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.  
Instead, SEO now takes a multi-faceted approach where you’re involving different disciplines (i.e. content, email, advertising, social), building a brand (i.e. investing in intangibles, not just conversions), and competing on multiple fronts (i.e. paid search positions, review & aggregation sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, beefing up your local listings, and more) – all at the same time.
Say our real estate marketing business really starts to blow up. We make a few new hires and start to divide Manhattan up into regions, with each new employee responsible for a new section. Each one is responsible for marketing within their region. We can easily carve out an “excluded” area within any local awareness region to, for example, exclude a particular zip code that we’re not responsible for from our ad’s targeting. That lets us save money by not targeting customers that we don’t really want to be attracting:

We at SEMrush continuously monitor Google’s updates, as the search engine rarely stands still. While testing the updates that are most likely to impact advertisers, we have come to the conclusion that Google is moving in the direction of “autopiloted” campaigns. The message is clear, the more you delegate to Google Ads’ artificial mind - bids, placements, banner sizes, etc. - the more benefit you and your customers will get from the campaign.

The personal intent targeting is nearly as strong as search, which is really saying something! The Q&A format of Quora lends itself to fairly specific intent (e.g., "What is a good program for learning data science online?"). That question is loaded with high-quality intent potential for my client, and anyone clicking on it likely wants to actually discover the answer.


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.


By sharing this information, you can align all stakeholders that are involved with any kind of messaging (i.e., print, TV, PR, SEO, PPC, email, blog posts, etc.) and get everyone consistently using your targeted keywords. As your audience observes messages from each of these channels, they will see that consistency. This can highly influence which keywords they then use when they use a search engine to find you or your products. These are, of course, keywords you already rank well for, which will help to increase visibility and branding even more for your entire organization.
While doing the marketing competitor analysis you have to consider everything in SWOT. For that, you need to assess the external factors. This is where the PEST analysis comes into play. By doing the PEST analysis, you are getting to know how your competitors will react when there is a change. Will they consider that change an opportunity to do better or see it as a threat? This will give you an idea as to how your rivals operate. You can even base your marketing strategy on their ideas. Supposing there is a social change and your competitors cannot deal with it. However, your firm can. So you will try to strategize to take full opportunity of that social change so that you come out better than your opposition.
It simplified the ways that an organization can compete into four: cost leadership, differentiation, the focus on cost, and the focus on differentiation. Since the inception of Five Forces there has been a lot of discussion about how helpful the categories are, but it seems to be part of everyone’s strategy and competitive toolbox, especially for MBAs.
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.
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.
After setting your campaign goal and choosing the right platform for your ad, the next step is to plan your ad targeting for your most relevant audience. There are two types of targeting. You can target audience for a specific geographic location and you can also optimize your campaign for a specific device type, operating systems and wireless networks.
Customer preference of products is only part of the analysis. There are internal operational factors which can provide a competitive edge as well. Your competitors' products may not have the high quality of yours, but they might offer free delivery; or their employees might be extremely motivated and committed to gaining market share. You need to learn how they are doing on the inside. Some factors to consider:
You’ve probably been hearing more and more about retargeting in the couple of years or so, and for good reason too. Retargeting campaigns use cookies to keep track of the internet users who visit your site so that you can continue to market to them once they leave. Have you ever shopped for an item and then suddenly noticed it following you around on other sites? That’s retargeting. And believe it or not, it really works.

Some examples of typical insights from this document would be the average number of referring domains that our competitors have and how that relates to our own backlink profile. If we are ahead of our competitors regarding backlinks, content creation might be the focal point of the campaign. If we are behind our competitors in regards to backlinks, we know that we need to start a link building campaign as soon as possible.


Now as searchers start to gather information, they begin to refine their search and start using more specific terms. Then finally they begin to use very specific terms. They have switched from information gathering to a transactional mode. If someone searches on the term “canon eos mark III,” what does that suggest about their intent? That they have done their research and are ready to buy. So do you send them to your home page? Absolutely not. You need to send them to your product page that has the product, its features, maybe related products, the price, and most importantly the “buy now” button. They don’t need more information; they’re probably price shopping and are looking for a trusted source with the best price.

