With the constant stream of new betas, introduction of format changes (hello Expanded Text Ads!) and a multitude of new targeting methods such as tablet bid modifiers and demographic bidding for search, paid search marketing continues to become more and more complex. Gone are the days when running ad copy tests, adding negative keywords, performing bid adjustments, and launching more targeted ad groups was sufficient to drive account growth. Today’s paid search advertiser must choose from hundreds of available account optimization strategies.
A quick and easy way to compare your product or service with similar ones on the market is to make a competition grid. Down the left side of a piece of paper, write the names of four or five products or services that compete with yours. To help you generate this list, think of what your customers would buy if they didn't buy your product or service.
So, fellow marketers, the secret is out—now you know that the key to really driving your conversion rate isn’t in minor copy or bidding adjustments. The true PPC CRO best practices require you to use negative keywords and to target keywords that your bottom-of-the-funnel prospects are searching for—including those that are pricing and service-oriented. You want to use high-converting ad formats, such as Google Shopping Campaigns and video ads, to capture the attention of your audience and engage them. Your landing pages should be designed well, easily browsable, and have fast loading times. It’s also important to personalize your ads so that your potential customers feel like you’re speaking directly to them, which also helps humanize your brand. Finally, use retargeting to remarket your products and services to previously interested visitors to your website, enticing them back and convert. 

There are a variety of benefits to incorporating ad customizers into your PPC ads, such as the ability to create a sense of urgency in your target audience and drive clicks. But the biggest boost that ad customizers can provide is that they improve the relevance of your ads, thus improving your quality score. You can also adjust such ad elements as color, size, inventory and stock details, pricing, and seasonal sales to capture the eyes of potential customers.

IT is more cost-effective to target already existing demand to increase your market share for more qualified leads. For more tips on how to prioritize your keyword strategy and your comprehensive search campaigns, check out Directive’s Complete Guide to B2B Marketing and Demand Generation. And be sure to subscribe to our blog for weekly updates on the most innovative industry-leading tactics!
Don’t forget, content marketing should be customer-centric. One of the best ways to know what content you should create is to find out from your customers. There are a number of ways to go about asking, whether it’s through customer surveys, social media, or just giving them a phone call. Listen to what they have to say, and jot down some unique ideas or suggestions that you might have missed yourself. Sometimes their responses can really surprise you!
More and more consumers are finding businesses online through search engines. How do they find them? By using keywords! Fortunately, you can take advantage of this consumer habit by optimizing your website around the keywords that are relevant to your business and which keywords consumers are using to find you online. This will increase your chances of getting found by people searching with those keywords, which will drive more and better quality traffic to your business’ website.
These are usually single-word keywords with insane amounts of search volume and competition (for example, “insurance” or “vitamins”). Because searcher intent is all over the place (someone searching for “insurance” might be looking for a car insurance quote, a list of life insurance companies or a definition of the word), Head Terms usually don’t convert very well.
Annual ReportsIf your competitor is a publicly-held company, many of its reports to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission are available on the SEC-Edgar Web site. Annual reports provide financial information, including sales volume, revenue increases, and their total market share. 10-K reports provide still more detail, and are supplemented by the quarterly 10-Qs. 8-Ks show significant events such as acquisitions and board membership changes when they occur between 10-K and 10-Q filings. Annual reports from privately-held corporations are sometimes available through friends, relatives, and business acquaintances who own stock in a competitor's company.  
You can use multiple different exclusion zones if you have an extremely particular region that you’re looking to target. The only caveat here is that you have to make sure you’re not being too narrow with your behavioral and demographic targeting. When you focus on too small a region, the size of your audience can get so small that it becomes practically impossible for Facebook to actually deliver your advertisements.
If you’re an ecommerce business, then you need to be running Google Shopping Campaigns. Consumers use Google’s search engine on a daily basis to find all kinds of products that they need (including yours), and running Google Shopping campaigns can help you connect with them. These campaigns pull product information, such as the product image, price, and merchant name, from your company’s Merchant Center data feed and conveniently display them to the viewer. Because it pulls this data each time a user makes a search inquiry, you can be assured that your product ads are always up to date and accurate (so long as you keep your data feed that way), keeping your potential customer from feeling confused or frustrated.
It can be easy to go down a deep rabbit hole with this process. There are thousands of blog posts with helpful hints (you’re reading one right now), and hundreds of tools that can potentially improve or otherwise streamline the process of researching keywords and devising a smart keyword strategy. That’s why we advise you keep things simple for starters. You can always layer on complexity as you gain experience. More than anything, good SEO efforts revolve around creating content experiments, measuring them, then doing more of what works and less of what doesn’t. Simpler is often better, especially if you are resource constrained. A good content governance strategy should dictate that you take on only as much as your resources allow.
An effective GTM strategy requires a deep understanding of your ideal customer, market and competition, product offering and pricing, and channels necessary to reach your customers. Competitive analysis helps you understand market dynamics so you can find an optimal way to reach your target customers. Analyzing your market and competition also helps you determine how your company and your product fits in the current environment.
The effectiveness of geo-targeting is only going to further improve as mobile use grows and location data becomes more accurate and available. The Local Search Association (LSA) just released data that found that, for the first time, mobile devices surpassed PC use in search for local businesses and services. As I reported last month, the majority of searches (52%) for local information on mobile devices occur either in the car or away from home or work.
Pick your battles. Sometimes a keyword is so competitive, it's best to let it go. Focus on keywords where you have the most opportunity to move up in the ranks. Moving up from a ranking of 60 to 50 won't have much of an impact, but moving from a ranking of 15 to 8 pushes you from Page 2 to Page 1 of Google's search results, where you'll have a much better chance of being found.

