How Pay-Per-Click Advertisers Will Benefit From SEMRush

by Corey Philip
November 9, 2020

100+ Hours Using SEMrush

40+ Websites Monitored

7 Tools Featured

20 Industry Experts Consulted

As many things in our world change, so does the flow of business and advertising. Things are not as simple as they were back then when we only used flyers and billboards for our ads. Heck, it was actually already pretty difficult years back, so just imagine how hard it is in this day and age with the advent of the internet and other new technologies!

Many aspects of business and advertising have migrated online. This has brought about newer ways for us to reach out to customers and market our products and services. One popular online marketing strategy that is popping up a lot these days (sometimes literally) is PPC, which we will be discussing in this blog post.

If you’re a pay-per-click advertiser, you probably already know what PPC is. But humor me for a sec—there are probably some people reading this blog post that are new to the whole digital marketing arena.

PPC in a Nutshell

PPC or pay-per-click advertising is an internet advertising model that drives traffic to websites. Advertisers pay every time one of their ads are clicked (thanks, Captain Obvious) rather than attempting to gain them organically. It is often paired with SEO or search engine optimization advertising, which focuses on enhancing the quality and quantity of website traffic from search engines. The main difference between the two is that PPC advertising is paid for, while SEO advertising is free, since it takes advantage of organic searches on search engines such as Google and Yahoo.

A lot of people prefer PPC over SEO, reasons being that PPC ads are seen first due to the fact that they appear at the top of the search pages, above the organic listings influenced by SEO. As the name suggests, you only need to pay when your ad is clicked, therefore giving you your money’s worth. Once the ad is clicked, a customer is automatically redirected to your website and/or landing page. PPC is immune to any changes in search engines, because unlike SEO, it does not rely on the organic searches of customers. No matter how search engine algorithms change, your PPC ad will typically continue to operate like clockwork, hence ensuring maximum visibility. 

Despite all the advantages that PPC brings, advertisers face some challenges, too. You need to be aware of these if you plan on investing in PPC. First, customers don’t readily trust paid advertisements. Second, PPC takes a lot of expert knowledge. Third, it will take time and money that oftentimes get wasted because of failed campaigns. The costs for these ads can add up quickly, especially if you aren’t monitoring and boosting your campaigns enough to make sure you get a return on investments.

All these challenges don't necessarily mean that you should dump the idea of PPC advertising altogether. If you want your ads to work to the best of their ability, you need to work smart by using tools that can help optimize your paid campaigns. One such tool is SEMRush.

What is SEMrush and How Can It Optimize Your Paid Campaigns

But wait, isn’t SEMrush usually used by SEO guys? Well, this all-in-one marketing tool does not just do your keyword research. It is trusted by internet marketers all over the world, and for a good reason. SEMrush can track the keyword strategies used by any current or possible competition. You can use it to perform audits to improve your web pages. There are combinations of different reports and tools you can customize to fit your business needs and help you understand and improve your ad campaigns. If you want to gain maximum visibility for business’s ads, this is the tool for you.

With that being said, let’s break down the different steps we have in running paid search campaigns and which tools SEMrush offers for you to improve your process:

Competitor Research

Advertising Research Tool

You don’t go in blind when you launch your PPC campaigns. The first thing you need to do is foundational research, which will involve understanding your customers.

You could do this manually, going through each of your identified competitors’ websites one by one. Or you can do it the easy way with SEMrush’s advertising research tool. All you need is the URL of your competitor to get a sneak peek into their strategies so you can figure out what you need to do in your campaigns.

Let’s say you’re an online watch store. You’ll be competing against ads from other watch sellers like Cartier. Here’s how you can do research using SEMrush.

Enter your competitor's domain, subdomain or URL into the tool and set your target country. SEMrush's tool will then collate data that reveals the different products, services, and content your competitors use.

First, you can see how much they're spending on PPC campaigns and how much traffic that is driving to their website. This will give you an idea on your paid ads budget and provide you a benchmark for your campaigns.

You can also see what keywords they are targeting and for how long, which you can use as basis for your keyword research. Figure out if want to target the same keywords they're targeting or if you think you can find better variations they might not be using but are still getting traffic using their search result positions, keyword difficulty, volume and CPC.

In the Ad Copies tab, you can see what ads they are currently running. You have the option of following their ad copy formula, or use it as a basis to write something different that would catch your target audience's eye. If you want to see their old ads, just click Ad History to see how their campaigns have changed. 

