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How to Quickly Creep on the Competition And Improve Your PPC Accounts

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One of my favorite things about competitor research is the “view page source” option on your competitor’s pages. This isn’t always a great source, but when it is–it really is!

Step 1.

Right click on your competitor’s site and select “view page source”.

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Step 2.

Check for keywords. Ctrl+F for “keyword”. You’ll either come away with some keywords you didn’t think of targeting that your competitors did think of, realize they are missing some valuable ones, or see you’re about tit for tat.

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I can see keywords for “ipad, ipads, ipad2″…etc. Maybe I didn’t think about targeting “ipad deals” like they are, and that would be a new keyword for me.

Step 3.

Scan for codes and see what your competition is up to. You’ll either see some stuff they’re doing you hadn’t thought of, realize they’re way behind you, or again–that you’re on the same page.

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You can see here^ that this site is retargeting based on the keyword I used to come to this site, which was “Ipad for sale”.

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They have some Google Analytics codes.

But, that’s all I see. I don’t see any codes for anything super complex, they seem pretty average in terms of how advanced their PPC game is. This information could make my decision for me about investing time and resources into more advanced tactics. If I am on the fence about it, seeing this information could tell me I need to up my game to keep up or I’m already way ahead so I can hold off on it.

You can also click around to more pages and even do a test conversion if it’s a lead gen client for more insight. Are they retargeting based on converters? Are they using dynamic remarketing tags? Do they have a third party bid management software with tags for attribution modeling?

What do you guys use “view page source” for? Has it ever been really helpful for your competitor research?

About the Author

Amanda @Amanda_WestBook

Amanda is a Senior Account Manager at Hanapin Marketing, a search engine marketing firm focused on generating results through pay-per-click advertising. Google+.
  • http://twitter.com/sduzy496 Sarah Peduzzi

    I’ve never done the “view page source” specifically for competitor research – what an awesome idea. I might also just check the way the content is structure and if they are listening to SEO best practice.

    • Amanda West-Bookwalter

      Awesome, Sarah! Let me know if you end up finding actionable stuff that ends up helping your accounts. Thanks for reading!

  • http://twitter.com/john4math John Barth

    I do this all the time. You can check to see which version of the GA script they’re using, to see if they’re using the GA for remarketing script, or an older version of the script. I also look to see which other advertising networks they’re partnered with, like adbrite in your screenshot. I look to see if they’re using any A/B test software (Optimizely is my favorite for A/B testing).

    You can see if they’ve verified the site on Facebook (for access to Facebook insights), and Google Webmaster Tools (although GWT has a variety of methods to verify your site, lots of people prefer the meta tag method). You can also find out if they’re using WordPress, and other plugins, as those often leave comments in the HTML.

    If they’re doing a lot of these things above like A/B testing, using GA remarketing, and verifying their site with Google and Facebook, you can get a better sense for whether or not they’re on top of their game.

    • Amanda West-Bookwalter

      Totally right, John! Thanks so much for filling in some stuff I left out. Some of the stuff you mentioned also reminded me that I forgot to point out that all this stuff is great for scoping out potential clients, too!

      • Watson

        I always wonder if there ever is a way to find in the source code a hint of who might be doing the marketing for them…. Or is there a different way of figuring out this?

        • http://fat-karate-ka.com Stacy

          You can look for non-google tracking codes and other third party scripts in the code. If you find a script that’s hosted on another site, that could be a good clue. If I find a script on a competitors website that’s hosted elsewhere (the base url of the script doesn’t match the site I’m viewing), I’ll (1) go read the script to see what it does, (2) go back one folder to see if it’s something the programmer is giving away free to others and (3) the root level to learn more about the company that created the script. Also, a lot of programmers and designers put useful comments in the code that identitify their proprietary work. So look for the carrots and exclamation points in the code to find the notes the web designer left on the page.

  • AdreamSEO

    Really good idea, never done this before. this would help. thanks for the post. Look forward for more.

    • Amanda West-Bookwalter

      Thanks!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/noahjbrooks Noah J. Brooks

    I do this all the time and love it. I also creep with the Google Tag Assistant plug-in for Google Chrome like I did for this page. You will also notice my Reddit plug-in which is important for work too ;)

    • Amanda West-Bookwalter

      Oooooh I never thought about this. This is beautiful!

  • http://www.poweredbysearch.com/ Dev Basu – SEO since 2007.

    Neat post Amanda. I go above and beyond the page source check by using the BuiltWith extension for Chrome to see what type of scripts and libraries they are using. The tag assistant extension is also great.

  • http://twitter.com/ECEitel Christine

    I love the idea of this, but have yet to find luck with it. “Keyword” doesn’t seem to be in the page source info (but, to be fair, you said it doen’t always work).

    Thanks for the tip; hopefully I can utilize it in the future.

    • Tara Dee West

      See what their Meta title is – it will have their main target keyword within it which might help you.

  • katherine dela cruz

    amanda, i love your dog..

  • http://dattrax.podomatic.com/ dattrax

    very cool tips Amanda. thanks

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