Beginner’s Guide to Google Ads Competitor Analysis In 2024

Silvio Perez
Written by
Silvio Perez

Looking to research competitor's Google Ads? 

In this guide I'll walk you through how to find their best ads, and reverse engineer their strategy. 

Regardless of if your budget is as low as $10/day or $10,000/day, the same process applies. 

We’ll first focus on analysis in this guide and then dive into strategy. 

Let’s get into it! 👇 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

How to Find & Research Competitors Google Ads

Pablo Picasso once said “good artists copy, and great artists steal” taking inspiration from what works from your competitors and transforming it into  “your own” way is a sound approach. 

Just remember this can sometimes lead to a situation where everyone is copying each other and no one has any real idea of what their doing in the first place 😅

Ultimately beating your own baseline performance is what you should obsess about. 

With this disclaimer out of the way, you first need to know what competitors you want to research. 

You can find who you’re up against with the auction insights report in Google Ads. 

Find this report by navigating to Keywords > Auction Insights within your Google Ads account. 

  • Sort this report by Impression Share to understand how visible you are against your competitors for your targeting criteria (ex: keywords, locations, audiences). 
  • Review the Top of page rate as well to understand how often you and your competitors appear within the top 3 positions of Google. 

Now that you have an understanding of who your competitors are. 

Let’s dive into the free and paid tools you can use to conduct Google Ads competitor analysis. 

Free Tools to Find Examples of Competitors Google Ads

Each of the following competitor analysis tools can be used for free, leverage whichever resonates. 

Google Ads Transparency Center

Source: https://adstransparency.google.com/ 

The Google Ads Transparency Center was released on March 29,  2023 as a way to help you quickly and easily learn more about the ads you see on Search, YouTube and Display.

Since the release of this tool it’s become an absolute goldmine for Google advertisers. 

Here’s how you can leverage the Google Ads Transparency Center for competitor analysis:

1. Visit the Google Ads Transparency Center and enter your competitors domain URL 

2. Scroll down to see the most recent Search, YouTube, and Display ads

When scrolling through the results take note of the following:

  • Number of total ads to understand how active your competitor is. 
  • The language the ads are written in to know if your competitor is running localization strategy.
  • The primary keyword your competitor is trying to target in the ad copy.
  • {Parameters} in the ad copy to know if your competitor is using dynamic search ads or keyword insertion.

3. Once you find an interesting ad click on it to reveal the target location 

  • Click on the show anywhere button to reveal the target location for the ad. 

Armed with this information you can decide if you want to advertise to these same regions. 

If you only used 1 tool for Google Ads competitor analysis I’d recommend the  Transparency Center. 

ISearchFrom

Source: https://isearchfrom.com/ 

If you’re planning to advertise somewhere you’re not physically located and want to know which competitors are bidding on your target keywords, ISearchFrom is a great free tool to use. 

Here’s how you can utilize ISearchFrom for google ads competitor analysis:

1. Visit ISearchFrom and enter your target country and keyword

2. Review the ads to uncover advertisers in your target location you might not be aware of 

From this simulated result for someone “physically” located in the United Kingdom I can see Coursera is advertising on google ads courses in this region. 

From here I can leverage the Transparency Center to uncover more ad examples from them. 

Again this is a great tool for finding competitors you’re not familiar with in locations you’re not in. 

Paid Tools to Find Examples of Competitors Google Ads

Each of the following competitor analysis tools can be used for a fee,  use whichever resonates and fits your budget.

SpyFu

Source: https://www.spyfu.com/ 

Price: $39-$79/month

If you’re looking for a simple tool to review examples of competitors Google Ads copy, target keywords, and landing pages.

SpyFu is a great tool to start off with, here’s how you can use it. 

