In paid search, you are likely to run into three types of competitors for any keyword that you choose to bid on:
- The competitors who offer a similar product/service as you and are aiming for your target audience
- The competitors who offer a different product/service, but see a potential overlap with their audience and your audience
- The competitors who have nothing to do with your product/service, and want nothing to do with your audience, but they know so little about paid search you still have to compete against them
Regardless of which type of advertiser you happen to run into, anyone bidding on the same keyword as you is your competitor, and you better have a way to make sure you can appeal to them more than the other guy, or the other guy could steal your business.
So how do you stand out? Search your main terms and look at what the advertisers are saying about their offering. Are they offering discounts in percentage terms or dollar terms? Are they offering free shipping or no-hassle returns? Are they using a powerful call-to-action or simply saying they exist? Whatever they are doing, be different.
For example, here is a search result for the term “pet food”.
Notice how the top ad offers selection while a couple other ads mention pet health and wellness. Look at the ads at the right: One gives a coupon code to use, four offer benefits to using their products (i.e. long life, healthy food, etc). Of these ten ads, only one offers a strong call to action saying the visitor can find a good quality product and to “shop now”. Remember the third bullet point? Look at the second ad on the right: a business opportunity for a pet food supplier? How likely is it that someone searching on pet food is interested in distributing it?
So now what? How do we compete with them? No one is offering a satisfaction guarantee or a lowest price guarantee. Only one is offering free shipping, and only one has a strong call to action saying “shop now”. Use these to your advantage. Test ads that combine some of these or out-offer some of your competitors to see what that does to your click-through rate and conversion rates. Here are a couple ideas:
- Show pricing if your rates are truly competitive
- Use promotions where-ever available
- Mention that the offer expires soon
- Try different calls to action
The key is to keep testing. When testing ads, make sure that your campaign settings are set to evenly distribute impressions across all your ads. If you have it set to the default of ad optimization, then the engines will start showing the ad that’s making them the most money, which often times is not the same as making you the most money.
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