Between 2016 and 2017, Amazon was mentioned almost 3 times more frequently by senior executives on earning calls than any other company. It’s no wonder executives at public companies are obsessed with the retail giant. Even the threat of an Amazon entrance could result in a seismic shift in the market and put them out of business overnight. In other words, the SaaS world moves fast —  and the only way to keep up is to be one step ahead.
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 figure below, you can see I have set up a keyword rating spreadsheet. I first gathered keyword data from a keyword tool to populate the orange columns. In this example, I used the Google AdWords Keyword Tool. From there I began looking at each keyword and gave each one a score from one to 10. For some I built a formula to automate the process, which comes in handy with larger keyword lists.
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.
Strategic technique used to evaluate outside competitors. The analysis seeks to identify weaknesses and strengths that a company's competitors may have, and then use that information to improve efforts within the company. An effective analysis will first obtain important information from competitors and then based on this information predict how the competitor will react under certain circumstances.
Even more specifically, I’m talking about Google AdWords—the major player in this space—and Bing Ads, the next largest network of its type, which also handles PPC ads on Yahoo. AdWords and Bing Ads operate so similarly that the differences between them won’t affect the advice in this post. For practical purposes, when you’re just starting out, you can think of Bing Ads as a mini AdWords: smaller in terms of traffic but also in terms of cost, which can be appealing.
However, if “cheap renters insurance” doesn’t match your brand, then don’t use a phrase with higher search volume just to get more traffic. You want to attract more qualified leads not just more traffic. If your page more accurately matches a searcher’s intent, lower search volume could actually provide a higher number of qualified leads even though it may not generate as much overall traffic. In other words, if a keyword or search term doesn’t match your brand standards, don’t optimize for it, no matter how much traffic it could potentially drive.
It’s easy to notice what your competition is doing wrong, but what about the things they’re doing right? In order to compete, you must dissect all aspects of your competition by completing a SWOT analysis.  What are their customers happy about? What are they complaining about? Use this opportunity to dive into some qualitative competitor analysis. Go online and gather YouTube and Facebook comments, check out conversations on Twitter. If you can interact with your competitors’ customers face-to-face, go out and talk to them. You can use all of this information to your advantage.
In order to run a business smoothly, you need to do a lot of things. These things include doing a certain analysis. You forecast your profitability, decide what combination of resources to use, assign the work order to different employees and so on. The business does a SWOT analysis which is basically finding out the strengths and weaknesses of the company. It also manages to identify possible threats and opportunities the business might face due to external factors. Doing such things will help you to form a marketing strategy. With this strategy, you will look to run your business.
SEO competitive analysis is critical because it gives data about which tactics are working in the industry we are in and what we will need to do to start improving our keyword rankings. The insights gained from this analysis help us understand which tasks we should prioritize and it shapes the way we build out our campaigns. By seeing where our competitors are strongest and weakest, we can determine how difficult it will be to outperform them and the amount of resources that it will take to do so.

Competitive analysis can help frame your own product context, discover other problems your customers have, and even bond the team together against a common foe. For all of these reasons and more you shouldn’t ignore your competition. However, if you don’t properly understand how they impact your organization’s strategy, competitive analysis is simply a waste of time.
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.
1. More Powerful Personalization, Targeting and Campaign Analysis Capabilities: The capability for ever-more-specific PPC ad personalization and targeting (plus re-targeting) is available, but underused. You can, of course, target demographics and persona characteristics like age or income, customer type or purchase history/level (existing, repeat, prospect), sales funnel position, company role (for B2B ads) and more. Beyond these basics, you can now map the customer journey, learn how the visitor came to you and/or see much of the path taken to buy. This “attribution” insight can significantly improve the ROI of your 2018 campaigns; you’ll see what’s working and what isn’t, for better PPC strategies.

That said, if you’ve never had to come up with a keyword strategy before, it might seem a bit daunting to generate a list of terms that will drive qualified search traffic to your website. Not to worry. Creating an effective keyword strategy—figuring out which terms you should create content for—isn’t hard. It just involves a little bit of reverse engineering and some research.

