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Competitive Keyword Analysis with Google Ads

The PPC world is more than just optimizing ads for better results.

Every keyword tells a tale, every click is a potential conversion, and every strategy can be your breakthrough.

Ready to master the art of competitive keyword analysis with Google Ads?

Here’s what we’ll cover:

The Power of Google Ads

Dive into the dynamic world of Google Ads, where every click counts and every keyword holds a story.

Remember the time you searched for that obscure product, and bam, an ad magically appeared?

That’s the magic of meticulous keyword analysis. By unlocking its secrets, you’re not just playing the game; you’re mastering it.

Why This Guide Matters

With the ever-evolving digital landscape, understanding Google Ads is no longer a luxury—it’s a necessity.

This guide is your trusty sidekick, crafted from real-world experiences and battle-tested strategies. Ready to embark on this journey?

Note: If you’re completely new to Google Ads, we recommend starting with our tutorial for beginners.

The Foundation: Understanding Keyword Analysis

The Heartbeat of Google Ads: Keywords

Imagine you’re a detective, and every case hinges on a single clue: keywords. In the vast universe of Google Ads, keywords are the stars that guide your ship.

They’re the terms your potential customers type into Google, hoping to find a solution, a product, or an answer.

And guess what?

With the right keyword research, your ad can be the beacon they’re drawn to.

The Tools of the Trade

  • Google Keyword Planner: The OG tool, straight from Google’s arsenal. It’s like having a crystal ball that predicts which keywords will shine.
    • Description: This tool not only suggests keywords but also provides insights into search volume and competition.
  • SEO and Keyword Analysis Tools: Beyond Google, there’s a realm of tools designed to delve deeper into keyword analysis.
    • Description: Tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs can offer a broader perspective, revealing what competitors might be up to.

Deciphering the Keyword Code

Every keyword tells a story.

By analyzing them, you’re not just seeing words; you’re understanding intent, gauging interest, and predicting behavior.

It’s like reading a book where every chapter reveals a bit more about your audience.

Why Competitive Keyword Analysis?

The Digital Battlefield

In the world of Google Ads, it’s not just about knowing your moves; it’s about anticipating your competitors’ moves.

Think of it as a high-stakes chess game.

Every move, every bid, every keyword choice is a strategic play.

And the kings and queens of this game?

They’re the ones who’ve mastered competitive analysis.

Understanding the Competition

  • Google Ads Competitors: Ever wondered who else is vying for your audience’s attention? With tools and insights, you can peek behind the curtain.
    • Description: Identifying competitors on Google Ads helps in understanding the competitive landscape and adjusting strategies accordingly.
  • The Tale of Two Competitors: Picture this: Company A and Company B both sell eco-friendly shoes. While A focuses on “sustainable sneakers,” B dives deep into “biodegradable running shoes.” By analyzing each other’s keywords, they find new avenues and niches to explore.
    • Description: This real-life example showcases the importance of understanding competitors’ keyword choices and adapting.

The Bigger Picture

Competitive keyword analysis isn’t just about one-upping your rivals. It’s about painting a holistic picture of the market, understanding gaps, and finding opportunities. It’s about being two steps ahead, always.

By diving deep into keyword analysis and understanding the competitive landscape, you’re setting the stage for a winning Google Ads strategy.

With the right tools, insights, and a dash of creativity, the sky’s the limit.

Step-by-Step Guide to Competitive Keyword Analysis

1. Setting the Stage: Understanding the Basics

Before diving into the deep end, let’s get our feet wet. Competitive keyword analysis is like a treasure hunt, and every keyword is a clue leading to the gold: maximum ROI.

  • PPC (Pay-Per-Click): It’s the world where you pay for every click your ad receives. Think of it as buying your way to the top of the search results.
    • Description: PPC campaigns are the backbone of Google Ads, allowing advertisers to bid on keywords and only pay when their ad is clicked.
  • Keyword Planner: Your map in this treasure hunt. It helps you discover new keyword ideas, see their search volume, and even get bidding estimates.
    • Description: Google’s Keyword Planner is a free tool within your Google Ads account, essential for initial keyword research.
Google Keyword Planner dashboard example

2. The Art of Bidding

Bidding isn’t just about throwing money at Google.

It’s a strategic game, where understanding your competitors’ moves can make all the difference.

