Targeting Competitor Keywords: My Favorite 3 Lower-Cost Alternatives

Joe Martinez
Last Updated: June 4, 2022 | Social Media
HomeBlogTargeting Competitor Keywords: My Favorite 3 Lower-Cost Alternatives

Targeting competitors’ keywords with Google As is effective but can get expensive. Which is why I recently shared a few ways you can target your competitors on Google Ads without using Search. These suggestions stayed within Google Ads, so in this post, I want to talk about other less expensive ways you can reach your competitors’ audience without using Google. We’ll be focusing on paid social instead. These include:

  1. Quora ads by topic or interest
  2. LinkedIn Member Groups
  3. Twitter follower Look-alikes

3 less expensive ways to target competitors on paid social

For this post, I’m going to pretend I have a client that is a CRM brand. If I am looking to target competitor keywords on Google Search, let’s take a look at the prices I may have to pay for these keywords in the United States.

$7.17 all the way up to $69.61

competitor keyword research example

Now let’s see if we can find less expensive, yet still effective, ways to target similar users. I acknowledge these aren’t going to be apples to apples comparisons in audience targets. I also acknowledge the user intent for search ads is different than with social media ads, but we can still get in front of a relevant audience that has shown interest in your competitors.

1. Quora ads topics or interests

Quora is a question and answer site that offers a variety of ways to target its users. The most specific form of targeting with Quora ads (but also the lowest volume) would be to target individual questions. If you only want your ad to show on a very specific question, you can do that.

how to target competitors on social - quora question 

If people are researching which CRM is the best, or in the example above what are the faults of certain CRMs, you can place your ad on that question to showcase why your product is the better option. But as I stated above, question targeting is not going to have a lot of volume, which is why I recommend targeting Topics or Interests first.

Quora question targeting is not going to have a lot of volume, which is why I recommend targeting Topics or Interests first.

All questions in Quora are categorized under Topics. If you target a Topic, your ad could appear on any question within that Topic, while a user is currently on the page. Interests use the same targeting options as Topics, the difference being that it will target people who have interacted with the questions or answers of a Topic at some point in the recent past.

how to target competitors on social - quora topics

In this case, I can find my competitors as Topics on Quora. What you can’t see in the image is that these five Topics have 200,000 to 300,000 weekly impressions. Pretty good volume. Now what is the recommended bid for these Topics?

how to target competitors on social - quora bid


$0.24 – $1.28. Even at the high end of the bid range, the amount is far less than what we’d have to pay for those above keywords on Google. I am pretty sure you can find a few areas in your accounts where ad spend is being wasted and bring it over to Quora to test.

>>Use our Free Google Ads Grader or Free Facebook Ads Grader to find wasted spend.

2. LinkedIn Member Groups

LinkedIn ads have a reputation of being expensive, but that doesn’t always have to be the case. There are several targeting options that are less expensive than the popular Job Title or Company match targets. I love to use Member Groups to find users who are interested in my services, or in this case, my competitors’ services.

In our example for this post, some member groups I could target are those for Salesforce, Zoho, Pipedrive, Agile, and Zendesk:

how to target competitors on social - linkedin groups 

These were just some of the Member Groups I could target. But targeting users who like to participate in active discussions about a product could be a pretty relevant audience. I will admit if users are dedicated to a particular product, they might be harder to convince to switch, so it’s worthwhile to visit each group and see what people are discussing. If you’re noticing complaints or pain points, or see that you can offer features better than what everyone is talking about, you may want to target these groups.

Now what is the cost for the Member Groups I picked above?

how to target competitors on social - linkedin bids

$12.65 – $27.87 with a recommendation of $17.24. If I choose manual bidding, the lowest bid I can use is $4.45— much lower than Google Search. Even if I use the bid recommendations from similar advertisers, it’s lower than Google Search. Another avenue I may want to test if I’m not getting the performance I want from competitor Search campaigns.

Individuals in groups dedicated to product users will be hard to convert, so visit the group first to see if there are complaints or pain points you can capitalize on.

RELATED: The 5-Step Competitor Keyword Analysis (+ Free Template!)

3. Twitter follower look-alikes

I will be the first to admit this is not as direct of a targeting option as my other examples, but it can work. In Twitter ads, you cannot target the followers of other accounts on Twitter, but what you can do is advertise to people who have similar behaviors as an account’s followers. How does Twitter determine a person fits within the look-alike?

Here’s what Twitter states: “We determine users similar to those who follow accounts based on a variety of signals, including what they Retweet, click on, Tweet, and more.”

When creating your ad group, head down to Targeting Features. You should easily see the Follower look-alikes section. Start typing in each of your competitor’s Twitter handles and select each one.

how to target competitors on social - follower lookalikes

Twitter is going to recommend targeting at least thirty accounts for follower look-alikes. Take that with a grain of salt. I recommend only choosing specific accounts that fit your target audience no matter how many that is. Now let’s look at the costs.

how to target competitors on social - twitter bids

$0.70 – $3.80. This ad group didn’t have any additional layers added to the targeting. We can see the bid suggestions are, once again, much lower than Google. While the targeting option is definitely not as relevant as keyword targets, you still can use your competitors’ brand recognition to try and reach a relevant audience.

Twitter recommends targeting at least thirty accounts for follower look-alikes, but I recommend only choosing specific accounts that fit your target audience no matter how many that is.

We have more options than targeting competitor keywords

Yes, users typing in keywords on a search engine like Google or Bing will have a deeper intent, but people visit many more websites than search engines. Paid social platforms can offer effective and much more affordable options when trying to use competitors in your targeting. As I mentioned earlier in the post, I am pretty sure every account can find areas to pause or clean up. Use this new ad spend to test out different paid media strategies in other channels. The results may surprise you.

⬆️.   There’s more where that came from! Here are three more (and cheaper) Google Ads alternatives for targeting competitor audiences.

Meet The Author

Joe Martinez

Joe Martinez is the Co-Founder of the Paid Media Pros YouTube channel. He is a regular contributor to WordStream and Social Media Examiner. He has also written for Search Engine Land, Marketing Land, PPC Hero, SEMrush, and more. He has hosted webinars for SEMrush, Unbounce, Quora, and Microsoft Ads. He regularly speaks at conferences and organizations such as SMX, HeroConf, Inbound, Pubcon, SMXL, and more. Finally, he was named a Top 25 Influential PPC Expert by PPC Hero in 2017-2021.

See other posts by Joe Martinez

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