Why You Should Ignore the Competition in Dating AND in PPC

May 16, 2016

As a Paid Search Consultant at WordStream, I spend my days working with advertisers (I currently oversee over 160 clients!). I constantly receive the same questions from almost all of them: What’s my competition doing? What are they bidding on? How much do they spend? How are their ads written? I NEED to know!

Well, shockingly, you actually DON’T need to know. Have you ever been in a relationship and always been wondering: Do other girls do this? Do they act the same way? What’s she doing that I’m not doing? You don’t need to ask these questions, regardless of whether you’re in a relationship or managing an AdWords account.

PPC competition jealous of other women

My advice to you is to stop obsessing over your competition – it’s unhealthy and unproductive! Letting your competition consume all your attention has never worked and will never work. In this post, I will explain why it’s unnecessary to waste your time, energy, and budget worrying over your competition.

Frequently Asked Question #1: Should I Bid On My Competitor’s Brand?

I never recommend bidding on your competitor’s brand name. It is extremely risky – you will likely see clicks and impressions come through, but I rarely if ever see conversions occur. What’s the use in bidding on your competitions’ brand if you receive a horrendous return on your investment? All traffic is not necessarily good traffic. Again, this is SO similar to dating! Why would you want to attract the wrong men or men that aren’t interested in your? They’re a waste of time and at the end of the day don’t matter (sorry guys).

PPC competition bad first date

We’ve already concluded that not all traffic is good traffic. Well, it’s the same with attention – all attention from men isn’t good attention (great life lesson!!). So with this being said, bid on your own branded term – that’s where you’ll receive a great return on your investment! Every penny you spend on this super-qualified traffic will be worth it. (Branded campaigns can also increase your Quality Score.)

Frequently Asked Question #2: Can I Find Out What My Competition is Doing?

There is no way you can take a “quick peek” at another company’s AdWords account. That’s not fair playing grounds! Everyone needs the same reverence and confidentiality that AdWords provides to you; simply respect that and put your focus and attention on your own account.

Instead of looking at what others are doing with their accounts, work on optimizing yours. Make sure you have the keywords you need, the ads that make sense to your business, the offerings that you provide and the service that you guarantee. If you copy another company’s offerings, keywords and ads, you risk losing credibility. Again, just like dating! You want to be yourself and be real, because otherwise, your significant other will think they’re dating someone entirely different. Searchers will have the same thought process – no one likes to have their time wasted, so be honest and truthful in all aspects of advertising. You want your customers to know what they’re getting from the first point of contact; if they feel like you tricked them, it will backfire.  

PPC competition fake dating profile

How Copying the Competition Could Hurt Your Account: An Example

Let’s say for instance Company A sells kites in San Diego, California, and Company B sells kites in San Francisco, California. Company A’s account performs super well – has Quality Scores above 8, high CTR, great conversion rates and receives calls daily! Company B, in San Francisco, is not performing as well by any means. They see poor Quality Scores, average CTR and poor conversions.

Company B is baffled that another kite company can do so well, in the same state, while the offerings are virtually the same. But are the offerings really the same? Probably not. Company A sells all types of kites – water kites, regular kites, children’s kites, etc. Accordingly their audience is almost triple what Company B’s audience is. If Company B started adding keywords into their account like “water kite” their ads may start to show, but in reality they should not be showing. The company simply doesn’t offer what they’re advertising for! 


PPC competition child flying kite

Does not equal this:

PPC competition kite surfing

You may be asking, so what? Well, when someone searches specifically for water kites, that searcher may click on Company B’s ad but bounce right off the page once they realize they can’t get what they’re looking for. So Company B has now lost money on an irrelevant click. If this happens enough, it could eat up their daily budget, leaving nothing left for more targeted traffic that could actually convert. At the end of the day, trying to replicate another company’s account would hurt Company B rather than helping them. 

With this same example, think about the companies’ budgets. Considering Company A has a great ROI and many more offerings, it is likely that they have a higher daily budget for their PPC campaigns. Meaning, they can bid on broad keywords like “kite, fun with kites, California kites etc.” Typically, these broad terms can eat up a daily budget, leaving you without any conversions. But if you have a large enough budget, there’s no harm in bidding on those terms. 

However, Company B is not so lucky. Since Company B has more limited offerings and lower profits, they need to be more cautious and strategic with the keywords they’re bidding on. If they bid on all those broad terms their budget would quickly be eaten up and nothing would come of it. So, again, there are many factors that go into managing an AdWords account – do what is best for you and your business, not necessarily what your competition is doing.

In Conclusion…

I’d like to conclude with this advice: Be the best version of yourself – in life and in PPC! Do what you can to continuously optimize your account, but don’t advertise products or services you don’t offer or try to be something you aren’t. When you do that in PPC and in dating, you never win. Focus on what you do and do it to the best of your abilities. And remember, always reach out to any of the customer success reps here at WordStream and we will all be more than happy to help steer you in the right direction… with PPC, that is!

Now, read about five competitive advertising strategies that ARE worth your time!