PPC Competitor Analysis: A Comprehensive Guide

Marketers at a desk with a tablet discussing PPC competitor analysis

Growing your business is going to be most successful when you know everything about your competitors. From their strategies and campaigns to their target audience and messaging, understanding what your competitors are doing can help give you an edge in the highly competitive world of pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.

But how exactly do you uncover these secrets?

The answer lies in conducting a thorough PPC competitor analysis. This process involves examining and evaluating the various aspects of your competitors’ PPC efforts to gain valuable insights that can inform your own strategy. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the steps of conducting a successful PPC competitor analysis.

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What is Competitor Analysis for PPC

Competitor analysis for PPC is the strategic review of how direct competitors are executing their paid advertising efforts. It involves dissecting the where, what, and how of their ad campaigns, from the keywords they target to the ad copy they use. By analyzing your competitors’ PPC efforts, you can gain insights into their tactics and strategies, allowing you to refine and optimize your own campaigns for better performance.

For those looking to deepen their understanding and refine their skills our other blog offers a comprehensive guide to navigating the PPC landscape, highlighting the latest trends, tools, and strategies for success.

Why is PPC Competitor Analysis Important?

Understanding the strategies of your PPC competitors can illuminate your path to improvement. By identifying what others in your space are doing right (or wrong), you can refine your own strategies for better performance and efficiency.

How to Do PPC Competitor Analysis

Embarking on a PPC competitor analysis journey requires a methodical approach. Here’s how to do it effectively:

1. Identify Your Competitors

To begin your PPC competitor analysis, it’s essential to identify who you’re up against in the digital advertising space. A practical starting point involves using incognito mode to search for your primary keywords on search engines like Google. The ads that appear at the top of the search results are from businesses competing for the same audience. This method gives you a direct look at who considers the same keywords valuable. 

Additionally, leveraging tools such as SEMrush, Ahrefs, or SpyFu can provide a broader view by identifying competitors based on keyword overlaps and shared target audiences. These tools can offer a more comprehensive list of competitors, including those you may not have been aware of.

2. Discover Where Your Competitors Advertise

Understanding the platforms where your competitors choose to advertise is crucial. This insight helps you grasp the breadth of their digital marketing strategy, including whether they focus on Google Ads, social media platforms like Facebook or LinkedIn, or niche industry-specific channels. Observing their target locations, ad timing, and device preferences also offers a deeper understanding of their marketing approach. Seasonality can significantly impact advertising strategies, and noting when your competitors increase their ad spend can provide hints about the most lucrative times of the year for your industry. Later on, we’ll mention some tools that will help you discover where your competitors are advertising. 

3. Learn About What They’re Advertising

Analyzing the content of your competitors’ advertisements reveals the core of their marketing messages. Pay attention to the products or services they highlight, special offers, and the unique selling propositions (USPs) they push forward. This analysis helps in identifying what they believe are their strengths and how they position themselves in the market. Understanding these can help you identify gaps in their strategies or areas where your product or service can stand out by offering something different or addressing unmet needs.

Two marketers at a desk with a laptop discussing their PPC campaign
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4. Identify the Keywords They’re Targeting

The foundation of PPC campaigns lies in keyword targeting. To compete effectively, you need to know which keywords your competitors are focusing on. Using keyword research tools like Google’s Keyword Planner, SEMrush, or SpyFu can shed light on the keywords your competitors bid on, including their search volume, competition level, and cost-per-click (CPC). This insight allows you to refine your keyword list, identifying opportunities to bid on overlooked keywords or to compete more aggressively on popular terms.

Keyword research for PPC is a critical read for marketers aiming to enhance their keyword strategy, offering techniques to uncover high-performing keywords that drive traffic and conversions.

5. Evaluate Competitors’ Ad Spend and Budgeting Strategies

While it’s challenging to pinpoint exact figures, you can infer a lot about your competitors’ ad spend and budgeting strategies based on their ad frequency and visibility in search results. Tools that estimate ad spend and provide insights into competitors’ campaign activities can be invaluable here. Observing changes in ad frequency and the diversity of their ad placements can give clues about their budget allocation and priorities.

