How to Use the Competition to Your Advantage in Search Engine Marketing

Do you think people are inherently good of evil? Do you think marketers make informed or misinformed decisions? I am an optimistic person and believe marketers make well thought out decisions based on the data at hand. Marketers do the things they do because the data leads them in that direction. With this belief in mind, you can use your competitor’s knowledge to help your SEM efforts. By looking at the following four things you can start getting a general understanding of what keywords, themes, and ideas your competitor’s find important.

The first step is to look at your competitor’s page titles and meta tags. Locate 5 -10 of your competitor’s landing pages and/or high traffic pages that have similar offerings to yours. Once on these pages, right click and select “view page source.”  Locate the <head> tag on the page, underneath that you will see the <title> tag which is the title of the page; this can be a sentence or a group of keywords. Second, are the <meta> tags which include more keywords that represent the general idea of the page.

The keywords located in the title and meta tags are put there for a reason. Based on their SEO team’s insights and analysis, they have deemed these keywords are important in terms of indexing, relevancy, and value. Your job is to make sure you are actively bidding on those keywords and that you have those keywords located throughout your own landing pages.

The second step is to look at the layout of products or services on your competitor’s landing pages. Why did they design the page like they did? Why are they putting one product above another? Marketers apply a certain structure to pages for many different reasons. It’s your job to figure out the trend. Think about things like: profit margins, popularity, excess inventory, pricing, and ease of sale. Does your page express a similar idea and layout? Use their knowledge to make advances in your own landing page optimization.

Third is to go through your competitor’s conversion process. Take a couple of minutes to fill out a phony lead or buy a cheap product from your competitor’s site. How does their checkout and conversion process compare to yours? Is it easier, harder, more intuitive, more steps…etc.? Do they have more safety and trust badges than you? Write down a couple of things that you like about their process that you may or may not want to implement. Test those out on your own page and see if you receive a lift in your conversion rate.

Fourth is to see what value propositions and call to actions your competitors are using. Click on your competitor’s paid search ads and visit their high traffic pages. What kind of value propositions are they using to show the value of their products or services? Is it selection, exclusivity, usability, price, quality, credibility, social proof…etc.? Now determine what value propositions differentiate your company. Try testing these different value propositions for a winning combination in your ad copy and landing pages.

Next, see what call-to-actions they are using on their ads and landing pages to get users to click through to the next step of the conversion cycle. Try testing these different CTAs out on your own ads and landing pages, and see how they perform in comparison to the old ads.


I am not condoning copying your competitor’s techniques, strategies, etc., because what works for them might not always work for you. My suggestion is to make sure you are aware of what your competitors are doing and thinking about why they are doing those things. Create A/B tests around these different ideas and see how they perform against what you currently have live.

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