In the last year, Google and Bing have both indicated a shift to entity-based search results as part of their evolution. Google has unscored this point with rich snippets and Knowledge Graph, and Bing has now upped the ante on personal search results with Bing Snapshots. Find out how you can adopt strategies to stay ahead of the curve in the new world of semantic search results.

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.
Remember that you are the jockey, the driver and the visionary. The best horse cannot win the race without the jockey – it is important to believe in your business and live by example through the core values of your business. An entrepreneur should show commitment, determination, leadership, tolerance of risk, creativity, self-reliance and the ability to adapt to excel.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, I’ve got some good news for you: you don’t have to spend countless hours manually creating custom landing pages for every ad group. Instead, use dynamic text replacement. Dynamic text replacement allows you to replace certain areas of text with with specific keywords. For example, you could use dynamic text replacement to change the heading and CTA of a landing page to the specific keyword that a user searched for. That way, when they visit your landing page, it appears to be a completely personalized experience.
"My favorite part about voice search is just how clear the intent is in the query. For example, if I typed in 'hotels in the Bahamas', you’d have no idea whether I was looking for a romantic getaway, a singles trip or a family vacation. Chances are the results would be different for each. But if I asked Cortana, 'which are the best family-friendly hotels in the Bahamas,' then a far more targeted result could be served.
To do this, you want to analyze your analytics frequently by keyword and observe visitors’ behavior when they come to your website or landing page. Don’t fixate on just traffic alone. How much time are they spending on your site? What is the average number of pages they are viewing? What is the bounce rate? A high bounce rate like 80 percent will tell you that most of your visitors leave your site immediately upon landing on your site. They’re not engaged and see no content clues they arrived at their desired destination. This can be fixed by making changes to your landing pages as long as they are relevant to the keywords that brought them there.
If your competitors tend to blog three times a week compared to your one article every two weeks, it will be beneficial for your company to start generating more traffic to your site by blogging more frequently about relevant topics. Don't just blog because you want to add more content, it won't generate more traffic if the content your adding isn't remarkable.
On the Internet, geotargeting can help small businesses to compete with national brands and can ensure that large corporations effectively make use of their advertising resources. For example, a manufacturer of gasoline-powered electric generators may run ads in May and June targeted at residents of the Atlantic and Gulf coastal regions of the United States in preparation for the upcoming hurricane season. As another example, suppose you are a literary agent just getting started in the business and you are looking for authors to write books about cowboys and ranchers. Your website might tailor the content to be of special interest to residents of the western United States.
Surprisingly, you can mine a lot of useful intelligence from employee reviews on Glassdoor. Because employees leave anonymous feedback, they don’t hold back on what they love (and don’t love) about their employer. You can often uncover cultural aspects of the organization by reading how employees perceive senior leadership and whether or not they enjoy working there.
Do they have separate marketing messages for different segments? Sometimes, you might see a stark difference between how your competitor markets their business for one type of customer versus how they present themselves to another type of customer. For example, if you're trying to sell services as a math tutor to high school students who are struggling to pass their math subjects, you'll be making a completely different pitch than you would to those students who need additional help with their SAT math so that they could get into prestigious universities. Your message to the struggling students might be closer to "I'll help you finally pass your math tests!" While your message to the other market will be similar to "I'll help you get into the school of your dreams!" Also, be sure to note if your competitor does something similar with their own customer segments. 
GREAT suggestions, Nicholas! I've definitely customized this checklist for clients' various needs too (some care about having an "email signup form" as something to check, while others are international and we'd need to make sure their href lang tags were correct). Please keep the recs coming–this checklist will only get better as we make it work for different scenarios :)
Unless you have a budget to conduct formal research, its best to use available resources such as news articles, industry journals, analyst reports, the company’s website, marketing collateral, company reports and so forth. You may also want to do a general blog search to find out what their customers’ and others are saying about the company and the products they offer. Networking events and tradeshows also present great opportunities to collect data about your competitors. Your more loyal customers may also share information with you.
1. Branding or converting strategy. One of the first things to consider in developing a keyword strategy is what you want to accomplish when you reach your target audience. Do you just want to generate an impression for branding purposes or do you want to invite them to your place where you get them to make a purchase? Here are three types of strategies to consider:

Exhaustive – Your keyword research should include not only the most popular and frequently searched terms in your niche, but also to the long tail of search. Long-tail keywords are more specific and less common, but they add up to account for the majority of search-driven traffic. In addition, they are less competitive, and therefore less expensive.
This data gives us a starting point to build out complex keyword mapping strategy documents that set the tone for our client campaigns. Rather than just starting keyword research by guessing what we think is relevant, we have hundreds of keywords to start with that we know are relevant to the industry. Our keyword research process then aims to dive deeper into these topics to determine the type of content needed to rank well.
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