Budgeting for PPC campaigns, especially on platforms like Google, is a key concern for marketers. To help with financial planning and to ensure the most efficient use of your advertising dollars, it’s beneficial to explore how much it costs to advertise on Google.

6. Understand How Competitors Formulate Their Ad Copy

The effectiveness of an ad campaign can often hinge on the quality of its ad copy. By examining the ad copy of your competitors, you can gain insights into their marketing language, emotional appeals, and calls-to-action (CTAs). Note the benefits they highlight, how they position their product or service, and the type of response they’re aiming to elicit from potential customers. This analysis can inspire your ad copy, helping it resonate more effectively with your target audience.

For those looking to sharpen their copywriting skills, our guide to writing advertising copy provides practical tips and examples on creating impactful ad copy that captivates and converts.

7. Inspect Competitors’ Landing Page Strategies

A competitor’s landing page offers a wealth of information on how they convert clicks into leads or sales. Reviewing these pages for content quality, design, user experience, and the clarity of their calls to action can provide valuable insights. Additionally, evaluating the technical performance of these pages, such as load times and mobile responsiveness, can highlight areas where your own landing pages could be improved to outperform your competitors.

8. Spot Market Gaps and Opportunities

Through comprehensive competitor analysis, you can identify market gaps and untapped opportunities. This might involve finding high-value keywords that are underutilized by your competitors, or discovering segments of the target audience that are not being adequately addressed. By filling these gaps, you can carve out a competitive advantage and attract a portion of the market that has been overlooked.

10. Analyze Historical Ad Performance and Strategy Shifts

Looking at the historical performance of your competitors’ ads can reveal patterns and strategic shifts over time. Tools like SEMrush and SpyFu provide historical data that can help you understand how your competitors have evolved their PPC strategies. This longitudinal view can identify shifts in focus, adjustments in budget allocation, and changes in messaging that might inform your future strategies.

11. Utilize Advanced Behavioral Targeting Insights

Advanced behavioral targeting insights, which is defined as the ability to segment and target audiences based on specific behaviors, can refine your understanding of how competitors segment their audience and tailor their messaging. Exploring the use of advanced targeting options available in platforms like Google Ads and Facebook Ads can reveal strategies for reaching specific demographics, interests, or behaviors more effectively.

These kinds of insights can be useful for refining your own targeting strategies and identifying gaps in your current approach. For example, if you notice that a competitor is successfully targeting a specific demographic or interest group that you have not yet tapped into, this can inform future campaigns and help you expand your reach to new audiences.

12. Engage with Competitors’ Lead Nurture Campaigns

Subscribing to competitors’ newsletters or downloading their lead magnets using a burner email can provide a first-hand view of their lead nurturing strategies. This engagement offers a glimpse into the content they share, the frequency of their communications, and how they attempt to move prospects.

For instance, when we were working with a client in the wedding photography industry for the first time, we gained insight into what their competitors were doing when we downloaded a lead magnet from a successful wedding photography business. This allowed us to see the types of content they were sharing, the frequency of their emails, and how they were positioning their services.

13. Benchmark Your Performance Against Competitors

Five marketers at a table with notebooks and pens
PPC Competitor Analysis: A Comprehensive Guide 6

Regularly compare your campaign performance against that of your competitors. This will help you understand where you stand and where you can improve. Tools like SEMrush and Ahrefs can provide valuable insights into your competitors’ SEO and PPC strategies, allowing you to adjust your own tactics accordingly.

14. Use Predictive Analytics for Future Trend Spotting

Predictive analytics can help you anticipate market trends and competitor moves, giving you a strategic edge in your planning. Predictive analytics tools can be accessed through various platforms, such as Google Analytics or HubSpot.

Tools to Use for PPC Competitor Analysis 

Several tools can make your PPC competitor analysis more effective. We’ve touched on some of them already, but here’s a deeper dive on them each:


What It Is: SpyFu is a comprehensive tool designed for digital marketers focusing on search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. It enables users to “spy” on their competitors by revealing the keywords they’ve bid on historically in Google Ads, the variations of ad copy they’ve used, and how their SEO and PPC strategies have evolved over time.

