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Competitive PPC Analysis: How To Outsmart Your Competition

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Competitive PPC Analysis: How To Outsmart Your CompetitionPPC
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Cracking the code of a successful PPC campaign can be daunting, particularly with your competitors always seeming one step ahead.

The key challenge?

It's often hard to decipher what your competition is doing right and how you can do it better. An inadequate grasp of competitive PPC analysis may result in missed opportunities and a reduced market share.

A well-executed competitive PPC analysis is the game-changer that allows you to outsmart your rivals.

With a thorough analysis, you can unlock the potential to transform your PPC campaigns and fast-track your SaaS business to the top. It's a proven strategy we’ve used with our clients to create remarkable results.

Stay tuned; we'll uncover the tactics you need to lead the pack rather than simply follow it.

What Is PPC Competitor Analysis?

ppc competitive analysis

PPC (Pay-Per-Click) competitor analysis involves examining and understanding a rival's PPC advertising efforts to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats for your own PPC campaigns. This means analyzing their ads, paid keywords, bids, landing pages, and conversion techniques. By grasping what works for them, you can make smarter choices for your campaigns - from selecting the right keywords to crafting compelling ads and designing high-converting landing pages.

Why Is PPC Competitor Analysis So Important?

importance of ppc competitive analysis

Understanding your competition is a smart move in all areas of digital marketing, especially in paid advertising. Here's why taking a closer look at your biggest competitors can make all the difference:

Learn From Their Wins and Misses

When you dive into your competitors' PPC campaigns, you're not just spying; you're learning. You'll see the ad copies that catch people's eyes, the keywords they bet big on, and the landing pages that seal the deal.

For instance, if a competitor's ad copy makes waves, why not craft something equally appealing for your audience? Or if they're pouring money into keywords that don't fit, you've just spotted a pitfall to avoid. This means you can allocate your advertising spend smarter and stand out more effectively.

Keep Your Strategies Fresh

PPC isn't static. New tools and tactics pop up regularly. By keeping an eye on your competitors, you ensure you're not left behind.

Noticed a competitor trying out a new ad format or zooming in on a particular audience? Maybe it's worth a shot for you too. Plus, by tracking their moves, you'll also catch any shifts in what customers want. This means you can tweak your PPC campaigns to stay on point and always hit the mark.

Set Clear Benchmarks and Goals

A competitive landscape without benchmarks is like sailing without a compass. When you understand where competitors stand, you can set clear, data-driven goals for your PPC campaigns.

Let's say you find out your competitor's ads have a click-through rate (CTR) of 5%. This gives you a benchmark to strive for or surpass. Setting benchmarks doesn't just keep you competitive—it provides direction.

It's not just about mirroring competitors. Let's say a rival has a conversion rate of 10% from a specific keyword, but you believe you could push it to 15% with the right landing page tweaks. By benchmarking against competitors, you're constantly setting and re-evaluating your goals. This ensures your campaigns remain ambitious yet grounded, pushing the boundaries while maintaining a clear direction.

Get More Bang for Your Buck

A thorough competitor analysis isn't just about outdoing rivals; it's about making your money work harder. You can optimize your campaigns and increase your return on investment (ROI) by pinpointing the profitable keywords or ads that work wonders for them.

For example, if a keyword is a goldmine for a competitor, why not see if it can do the same for you? Plus, by identifying gaps in their strategy, you can jump on opportunities they've missed. This approach ensures you're spending wisely and boosting your chances for a stellar return on investment.

Top Six PPC Competitor Analysis Tools

Before diving into competitor analysis, it's crucial to have the right tools by your side. Here are three game-changers for your PPC analysis journey:

Tools for Paid Search Analysis

ppc competitor analysis tools

1. Google Ads Auction Insights

A true game-changer for anyone serious about mastering the intricacies of Google Ads. Google Ads Auction Insights lets you delve deep into the competitive landscape, offering a multitude of insights:

  • Comparative Metrics: Beyond just looking at your ad's performance, you can see how it compares with competitors. Metrics like Impression Share and Top of Page Rate give you an understanding of how often your ads are appearing and their position relative to others.
  • Overlap Rate: A clear indication of which competitors are consistently appearing in the same auctions as you. A high overlap rate might signal that you're vying for the same audience and might need a strategy tweak.
  • Position Above Rate: See how often a competitor's ad is shown in a higher position than yours when both ads are shown at the same time. This could signal bidding strategies or quality score differences.

