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PPC tips and advice

Considering competitor activity with PPC advertising

As PPC advertising becomes more competitive, leading to an increase in the average bid prices, any company running a campaign on one or more of these tools can't do so in isolation. The success of a campaign will depend to some degree on monitoring competitive activity, particularly in a price-driven or service comparison market. However, there are also areas where competitor activity can be a distraction and lead to a reduced ROI in this advertising channel.

As more and more companies sign up to use Google AdWords and the other PPC advertising options, each marketplace will naturally become more crowded and competitive, with rising costs and a greater need for advertisers to focus on attracting the best volumes of quality traffic and then converting these once they land on their website.

One key part of setting up and managing a PPC advertising campaign is to have an awareness of competitive activity. This can range from assessing what other advertisers are saying in their adverts, in order to make your own adverts stand out and include a convincing 'hook' to get searchers to click on your link rather than someone else's. It can also include monitoring which terms advertisers are bidding on, compared to your campaign, and there are a number of online services or reports that can do this.

However, once users click through to your website or a competitor's, you need to know how your product or service offering will compare and convert, or where you may be missing out on business to a competitor. This could be down to a single factor such as product range or price. It may also have to do with the visual appeal and usability of your website, including loading times, the contact or checkout process and the overall 'confidence' that your site may give to users compared to other sites.

When you're very close to your own business it can sometimes be difficult to accurately assess how a first time visitor may view your site against your competitors. Qualitative user panels can provide some valuable feedback on this process, but can be expensive to run, so even getting honest feedback from family or friends may help. Your website's statistics can also provide information, or indications, on what is working on your site or not, but this can't tell you how other sites might be doing in comparison.

Some areas of competitor monitoring can be a distraction however, such as having a determination to rank higher than a particular competitor, regardless of the cost-effectiveness of the bid strategy for example, if your competitor's PPC management is poor and making a loss, why should yours? Bidding on competitor's names and trademarks should also be handled carefully as this is rarely effective and usually creates antagonism from the competitor as well as searchers who don't find the website they were expecting.

This article was first published in the July 2008 edition of our monthly newsletter.

Managing competitive activity within your PPC campaign needs to be handled carefully and your main focus should remain on the performance of your own campaign and getting it to work as effectively as possible. We can help with a range of competitive analysis services or reports to help support your PPC activity, so if you'd like to find out more about this issue, please contact us now for details or a discussion. Alternatively, please request a FREE website assessment and see what you could achieve with a successful search engine marketing campaign.