  • Bidding on Competitor Keywords: Ever thought of appearing when someone searches for your competitor? It’s a bold move, but it can pay off.
    • Description: By bidding on competitor keywords, you position yourself as an alternative, capturing potentially undecided customers.
  • Smart Bidding: Google’s AI-powered bidding strategy. It optimizes your bids in real-time, ensuring you get the most bang for your buck.
    • Description: Smart bidding uses machine learning to adjust bids, aiming for conversions or conversion value.

3. Dive Deep: Advanced Keyword Research

Beyond the basics, there’s a world of tools and strategies waiting to be explored.

  • Competitive Keyword Research Tools: While Google’s tools are great, third-party tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs can offer deeper insights.
    • Description: These tools provide data on what keywords your competitors are ranking for, allowing you to identify gaps in your own strategy.
  • Negative Keywords: Just as important as knowing what to target is knowing what to avoid. Negative keywords ensure your ads don’t appear for irrelevant searches.
    • Description: For instance, if you sell fresh apples, you might want to add “apple iPhone” as a negative keyword.

4. Analyzing the Competition

It’s not enough to know your own strategy; you need to understand your competitors’ too.

  • Competitors’ Keyword Analysis: Dive into tools to see what keywords your competitors are bidding on, and more importantly, which ones they aren’t.
    • Description: This can reveal untapped opportunities or niches where you can dominate.
  • Overlap Rate & Outranking Share: These metrics show how often your ads are displayed compared to your competitors. Are you leading the pack or trailing behind?
    • Description: A high overlap rate means you and your competitors are targeting similar keywords. Outranking share indicates how often your ad is positioned above theirs.

5. Beyond Keywords: Holistic Strategies

Keywords are just the tip of the iceberg. A successful Google Ads campaign considers the entire user journey.

Iceberg representation of keywords being just a small part of a successful Google Ads campaign
  • Landing Page Optimization: Once a user clicks on your ad, where do they land? An optimized landing page can significantly boost conversions.
    • Description: It’s not just about design; it’s about relevance, speed, and user experience. Check out my landing page checklist for improved conversions.
  • Ad Extensions: These are additional pieces of information you can add to your ad, like phone numbers or site links, enhancing your ad’s visibility and usefulness.
    • Description: Ad extensions can improve click-through rates by providing users with more reasons or ways to interact with your ad.

By following this step-by-step guide, you’ll not only understand the intricacies of competitive keyword analysis but also master the strategies to outshine your competitors.

Remember, in the world of Google Ads, knowledge is power, and execution is key.

The Power of Data in Keyword Analysis

The Digital Alchemy: Transforming Data into Gold

In the mystical realm of Google Ads, data is the magic potion.

It’s the elixir that turns ordinary campaigns into conversion powerhouses.

Remember the old tale of the merchant who could predict exactly what his customers wanted?

That’s not a fairy tale; that’s the power of data-driven keyword analysis.

Why Data Matters

  • Clicks & Search Volume: These metrics are the heartbeat of your campaign. They tell you how often your ads are clicked and how many people are searching for your keywords.
    • Description: High search volume indicates a popular keyword, but it might also mean high competition. Balancing between search volume and click potential is crucial.
  • Impression Share: Think of this as your slice of the pie. It reveals how often your ad is shown compared to the total possible times it could be shown.
    • Description: A high impression share means you’re dominating the scene, but there’s always room to grow and capture more of that pie.

Harnessing Advanced Tools for Deeper Insights

While Google provides a plethora of data, third-party tools like SEMrush and Ahrefs can offer a deeper dive, revealing hidden treasures.

  • Domain & Backlink Analysis: With tools like Ahrefs’ Explorer, you can peek into where your competitors are getting their backlinks and which domains are driving traffic to them.
    • Description: Backlinks are like votes of confidence from other websites. The more quality backlinks you have, the more authoritative your domain appears to search engines.
  • SERP & Search Term Analysis: Dive into the actual search engine results pages (SERP) to see who’s ranking for which terms. Understand the landscape and adjust your strategy accordingly.
    • Description: By analyzing the SERP, you can identify gaps in your content or discover new keyword opportunities that competitors might be overlooking.
  • Auction Insights Report: This report is like having a spyglass into your competitors’ bidding strategies. It reveals how often your ad appeared at the top compared to others and offers a wealth of competitive data.
    • Description: With this report, you can adjust your bidding strategy, ensuring you’re not overspending or missing out on prime ad placements.

