One way to get a good idea of how your target market might view your industry is to just ask them. Using focus groups, questionnaires, and surveys can help you can gather information on popular businesses with products similar to your own. You’ll also get first-hand information of how customers feel about the products that are already on the market.
In the Google Sheets Template, I've provided you with the data points that we'll be collecting, the tools you'll need to do so, and then bucketed the metrics based on similar themes. The data we're trying to collect relates to SEO metrics like domain authority, how much traffic the competition is getting, which keywords are driving that traffic, and the depth of competitors’ backlink profiles. I have built in a few heatmaps for key metrics to help you visualize who's the strongest at a glance.
Because someone who is looking for something that specific is probably a much more qualified searcher for your product or service (presuming you're in the blogging space) than someone looking for something really generic. And because long-tail keywords tend to be more specific, it's usually easier to tell what people who search for those keywords are really looking for. Someone searching for the head term "blogging," on the other hand, could be searching it for a whole host of reasons unrelated to your business.
Not every keyword is worth ranking for. This may seem obvious, but it’s an important lesson for search marketers to learn. Often times we can get caught falling down the rabbit hole or chasing the long tail dragon to boost our rankings without thinking of the time and resources it takes to rank for these terms. Especially for highly competitive, high-volume keywords – it simply isn’t worth the time and effort it might take to get onto page one.
A company’s slogan, tagline, mission statement and unique value proposition — all of these are important when determining how you stack up against your competitors. What is the company’s key positioning and how does it compare with other companies in this space? How do they describe themselves? This section is your opportunity to include what you feel is valuable descriptive information. 

Some super awesome points here no doubt. What I like about this approach is it is hands on and not just ran via a site being scanned by a third party. Also when a new client comes to you and has these thoughts of ranking the highest in their particular industry you need to know that baseline of who is at the top. Many times when I have conducted a much lesser analysis than what is above I see some items right off the bat that can make that strong competition not so strong after some minor changes.
"Modern SEO focuses on using the variations of the word or phrase that work naturally within the content because users will have a better experience, and search engines are capable of rewarding rankings to sites regardless of the variation of that keyword used. In other words, when a shopper searches for 'books,' the pages that best serve that user’s search query will, in theory, be ranked highest regardless of whether the content reflects the word 'book' or 'books.'"
A company’s slogan, tagline, mission statement and unique value proposition — all of these are important when determining how you stack up against your competitors. What is the company’s key positioning and how does it compare with other companies in this space? How do they describe themselves? This section is your opportunity to include what you feel is valuable descriptive information. 
You can search for these types of competitors online (by doing a simple web search), or you can directly ask your current and potential customers what they are using already. You can also look for your direct and indirect competitors on websites such as Crunchbase and Product Hunt, and you can search for them in the Google Play and the iOS App Store.
Are they targeting low, middle, or high income customers? Look at their pricing information, including how they phrase it. If they use words like discounts, sale, affordable, or cheap, then they aren’t targeting the high income crowd. Also look at the marketing materials themselves, whether it’s a brochure or online banner. Are they attention-grabbing or elegant?
Not every keyword is worth ranking for. This may seem obvious, but it’s an important lesson for search marketers to learn. Often times we can get caught falling down the rabbit hole or chasing the long tail dragon to boost our rankings without thinking of the time and resources it takes to rank for these terms. Especially for highly competitive, high-volume keywords – it simply isn’t worth the time and effort it might take to get onto page one.
For example, say you run your own B2B marketing agency. If you’re advertising high-level digital marketing services, you want to make sure that the traffic you get from PPC campaigns only includes quality leads. Using negative keywords like “free” and “cheap” will help you avoid people who are not looking to pay for marketing services. If you only work with clients in the United States, you could also use location-based negative keywords. For example, to avoid keywords like “B2B marketing services in Russia” you could add “Russia” as a negative keyword.
In pay per click advertising, negative keywords prevent your advertisements from displaying for particular keywords. Identify the keywords that you don’t want your ads to show up for and add them to your negative keyword list. A well-researched Negative Keyword list will reduce the cost of your ad by filtering out non-converting traffic and irrelevant clicks. It also improves your ROI by reducing the average CPC.
Another method is to track your competitors’ links. Content marketing is often done in unison with link building. Your competitors most likely create content on blogging sites. Within the articles they submit, there are external backlinks that point back to their own websites. Those links can be followed like a trail of breadcrumbs to track what they’ve been up to. Moz and Majestic are tools that are great for doing this. Here’s a look at what Moz found when I looked up Easel.ly, an infographics company.
Working on common practice tasks such as negative matching, keyword expansion and more are the right things to do for an account, and there’s a proper place and time to do them. Without a policy governing how to manage our PPC accounts, we’re “stringing tactics together,” which creates misalignment between volume of work done versus meaningful work that’s impacting results positively.
WebSite Auditor scans pages for code errors, duplicate content and other structure-related issues they may have. Other than that, there is this on-page optimization module, which allows determining the ideal keyword placement and researches page elements that can be optimized. In WebSite Auditor you can also analyze competitor’s pages to compare of to improve own on-page strategy. There are actually more features, I just won’t be listing all of them here. But this is the best solution with regard to on-page optimization I found so far.
SpyFu displays side-by-side data on your competitors' paid and organic search results, so you can easily see where it's more cost-effective to bid on a particular keyword as opposed to trying to rank for  it organically. That way you can use your time more efficiently by writing content around those keywords that drive a lot of traffic but are more expensive to bid on.
City advertising[19] by advertising on web sites with extensive content related to particular cities. Such web sites can connect large city audiences with products/services for sale in those cities. Surfers searching for information about particular cities find adverts at such web sites as a result of city name related searches rather than product/service keyword searches. In this way businesses, e.g. shops, restaurants, can advertise and reach out to consumers located in the real-world localities of their product/service offerings.
It’s also best to look for those businesses that are of a similar size as yours. For example, if you’re a solo entrepreneur selling handmade potholders online, big chain grocery stores usually aren’t your direct competitors, even if they might carry handmade potholders in their inventory. Instead, look for other small to medium scale producers of handmade potholders and similar kitchen accessories.
The purpose of this guide is to provide a simple, actionable approach to building strategic PPC campaigns. Much of this is common sense and our goal with this guide is to lay out a strategic and procedural process allowing you to research and implement PPC campaigns that deliver the goods. In this chapter we teach you everything you need to know about putting your PPC strategy into action to begin converting browsers into buyers.

