Published on

November 24, 2023


The Ultimate Guide to PPC Competitor Analysis: Reverse Engineer Top Campaigns

PPC Competitor Analysis is essential to gather insights into what's working for your competitor and beat them on Google Ads and other PPC platforms.
Julia Dunlea
VP of Marketing

Staying ahead of the competition is crucial in the fast-paced world of paid search marketing. With more and more businesses allocating budgets and online marketing efforts to PPC, standing out requires constant innovation and refinement of campaign strategies.

This is where PPC competitor analysis comes in.

By thoroughly analyzing what your competitors are up to in the paid search arena, you gain an invaluable inside look at the tactics and performance benchmarks driving success in your industry. These insights allow you to learn from their wins and losses, capitalize on their weaknesses, and craft data-backed strategies tailored for your business.

Key Takeaways:

  • PPC competitor analysis involves systematically studying competitors’ paid search strategies and metrics to inform your own campaigns.
  • Knowing what works for leading competitors allows you to model winning tactics while also capitalizing on their weak spots with better budget allocation and creative messaging.
  • You gain essential intelligence around competitors’ keywords, ad copy, landing pages, quality scores, budgets, conversion tracking and more.
  • By leveraging the right tools for ongoing competitor monitoring, you ensure timely competitive insights to refine PPC strategies as the market evolves. Akkio enables AI-powered workflows to identify key drivers of success;

The Anatomy of a PPC Competitor Analysis

An effective PPC competitor analysis thoroughly examines various elements of a competitor's paid search approach to uncover optimization opportunities. While the exact scope varies based on business goals, there are key areas every competitive analysis should assess:

Ad Content

Monitoring competitors' ad copy provides valuable clues into the messaging that resonates with your target audience. Relevant tools allow you to easily compile and compare recent ads run by leading competitors.

Google Ads view to check performance
Copyright Google Ads

By studying factors like:

Headlines - What headlines are gaining traction? Do certain formats like questions or urgency phrases perform better? What tone and messaging stands out?

Descriptions - How do competitors incorporate unique value propositions, benefits statements, and calls-to-action within tight character limits? What formatting approaches work best?

Image Usage - Do competitors use images or video thumbnails to increase visibility? What types of images elicit more clicks? How are products displayed visually?

Ad Extensions - Are call, location, affiliate location, callout, structured snippet, message, price, app, or other digital marketing extensions being leveraged to enhance real estate?

Calls-to-Action - Which specific verbs and action phrases compel users to click? How prominently are CTAs placed?

You gain concrete ideas to test in your own accounts for higher click-through and conversion rates. Analyzing what messaging stops your audience in their tracks arms you with the insight needed to craft compelling ads.

Keyword Strategy

keyword overview in SEMRush
Copyright SEMRush

A competitor's keyword strategy reveals valuable insights about how they attract searchers and guide them to conversions. The right software shows which terms competitors are bidding on and how those same keywords are performing. Metrics like:

Impressions - What search terms are driving the most traffic to competitors? Where in search volume are they gaining significant visibility?

Clicks - Beyond impressions, which keywords compel searchers to actually click through to sites?

Click-through rate (CTR) - What messaging and term combinations lead to the highest engagement levels? Which might present untapped potential?

Average cost-per-click (CPC) - On which phrases are competitors investing most heaviest to buy clicks? Which terms deliver clicks efficiently?

Conversion rate - Ultimately keywords need to drive business results - so which relevant keywords produce the best conversion rates for competitors?

Analyzing keyword strategies allows you to model high-performing choices while also identifying potential gaps to fill where competitors may be missing opportunities. You gain perspective on:

  • Valuable long-tail variations that attract qualified traffic
  • Better segmentation around demographics, locations, devices, etc.
  • Optimization possibilities for overlapping keyword targets
  • Ways to refine relevancy with positive/negative approaches

Making informed decisions based on hard competitor data is crucial for excelling in the paid search auction. Evaluating keyword strategies guides more precise targeting, higher quality traffic, and better conversions.

Landing Pages

example of a landing page for an ai tool
Example of a landing page

Your ad is only as strong as the landing page experience it drives traffic towards. Analyzing how competitors optimize and align their ad campaigns with post-click pages provides excellent UX and conversion benchmarking.

By comparing factors like:

Page Load Speed - Which pages load fastest from click to conversion? How are competitors optimizing page weight, CDN usage and other speed factors?

Layout - What layouts clearly communicate value propositions? How prominently are USPs displayed? Where are key content areas positioned?

Content Relevance - Does the landing page echo the messaging of the keyword and ad copy? Are competitive differences and unique selling points reinforced?

