Paid Search Competitor Analysis

Competitor analysis is one of the first steps in the process of planning a paid search campaign. How do you win if you don’t know what your competitors are up to?

Define Your Top Competitors

Create a list of your direct competitors, and include those who may be perceived as competitors. Perform a search using a few of your top keywords to discover who is bidding on these to discover lesser-known competitors.

Find Their Channels

What channels are they using and how are they using them? Are they using paid search, display, paid social? Put your sleuthing skills to workbegin with browsing the competitor sites. If they are an eCommerce site, add items to the cart and abandon it. Sign up for a newsletter, download an app, or register for an account if that’s an option.

As you browse the web following these actions, you’ll discover who is using remarketing when you are served their ads. If their strategy includes paid social, you’ll begin seeing their ads on your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn feeds as well. Remarketing is a powerful marketing tool used to engage people who have shown an interest in their business. Sleuthing is free and insightful—just a time investment on your part.

Intelligence Tools

There are countless tools available for assessing competitor visibility in paid search and display. Data is available for keyword performance including cost, average position, and average search volume. Ad data includes a breakdown between paid search and display. Find out how long ads ran for, when they were first and last seen, as well as the landing pages they directed to. Other display data includes publishers where the ads were shown (as well as the ads themselves).

Most of these tools offer tiered plans with monthly fees. Compare the plans and choose the one that will suit your budget. A free trial will determine if the data they offer will be useful for your planning purposes and if the tool is user-friendly! Once you sign up for a service, you’ll be able to export the competitor data dependent on the plan you choose.

A free tool to use is Google’s Keyword Planner, available through your Google Ads account. Input the competitor URL and you will discover a list of keywords related to the site, with data such as ad impression share and average monthly searches. This tool is not designed for competitor analysis but can offer keyword ideas that were not on your radar.


Keeping an eye on the competition’s strategy should be included as a regular task. Something as simple as a query for your brand could unearth the fact that a competitor is bidding on your brand!

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