How It Can Help: SpyFu can help by providing insights into competitors’ strategies, identifying profitable keywords, and highlighting gaps in your own strategy. By understanding which keywords are driving traffic to your competitors, you can adjust your campaigns to compete more effectively. Additionally, SpyFu offers data on organic search rankings, helping to inform both your paid and organic search strategies.

How You Can Access It: Access to SpyFu is available through its website, spyfu.com. The platform offers various subscription plans tailored to different needs and budgets, with a range of features from basic search analytics to more advanced competitive intelligence and reporting capabilities.


What It Is: Ahrefs is a toolset for SEO and marketing professionals that offers extensive capabilities for keyword research, competitor analysis, backlink checking, and content exploration. While it’s best known for its powerful backlink analysis tools, Ahrefs also provides valuable data for PPC campaigns, including keyword search volume, competition levels, and cost estimates.

How It Can Help: For PPC, Ahrefs can help identify keywords that your competitors are targeting, along with the search volume and CPC for those keywords. This information can guide your bidding strategy and help you uncover new keyword opportunities. Additionally, Ahrefs’ content and keyword explorer tools can inform content strategies that support your PPC efforts, such as creating landing pages or blog posts that target specific, high-value keywords.

How You Can Access It: Ahrefs is available at ahrefs.com, offering different subscription levels based on the depth of analysis and volume of data required. While primarily a tool for SEO, its keyword and competitor analysis features make it a valuable asset for PPC campaigns as well.

Person in a red jacket using a calculator
PPC Competitor Analysis: A Comprehensive Guide 7

Google Ads Auction Insights

What It Is: Google Ads Auction Insights is a feature within the Google Ads platform that provides visibility into how your ads perform in comparison to your competitors’ ads in the same auctions. This tool offers data on impression share, overlap rate, position above rate, top of page rate, and outranking share, allowing advertisers to benchmark their performance.

How It Can Help: Auction Insights can help advertisers understand their competitive standing on key keywords and adjust their bidding strategies accordingly. By analyzing how often your ads outrank competitors or appear at the top of the page, you can make informed decisions about bid adjustments, keyword targeting, and overall campaign strategy to improve your visibility and effectiveness.

How You Can Access It: To access Auction Insights, you’ll need an active Google Ads account. Within your account, select a campaign, ad group, or set of keywords, then click on the “Auction insights” option from the menu. This feature is available at no additional cost to Google Ads users.


What It Is: Semrush is a versatile digital marketing tool that provides a wide range of features for SEO, PPC, content marketing, and social media analytics. It’s particularly known for its competitive intelligence capabilities, offering insights into competitors’ search strategies, keyword rankings, ad copy, and more.

How It Can Help: Semrush can help by offering a comprehensive overview of your competitive landscape, identifying new keyword opportunities, tracking domain and keyword positions, and analyzing ad copy and landing pages. For PPC campaigns, it can provide valuable data on competitors’ ad budgets, keyword targeting strategies, and historical ad performance, helping you to optimize your own campaigns for better ROI.

How You Can Access It: Semrush offers its services through semrush.com, with various subscription plans that cater to different needs, from basic SEO tools to advanced competitive analysis and reporting features. A trial period is often available to test out the platform’s capabilities before committing to a subscription.

Facebook Ad Library

What It Is: The Facebook Ad Library is a transparency tool that allows anyone to view ads currently running across Facebook’s platforms, including Instagram, Messenger, and its Audience Network. This feature is designed to provide transparency into advertising, but it also serves as a valuable resource for marketers looking to understand competitors’ strategies on social media.

How It Can Help: By accessing the Facebook Ad Library, you can see the active ads of any advertiser on Facebook, including the ad copy, images or videos used, and the campaign’s duration. This insight can inform your social media advertising strategies, helping you to identify trends, messaging tactics, and creative approaches that resonate with your target audience.

How You Can Access It: The Facebook Ad Library is freely accessible at facebook.com/ads/library. You can search for ads by advertiser name, topic, or keywords, and filter results based on location and the platforms the ads are running on. No subscription or Facebook account

These tools offer diverse insights from keyword targeting to ad spend estimations, enriching your competitive analysis process.