Calls-to-Action - How many CTAs are on each page? Where are they positioned? Do they use contrast, color or bolding to stand out? What formatting works best?

You gain concrete ideas for creating seamless user journeys primed for converting ad clicks into customers. Every landing page component should build transparency while urgently guiding visitors to convert.

Additional factors like security, mobile optimization, breadcrumbs, etc. also impact the post-click experience. By holistically evaluating UX and conversion paths - you uncover site enhancement possibilities to lift PPC value. Ultimately competitors reveal what funnel optimization strategies users respond best to.

Additional Analysis Areas

Along with the core analysis pillars above, there are additional areas that provide helpful competitive intelligence based on your niche, target audience and business model:

Remarketing Strategies

Understanding competitors' approaches to remarketing helps inform your retention and repeat customer strategy. Monitor their:

  • Remarketing list building
  • Ad sequencing
  • Retargeting ad copy/messaging
  • Sitewide tagging for custom audience building

By learning from their wins and losses, you refine marketing strategy and your remarketing roadmap.

Ad Positions

Tools like Google Ads' Auction Insights allow you to monitor competitors' ad positions in search engines and results related to your shared keywords. Track:

  • Which ads appear most frequently
  • Typical ad positions
  • Auction competitiveness

To gauge how your budget and bids stack up.

Budget Fluctuations

Forecasting budget fluctuations in Akkio
Forecasting budget fluctuations in Akkio

Tools provide estimates of competitors' historical and current paid advertising and search budgets. Monitoring large budget changes over time can indicate shifts in business priorities and new campaign testing. Tools such as Akkio can be used to forecast future changes given historical data, as shown in the following figure.

Conversion Tracking

Assess how competitors track ROI by monitoring which conversion events they tag on their website using Facebook Pixel Helper and other tools. Their conversion strategy provides ideas for optimizing your tracking to connect ad spend to bottom-line growth.

Now that we've covered the key elements to analyze, let's walk through the process of executing a competitor analysis.

How to Create a PPC Competitor Analysis Process

Conducting a structured PPC competitor analysis follows a clear path—here are the steps:

Step 1: Identify Main Competitors

First, pinpoint the 5-7 paid search advertisers you consider your closest competitors. Tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs and SpyFu compile lists of companies bidding on your target keywords.

Prioritize ones with:

  • Significant impression/click volume
  • High-quality scores
  • Relevant landing pages

And also assess secondary competitors with distinct budget advantages to provide aspirational intelligence.

Step 2: Uncover Keywords

Discover each competitor's most valuable keywords—both shared and unique ones you're missing—using SEMrush's Keyword Gap tool or Ahrefs' Site Explorer.

Analyze keyword metrics like:

  • Volume
  • CTR
  • Competition
  • Conversion potential

To identify new terms worth targeting and current terms requiring new strategies to compete. Tools such as Akkio can be used to analyze metric data.

Step 3: Evaluate Ad Copy

Leverage tools like SEMrush's PPC Keyword Tool or SpyFu to compile each competitor's recent text ads.

Assess the:

  • Headline techniques
  • Messaging themes
  • CTAs and offers
  • Ad extensions used

Conducting tests on various ad copy elements in your accounts can reveal shared characteristics of top-performing ads.

Step 4: Analyze Landing Pages

Check out competitors' landing pages using tools like SEMrush.

Compare elements like:

  • Page load speeds using GTMetrix
  • Layout and content flow
  • Mobile optimization
  • Form placement

To generate ideas for better post-click experiences, helping convert more traffic.

Step 5: Track Changes Over Time

The market evolves fast. Set up monitoring with paid tools like TAMZ, IntelligenceNode and SEMrush to receive alerts when competitors make major changes like:

  • Launching first-time ads
  • Adding new keywords/ad copy
  • Changing landing page layouts
  • Shifting cross-channel budgets

Ongoing tracking ensures you respond quickly rather than playing catch up.

Now that we've covered the analysis process, let's explore the top tools to support competitor research.

Must-Have PPC Competitor Analysis Tools

Conducting thorough competitor analysis requires leveraging robust tools that compile data and provide actionable insights. Here are the top services:


Akkio Project Demo
Akkio Project Demo

Akkio is the easiest way for agencies, consultants, and solution providers to add AI to their service offering. Our generative business intelligence platform gives you a market advantage, so you can win competitive business and demonstrate greater value to clients.

