How to beat your competitors at PPC
What is PPC competition?
PPC stands for pay-per-click, for example for ads on the Google search network. Your PPC competition is other advertisers, or bidders, who compete for the same keywords and create ads for the same or similar services as you offer.
This means you are competing for clicks on ads which add up to your website traffic. But as a cost-conscious business, you will also want to have the best possible ROI (return on investment) on these paid clicks. Ultimately, beating your competition does not mean getting the most clicks – it means getting the most relevant clicks for your business at the lowest cost possible.
So, the goal is clear, but it isn’t always as straightforward as it sounds. Especially for small businesses who might be up against competitors with a big marketing budget. This blog offers handy tips that you can start working on today to improve your PPC strategy and get ahead of your competition.
PPC Competitor Research
The first step is to find out who your PPC competition is. Let’s assume you own a hair salon in Notting Hill. The quick way to find out who your PPC competitors are is searching for “hair salon Notting Hill”. Those businesses who pop up as ads are your PPC competitor. A more sophisticated approach would be relying on PPC competitor research tools, like the ones named later in this article.
Now, to get ahead of your competitors, you need as much information on them as you can get. You should try to understand which keywords they are ranking for in paid and organic search results and how much you have to expect to pay for each click on your ad. Here at Green Shoot Marketing, we use the SEMrush competitor research tool, but you can also use a free tool like the auction insights from your Google Ads campaigns.
Overall, we are trying to find answers to the following questions:
- Which keywords do my competitors advertise for?
- Which keywords do my competitors rank for organically?
- How high is my competitor’s PPC budget?
This should help to define the keywords for your business. If you are lucky, you might even find a keyword niche that you can target to receive clicks on a lower cost. You will also be able to estimate what your monthly budget should be.
The following tips will help you to use your budget as efficiently as possible.
Competitive PPC – Go negative
No, we are not implying you should spend more than you have. Quite the contrary. Target your customers as specifically as possible and exclude anything that is unlikely to generate much revenue. For example locations, keywords and age groups.
For specific location targeting, try to consider how many miles your customers are likely to travel to your business. You can then set a specific radius around your business address to only show your ads to people searching within that location.
Adding negative keywords
Adding negative keywords to Google Ads is a great way to prevent your ads from showing to people who are unlikely to buy your services. If you offer great customer care that comes at its price you might want to exclude words like “cheap” and “free” from your account. Looking at the search terms your ads were found for can also give you a great indication which keywords you should exclude. We recommend reviewing the search terms for your ads weekly to avoid spending on terms that don’t fit your business.
Excluding specific age groups
You know your customers best. Even how old they are. So you should be able to exclude certain age groups from your account. Dare to be rigorous! Yes, there might be the occasional 60-year-old who visits your business, but would you be willing to pay 10 times more for him or her as for your average customers?
Consider your organic rankings
Even if you are a small business, you can achieve high organic rankings for your niche. This takes time but the hard work you put into SEO and content marketing will eventually pay off. For example, by decreasing or stopping the required spend on a PPC keyword you now hold a number 1 organic ranking for.
However, we advise you to be careful when implementing this strategy. One of the terms that you are likely to rank high for is your own business name. But should you avoid bidding for it? The short answer is no: You’ll avoid losing traffic to your competition, can direct traffic to the landing page of your choice and on top of all, it’s cheap and highly relevant of course.
This is about increasing your ad real estate. Look at the picture below. The first search result is bigger than the other two competitors. The more space you occupy, the better as this means less space for your PPC competition to be seen. So how do you inflate your ads to similar sizes?
Google Ads extensions! Google offers many different options to extend your ads. From call extensions that allow customers to call your business without even visiting your website, to location extensions, that show the distance to your business. The type that significantly increases the size of your ad is “sitelinks”. Here, you have the option to link to specific promotions and sections of your website.
And it gets even better: You are not only taking away advertising space from your competitors, but these extensions were also designed by Google to improve the customer experience. You’ll give your future clients the information they need. Simply start adding them in the extensions section in your Google Ads Account like seen below. However, please note that these extensions won’t be shown every time your ad is displayed.
PPC ads – Quality over quantity
You get the sense of the article. Everything comes down to specific targeting and serving your niche. We usually recommend starting with exact match keywords before slowly starting to open up to broader matching types. If you start tracking your ad performance and connect it to your revenue you’ll get a better picture on your return on investment. You can ask a developer to set up your website and tracking accordingly. Eventually, you will be able to understand which of your keywords generate most of the revenue and which only generate costly clicks but hardly any sales. Don’t be afraid to deactivate these.
And the higher the quality of your ads, the lower the costs. You can increase your ad quality with the suggestions that Google provides in your Google Ads account. Additionally, you can test dynamic keyword insertion to improve the performance of your ads. This function allows you to integrate the exact search terms of your customers in your ad and increases the click-through rate of your ads.
Each business is different. That’s why measuring and tracking your efforts regularly is key to long term success. We recommend reviewing your PPC accounts on a regular basis to see if the changes you have made are generating the results you were hoping for.