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Crush the Competition: A Guide to Competitive Analysis Tools

Published: June 22, 2016

Author: Elyssa Gentile

When I first entered the search marketing world with 3Q, one of the first requests I received from a client was to “Crush the competition.” An admittedly intimidating request at first, has inspired me and kept me on my toes every day since.
Looking into your clients’ competitors’ strategies can give you a huge leg up in this space. You will be able to appreciate areas that you are rocking and identify areas that could use some revitalizing. The following tools provide you the insight to step up your game, generate new ideas, and look like a total rock star in the eyes of your clients.


SEMrush is a tool that provides competitive data to help you keep up with your competitors’ online strategies and results. You will gain insights into your competitors’ strategies in display advertising, organic and paid search, and link building. I’ve found the following two reports the most helpful when performing competitive analyses: the Competitors Report and the Ads Keywords Report.

  • Competitors Report: To understand who your competitors are, download a Competitors Report by searching your client’s name under Domain Analytics > Advertising Research on SEMrush.com. This report will allow you to glance at your competitors’ search metrics and keyword and search ad information. It will also rank the relevance of their accounts to your clients.
  • Ads Keywords Report: To take a deeper look into your competitors’ keywords and search ads, download an Ads Keywords Report by searching your competitors’ names under Domain Analytics > Advertising Research > Positions on SEMrush.com. This report will list the keywords and corresponding search ads your competitors are bidding on, along with some common metrics like search volume and average cost per click.

SEMrush offers a ton of very useful tools to optimize in display, search, and SEO. Learn more at SEMrush.com.

Auction Insights Report

This report can be pulled straight from the AdWords UI. This report compares performance with other advertisers who are bidding in the same auctions as your client. The report provides six different statistics for your choice of one or more keywords, ad groups or campaigns. The two I use most often are impression share and average position. Looking at these metrics allows you to make strategic decisions regarding budgeting, bidding, and opportunities.
To pull an Auction Insights Report, select the campaign(s), ad group(s), or keyword(s) you’d like to analyze, then click on the Details drop-down menu and then on Selected. If you’d like to see all of your campaigns, ad groups or keywords, select All from the Details menu.
I use the Auction Insights Report to analyze my top Non-Brand keywords and keywords that best describe my clients’ business. I check to ensure we have a consistently growing average position and impression share over our competitors. If that’s not the case, I will optimize each term accordingly.

Competitor Websites

Another step I always take is a website deep dive, to analyze competitors’ unique user experience, landing page quality, and service offerings. I like to look closely at landing page copy, website organization, interesting elements they’re using, and distinctive product features/service offerings, to understand how they differ from my clients.
I will also use an Internet Archive provider, such as the Wayback Machine, to see how competitors have changed their sites over time.
I’ll then compile vigorous notes on my findings and report back to the client with praises, suggestions, and strategy recommendations. You will want to keep in mind your client’s creative bandwidth when suggesting website or creative changes.
Competitive analyses play a crucial role in understanding the unique spaces your clients are advertising in. Incorporating these tools into your management plan will help you stay as up-to-date as possible on your competitors’ online activities and ultimately, help you make the right strategic decisions in order to crush them! If you’d like to discuss further, you can reach me at elyssa@3qdigital.com.

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