2017 SEM growth hacks: Gain monster paid search growth using competitive data
How can you use competitive data to improve your paid search campaigns? In Part 2 of her multipart series on SEM growth hacks, columnist Lori Weiman explains how competitive ad monitoring helps marketers make more informed strategic decisions.
Welcome back to my eight-part series providing marketers with growth hacks for their paid search campaigns. I began the series last month by focusing on how brand protection in paid search has become a quick way for search marketers to drive meaningful campaign revenue.
Today, I will focus on an SEM growth hack that uses competitive data to grow your paid search results in a big way. My focus today will be on text search ads only. Stay tuned for Part 6 for tips on improving shopping ads.
Let’s jump right into how to achieve monster growth in PPC using competitive data. This is basically written like a recipe, so follow each step:
Step 1: Identify your top keywords
In order to use competitive data in the most productive way, you need to identify a keyword sub-set to focus on. Your goal is to ensure that you have a defensible position on your best performers and to take that defensible position to the next level by actually winning on those keywords.
I like to use keywords that fall into these buckets:
- Profitable words: Keywords with high traffic, coupled with a profitable ROI
- Strategic importance: For example, in The Search Monitor’s industry, we might find a keyword like “affiliate monitoring” to be important, even though the search volume is very low.
Step 2: Monitor your best keywords using a monitoring tool
Next, you need to gather competitive data on these keywords that really can only be pulled together through crawling/scraping the search results and making observations. To do that, you need an ad monitoring tool. While some might try to accomplish this task with free engine tools like Auction Insights, I’ve repeatedly found that the data is not detailed enough to accomplish what we need to do here.
Your ad-monitoring tool needs to crawl multiple times daily to generate sufficient data points. These third-party tools can also provide insights such as when your competitor first and last appeared on each of your keywords — essential for understanding their keyword strategy — and even a list of the engines and marketplaces they advertise on.
When that’s done, you will have essential competitive data points, including rank, frequency/impression share, ad copy, ad variations, ad extension use and a full list of the competitive landscape.
Incorporating multiple sources into market share analysis also provides a check and balance on the engine’s own data. I recommend that digital agencies, in particular, use ad monitoring tools for their clients. They provide a third-party, unbiased perspective on performance and help the agencies justify asking their clients to increase budgets to boost market share.