1. Visit SpyFu and enter your competitors domain 

2. Review your competitors estimated Google Ads budget and quantity of paid keywords

3. Navigate to “PPC Research > PPC Keywords” to see all paid keywords 

4. Head to “PPC Research > Ad History” to see all competitor ad examples by keyword

5. Uncover other top competitors “PPC Research > Competitors” you might know of

With this one tool you can get estimates of competitors' Google Ads budgets, review keywords, ads, and uncover opportunities across new competitors you might not know of. 

Other paid tools: 

There’s no shortage of paid tools you can use to research your competitors.

Here’s a list of some others worth exploring: 

Don’t get hung up on the tools.

Achieving the end outcome is ultimately key. 

Now that you know how to find and research your competitors Google Ads.

Let’s walk through how to break down their strategy. 

How to Break Down Your Competitors Google Ads Strategy

Knowing what keywords and ad copy your competitors are using is a great starting point. 

But getting answers to questions like:

  • How are my competitors structuring their campaigns? 
  • How are they allocating budget? 

are crucial insights that can separate you from them. 

1. Reverse Engineering URL Parameters

Once you know your competitors landing pages, which you can get from: 

  • Searching keywords in Google and clicking on their ads
  • Reviewing landing page URLs in SpyFu’s Ad History report

You’ll want to review their UTM parameters to get insights on the goal of this campaign, target keyword, and anything else around how it was set up. 

URL Parameter Example #1 - Zoho

For example, I searched CRM software and clicked on this ad from Zoho:

When reviewing the URL post click I can see the following parameters:

/?network=g&device=c&keyword=crm%20software&campaignid=14928929712
&creative=552506800726&matchtype=e
&adposition=&placement=&adgroup=130022006802&gad_source=1
&gclid=Cj0KCQjw3tCyBhDBARIsAEY0XNlAKXey
TKDzEJQDpeNh2giI4p8sVSnWKqsvlND5bvZa_J
q62wCqSFoaAsc1EALw_wcB 

By reviewing the URL structure I can gather the following information:

  • Network = g | they’re advertising on Google Search
  • Device = c | they’re running ads on Desktop devices
  • Keyword = crm software | they’re bidding on crm software
  • Matchtype = e | they’re using exact match 

URL Parameter Example #2 - Freshworks

Let’s use one more example to drive this home with the Freshworks ad that was underneath Zoho:

?tactic_id=6071454&utm_source=google-adwords&utm_medium=FSales-Search-InsideEU-FSE-RLSA-New
&utm_campaign=FSales-Search-InsideEU-FSE-RLSA New&utm_term=crm%20software&device=c
&matchtype=p&network=g
&gclid=Cj0KCQjw3tCyBhDBARIsAEY0XNkaG_AiGqCRYj-AEcuQcnvJS_3eI0bS6jIKu_
M7JRmqOYwSIGwuc6UaAvYqEALw_wcB&gad_source=1 

Here’s what I’m able to gather from the URL structure:

  • Source = google-adwords | they’re advertising on Google Search
  • Campaign  = FSales-Search-InsideEU-FSE-RLSA-New | they’re advertising in the EU and running a remarketing list for search ads campaigns.
  • Term = crm software | they’re advertising on the keyword crm software
  • Device = c | they’re bidding on desktop devices
  • Matchtype = p | they’re using phrase match

With this information you can start to get answers into how your competitors are structuring their campaigns and it’s freely available and ready for those advertisers that are savvy enough to look.

2. Keyword Classification 

How are your competitors allocating budget?

Now you’ll never know the answer to this question with absolute certainty but with some manual work here’s how you can try and piece together a sense of their strategy allocation. 

You’ll need one of the paid tools listed above in order to perform this keyword analysis. 

I’ll be using SEMRush for the sake of demonstration but the general process is the same across tools. 

1. Export all of your competitors paid keywords into a CSV 

2. Filter the Last Seen column by the most recent month to see active keywords 

3. Add a new column called “Theme” and classify each keyword by campaign theme. 

This step can take some significant time but can be well worth the effort to understand your competitors keyword strategy and budget allocation priorities. 

With your custom column of “campaign theme” you’ll want to manually classify each keyword. 