Regularly consulting Auction Insights ensures you're not flying blind in the vast world of PPC. Instead, you have a clear, data-backed view of your relative position and can make informed decisions to optimize your campaigns.

2. Google’s Keyword Planner

When evaluating PPC strategies in the competitive landscape, Google's Keyword Planner offers features that can give marketers a leg up against their adversaries:

  • Direct Source Advantage: Glean insights directly from the largest search engine in the world. This proximity to the source offers fresher and more holistic data, allowing you to spot keyword trends before competitors relying on third-party tools.
  • Budget Optimization: By providing accurate bid estimates and competitive benchmarks, you can make cost-efficient decisions, optimizing your ROI and outbidding competitors with precision.
  • Discovery of Untapped Keywords: With its comprehensive keyword suggestions, you can uncover low-competition, high-potential keywords that competitors might overlook, giving you an edge in attracting niche audiences.
  • Seamless Integration: Speed is crucial in a competitive environment. With its tight integration into Google Ads, once you identify strategic keywords, you can rapidly launch or adjust campaigns, potentially outpacing competitors' response times.

Utilizing Google’s Keyword Planner can empower advertisers to preempt competitors, identify and leverage untapped opportunities, and act swiftly, ensuring they always stay a step ahead in the PPC arena.

3. Ahrefs

A powerhouse tool for both SEO and PPC strategies, Ahrefs offers comprehensive insights that can supercharge your competitor research:

  • Paid Keyword Insights: Dive into competitors' keyword portfolios. See what they're bidding on, how much they're likely spending, and how effective their keywords are in terms of generating traffic.
  • Ad Copy Analysis: Examine competitors' ad copies. Identify recurring themes, calls to action, or unique selling propositions that they're leveraging to attract clicks.
  • Backlink Explorer: Beyond just PPC, understanding where competitors are gaining their organic strength can be a game-changer. See which sites are linking back to them and potentially uncover new advertising or partnership opportunities.
  • Content Gaps: Ahrefs can highlight keyword gaps where your competitors are gaining traffic from keywords you haven't targeted yet. This can guide content creation or new ad campaigns.

Using Ahrefs means you're not just reacting to competitors but proactively strategizing, ensuring you're always a step ahead in the competitive landscape.

4. SpyFu

SpyFu is like your secret weapon in the world of PPC. It offers a myriad of features that let you "spy" on competitors, giving you a competitive edge:

  • Competitor Keyword Research: View the keywords your competitors are bidding on, see their estimated monthly budget, and understand their historic keyword strategy over the past 13 years.
  • Ad Copy History: SpyFu doesn't just show you current ad copies; it lets you travel back in time. Understand how competitors' messaging has evolved, pinpointing what has remained consistent and what has changed.
  • In-depth PPC Metrics: Get granular with metrics like Estimated Clicks per Day, Average Ad Position, and more. This helps you benchmark your performance and set realistic targets.
  • Organic vs. Paid Traffic: While primarily a PPC tool, SpyFu also provides insights into organic search performance. This dual view allows for a more holistic understanding of competitors' digital strategies.

With SpyFu, you're not just observing your competitors; you're actively learning from their strategies, capitalizing on their weaknesses, and gaining insights to fortify your own approach.