Akkio helps agencies with PPC competitor analysis:

  1. Import data from SEMRush and quickly uncover insights with AI-powered chat features. Akkio can generate graphs for you in minutes;
  2. Analyze huge datasets to find key drivers of business success for your competitors. Which ppc campaigns do they invest most on? Are they spending the most on Google Ads or other platforms? Find out by simply asking our AI models;
  3. White label the reports and dashboards. Let your clients interact with data in a branded environment.


SEMrush Top publishers widget
SEMRush Top publishers widget - Copyright SEMRush

SEMrush provides a wealth of data on competitors' PPC campaigns, including keywords, ad copy, budgets, and more.

This allows for easy benchmarking and identification of new opportunities. The data can be overwhelming and difficult to parse, which is why tools like Akkio can be a great assist.

While SEMRush requires a great deal of time to master, it's also one of the only 360 marketing platforms to build digital marketing plans, check on competitors' ad strategies, and figure out where their marketing budget is going. With in-depth data on keyword research, paid keywords, and ppc competition for each domain, you're sure to find a wealth of data to inform campaigns here.


Ahrefs Overview Page
Ahrefs' Keyword Explorer - Copyright Ahrefs

Ahrefs provides detailed PPC data on competitors' ads, keywords, and display campaigns. This allows identification of lucrative opportunities to outbid competitors.

Ahrefs is a leading SEO big data provider, with petabytes of data in their Singapore datacenter. They launched their first tools for ppc marketing a few years ago, and keep improving daily. However, they're still not focused on PPC competitor analysis, and might lack data for niche keywords.


Spyfu overview
Copyright SpyFu

SpyFu provides detailed insights into competitors' PPC campaigns, allowing you to see their ads, keywords, and spend levels.

This helps you identify opportunities to outbid competitors on valuable keywords and potentially reach more targeted searchers. It's also fairly affordable and includes unlimited searches even on the cheaper plans.

However, SpyFu's data can be incomplete if competitors aren't spending enough on search ads for their campaigns to be tracked. Additionally, SpyFu lacks integration with other marketing tools, so the data must be manually exported.

Google Ads' Auction Insights

Google Ads Auction Insights - Copyright Google Ads

Google Ads' Auction Insights provides useful visibility into PPC competitors' actual bids and impressions on shared keywords. This helps reveal the minimum bids necessary to capture more traffic and informs budget planning.

However, Auction Insights only includes data on competitors who also use Google Ads, meaning campaigns on Microsoft Ads or other networks are not shown. Additionally, the specific ads and landing pages behind competitors' bids are anonymous, limiting full campaign visibility.

While the actual bid insights from shared auctions are valuable, over-reliance on Auction Insights runs the risk of blindspots regarding competitors' broader non-Google activity and creative messaging.

Facebook Ad Library

Facebook Ads Library - Copyright Meta

Facebook Ad Library enables viewing ppc competitors’ actual Facebook ads, providing insights into their creative strategies and messaging. This helps reveal what resonates with target audiences, informing improved ad differentiation.

Facebook Ad Library only shows ads running on Facebook itself, lacking visibility into competitors’ ads on other platforms. Also, metrics like budgets, bids, impressions, and targeting are anonymous, limiting full campaign transparency.

LinkedIn Ads Library

Screenshot of the LinkedIn ad library
Copyright LinkedIn

LinkedIn Ad Library offers visibility into competitors' LinkedIn ads, revealing their creative strategies and messaging. This feature is essential for understanding what resonates with LinkedIn's audience, aiding in the development of more distinct advertising approaches.

While it discloses ad details like targeting and impressions for ads created after June 1, 2023, certain metrics such as precise budgets and bids remain undisclosed, thus limiting a complete view of competitors' campaign strategies


By thoroughly analyzing competitors' paid search approaches, companies gain an essential competitive edge guiding their own PPC success.

The key takeaways include:

  • Knowledge is power. PPC competitor analysis provides concrete strategic insights you would never uncover otherwise across keywords, messaging, landing pages and more.
  • Beat competitors by learning from them. Use their wins as inspiration by implementing proven tactics in your accounts while capitalizing on their weaknesses.
  • Go granular. Don't just look at obvious big-picture elements; niche optimization opportunities often lie in subtle details like specific ad copy phrasing and remarketing audience building.
  • Stay agile. With the market evolving at light speed, set up monitoring to respond quickly rather than playing catch up to competitors' tests and launches.

Ultimately, with the steps covered today for executing structured competitor analysis using robust tools, you gain an essential competitive weapon to push your PPC performance ahead of rivals in your space.

The key is turning findings into action. With the right competitor insights guiding marketing efforts, budget allocation, keyword expansion and creative testing, your cost-per-conversion drops as your conversions and revenue climb.

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