How does my campaign compare to the competition?
On the Opportunities tab of your AdWords account, find the Analyze competition link over on the left.
Selecting it will take you to a page that compares your campaign's performance (impressions, clicks, click-through rate (CTR), or other available metric) against those of competing advertisers for a selected two-week time frame. Using the "Filter competition" button, you can narrow the geographic range of the traffic you're compared to, choosing an area as small as a single US state (for a US campaign).
Once you have your settings seleccted, you'll see comparison information for categores and sub-categories (loosely organized "themes" that help AdWords figure out who your competition is for benchmarking*), with performance metrics for each one.
Performance levels are tiered--you'll be able to see which of the five tiers your campaign performed in for the dates available--and by switching between viewing impressions, clicks, and CTR, you'll also see if and when your tier changes.
When you're looking at these tiers, always consider context. A campaign that performs in a lower tier for impressions may do so because the daily budget cannot service all the available traffic, a common situation. If that same campaign performs in the top tier for CTR, that shows that the campaign is doing a very good job of serving the traffic it can afford. So, don't assume that a low tier necessarily signals a problem.
You can click through from these categories to see a sample of the specific search terms that have triggered your ads. Unlike the Search Terms report, this view includes ad impressions that didn't earn clicks.
See keywords you like? They can be selected and added to any Ad Group you choose, right from this page.
See keywords for search traffic you don't want? You can also add any of these as negative keywords to any campaign or Ad Group.
Check back every two weeks--that's about how often new data is posted. This is a tool you should use the same way you do other tools--to monitor and improve campaign performance.
* That's not exactly what or all these categories are, but for the purpose of competition analysis, that's the simplest way to think of them.
I am co-owner of All About Clicks, an agency focusing on SEM & SEO for SMBs. To explain that jumble of acronyms, we work with our clients to enable their businesses to compete successfully in today's connected marketplace. Contact us (at http://www.allaboutclicks.com/contact-us) for information or to discuss having your account reviewed.
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