Crafting a Data-Led Approach

Incorporating a data-led approach means you’re not shooting in the dark; you’re making informed decisions.

It’s about understanding what your customers are searching for, ensuring your ads are relevant to your business, and optimizing for conversions.

  • Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO): It’s not just about driving traffic; it’s about converting that traffic. Learn CRO strategies here.
    • Description: CRO is the art and science of enhancing the user experience to increase the chances of a visitor converting into a customer.
  • Budgeting & Performance: How do you allocate your budget effectively? By understanding which keywords and campaigns are performing best. This Google Ads budget tracker can be quite helpful with tracking your budget.
    • Description: Effective budgeting ensures you’re investing in high-performing keywords and not wasting money on underperforming ones.

By harnessing the power of data in keyword analysis, you’re not just playing the game; you’re setting the rules.

With the right tools, insights, and strategies, you can craft campaigns that resonate, convert, and deliver unparalleled ROI.

Beyond Keywords: Holistic Google Ads Strategy

The Bigger Picture: Crafting a Symphony, Not Just a Note

Imagine Google Ads as a grand orchestra. While keywords are the lead violinists capturing the audience’s attention, the other instruments – ad spend, targeting, ad design – harmonize to create a mesmerizing symphony.

It’s about understanding that a successful Google Ads campaign is more than just keywords; it’s a holistic strategy.

1. The Art of Ad Spend

Every advertiser knows that throwing money at Google Ads without a strategy is like pouring water into a sieve.

But with the right approach, your ad spend can be the fuel that propels your campaign to new heights.

  • Strategic Budget Allocation: It’s not about how much you spend, but where you spend it. By analyzing performance metrics, you can allocate your budget to high-performing campaigns and trim the underperforming ones.
    • Description: This ensures maximum ROI and prevents the wastage of precious ad dollars.
  • Understanding Advertiser Dynamics: Recognize that every advertiser has a unique approach, target audience, and budget. By understanding the landscape, you can carve out your niche and stand out.
    • Description: It’s like finding the perfect spot in a crowded marketplace where your voice is heard the loudest.

2. Mastering the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages)

The SERPs are the battleground where your ads compete for attention. It’s not just about appearing on the page but shining brightly amidst the competition.

  • Google Search Dynamics: Understanding how Google ranks ads on the SERPs is crucial. Factors like ad relevance, landing page experience, and bid amount play a role.
    • Description: It’s like a talent show where multiple factors determine who gets the spotlight.
  • Avoiding Common Pitfalls: There are common mistakes advertisers make that can hinder their SERP performance. Learn the top 5 Google Ads mistakes.
    • Description: By sidestepping these pitfalls, you ensure your ads have the best chance to shine.

3. Crafting a Cohesive Brand Presence

Your ads are an extension of your brand.

They should resonate with your brand’s voice, values, and visuals.

  • Brand Consistency: From your ad copy to the visuals, ensure there’s a consistent brand message. For SaaS companies, adding a business name or logo to Google Ads can enhance brand recall. Learn more here.
    • Description: It’s like ensuring every member of a choir sings in harmony, creating a memorable performance.
  • Engaging with the Right Audience: It’s not just about reaching a vast audience but connecting with the right one. Dive into the intricacies of targeting the right audience in the SaaS marketing funnel here.
    • Description: It’s like a musician playing to an audience that appreciates their genre, ensuring an engaged and appreciative crowd.

In the grand scheme of Google Ads, keywords are just one piece of the puzzle.

By adopting a holistic strategy, considering every element from ad spend to brand consistency, you can craft campaigns that don’t just resonate but leave a lasting impact.

Remember, in the world of advertising, it’s not just about being seen; it’s about being remembered.


Navigating the vast seas of Google Ads can feel like charting unknown waters, but with the right compass – competitive keyword analysis – you’re set on a course for success.

Remember, it’s not just about the keywords; it’s the strategy, the data, and the holistic approach that makes the voyage fruitful.

As you set sail on your next campaign, keep these insights as your North Star and always strive for transparency, best exemplified by platforms like the Google Ads Transparency Center.

Happy advertising, and may your ROI always be bountiful!

Michael Schroder

Michael Schroder

Michael Schroder is a Google Ads and SaaS marketing consultant. He has been managing $200k-$300k monthly ad spend and has worked with 200+ SaaS companies. The thing that makes him unique is his data-led approach and his focus on SaaS businesses.