Tools for Paid Social Analysis

5. Facebook Ad Library

The Facebook Ads Library is a treasure trove of information for any advertiser looking to keep tabs on competitors and stay abreast of industry advertising trends on the platform:

  • Transparency Initiative: Part of Facebook's broader transparency efforts, this tool ensures everyone can see the ads running across Facebook and Instagram, regardless of whether they're the target audience.
  • Deep Dive into Ad Details: View specifics of any ad such as its start date, end date (if applicable), and any variations of that particular ad. This helps in understanding the duration and iterations of competitors' campaigns.
  • Spend and Impressions: For political or issue ads, you can even see the estimated amount spent and the impressions range, giving a sense of the magnitude of the campaign.
  • Search and Filter: Look for ads by advertiser, keyword, or even by country. This is especially useful when you want to understand regional variations in a global campaign.

Using the Facebook Ads Library, advertisers can refine their strategies based on industry benchmarks, ensure they are not missing out on any trending ad formats or styles, and even gain inspiration from the most engaging campaigns.

6. LinkedIn Ads Library

LinkedIn, primarily a B2B platform, offers insights into the advertising strategies of companies, aiding businesses in refining their own advertising efforts:

  • Easy Access to Competitor Ads: By simply navigating to a competitor's LinkedIn page and accessing the "Ads" tab, businesses can view the active ads being run by that company.
  • Diverse Ad Formats: From sponsored content, carousel ads, to video ads, and sponsored InMails, advertisers can gauge which formats their competitors are prioritizing, and how they are structuring their messaging across these formats.
  • Timely Insights: While LinkedIn doesn't provide a deep historical archive like some platforms, viewing the current ads offers timely insights into the latest B2B marketing trends and strategies.
  • Target Audience Understanding: By analyzing the type and content of ads competitors are running, businesses can infer the target audience's characteristics and preferences they're aiming for.

Leveraging the LinkedIn Ads Library can empower B2B marketers with timely insights, helping them adjust their strategies in a dynamic marketplace and stay one step ahead of their competitors.

How To Conduct a PPC Competitive Analysis In Five Simple Steps

how to conduct a ppc competitive analysis

PPC competitor research isn't just about knowing what your competitors are doing; it's about understanding how to leverage that knowledge to enhance your own PPC strategy, especially for paid search ads. While this process focuses on paid search competitor analysis, a similar approach can be adopted for paid social ads. Let's break down this analysis step by step.

1. Identify Your Main PPC Competitors

The starting point in any competitor research is knowing who you're competing against.

  • Use Tools Wisely: Ahrefs, SpyFu, and Google Ads' Auction Insights are your compass in these initial stages. Begin by plugging your target keywords into Ahrefs and SpyFu. Both tools will spit out a list of brands or companies that frequently rank for those terms.
  • Google It: It might sound simple, but don't underestimate a straightforward Google search with your main keywords. It's a quick way to visualize which competitors' ads are popping up and how they’re positioning themselves.
  • Dive into Auction Insights: This tool in Google Ads is a goldmine. It provides a clear picture of who’s bidding on the same terms as you and how often their ads are showing up compared to yours. Look for high "Overlap Rate" percentages, as this indicates which competitors frequently appear in the same auctions as you.

Create a list of your top PPC competitors. This will be your reference point as you further delve into your analysis.

2. Analyze Competitor Ads

Upon identifying your main competitors, your next step is to dive deep into your competitor's ads.

  • Inspect Ad Elements: Start by meticulously examining each component of their ads — the headlines, descriptions, and display paths. Use tools like SpyFu or even Facebook Ad Library for a visual representation of these ads.
  • Find Patterns: Are there specific phrases or benefits they're emphasizing? Maybe there’s a keyword they’re always including? By understanding recurring themes, you can infer which strategies might be working for them and consider how to differentiate or improve your approach.
  • Deep Dive into Offers: Are they constantly throwing in a "30% off" or promising "free shipping"? These offers aren’t random. They've likely found that such offers resonate with the target audience. Also, pay attention to their CTAs. Is it always a call to "Buy Now" or perhaps more gentle nudges like "Learn More"?

Create a competitor ad swipe file. Screenshot or note down compelling ad copy, offers, and CTAs. This collection will serve as both inspiration and a benchmark for your future campaigns. Always think of ways you can craft better, more enticing ads, without merely copying what's already out there.

3. Evaluate Keyword Strategy

Keyword research lies at the core of PPC.

