Google PageRank is good to know, but it’s not essential. If you’re short on time,
don’t worry about gathering this data.
Friday: Paid Competition
Now that you know which of your competitors appear to be putting an effort into
SEO, you probably have a hunch about which ones are shelling out the dough for paid
campaigns. Today you’ll play “spot the PPC ad” to get a sense of your competitors’
activities in the PPC arena.
It can be challenging to find competitors’ pay-per-click ads. Even if you go
looking for a particular ad, there’s no guarantee that you’ll find it. Some PPC services
“rotate their inventory” so that you might not be able to view a certain company’s ad
if you happen to be looking at the wrong time of day. Or your competitor may have
an ad with such a low bid that you’d have to spend too much time trying to unearth it
from 20th-page results. And, of course, your competitors can turn their ads on or off
at any time, so you may never know if there’s
a PPC campaign with your com-
petitor’s name on it.
Regardless, it’s worth it to look because if you do find something, it can give
you great insight into what matters most to your competitors. Here’s how you’ll do it:
• Moving one by one through your Big Five competitor list, perform a search for
each competitor’s company name on Google.
• Scroll through the top two or three pages of results. If you find an ad for your
competitor, mark “yes” in the PPC column.
• If you don’t find your competitor’s ad, search for a specific product or service
that they offer. If that turns up no ads, broaden your search to a general term
related to what they offer. If you still don’t find your competitor, you can feel
comfortable marking “none found” in the PPC column.
• Repeat with Yahoo!, MSN, and Ask.
Remember to look at sponsored listings only, not organic search results! If you
do find something that looks like a competitor’s ad, click on it to make sure it actually
goes to your competitor’s site. There are lots of PPC ads put out by affiliate sites and
resellers, and if that’s the case with the ads you find, then it’s not really your competi-
tor’s ad. For example, do a search for any well-known brand-name medicine, like
“Claritin” (or, if you don’t mind your colleagues seeing what you’ve got on your moni-
tor, “Viagra” or “Rogaine”). There are lots of ads with that brand name, but only one
is for the company that actually makes the product.
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