As we saw in the first part of our series, there are a many benefits of using Google AdWords when starting to use online marketing tools to grow your business. Now let’s continue our look at how to use the power of AdWords to see what your competitors are up to & how you can gain from that knowledge.

Why not start your campaign with a winning headline!

Go to Google & type a phrase that you think most people would use to find similar businesses to yours.

Read the headlines that your competitors use in their Ads. If some catch your eye, or make you want to click through to their sites, jot them down in a notebook.

If you come back in a few weeks & those companies are still using the same headlines, then they’re probably good at attracting new prospects… so why not start with a winner and use something similar… at least a variation on that theme.

What about your direct competitors?

Every search yields a number of competitors, but some are more direct competition than others. Depending on what products & services you’re able to offer those competitors might be in your city, state or anywhere on the planet.

So take another look at those results to see if you can find any local, more direct competitors. Now let’s see how smartly they’re using AdWords.

We’ll test for four things: budget, split-testing, landing pages & general writing skills.

Are your competitors making AdWords work for them?

To do this, pick one competitor at a time and jot down a note of their Ad. Now, press the F5 key or click the ‘search’ button to refresh the page and, in effect, search again on the same term.

Is your competitor’s Ad still showing. Press the F5 key a couple more times (don’t go crazy as this may unfairly affect their rating in the Google system ‘ this is ethical competitor research remember!). Does their Ad come & go? Make a rough guess as to how often it shows: 50% of the time, 20%, 95%?

This is a reflection of the budget that they’ve told Google they’re willing to spend each day. If their Ad shows less than about 80% of the time, they’re probably still learning to use the system effectively. That’s a great opportunity for you to beat them to the punch.

Do your competitors know how to test?

One of the single biggest benefits of using AdWords is the ability to test two variations of the same Ad & have Google tell you which is best. It’s called split-testing & we’ll examine this in more detail in part 3 of this series.

When you press that F5 key, does your competitor’s Ad change? Maybe it’s the blue headline, or the two lines of smaller black text, known as the description lines or body of the Ad. If anything in their Ad changes, they know how to split-test & are showing you that they have some skill in using AdWords – one to watch!

For now, just put a tick next to the name of each competitor that is using this great & very powerful tactic. We need to keep on eye on these ones.

Where to from here?

What happens when you click their ads? Again, don’t go crazy here – just one click is fine – as they’ll be charged by Google for every click.

Do they send you to their homepage, or a more specific page within their site? For instance, if you searched for ‘red summer dress’, do they take you to the home page, or to the dress ‘department’ (page) within their site ‘ or even better, to the pages showing just the red dresses.

The more specific the ‘landing page’ that you take someone to when they click your Ad, the better. It’s all about being as relevant as possible to that visitor. They’ve told you what they’re after with the keywords they used ‘ make sure you give them what they want!

General Ad writing skills

Other little things to look for both in the Ad & on the landing page are:
– do they capitalise the words in the headline
– do they make their domain name easy to read
(eg www.websavvy.com.au or WebSavvy.com.au ‘ which is easier?)
– what’s the offer or promise in the Ad ‘ is this repeated on the landing page?
– Is there anywhere on the landing page for you to enter your email address in exchange for more info, or a mailing list to sign up to? Do they provide any way at all to capture your details & start to build a relationship with you?

In the third part of our series we’ll look at using the benefits of AdWords to get a huge headstart in optimizing pages with SEO.