Trade AssociationsMost professional trade associations compile and publish industry statistics and report on industry news and leaders through trade association magazines and newsletters. Most trade associations also sponsor trade shows and other professional meetings. This is an opportunity to see first-hand what your competition is producing. It also provides the opportunity to discover new players who may soon become your competition.  
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.  
In B2B, the term target customer (or ideal customer profile) refers to both the company and decision maker profiles. We can’t fully grasp the pains and challenges of a decision maker without looking into his/her organization —  and their stakeholders. Larger organizations can throw more money at problems than a smaller, more agile company. Even decision makers with the same title, same goals, and same challenges might have different priorities and stakeholders to convince depending on the size of their organization.
It’s critically important to ensure you are collecting good data, and to do this you must correctly configure Google Analytics and Google AdWords to share data. It is important that this is customised to your reporting needs and individual objectives as you can then use that data to optimise your campaigns. This chapter outlines how to measure your campaign to enhance your PPC strategy.
The use of semantic search has completely changed the way we perform modern search queries today. A decade ago, people stuck with what was short and simple. If they wanted to find the best pizza places in New York City, they would type in “Pizza New York.” However, with Google’s Hummingbird update and the algorithmic improvements to semantic searches, people now are more inclined to type in “Where is the best pizza place in New York City.”
Steve Webb is an SEO audit specialist at Web Gnomes. He received his Ph.D. from Georgia Tech, where he published dozens of articles on Internet-related topics. Professionally, Steve has worked for Google and various other Internet startups, and he's passionate about sharing his knowledge and experiences with others. You can find him on Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn.
Gather Competitive Information Secondary sources of information are recommended as an excellent starting point for developing a competitive and industry analysis. Secondary sources include information developed for a specific purpose but subsequently made available for public access and thus alternative uses. For example, books are secondary sources of information as are articles published in journals. Marketing reports offered for sale to the general public also are considered secondary sources. Although, they have been created for a purpose other than your current need, they are still excellent sources of information and data. With the ever increasing speed of document identification and retrieval through electronic means, secondary sources are not only an inexpensive source of information but are readily available soon after publication. Sources of information include:
Geo-targeting in the most traditional sense uses IP addresses to figure out where users are. Every internet-connected device has a unique IP. It’s like an address for your computer, tablet, phone, or wearable. The first three digits provide a country code. The digits after that indicate specific areas within a country, down to state, city, and postal code. To learn more about the tech behind geo-targeting, geoedge.com is a good source.
As I consult and train people on Internet marketing, I typically ask whether keyword research is a strategic function or a tactical one. Often people think it’s tactical because of the tedious nature of the work. I submit it is not only strategic but also foundational to all marketing channels you will use. If you take the time up front to outline a killer keyword strategy, you will find your campaigns will be higher performing and more successful. In this column, I will outline seven tips for developing a killer keyword strategy you can use to take your campaigns to a higher level.
By sharing this information, you can align all stakeholders that are involved with any kind of messaging (i.e., print, TV, PR, SEO, PPC, email, blog posts, etc.) and get everyone consistently using your targeted keywords. As your audience observes messages from each of these channels, they will see that consistency. This can highly influence which keywords they then use when they use a search engine to find you or your products. These are, of course, keywords you already rank well for, which will help to increase visibility and branding even more for your entire organization.
The use of semantic search has completely changed the way we perform modern search queries today. A decade ago, people stuck with what was short and simple. If they wanted to find the best pizza places in New York City, they would type in “Pizza New York.” However, with Google’s Hummingbird update and the algorithmic improvements to semantic searches, people now are more inclined to type in “Where is the best pizza place in New York City.”

Like most advertising techniques, geo-targeting predates the internet. Local papers, radio and television programs have long been used to reach customers in a particular region with ads. These advertisements were customized for the local audiences where possible, a process that we now call optimization. Digital technology has simply made this practice more widespread. The major innovation that has increased the effectiveness of geo-targeting is the addition of other data points beyond simple location.
Research: These searchers are further down the funnel than informational searchers. They’ve already decided that they want to buy a product, but they haven’t quite decided which one is best. They’re looking for more information, so product keywords usually include words such as "review", “top 10”, “comparison”. And while it may look like spam to you, a word like “cheap” can actually help turn researchers into conversions.

In Google Analytics you can do this by using the same path we detailed before: Traffic Sources > Search > Organic > Advanced filter. Enter a specific keyword or use the RegEx generator to cover all the possibilities that you have in mind. Make sure that you create at least two advanced filter: one that includes all your branded keywords, and another one that excludes them.
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.

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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