SpyFu Tutorial & Case Study: See More Data In Domain Ad History

I recently took my own endorsement advice and bought access to Spyfu for a PPC campaign I’m managing, which is having CTR trouble on some keywords.

Besides my use for my own campaign, the Spyfu membership – especially Domain Ad History tool – was useful in critically appraising this post from Epiphany, which discusses how Lego are apparently not buying keywords they’re targeting for SEO, an apparently obvious mistake. (Dofollow link because theirs was an honest mistake; I don’t think they deliberately made a silly mistake to linkbait.)

As I explained in a comment on that post, the problem with their criticism is that it’s based on their own searches for these terms. That ignores:

  • Ads being run at different times of day, aka dayparting, because some times convert better than others
  • Ads being run seasonally, for the same reason
  • Geographic targeting that may have excluded their area

And those are just the PPC factors at play. Inventory levels, competing marketing priorities for budget and other business issues can also limit what people do with their PPC, in a way us consultants can never know.

Fortunately, at least the PPC factors can be clarified if you’re a member of Spyfu. While Spyfu’s main audience is people who need to find competitors’ keywords, they’re also useful for appraising PPC sales leads etc.

In the Lego case, I looked up Lego.com in Spyfu’s Domain Ad History tool. That shows you all the keywords and ads used by a particular website.

Here’s what it looks like for Lego.com, after I filtered by keyword phrases that include the word ‘educational. Click to enlarge, click back to return here.

Spyfu Domain Ad History - Lego.com

Quick explanations of Spyfu charts:

1) When you click a keyword in the left-hand column, it brings up the window towards the bottom that shows you the ads run on that keyword.

2) Clicking any of the coloured boxes in the chart will also bring up that window.

3) The default sorting option is best keywords. Anyone with a brand will have these brand terms show up first; retailers who distribute merchants’ products can use these for inspiration. You can also sort by keyword, but then you get alphabetically-sorted data, as above.

4) Note the different options to export the data

5) The longer they bid on a keyword (e.g. the longer and more unbroken the row of coloured boxes), the more likely that keyword is profitable. Here are some broken and unbroken lines to compare what great keywords (brand terms, in this case) look like vs non-brand terms.

Broken lines in Spyfu

Unbroken lines in SPyfu indicate high converting keywords.

The problem is that there’s a cutoff after 50 keywords, and it looks like you can’t see more! What can do you?

Spyfu’s tech support pointed me in the right direction, with three options:


You: Oh, i have to keep clicking next?

Steve: Yes

Steve: We don’t have a good way to export the history yet

Steve: So you can export everything from spreadsheet view

Steve: Or click through the ad history … if there is a specific keyword you are wondering about … you can search for that in term ad history

Steve: And then scroll down to this domain again


Steve: The issue is that the gantt chart is a flash control … and we couldn’t have it keep going further and further down the page. It would cut off in the flash. So we had to make pages

Steve: Once you click “next” once …

Steve: Then you can see in the url num=50 or something like that

Steve: You can change that manually to jump down a few pages

Steve: For example num=500 … but that is more of a hack then a support way of using the UI

You: Ooooh neat – that’s valuable

You: it’s pleasant dealing with support staff who are knowledgeable !

Steve: sure thing, thanks for using SpyFu

Steve: have a good day, let us know if you have more questions

Notice the little text link that reads “Next,” above the upper-right corner of the chart, now? That’s how you see more.

Unbroken lines in SPyfu indicate high converting keywords.

So voila – take my advice and check out Spyfu for some valuable insights into competitors’ keywords, ad copy etc.

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  1. The images are broken.

    Comment by Mike - August 25, 2010 @ 2:43am
  2. Heya Gab, They're broken for me too... Cheers, Jon

    Comment by jon rognerud - August 30, 2010 @ 8:18pm
  3. I've updated to hotlink with images that end with a file extension, as opposed to being just /name . Can you guys tell me if that fixes it?

    Comment by Gabriel Goldenberg - August 30, 2010 @ 10:42pm

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