The PPC Snobs Blog

2.1 Research

I always start any PPC discussion with a thorough discovery session. Effective discovery helps me to understand the business as well as uncover opportunities in the market. The information that I gather during the discovery process will lay the foundation for my PPC strategy.

Table of Contents

Part A - Business Research

  1. By the end of the discovery process we should have (1) a clear outline of our business objectives, processes, roles and responsibilities, (2) a better understanding of our industry and audience, and (3) clearly defined unit economics (how much a customer is worth on average and how much we are willing to pay to acquire them).
  2. We should also have a clear outline of the customer journey, especially the most important steps in our lead to sale process. A customer relationship management software will help to automate key functions and will be important for passing data back to our ad systems.
  3. We should have a plan in place to implement and optimize our digital strategy across key areas of marketing maturity: organization, measurement, infrastructure, content, targeting and automation.

B. Competitor Research

If you sell a product or service, then there’s likely a competitor or a peer already doing a better job of selling it. If you’re already the best at selling your product or service, then it’s still good to know who else is innovating in your space.

With the Ad Preview & Diagnosis Tool, we can identify competitors/peers, which provides a starting point for researching our market.

Using the BuiltWith Technology Lookup Tool, we can see what marketing automation softwares and/or social media tracking pixels power our competitor’s website, revealing useful information about systems, processes, and channels that may already be working for our peers.

Moz has a great guide on Mastering Google Search Operators in 67 Easy Steps that will enhance how we’re able to search for industry, market and competitor information through Google.

Once we’ve made a list of competitors (10-15 should do), we’ll visit their website and start looking for the following:

What does your competitor offer in exchange for user information? Whitepapers, guides, infographics, email list, etc…

What does your competitor do better than everyone else? What do they say that they do really well? Are there similar USPs among different competitors.

What certifications, associations, badges or client logos does your competitor use to highlight trustworthiness? What is stopping you from obtaining the same certifications?

What does your competitor’s site structure look like? Footers often show you a competitor’s website outline, which can tell you plenty about their content and audience strategy.

What keywords is your competitor using in their headlines and descriptions? Look at the H1, H2 & meta-description tags for an idea of the SEO strategy your competitor is building their website around.

Use the free Google Pagespeed Insights Tool to measure your competitor’s website speed. A fast website, with high scores across core web vitals is a good indication of a strong SEO department.

What social media networks do your competitors maintain an active profile? Look for recent activity and level of engagement.

What cities, states and countries does your competitor operate in? Who do they primarily serve?

What roles are your competitors hiring for? Are there openings in the marketing department? This says a lot about what your competitor might see as a priority for their business strategy or a gap in expertise.

What do others have to say about your competition? We recommend Google Alerts, where you can track internet mentions for a specific brand or topic. 

How do your prices compare to the competition? Are there competitors that disrupt the traditional pricing model for your industry, for example a SaaS that automates a key task or service.

C. Keyword Research

The easiest place to start our keyword research is with Google and Google trends. 

The Google Search Engine Rankings Page (SERP) will give us an idea of what kind of landscape we are dealing with when it comes to our query (keyword). We’re looking for competition, context and intent. 

Google Trends will be helpful for uncovering growth, dips and seasonality insights for key terms related to our industry.

The keyword planner tool is an extremely powerful research tool that’s good for finding search volume and CPC trends, building keyword lists, forecasting keyword performance, and historical metrics.

 is a also a great free tool for 

Resources:

The PPC Snobs Playbook

Module 2: Discover

Learn to ask and answer the right questions about your business.

Module 2.2: Funnels

Module 2.3: Strategy

Module 2.4: Privacy