Through the data you gather on the Advertising Research tool, you can identify the best-performing marketing channels you can use and find growth opportunities in current and potential markets. All in all, it will helping you form marketing tactics, affiliate with different markets, and expand your market.

Keyword Research

Keyword Gap Tool

Aside from the keywords you get from Advertising Research, you can use the Keyword Gap tool to find the keywords your competitors are ranking for and you aren't. This way, you get to identify possibly profitable keywords you can try in your campaigns.

At a glance, it will show you the keyword opportunities you have.

There are even detailed side-by-side comparisons based on site positions with details on volume, keyword difficulty, and more. These are categorized by keyword opportunities considered as missing (you don't have these on your website), weak (you aren't targeting these strong enough), strong (you're already doing good with these), untapped (you need to consider these), and unique (you have these and your competitor doesn't).

If you want to start your keyword research from scratch instead of basing it on what your competitors are targeting, you can use the Keyword Magic Tool.

Keyword Magic Tool

Another useful feature, Keyword Magic Tool lets you identify high-value target keywords you can leverage for your paid ads. All you need to do is enter a keyword you think you can use into the search bar, and it will generate a whole master list with millions of related keywords that match your business, or whatever you are trying to advertise. It breaks down the keywords into categories that can help inspire ad group ideas, allowing your ad to be seen more, within more search categories. The steps are very simple.

After you search a particular keyword, the Keyword Magic Tool will collate your keyword and a list of related variations. You can also see how much traffic these keywords get monthly, how much interest searchers have been giving them these past few months, how difficult it would be to rank for them, and how much you would need to pay every time someone will click on your ad targeting the keyword.

Keyword Manager

If you have any favorites from the keywords you've seen in the Keyword Gap or Keyword Magic Tool, you can easily send them over to the Keyword Manager. These keywords can be organized into lists so you can compare each one.

Once you've finalized what keywords you like best, you can add them to other SEMrush tools by clicking the "Sent to other tools" button.

PPC Keyword Tool

One such tool you can transfer keywords from Keyword Manager to is the PPC Keyword Tool. Now, we aren't just moving keywords from one tool to another for no reason at all. In the PPC Keyword Tool, you can organize the keywords you already have into ad groups.

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And it will let you add keywords based on reports. Domain reports, whether organic or paid, will return keywords that the domain you entered are ranking for. Phrase reports will generate keywords that are related to or match the keyword you typed in. You can also get related questions frequently found on Google.

Aside from grouping them together, you can clean the list for any possible duplicates. You can also mark a keyword as negative, which you can set in your campaign so your ads don't get triggered by them. 

Campaign Scaling and Monitoring


The CPC Map tool helps your ads go from local to global. It provides an easy way to evaluate the potential of a particular state or region concerning the cost-per-click and search demand for your services. You can compare PPC costs and searches through keywords on a local level in multiple industries. With just a click, it will analyze different advertising costs across the world side by side and compare PPC demand of products and services relating to your business. 

This section will show you how much a PPC click will cost across 14 countries, including the United States, Australia, and South Africa, three countries with the biggest CPC rates. This means your ads won't just be seen—they'll get as many clicks as possible. Thus, you can thoroughly plan out your geo-targeted ads. You can even use this information to improve the ROAS of your paid campaigns, since you can run ads to regions where keywords will cost less.

In this section, you can explore your industry in detail to see how much PPC usually costs and the type of search volume you can get. You can also check its most expensive and popular keywords.

Position Tracking

How will you know if your campaigns are actually working if you don't measure the results? That's where Position Tracking comes in.

After setting Type to Google Ads, you can see your visibility, how your keywords are performing, your average ranking, and the estimated traffic you're getting.

It can even show whether your Google Ads have a positive or negative impact.

By clicking the Competitors Discovery tab, you can see your biggest competition in terms of ads, which will take you back to Competitor Research. It's a cycle, isn't it?

The Final Verdict: Should You Use SEMrush to Optimize Your PPC Campaigns?

All things considered, Pay-Per-Click is a rather intimidating thing to dive into when it comes to advertising your business. Don't go in blind or you could end up making very stupid, expensive mistakes. Take note of the possible challenges you could face, always make a plan beforehand, and know what tools you should use and how to use them.

SEMRush brings features you can use throughout the different steps of the PPC process. It's definitely a yes for me when it comes to campaign optimization. When used right, it can bring you insight and boost your productivity so you can  put together campaigns that actually help your business get seen and flourish. Sometimes, it's not just about working hard. You gotta work smart, too.

About the author

Corey Philip

Corey Philip is a small business owner / investor with a focus on home service businesses.

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