The Best AdWords Competitive Analysis Tool Out There (and How to Do It for Free If You Can’t Pay For It)

– Exclusive “Peek Behind the Curtain” Series –

Sometimes, it can feel like you’re shooting in the dark when it comes to digital marketing.

It’s easy to feel this way because the world of internet marketing is so vast and overwhelming. You probably often wonder if there’s a better way of doing things (and there usually is).

But you can stop envying your competitors who get better results as if by magic.

There are new competitive analysis tools and methods for you to use out there. This is part 2 of our “Peek Behind the Curtain” series, where we show you how we spy on the B2B competitors of our clients at WebMechanix.

Note: we are not affiliated with SpyFu (or any of the tools we mentioned in this series) and will not get money for recommending them.

A Peek Behind The Curtain of AdWords Competitor Analysis

When it comes to AdWords spy tools, we’ve tried a bunch. Right now, there is only one paid tool that we feel comfortable giving our stamp of approval on…

SpyFu

What can SpyFu help you find out about your competitors for AdWords PPC management?

Of course, it lets you check competitors’ AdWords ads. But it gives you much more detail than that.

You can find out:

  • What each ad says.
  • How many split-tests an ad beat out.
  • How much competitors spend monthly.
  • Which keywords they’re buying (and if any are relevant to you, like your company name, for example).
  • How long an ad has been running and which ad has run the longest (also an indication it’s a winner).
  • What percentage of their active keywords overlap with your active keywords (and what they are).

This data can help you:

  • Innovate new keywords to target that you didn’t think of.
  • Gauge how well you can compete budgetarily.
  • Figure out how your current Adwords keywords overlap with competitors.
  • Identify what ad copy ideas have already been proven to work with real money so you can use them as inspiration.
  • Identify which ad copy ideas didn’t work so you don’t make the same mistake and waste money.

So how do you navigate through SpyFu to see competitors’ AdWords ads and get actionable data?

How to Find Competitor Ad History Data

Log into SpyFu (note: it is a paid tool so you’ll either have to buy it or use the free trial).

Click on the “Ad History” subtab under the “PPC Research” tab. Enter your competitor’s URL into the search field and press Enter.

SpyFu will list out the ads your competitor has run over time for different keywords. Each ad has its own color so you can quickly identify which ads have remained on top and which ads were tested and then fell off.

Spyfu, a tool to see competitors' adwords ads

Clicking any specific colored box will show you the exact ad copy of the AdWords ad.

You can sort by the Best Keywords, Worst Keywords, or alphabetically.

SpyFu is the best competitor analysis spying tool out there for AdWords (but not for SEO, as I detailed in part 1 of this series). While it does offer features for SEO competitive analysis, its data is just too thin.

Having said that, the AdWords PPC data and history is the most comprehensive you can get out of any AdWords competitor analysis tool available, and no other tool comes close.

How to Find Online PPC Keyword Market Share Overlap

Click the “Kombat” sub-tab under the “PPC Research” tab. Enter your competitor’s domain into the search field. Then, you can enter up to two other domains to compare it to. Enter your own domain into one field.

If you want to compare it to another competitor at the same time, enter another competitor’s domain. Click the “Fight” button.

SpyFu will show you a Venn diagram and a detailed table below with all the data you need. You can find out which paid keywords overlap, what they are, and other important metrics such as monthly clicks, CPC, and CTR.

AdWords spy tools to check competors adwords keywords

Keep in mind that these are healthy estimates. They may not be 100% accurate.

SEMRush

Update: SEMRush now also provides Google ad history for any keyword you enter. As soon as you login to the tool, enter any keyword in the big search bar at the top. Once it loads, select the Ad History section. While this new feature isn’t as visual as SpyFu, the data returned is fairly accurate.

How To Do It For Free

If you’re on a budget, a free (though restricted and less accurate) way of getting competitor intel is to open an incognito window and search keywords you think your competitor is bidding on. You can think of keywords to enter by using the keywords you already bid on or what you’d like to bid on.

To open a competitor window in a Chrome browser, just hit Control + Shift + N for Windows or ? + Shift + N for Macs.

An incognito window will give you more accurate data on what is actually showing up first in rankings because it can’t base what it shows you based on your previous search history.

It is not the most accurate way of doing it because what you see showing up first or second may only be there temporarily. A company can decide to increase budgets for a short time period and make it seem like they know what they’re doing when they don’t..

Alternatively, you could be doing this kind of search during a time when competitors are not bidding at all.

Plus, you may not get a true view of what’s ranking the best on average because it’s only a couple data points of insight.

But if you keep checking up on keywords manually at different times of day for weeks and months, you can get a more accurate view of who is on top and what ads they use.

Conclusion

To put it simply, AdWords is the yellow pages of the Internet and Google is the king of the digital age right now. Therefore, SpyFu is the king of PPC analysis tools for AdWords. If you’re not leveraging all you can out of it, you’re falling behind.

While taking shots in the dark may yield results, it’s much more ROI friendly to have a good pulse on what your competitors are paying for that’s working. SpyFu is definitely the tool of choice right now when it comes to AdWords competitive analysis.

Are there any secrets or metrics you wish you could just take from your competitors for your own use? What would you do if you had them? Let me know in the comments.

Let Us Do It For You
Here at WebMechanix, we’re experts in PPC, search engine optimization, conversion rate optimization, content, and social media paid competitive analysis.For a free, no obligation audit, click here to contact us now.
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