  • Spot Overlapping and Unique Keywords: Use tools like Ahrefs or SpyFu to unearth keywords that both you and competitors bid on. Equally, identify keywords exclusive to your business or theirs. These anomalies can be goldmines or warning signs in your strategy.
  • Decipher Short-tail vs. Long-tail: Short-tail keywords are broad and generic, often composed of one or two words like "running shoes". They command high search volume but are highly competitive and may not always bring the most relevant traffic. Long-tail keywords are specific, longer phrases like "women's red running shoes". They have less competition, can be cheaper in PPC campaigns, and usually draw more relevant, high-converting traffic, even if they have a lower overall search volume.
  • Delve into Keyword Intent: Understand the 'why' behind your competitors' keyword choices. Tools like Google's Keyword Planner can offer insights into search volumes and competition levels, giving you a clearer picture of their strategy.

Collate a list of potential keywords inspired by your research. Test and refine them in your campaigns, ensuring they align with your brand and objectives. Regularly review their performance.

4. Review Competitor Landing Pages

An ad's success isn't just about the initial click; it's also about the post-click experience. Hence, thoroughly assessing your competitors' landing pages is crucial.

  • Assess User Experience (UX): Tools like GTmetrix or Google PageSpeed Insights can give valuable insights into loading speeds. Check mobile compatibility using Google's Mobile-Friendly Test. How easy is it to navigate the page? A good UX can drastically improve conversion rates.
  • Content Relevance: If an ad promises a discount on a product, but the landing page doesn't reflect this, bounce rates could soar. Ensure the content on the landing page seamlessly aligns with the ad's promise.
  • Evaluate CTAs: The clarity and positioning of CTAs on these pages can heavily influence conversions. Are they clear and compelling? Do they stand out visually?

Set up a system for regularly auditing your landing pages. Compare them against competitors', refine based on your findings, and consistently optimize for conversions.

5. Monitor Ad Positions and Budget Estimates

Knowing where you stand financially and positionally against competitors can be pivotal:

  • Track Ad Positions: Google Ads' Auction Insights can reveal if competitors consistently dominate the top ad slots. If they're outshining you regularly, it's time to rethink your bidding approach.
  • Gauge Budget Estimates: Platforms like SEMrush can provide a rough idea of what competitors might be spending on PPC. While it's an estimate, it can still paint a picture of their commitment level to certain keywords or campaigns.

Keep an eye on your ad positions and adjust your bids and strategies accordingly. Be agile, willing to adapt based on the competitive landscape. Additionally, set a flexible budget that allows you to remain competitive while maximizing ROI.

Putting Your Competitive PPC Analysis Into Action

Eager to transform your PPC marketing efforts with competitive analysis and outsmart your rivals in the SaaS industry? SimpleTiger is here to assist. Our team of experts is ready to provide a detailed breakdown of your competitors' strategies and help you devise a PPC game plan that outperforms them on every level. 

Take the first step today by scheduling a discovery call. This no-obligation conversation will allow us to understand your needs better and show you how our PPC services can be tailored to propel your business to the forefront. Book a discovery call today, and let's kick-start your journey to dominate the PPC landscape.


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  • Understand and analyze your competitors' PPC strategies to identify strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for your own campaigns. This includes reviewing their ads, keywords, bids, landing pages, and conversion techniques.
  • PPC competitor research helps you learn from competitors' successes and mistakes, keep strategies updated with industry trends, set clear benchmarks, and ensure maximum ROI for your ad spend.
  • Utilize platforms like Google Ads Auction Insights, Ahrefs, SpyFu, Facebook Ad Library, and LinkedIn Ads Library to gain comprehensive insights into your PPC landscape.
  • Conduct a systematic analysis by identifying main competitors, analyzing their ads, evaluating keyword strategies, reviewing landing pages, and monitoring ad positions and budgets.
Ian Killgore
Ian Killgore
PPC Manager

Ian is a PPC Manager at SimpleTiger, responsible for creation, management, iteration, reporting, and optimization of PPC accounts, both paid and social for clients.

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