
A better solution is Pro Rank Tracker, which allows you to type in a competitor’s URL plus a group of keywords to see how they rank.
This can be useful when you are evaluating which keywords to bid on, and where to invest your organization’s advertising dollars.
Here at Demand Machine, we’re dedicated to providing you with the best information and guidance so you can make the right decisions to take your organization to the next level. We’re like the ultimate spy tool. With a range of services to meet all your marketing needs, we’re here for you:
- Digital strategy consulting
- CRM implementation
- Custom development
- Content marketing
- Paid media management
- Marketing and sales automation
We’ll be your best-kept secret. Want to see what we can do for you? Let’s talk today!