Here’s the four campaign themes you’ll utilize for classification:  

  • NonBrand = high-intent keywords that don’t include your brand name
  • Brand = keywords containing your brand name
  • Competitive = keywords that represent your competitors
  • Content = keywords that are informational and research oriented 

Watch this video for a deep dive on how to perform this advanced classification:

4. Summarize your classified keywords into a pivot table to understand your competitors strategy and budget priorities 

From here we can make some assumptions about what is working for our competitors. 

  • 87% of Udemy’s keywords are NonBrand, 9% Brand, 4% Content, and barely 0% Competitive. 
  • It’s safe to assume that the majority of the budget is supporting NonBrand, followed by Brand, Content, and ultimately Competitive. 

Based on this allocation I might want to focus on NonBrand first given the volume of investment Udemy seems to be spending on it, and avoid competitive keywords to start. 

This isn't 100% exact science but an advanced way to research your competitors Google Ads. 

Need help calculating your stating Google Ads Budget? 

If you’re in need of help calculating your starting Google Ads budget check out our calculator

Hope you found this article useful! 

See you in the next article or one of our free courses!

Join 1,000+ B2B Marketers in AdConversion

If you’re serious about mastering B2B advertising then you definitely need to join 1,000+ B2B marketers leveling up their paid advertising skill sets in AdConversion. 

‍Here’s 4 reasons why you should consider joining. 

Every one of our on-demand courses are:

✅  100% free access.

✅  Taught by vetted industry experts.

✅  Have workbooks, resources, and templates.

✅  Less than 10 minutes per lesson.

We believe every marketer should know how to scale paid ads so they can:

  •  Scale their ideas
  • Level up their careers
  • Make a positive impact

Click Here to Join 1,000+ B2B Marketers Today and start leveling up your advertising skill set.

Takes < 90 seconds to sign up (seriously we timed it 😂)

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LinkedIn Spotlight Ads In 2024: Are They Worth The Investment?

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Silvio Perez

Looking to research competitor's Google Ads? 

In this guide I'll walk you through how to find their best ads, and reverse engineer their strategy. 

Regardless of if your budget is as low as $10/day or $10,000/day, the same process applies. 

We’ll first focus on analysis in this guide and then dive into strategy. 

Let’s get into it! 👇 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

How to Find & Research Competitors Google Ads

Pablo Picasso once said “good artists copy, and great artists steal” taking inspiration from what works from your competitors and transforming it into  “your own” way is a sound approach. 

Just remember this can sometimes lead to a situation where everyone is copying each other and no one has any real idea of what their doing in the first place 😅

Ultimately beating your own baseline performance is what you should obsess about. 

With this disclaimer out of the way, you first need to know what competitors you want to research. 

You can find who you’re up against with the auction insights report in Google Ads. 

Find this report by navigating to Keywords > Auction Insights within your Google Ads account. 

  • Sort this report by Impression Share to understand how visible you are against your competitors for your targeting criteria (ex: keywords, locations, audiences). 
  • Review the Top of page rate as well to understand how often you and your competitors appear within the top 3 positions of Google. 

Now that you have an understanding of who your competitors are. 

Let’s dive into the free and paid tools you can use to conduct Google Ads competitor analysis. 

Free Tools to Find Examples of Competitors Google Ads

Each of the following competitor analysis tools can be used for free, leverage whichever resonates. 

Google Ads Transparency Center

Source: https://adstransparency.google.com/ 

The Google Ads Transparency Center was released on March 29,  2023 as a way to help you quickly and easily learn more about the ads you see on Search, YouTube and Display.

Since the release of this tool it’s become an absolute goldmine for Google advertisers. 

