No lie. Your Competitors Can’t Hide their Secrets from You

George Washington cannot tell a lie, and neither can your competitors. OH SNAP.

Yeah, I ran with it.

There’s plenty that rivals hide from each other, and that keeps the competitive intelligence chase so thrilling. Your online competitors don’t mean to tell you their best search marketing secrets, but the way we see it, they’re spilling like John Adams after a tad too much ale.*

Presidents’ Day doesn’t have the tradition of Thanksgiving or the iconicly sweet overkill of Valentine’s Day, but it’s got George Washington. That gives us enough inspiration to remind you how — try as they might — your competitors can’t lie about what part of their site is most valuable or what ad copy they spread across their most profitable keywords. It’s on display for you to see.


We were so confident in the patterns that we saw from domains, we went big with their secrets. Their most strategized, invested-in, coddled keywords are clearly their most profitable. Once we could tie them to their most dominant ad messages, we boldly posted these power hitters as their most profitable ads and keywords.

Most profitable ads and keywords on SpyFu

What are they telling us?

There are at least 4 qualities that, once woven together, tell us that some keywords convert better for the domain. They are keywords that the advertiser:

1. Spends the most for each click

Compared to a domain’s other keywords, these push the budget a bit more. The advertiser knows they are worth paying a premium for what they return.

2. Bids on most consistently

Just having a high CPC ad won’t alert us that a domain considers that keyword one of its best. Dabbling is expected. When we see the advertiser keep a higher-priced keyword in its campaigns month after month, we know that they haven’t found it to be wasteful. That isn’t enough to call it a profitable keyword, but when this quality is connected with other criteria, we can say that the repeated bids are a very good sign.

3. Tested its ad copy frequently

Here’s where we separate habits from strategy. Have enough keywords in your campaigns, and if you’re not careful, you can lose track of every detail. Maybe a wasteful one costs you a few extra dollars this month without doing anything for conversions. It’s easy to fall asleep at the wheel. We don’t want to mis-interpret a long-term, high CPC keyword as a keeper if the advertiser simply kept it in the AdWords lineup from neglect.

Seeing that a domain tests (and updates) its ad copy does two things:

A. It tells us that they are paying attention to this keyword’s performance. (Not asleep at the wheel)

B. It confirms that they are investing in its improvement. They’re dedicated this keeping this keyword around. If it didn’t perform well after all of this, they’d cut bait.

4. Holds a high ad position repeatedly

It takes more than just money, too. The domain must have a higher quality score to land a high ad spot each month. To get there, they need effective landing pages that are relevant to the keyword. In short, the domain must show effort and intention to accommodate any searches on that keyword. If it’s going to rank high consistently, it has to back up the search with a page that shows they welcome this audience.


And then a thing about Top Ads

Advertiser loves an ad. Advertiser repeats this ad across its favorite keywords. Advertiser thinks it is being clever. Advertiser is giving you everything you need to know.

That’s the general idea of learning how a domain’s best ad copy tends to spring up across its top keywords. The domain spreads it most dominant message in a way that we can’t ignore. And once you “highlight” where that message ran for every keyword in every month, not really anyone can ignore that.

Detailed view of SpyFu ad history

We know that Google lends a hand here, too. It tends to show the ad that gets the highest clicks. This makes the best-performing ad copy rise to the top. So now you’ve got your competitor’s favorite keywords and its best ad copy revealed for your research–no matter how they try to hide it.

Now let’s go turn that knowledge into some presidents.

Picture of a US one dollar bill

This would have been a lot more rousing had Benjamin Franklin been a president. Nevertheless, onward!