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How to do Paid Search Analysis using Ahrefs?
How to do Paid Search Analysis using Ahrefs?

Use the helpful Paid Search reports in Site Explorer to fully uncover your competitors' paid ad strategies in Google

Constance Tan avatar
Written by Constance Tan
Updated this week

Spy on your competitors' ads to understand their ad strategy, and what competition they face. In Ahrefs, we regularly collect SERPs for all keywords in our database, and report whenever ads show up as results, and what they look like.

Ahrefs' Site Explorer has several features and reports related to search ads in Google that can assist you when doing Paid Search Analysis to answer questions like:

  • What keywords are my competitors bidding on?

  • What Ad cop(ies) do my competitor use?

  • Which pages are they spending the most on?

  • How has the ad strategy changed over time?

  • ...and more!

Do PPC Keyword Research

Ahrefs has average Cost Per Click (CPC) estimations for keywords. This allows you assess how expensive and competitive a keyword can be, when bidding for ads.

Any report in Ahrefs that has keywords data will have a column for its average estimated CPC:

average cost per click in Ahrefs

Get a paid search overview of any website

First thing you'll see after opening a website's Overview report in Site Explorer are 3 main sections that contain paid search data:

Overview of a website's paid search data in Ahrefs

  1. Metrics for Paid search: Total estimated monthly paid traffic, and paid keywords where your target website is running search ads for, as of today.

  2. Performance chart: allows you configure and view Paid traffic, and paid traffic cost over time for a website.

  3. Traffic by Location: view the distribution of Paid traffic by location.

Compare the paid traffic of multiple websites

Add up to 10 competitors in the Performance graph, and select "Paid traffic" as the metric to compare all competitors with your target website:

Create a graph comparing multiple websites' paid traffic over time

🚀 Learn more about what the Overview Report can do

View the keywords that drive the most paid traffic

Paid keywords report in site explorer

Each keyword in the Paid keywords report helps to give useful information, such as:

  • The ratio of traffic coming from the keyword that is paid vs organic.

  • Position of the Ad (Top ad, Bottom ad, Shopping ad)

  • The URL of the page that the ad is running.

Analyze Ads and their positions in the SERPs

SERP overview allows you see the actual search results shown at the time for a particular keyword. You can filter for different kinds of ads, and they will be highlighted:

see top ads and their ad copies using SERP Overview

You can use SERP overview to compare SERPs and see how the SERP (and the ads on it) have changed over time:

comparing the SERP on two dates show different kinds of ads in top results

This is particularly useful to get a feel of the SERP and how the ads affect the search experience for your target keyword.

View the history of ads that have shown up for a keyword

In the Paid keywords report, you can open the Ad position history chart to view a visual snapshot of pages that have run search ads for your target keyword:

ad position history graph in Ahrefs

This graph is particularly useful in understanding how frequently ads -from each website- are seen over time. Hover over the coloured bars to view the ad copy, and the date that the ad was seen:

hover to see ad copy and URL of any ad

🚀 Learn more about what the Paid keywords report can do

Find which pages are spending the most

The Paid pages report allows you sort by the highest total Traffic cost estimated for running ads to pages of your target website:

paid pages report in ahrefs

This report is also handy for comparing the number of pages that have ads running, versus the traffic it receives from ads over time.


Select different metrics in performance graph to see how they trend:

Different ways to use the performance graph in Paid pages report

🚀 Learn more about what the Paid pages report can do

Note: Data about paid ads relies on how often ads show up in the SERPs we receive from Google. If the search results we receive do not contain ads, we won't be able to capture the ads, or estimate the paid traffic going to them.

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