Here’s how you can leverage the Google Ads Transparency Center for competitor analysis:

1. Visit the Google Ads Transparency Center and enter your competitors domain URL 

2. Scroll down to see the most recent Search, YouTube, and Display ads

When scrolling through the results take note of the following:

  • Number of total ads to understand how active your competitor is. 
  • The language the ads are written in to know if your competitor is running localization strategy.
  • The primary keyword your competitor is trying to target in the ad copy.
  • {Parameters} in the ad copy to know if your competitor is using dynamic search ads or keyword insertion.

3. Once you find an interesting ad click on it to reveal the target location 

  • Click on the show anywhere button to reveal the target location for the ad. 

Armed with this information you can decide if you want to advertise to these same regions. 

If you only used 1 tool for Google Ads competitor analysis I’d recommend the  Transparency Center. 

ISearchFrom

Source: https://isearchfrom.com/ 

If you’re planning to advertise somewhere you’re not physically located and want to know which competitors are bidding on your target keywords, ISearchFrom is a great free tool to use. 

Here’s how you can utilize ISearchFrom for google ads competitor analysis:

1. Visit ISearchFrom and enter your target country and keyword

2. Review the ads to uncover advertisers in your target location you might not be aware of 

From this simulated result for someone “physically” located in the United Kingdom I can see Coursera is advertising on google ads courses in this region. 

From here I can leverage the Transparency Center to uncover more ad examples from them. 

Again this is a great tool for finding competitors you’re not familiar with in locations you’re not in. 

Paid Tools to Find Examples of Competitors Google Ads

Each of the following competitor analysis tools can be used for a fee,  use whichever resonates and fits your budget.

SpyFu

Source: https://www.spyfu.com/ 

Price: $39-$79/month

If you’re looking for a simple tool to review examples of competitors Google Ads copy, target keywords, and landing pages.

SpyFu is a great tool to start off with, here’s how you can use it. 

1. Visit SpyFu and enter your competitors domain 

2. Review your competitors estimated Google Ads budget and quantity of paid keywords

3. Navigate to “PPC Research > PPC Keywords” to see all paid keywords 

4. Head to “PPC Research > Ad History” to see all competitor ad examples by keyword

5. Uncover other top competitors “PPC Research > Competitors” you might know of

With this one tool you can get estimates of competitors' Google Ads budgets, review keywords, ads, and uncover opportunities across new competitors you might not know of. 

Other paid tools: 

There’s no shortage of paid tools you can use to research your competitors.

Here’s a list of some others worth exploring: 

Don’t get hung up on the tools.

Achieving the end outcome is ultimately key. 

Now that you know how to find and research your competitors Google Ads.

Let’s walk through how to break down their strategy. 

How to Break Down Your Competitors Google Ads Strategy

Knowing what keywords and ad copy your competitors are using is a great starting point. 

But getting answers to questions like:

  • How are my competitors structuring their campaigns? 
  • How are they allocating budget? 

are crucial insights that can separate you from them. 

1. Reverse Engineering URL Parameters

Once you know your competitors landing pages, which you can get from: 

  • Searching keywords in Google and clicking on their ads
  • Reviewing landing page URLs in SpyFu’s Ad History report

You’ll want to review their UTM parameters to get insights on the goal of this campaign, target keyword, and anything else around how it was set up. 

URL Parameter Example #1 - Zoho

For example, I searched CRM software and clicked on this ad from Zoho:

When reviewing the URL post click I can see the following parameters:

/?network=g&device=c&keyword=crm%20software&campaignid=14928929712
&creative=552506800726&matchtype=e
&adposition=&placement=&adgroup=130022006802&gad_source=1
&gclid=Cj0KCQjw3tCyBhDBARIsAEY0XNlAKXey
TKDzEJQDpeNh2giI4p8sVSnWKqsvlND5bvZa_J
q62wCqSFoaAsc1EALw_wcB 

By reviewing the URL structure I can gather the following information:

  • Network = g | they’re advertising on Google Search
  • Device = c | they’re running ads on Desktop devices
  • Keyword = crm software | they’re bidding on crm software
  • Matchtype = e | they’re using exact match 