Keyword research for PPC can be incredibly time-consuming, but it is also incredibly important. Your entire PPC campaign is built around keywords, and the most successful Google Ads advertisers continuously grow and refine their PPC keyword list. If you only do keyword research once, when you create your first campaign, you are probably missing out on hundreds of thousands of valuable, long-tail, low-cost and highly relevant keywords that could be driving traffic to your site.
Geography can also be used to predict desirable demographics and information about users in that area. Neighborhoods can often be delineated by residents’ income bracket, age, ethnicity, education, and many other demographics or interests. Politicians often draw district boundaries into areas of common political constituencies that also predict demographics or common values.
Keyword gap analysis is the process of determining which keywords your competitors rank well for that your own website does not. From there, we reverse-engineer why the competition is ranking well and then look at how we can also rank for those keywords. Often, it could be reworking metadata, adjusting site architecture, revamping an existing piece of content, creating a brand-new piece of content specific to a theme of keywords, or building links to your content containing these desirable keywords.
I have often gone on the record with my skepticism toward paid search campaign management software, and I have several reasons for being skeptical. My main concern has been that these tools over promise on features and under deliver on performance. They claim to replace the analyst by using algorithms to optimize campaigns, but in reality they replace the fun piece of the analysts job (improving results) and replace it with the tedious task of managing to get their campaigns to work properly in the software. I have been burned by this sales pitch twice and have written about this in a previous post called “Paid Search Bid Management Tools: Great Investment or Save Your Money?” – so feel free to read that post for more details.
It’s all about repeated exposure—while your previous site visitors browse other websites, your retargeting provider will show them ads for your services and products. Using retargeting, you can entice visitors back to your website and effectively convert these digital window shoppers into customers for your business. In fact, potential customers who are retargeted with display ads are 70 percent more likely to convert. Now, doesn’t that sound nice?

Keyword competitiveness lets you know which keywords often show up on other websites. This usually means that your keyword strategy concept exists on other sites. For B2B marketing and SEO, keyword competitiveness is a little different. Since keywords and themes are more specific, there’s a lower chance of other sites using the same keywords. Of course, remember that most B2B companies write about similar issues and concepts.
It’s actually ideal to use just one keyword per ad group. This is known as a single keyword ad group (SKAG). Try using this strategy, even for large accounts, with 80 percent of keywords that get or you expect to get the most traffic. You should most definitely employ this strategy for keywords that are getting the dreaded “Rarely shown due to low quality score” warning.

Your Sales ForceYour sales staff probably has more access to competitive information than anyone else in your organization. Customers often show salespeople sales literature, contracts, price quotes, and other information from competitors. Part of a salesperson's job is to get customers to discuss problems they have with a competitor's product. Customers will also reveal your competition's product benefits, strengths, and customer service programs. Instruct your sales force to ask for copies of any competitive literature if and when that's possible. Your entire sales staff should keep a record of all competitive information they discover — even if it's just a rumor or gossip. Devote a regular portion of each sales meeting to a discussion of the competition.  
Between 2016 and 2017, Amazon was mentioned almost 3 times more frequently by senior executives on earning calls than any other company. It’s no wonder executives at public companies are obsessed with the retail giant. Even the threat of an Amazon entrance could result in a seismic shift in the market and put them out of business overnight. In other words, the SaaS world moves fast —  and the only way to keep up is to be one step ahead.

When I was working with BLADE, an Uber-like helicopter service, we wanted to know why people would pay $600 for a 5-minute long helicopter ride from Manhattan to the airport, but not the other way. In this particular case, our competitor was sitting alone in a black car in traffic back to the city. The benefit was that they weren’t really in a rush and they could catch up on things. It was the only time they could be alone with their thoughts.
"Since consumers know what they are looking for, you can optimize your content around the core needs and problems your target audience experiences. It is your job to build an SEO strategy by knowing what your customers are looking for. This will allow you to create relevant content that your customers want to read, and as a result, your content will rank higher in Google."
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.

a) Look for any gaps ("0's") on you score sheet and try to fix them. Yes, to an extent–an "ideal" score would be all "4s" down your brand's column. However, that's not always possible and highly unlikely. That said, it might not be the most pertinent thing to address technical SEO issues if you can see that your area of greatest weakness is, for instance, building an audience. Look for the greatest difference in performance between your brand and your competitors, which will illuminate what their main legs-up are.


