Competitive Placement Strategy for Google Adwords

A well-structured and closely monitored search engine marketing campaign is at the heart of nearly every successful internet marketing strategy. I thought I’d start things off with a bang for our first whitepaper by sharing a really effective competitive search engine marketing strategy. The strategy I developed allows you to show ads on websites that are connected to your competitors. The beauty of my competitive placement strategy for Google Adwords is its simplicity.

In my strategy, I leveraged a combination of SEO data and Google Adplanner data to show Google Adwords ads on hundreds of websites that are directly/indirectly connected to my competitors.

Key benefits of the strategy:

  • Higher conversion rates due to the relevancy of the ad placements
  • High value as a branding solution
  • Particularly effective for service businesses (Plumbers, Lawyers, Dentists)
  • Intermediate level strategy, relatively easy to implement.

Required Tools:

  • Backlink Analysis Tool (I recommend Open Site Explorer or CognitiveSEO).
  • iMacros for Firefox (Record and replay repetitious work in your browser with the iMacros add-on – This tool can be a little tricky to grasp for novices).

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Run a competitive backlink report for your website and several key competitors. The larger the sample size for your competitors the better.
  2. Compile and cross-reference the inbound backlink data from your website and key competitors into a single-column excel sheet. (This will be a very long sheet with a ton of URLs)
  3. First, select column “A” and then text-to-columns it using the forward-slash symbol “/” as delimiters, as detailed in the screenshot below:
  4. Remove all the columns except for column “C”. This column should now only contain a list of the top-level domains.
  5. Filter the list for duplicates.
  6. Save the list as a .csv file with the filename “adplanner.csv” in your Imacros data sources folder.
  7. Sign in to your Google AdWords account and go to Google Adplanner – – This tool is provided by Google and allows you to check and see if a website is part of Google’s Display Network.
  8. Create a media plan and return to the “GDN Research” tab. Ensure that the correct media plan is selected.
  9. Now here’s the tricky part – open up the iMacros toolbar and copy+paste the following code into a new macro and save it for later.VERSION BUILD=8300326 RECORDER=FX
    TAB T=1
    SET !VAR1 EVAL("Math.floor(Math.random()*100 + 400);")
    SET !DATASOURCE adplanner.csv
    TAG POS=1 TYPE=SPAN ATTR=TXT:Addtomediaplan
  10. Play the iMacros script on a continuous loop with a maximum of 99999 overnight (this will ensure that all the URLs are checked automatically by the script).
  11. Let the script play overnight until it crashes from running out of URLs to check. This will take a long time, this is why I say let it run overnight. Each loop of the script is programmed to take 8-10 minutes.
  12. After the script finishes checking all the URLs, go to your media plan and review your potential placement opportunities!


The end result provides you with a competitive media plan that can be leveraged in creating a custom placement campaign on Google Adwords; targeting only the creme of the crop will increase conversion ratios while paying less for clicks. This strategy is highly effective and very easy to implement. The only downside is that Adplanner doesn’t allow bulk uploads to media plans, which is why I had to create the iMacros script to check the URLs in bulk (This part will take hours depending on how many URLs. Another way you could do this is by using competitive web traffic data from Compete instead of the competitive backlink data, however; backlink data is more accessible to smaller organizations and just as effective.