URL Parameter Example #2 - Freshworks

Let’s use one more example to drive this home with the Freshworks ad that was underneath Zoho:

?tactic_id=6071454&utm_source=google-adwords&utm_medium=FSales-Search-InsideEU-FSE-RLSA-New
&utm_campaign=FSales-Search-InsideEU-FSE-RLSA New&utm_term=crm%20software&device=c
&matchtype=p&network=g
&gclid=Cj0KCQjw3tCyBhDBARIsAEY0XNkaG_AiGqCRYj-AEcuQcnvJS_3eI0bS6jIKu_
M7JRmqOYwSIGwuc6UaAvYqEALw_wcB&gad_source=1 

Here’s what I’m able to gather from the URL structure:

  • Source = google-adwords | they’re advertising on Google Search
  • Campaign  = FSales-Search-InsideEU-FSE-RLSA-New | they’re advertising in the EU and running a remarketing list for search ads campaigns.
  • Term = crm software | they’re advertising on the keyword crm software
  • Device = c | they’re bidding on desktop devices
  • Matchtype = p | they’re using phrase match

With this information you can start to get answers into how your competitors are structuring their campaigns and it’s freely available and ready for those advertisers that are savvy enough to look.

2. Keyword Classification 

How are your competitors allocating budget?

Now you’ll never know the answer to this question with absolute certainty but with some manual work here’s how you can try and piece together a sense of their strategy allocation. 

You’ll need one of the paid tools listed above in order to perform this keyword analysis. 

I’ll be using SEMRush for the sake of demonstration but the general process is the same across tools. 

1. Export all of your competitors paid keywords into a CSV 

2. Filter the Last Seen column by the most recent month to see active keywords 

3. Add a new column called “Theme” and classify each keyword by campaign theme. 

This step can take some significant time but can be well worth the effort to understand your competitors keyword strategy and budget allocation priorities. 

With your custom column of “campaign theme” you’ll want to manually classify each keyword. 

Here’s the four campaign themes you’ll utilize for classification:  

  • NonBrand = high-intent keywords that don’t include your brand name
  • Brand = keywords containing your brand name
  • Competitive = keywords that represent your competitors
  • Content = keywords that are informational and research oriented 

Watch this video for a deep dive on how to perform this advanced classification:

4. Summarize your classified keywords into a pivot table to understand your competitors strategy and budget priorities 

From here we can make some assumptions about what is working for our competitors. 

  • 87% of Udemy’s keywords are NonBrand, 9% Brand, 4% Content, and barely 0% Competitive. 
  • It’s safe to assume that the majority of the budget is supporting NonBrand, followed by Brand, Content, and ultimately Competitive. 

Based on this allocation I might want to focus on NonBrand first given the volume of investment Udemy seems to be spending on it, and avoid competitive keywords to start. 

This isn't 100% exact science but an advanced way to research your competitors Google Ads. 

Need help calculating your stating Google Ads Budget? 

If you’re in need of help calculating your starting Google Ads budget check out our calculator

Hope you found this article useful! 

See you in the next article or one of our free courses!

Join 1,000+ B2B Marketers in AdConversion

If you’re serious about mastering B2B advertising then you definitely need to join 1,000+ B2B marketers leveling up their paid advertising skill sets in AdConversion. 

‍Here’s 4 reasons why you should consider joining. 

Every one of our on-demand courses are:

✅  100% free access.

✅  Taught by vetted industry experts.

✅  Have workbooks, resources, and templates.

✅  Less than 10 minutes per lesson.

We believe every marketer should know how to scale paid ads so they can:

  •  Scale their ideas
  • Level up their careers
  • Make a positive impact

Click Here to Join 1,000+ B2B Marketers Today and start leveling up your advertising skill set.

Takes < 90 seconds to sign up (seriously we timed it 😂)

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Silvio Perez
Want to level up your B2B advertising skill set?
AdConversion was created to help B2B marketers master advertising with free courses, articles, resources, and templates created by the world best practitioners.
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