It's wonderful to deal with keywords that have 5,000 searches a day, or even 500 searches a day, but in reality, these popular search terms actually make up less than 30% of the searches performed on the web. The remaining 70% lie in what's called the "long tail" of search. The long tail contains hundreds of millions of unique searches that might be conducted a few times in any given day, but, when taken together, comprise the majority of the world's search volume.
What is PPC (pay-per-click) marketing? Pay-per-click marketing is a way of using search engine advertising to generate clicks to your website, rather than “earning” those clicks organically. You know those sponsored ads you often see at the top of Google’s search results page, marked with a yellow label? That’s pay-per-click advertising (specifically Google AdWords PPC, which we’ll talk about below).

"Cloaking" via IP delivery works differently from cloaking via "user agent". While IP address spoofing is harder than user-agent spoofing and more reliable, it is also harder to keep the list of IP addresses used by search engines for their crawlers up-to-date. An outdated list with active crawler IP addresses missing enables the search engines to detect the cloaking and may result in a removal of the site from the search engine's index.
When they started to open these “stores”, it didn’t make sense to advertise to everyone because not everyone would be near the pop-up stores. So instead, they only advertised within a small radius of their shop. By using geo-targeting to drive traffic to their shops, they were able to save money and resources while still achieving success in their pop-up shops.
What’s the difference between your brand and your keywords? Are you using both effectively? Your brand is one of your most important keywords, but it shouldn’t be your only keyword, nor should you have lots of keywords but no brand. There should be a keyword strategy behind the keywords you pick. This post highlights the why of that and explains the basis of the how, then points you to several useful posts for the how.

2. Define how will you measure success. This is probably one of the most important questions to answer before you begin any campaign. As a consultant, this is one of the first questions I ask a potential client. The answer as you might expect is page one ranking. If your objective is branding only, then this is fine, however, if like most organizations yours is a conversion strategy, then I would caution you to not be so short-sighted. Your objective should be how many conversions you want to achieve for each keyword. Top ranking will help you with visibility, which is a good thing, but if you bring in traffic from that keyword and those visitors do not engage and convert, then why bother? You must set your sights on keywords that convert.
2. Define how will you measure success. This is probably one of the most important questions to answer before you begin any campaign. As a consultant, this is one of the first questions I ask a potential client. The answer as you might expect is page one ranking. If your objective is branding only, then this is fine, however, if like most organizations yours is a conversion strategy, then I would caution you to not be so short-sighted. Your objective should be how many conversions you want to achieve for each keyword. Top ranking will help you with visibility, which is a good thing, but if you bring in traffic from that keyword and those visitors do not engage and convert, then why bother? You must set your sights on keywords that convert.
Understanding which websites already rank for your keyword gives you valuable insight into the competition, and also how hard it will be to rank for the given term. Are there search advertisements running along the top and right-hand side of the organic results? Typically, many search ads means a high-value keyword, and multiple search ads above the organic results often means a highly lucrative and directly conversion-prone keyword.
Take advantage of location extensions and call extensions to make it as easy as possible for local prospects to contact and reach you. When location extensions are enabled for your search ads, prospects in your specified, targeted areas will see your street address. A call extension, alternatively, provides either your phone number or a direct link to a phone line. Landing pages are often referred to as the leakiest part of the marketing funnel, and extensions such as these help cut out the middle ground and prevent the lead leakage.

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A lot goes into building a winning PPC campaign: from researching and selecting the right keywords, to organizing those keywords into well-organized campaigns and ad groups, to setting up PPC landing pages that are optimized for conversions. Search engines reward advertisers who can create relevant, intelligently targeted pay-per-click campaigns by charging them less for ad clicks. If your ads and landing pages are useful and satisfying to users, Google charges you less per click, leading to higher profits for your business. So if you want to start using PPC, it’s important to learn how to do it right.
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