One of the most frustrating things about PPC is seeing your closest competition edge on you results pages. This is especially true when you’re new to paid search, but rather than envy the companies that enjoy better results, you can learn from their success and give them a run for their money.

Chances are the brands that outperform you have been in the game for a while and today we’re going to look at a number of tools – all of them free – which you can use to learn from their success, but also their mistakes. You can’t ask for a much better shortcut to PPC success, so let’s not waste any more time and get right to it.

Free competitor research from Google
Google offers a number of tools in AdWords to help you learn the secrets of your closest rivals and the best part is you don’t have to pay for any of them.

Auction Insights
Auction Insights reports are an invaluable view of how you compare against competition bidding on the same auctions as you. This information can help you plan better strategies for bidding and PPC budget, by showing where you’re on the right track and any opportunities you may be missing.

Keyword Planner
It wouldn’t be right to create a list of PPC tools without mentioning Google’s own Keyword Planner. This isn’t the only tool you have available to assist your keyword needs, but it’s the first place to start – especially when you can type in your competitors’ URLs to see which keywords they use. This isn’t particularly useful for uncovering competitive keywords, but you never know when you might stumble across a hidden gem that one of your competitors is using to get ahead.

Google search
This may sound so simple it’s not worth mentioning, but type your own keywords into Google and see how the competition displays. This time you’re looking at ad copy and it’s worth searching for the bids you fail with as well. At the very least you want to see how the leaders in your industry craft their copy to get more people clicking on their ads – after all, you are always competing against others and it’s your copy that makes the difference.

It’s not just the brands that outperform you that are worth keeping an eye on either – it’s amazing how many lessons you can learn from businesses with worse ad copy than yourselves. If you’re good enough to spot these mistakes, they’re mistakes you’ll never make yourself.

Are free tools enough to get ahead in PPC?
The truth is you can get a long way with the free tools on offer from search engines when it comes to PPC (and we’re not only talking about Google). The problem with these tools clearly isn’t the cost and it’s not even about how effective they are. The issue with tools like AdWords is actually the knowledge needed to get the most out of them.

AdWords, Google Analytics and other resources from search engines are invaluable to your search marketing efforts – as well as a number of paid platforms. So, if you have any troubles with using these tools to improve your PPC performance, don’t hesitate to contact our team of PPC specialists.