Two marketers looking at a monitor displaying their PPC campaign
PPC Competitor Analysis: A Comprehensive Guide 8

PPC competitor analysis is not a one-time task but an ongoing strategy essential for staying ahead in the digital marketing game. By systematically analyzing your competitors’ moves and strategies, you can uncover opportunities for growth and refinement in your own PPC campaigns. Remember, the goal is not to mimic but to innovate based on the landscape of your competition.

So, utilize these tools and techniques to gather valuable data and make informed decisions for your PPC campaigns. If you are interested in more in depth PPC information, check out our PPC services! With the right approach, you can outrank your competitors and drive maximum ROI from your PPC efforts. Keep monitoring and adapting to stay on top of the game!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I find competitors’ PPC keywords?

A successful PPC campaign starts with thorough research and analysis of your competitors’ target keywords. There are several tools available that can help you identify your competitors’ PPC keywords, such as SEMrush, Ahrefs, and SpyFu. These tools allow you to enter your competitor’s domain name and view a comprehensive list of their paid keywords.

How to do competitor analysis for paid ads?

Identify your competitors, analyze their ad strategies, ad copy, landing pages, and ad spend, and use PPC competitor analysis tools for deeper insights. Competitors’ ad strategies can give you valuable information on what is working well in your industry and what may not be as effective. By understanding their tactics, you can make informed decisions on your own paid ad strategy.

Which tool is best for competitor analysis?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer, but tools like Semrush and Spyfu are highly regarded for PPC competitor analysis. These tools provide a wide range of metrics such as competitor ad spend, top-performing keywords, and ad copy analysis. Other popular tools include Ahrefs.

Can you see what competitors are bidding for PPC?

Direct bid amounts are typically not visible, but tools like Google Ads Auction Insights can give you an idea of how competitive certain keywords are.

Incorporating real-life anecdotes and expertise into this guide, we aim to provide you not just with a methodology but with a roadmap enriched by our experiences. By leveraging these insights, you can elevate your own PPC campaigns, ensuring they are not just competitive but also innovative and forward-thinking.

What are PPC competitors?

PPC competitors are businesses and advertisers who are bidding on the same keywords as you in order to appear in search engine results pages (SERPs). They may also be targeting the same audience as you through paid advertising methods such as Google Ads or social media ads.

Identifying your PPC competitors is an essential step in developing a successful PPC strategy. By understanding who your competitors are, what they are doing, and how they are performing, you can gain valuable insights into the market landscape and make informed decisions about your own campaigns.

How can I maximize my ad spend?

One way to maximize your ad spend is by analyzing your PPC competitors. This involves researching and monitoring their strategies, keywords, and ad placements. By understanding how your competitors are targeting and engaging with customers, you can adjust your own campaigns to stand out and potentially drive more conversions.

Additionally, keeping track of your competitors’ bids and budgets can help you optimize your own bidding strategy. If you notice that a competitor is bidding aggressively on certain keywords, it may be worth considering adjusting your bid or focusing on different keywords with lower competition.

Understanding click bots is essential for marketers looking to safeguard their ad spend and enhance campaign performance.

Picture of Noelle Thuillier

Noelle Thuillier

Noelle is a Content Specialist for WGM. She writes and edits all business content, including blogs, press releases, social media posts, and technical writing pieces. With over ten years of experience writing, Noelle has been published on many reputable sites during her career, including TheScriptLab.com and HelloGiggles.com. Before coming to WGM, she worked as a News Director at KWHI in Brenham, Texas. Noelle oversaw the newsroom writing stories, producing content, and being an on-air personality. In addition to her bachelor’s degree in Political Science, Noelle holds a Master in Arts degree in Communication and Media Studies from the University of Greenwich in London, England. Noelle’s other passion in life is her family. She enjoys spending time with her husband, Joe, daughter, Frankie, and English Bulldog, Alvin. She also loves to travel, with her favorite destinations so far being Ireland and the Czech Republic.

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