Then how can someone afford to pay $54.20 per click if it does not generate profit? The answer is simple: they are spending that money to build a brand and they are not focused on the profitability on that individual click; they are focused on profitability over time and they most likely have a budget assigned to building that brand. Not having to focus on achieving profit for individual click puts a company at a tremendous advantage for displaying their brand prominently in search results. It also makes it harder for profitability based marketers to compete.
Great article. This ties in perfectly with the article I just published yesterday. This checklist in conjunction with my competitor analysis, that is more based on keyword and traffic data, will really round out the research stage of your campaign. Taking a deep look at a competitors website just like you would do your own, can be a valuable exercise that drives strategy.
Best used to reach users who: live or move about in a certain area, for whom you have other data like preferences or demographic info Best used to find users who: are nearby your store, venue, or service; users who are in your parking lot, or entering a mall, for example  Best used to reach users who: are in a certain aisle of your store; who are on a certain bus or train; who are moving through a space like a museum
Increase Clicks: If you have a niche site that has high quality scores and impression shares, but not enough volume to spend your budget, you will want to increase the traffic sent to your site while maintaining control over click costs. This can be done by increasing bids, expanding your keyword list, improving click through rates and refining ad copy. All of these items can be adjusted/improved upon to help reach your budgeted spend.
It’s important to remember that online shoppers are humans, and to treat them as such. The examples below show two versions of the same ad for a fake cyber security business. While version A does provide potential customers with information about the company and the services it offers, it fails to address them as people or speak to the challenges or pain points they might be experiencing.
Create different ad groups. Each ad group consists of specific ads that share the same keyword. For example, if you’re a SaaS company, it makes sense to have an ad group for each product category you serve. The SaaS SEO company, MOZ, might have ad groups for keyword research, link building, site audits and web page optimization. Each group consists of different ads for that category.
Every time a search is initiated, Google digs into the pool of bidding AdWords advertisers and chooses a set of winners to appear in the ad space on its search results page. The “winners” are chosen based on a combination of factors, including the quality and relevance of their keywords and ad text, as well as the size of their keyword bids. For example, if WordStream bid on the keyword “PPC software,” our ad might show up in the very top spot on the Google results page.
Repeat this exercise for as many topic buckets as you have. And remember, if you're having trouble coming up with relevant search terms, you can always head on over to your employees on the front lines -- like Sales or Services -- and ask them what types of terms their prospects and customers use, or common questions they have. Those are often great starting points for keyword research.
Truly awesome stuff Zee! For those involved in doing competitive analysis for Local SEO, I would also add GMB Completion/Optimization, and NAP Profile Quantitiy/Quality (which can be checked via MozLocal and Majestic SEO). The conversion part of your analysis that you laid out is especially important in my opinion. Thank you for writing and sharing your insight!
Geofencing hinges on the use of a “fence”—a designated area that a marketer sets. Where geo-targeting allows you to get more granular and include or exclude certain users in the target area (based on demographic, for instance), geofencing is a bit more of a blunt object in that you’ll capture all users who move into a certain area. The purpose of creating a geofence is to target communications in a given zone, in a given context—just like geo-targeting, but with greater accuracy. Retail operators who want to catch the attention of shoppers as they pass by a store, for example, might use geofencing.
Great article. This ties in perfectly with the article I just published yesterday. This checklist in conjunction with my competitor analysis, that is more based on keyword and traffic data, will really round out the research stage of your campaign. Taking a deep look at a competitors website just like you would do your own, can be a valuable exercise that drives strategy.

Title tags appear optimized (editorially). Here is where we can add more context to the overall quality of the sample pages’ titles. Even if they are technically optimized, the titles may not be optimized for distinctiveness or written quality. Note that we are not evaluating keyword targeting, but rather a holistic (and broad) evaluation of how each competitor’s site approaches SEO factors. You should evaluate each page’s titles based on the following:
He is the co-founder of Neil Patel Digital. The Wall Street Journal calls him a top influencer on the web, Forbes says he is one of the top 10 marketers, and Entrepreneur Magazine says he created one of the 100 most brilliant companies. Neil is a New York Times bestselling author and was recognized as a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 30 by President Obama and a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 35 by the United Nations.
This can mean simply using pictures from the surrounding area or structuring the landing page around a theme that is relevant. A great example of this is Grubhub. If you access their site from Boston, you get completely different suggestions and images than you do if you access it from San Francisco. Not only does this engage the user on a personal level, it also draws them in to the page, keeping them clicking for longer.
When using the Keyword Explorer, Ahrefs will also produce the "parent topic" of the keyword you looked up, as you can see in the screenshot above, underneath the Keyword Difficulty meter. A keyword's parent topic is a broader keyword with higher search volume than your intended keyword, but likely has the same audience and ranking potential -- giving you more a valuable SEO opportunity when optimizing a particular blog post or webpage.
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