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The Google SERP continues to grow with competition year over year and the rise of a digital focus marketing strategy is crucial.  Imagine you are looking to grow your online tax services and you would like to find people interested.  You start bidding in keywords related to your business and are not seeing much traffic come through your ads and you know the volume for the keywords.  You can see below in the example image below how competitive it is to show up for “tax services.”  This creates an importance of understanding the landscape of the keywords you are bidding on whether it is your own branded or nonbrand keywords and how other advertisers are taking away from your ability to show ads.  We are going to take a look at some techniques to research the competition of the terms you are buying and look at strategies to take back some of your impression share.  


Google the Keyword Yourself

The easiest thing to do when beginning competitive keyword research on Google is to just Google the term you are looking for.  From here you can visualize if your ads are populating and see whose else is populating around you.  We recommend doing this in the morning as budgets can be exhausted, and in incognito, but note your location can still affect which ads you see.  

After Googling the term and if you are not seeing your ads, we recommend taking a look to see if your budget is exhausted, your bids are hitting their ceiling max CPC and last your copy or landing page.  

For copy, we can see in the screenshot below that all the top first copy utilize the search term in the first part of their ad as this helps the quality score of the ad, meaning there is more ad relevance for the user. 

To take a look at your ad relevance at the keyword level

  1. Go into Google Ads > Keywords > Search Keywords > Columns > Modify columns > Quality Score
  2. From here select “Quality Score,” “Exp. CTR,” “Landing page exp.,” and “Ad relevance”
  3. You want to then analyst the data and are looking for the highest Quality Score Exp. CTR, Landing Page exp. and Ad relevance as seen below in the screenshot.
  • To help your Exp. CTR and Ad relevance, we recommend considering changing your ad copy to contain the search term itself with a stronger call to action (call to action)
  • Your Landing Page exp. can increase by making sure those keywords you are bidding on are on the landing page and your users are staying engaged with the site

Looking inside Google Ads itself with its Auction Insights

If there is enough data, Google Ads at the campaign, ad group, and keyword level can provide data about what other sites are competing for the same impressions as well as where they fit along with the SERP with you.

We recommend taking a look at the impression share first as an indicator of how well your presence is along with the SERP.  The higher the impressions share the better.  Then take a look at your Abs. Top of page rate and attempt to have this as high as possible.  If you are working with Branded keywords you want this to be closest to 100%.

After you analyzed the data from the Auction insights, we recommend comparing the data from the SERP as well as taking a look at your top-performing keywords and double-check that you are receiving the correct impression share and if you are maybe it is time to increase the bid or test variation of copy or landing pages. 

  1. Go into Google Ads > Campaigns > Auction Insights

Use Tools Meant for This

Directionally it is easy to acquire data on your top competitors from your recent discoveries.  An easy go-to is SEMRush.  You can simply search the domain of your competitor and take an overview of their ad copy, keyword position, and traffic and spend.  You can even track them!

With many great tools for search, we even find great results from Ahrefs which is huge for SEO keyword research.  Ahrefs helps you do the following:

  • Optimize your website
  • Analyze your competitors
  • Study what your customers are searching for
  • Learn from your industry’s top-performing content
  • Track your ranking progress

Let’s See What We Can do With This Data

Understanding the competitive landscape of your search volume will only help you continue to make sure your presence and efforts are shown through improvements in your KPI’s.  We recommend taking some time to regularly audit who else in your space and from there adjusting your bids, copy, and landing pages as this can help increase the quality score.

David Kim