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Analyzing Your Competitor's Advertising Strategy with Semrush

Analyzing Your Competitor's Advertising Strategy with Semrush

If you’re stuck trying to plan your advertising strategy, a competitive analysis goes a long way by giving you real insight into what works and doesn’t in your market. Semrush has the perfect tools to help. The steps in this workflow include analyzing your competitor's activity on Google Ads, Google Shopping and creating a PDF report.

Step 1. Identify Your Competitors in Paid Search

If you already know your competitors, you can skip this step and start with step 2. If you need help identifying your competitors, there is an Advertising Competitors report that shows you the websites that compete the most with your pre-existing Google Ads campaigns (if you run any) for paid keyword rankings.

Advertising Research competitors

If your website has never run any Google Ads in the past, there is also an Organic Research Competitors report. This report shows the domains competing with your website for organic keyword rankings. If you discover that any of the competitors from this report also use Google Ads, they could be a good site to analyze.

Either of the reports above can help you identify other websites competing in your niche for traffic. 

Step 2. Google Ads Competitive Analysis

Go to the Advertising Research Positions report and query your competitor’s domain in the search bar. This shows you all of the keywords Semrush found their ads showing up.

Advertising Research positions

Use the Ads Copies report to see the actual ads run by your competitor. Look at their headlines and descriptions for insight into their positioning. You can also use the search bar to filter for ads that include a word or phrase.

Advertising Research search by keyword

Use the Advertising Research Pages report to identify the landing pages on their site that they’re driving their ad traffic to. You can click on the pages and get a sense of the goals of their campaign based on the CTAs on their landing pages.

The Ads History report will show you the month by month record of keywords and ad rankings in your competitor’s advertising campaign over the past 12 months. So if there is any seasonality or trends in a competitor’s strategy, you’ll see it here.

Step 3. Compare Keyword Profiles

Comparing keyword profiles between multiple competitors is a great way to see gaps and opportunities in your market.

To compare a competitor’s keyword strategy directly to yours, go to the Keyword Gap tool and enter the name of your competitor’s domain next to yours. You can compare up to 5 domains side by side in this tool. Selecting which type of keyword (organic, paid, or PLA) to compare between websites will show you gaps where you can plan your advertising strategy.

Using the table, you can find out how the domain keyword profile intersects with its competitors. 

  • Shared: keywords where every site entered has a ranking
  • Missing: keywords where all of your competitors have rankings but your site (the site entered in the first field labelled “You”) has no ranking 
  • Weak: keywords where you have a ranking but it is lower than all of your competitors’ rankings
  • Strong: keywords where you are ranking higher than all of your competitors
  • Untapped: keywords for which the You-domain has no rankings but at least one of the other entered competitors do
  • Unique: keywords where you have a ranking but none of your competitors do
  • All: The combined list of all keyword rankings between the competitors

Keyword Gap table

Compare paid keywords between you and your competitor: choose your competitor's domain in “All keyword details for” and the filter “Unique” to find the keywords your competition is advertising on but you’re not.

Keyword Gap paid filter

Keyword Gap competitors unique keywords

Compare a competitor’s organic keywords to their paid keywords side by side. Insert the same domain twice, in one case choose “organic”, in the other—“paid”. This will show you if they pay for any additional advertising on the keywords that they already have top rankings for. 

Keyword Gap organic vs paid keywords

Further reading: How to Find the Best Keywords for Your Paid Search Campaigns

Step 4. Google Shopping Competitive Analysis

Lastly you can take a look into your competitor’s use of Google Shopping with Semrush’s PLA Research. (Please note: these reports are only available with an Semrush Business level subscription).

  • Go to PLA Research and enter your competitor’s domain in the search bar. There are 3 reports in this section: PLA Positions, PLA Competitors, and PLA Copies.
  • Use the Positions report to see all of the keywords that triggered your competitor’s Google Shopping Ads.

    PLA view ads
  • Use the Copies report to see actual copies of your competitor’s Product Listing Ads. You’ll see the number of keywords that triggered each ad and the price of the listed product. Both of these reports can be exported to save your research.

Step 5. Create a PDF report of your Competitive Analysis

Once you’ve gathered all of your data, you might want to put everything together into a single cohesive report. If so, go to My Reports and create a new report.

  • Drag the widgets from Advertising Research into the report builder and enter your competitor’s domain and the database to add the info to your PDF. (1)
  • To include data on their use of PLAs, take screenshots from steps 4 and 5 of this workflow. Then drag the “image widget” from the report builder into your PDF and drag your screenshot into the image widget. (2)

Customizing an Advertising Research PDF report

There is no limit to the number of images you can add to a report, and everything can be added by a simple drag and drop.

For more ways to analyze your competitor’s PPC strategies, read 6 Key Things Worth Analyzing in your Competitors’ PPC Strategies from our blog.

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