For branding campaigns, your budget is often not an issue. You may have a fixed budget or your budget may be seemingly limitless. It doesn’t matter, because with this strategy the focus is on position; and in most cases only position #1 will do. This is often the easiest strategy to execute for paid search, but it’s also inefficient. The reality is that bidding into the top position in search results is often a waste of money. Google has gone on the record as saying that conversion rates don’t vary much by position, so in many cases all that the first position buys you in paid search is brand awareness (and vanity).
The first step in this process is determining who are the top four competitors that we want to use for this analysis. I like to use a mixture of direct business competitors (typically provided by my clients) and online search competitors, which can differ from whom a business identifies as their main competitors. Usually, this discrepancy is due to local business competitors versus those who are paying for online search ads. While your client may be concerned about the similar business down the street, their actual online competitor may be a business from a neighboring town or another state.
Stadiums, airports, universities, and malls are examples of specific venues that can be targeted in order to reach specific interest groups. Stadiums provide a great opportunity to focus on specific short engagement events with an audience defined by that event. They often host fans from two specific cities or schools or fans of a specific music genre that is heavy in one demographic. A band like One Direction, for example, is likely to attract school-age female fans.

Try to match the offer you make on your pages (product, service, message, etc) to the visitor’s specific location. This sounds simple but requires careful thought and planning. Measure funnel performance for visitors that are geo-targeted versus a control group – are people finding this “filtration” helpful or confining in a way? Statistically, do visitors that are directly served with local offers differ in behavior than those that are asked to “choose your location”? Test it!

Of course, many small businesses don’t have the time or expertise to run tests on the successes and failures of their PPC campaigns. This is why simplified tools that use complex machine learning to do the testing for you are so helpful to manage PPC for small businesses. If you’re a small business owner and want to take it on yourself though, follow the winning strategies above to get started on the right track!
This is another great way to position yourself as a “go to” for information within a community. Surround your campaigns or newsletters around what’s going on in a specific area. If a town that you have a lot of subscribers from holds an antique fair once a year, use it in your marketing campaign. In your newsletter for that area, include tips and tricks on how to bargain prices, articles about the best booths from the year before and sales surrounding your own products that would speak to that target audience.

You will likely run into some difficulties along the way, and you may need to develop a hybrid strategy to achieve your goals. For example, I have often broken out campaigns between profitability focused keywords and brand focused keywords in order to satisfy clients. This is especially useful when someone demands visibility for certain keywords but does not give enough budget to achieve that visibility. The same goes for balancing visibility and profit.


For this reason, some companies have taken a more direct measurement approach ‎to IP geolocation vs. trying to infer it through ping triangulation.  It’s far more ‎straightforward, but requires a lot more manual effort.  Basically, these companies ‎send cars out to drive up and down every street in the country and log WiFi IP ‎addresses as well as their physical location to populate the same table that more ‎traditional geolocation companies build through technical means.   Google and ‎Skyhook both use this approach. 
It's important to check that you have a mix of head terms and long-tail terms because it'll give you a keyword strategy that's well balanced with long-term goals and short-term wins. That's because head terms are generally searched more frequently, making them often (not always, but often) much more competitive and harder to rank for than long-tail terms. Think about it: Without even looking up search volume or difficulty, which of the following terms do you think would be harder to rank for?
Use Google Keyword Planner and your list of potential search ideas to create a list of terms/phrases that align with your brand and that, ideally, aren’t highly competitive. Google ranks competitiveness in Keyword Planner, seen above. You can also get an idea of how competitive a keyword search is by looking at the price of the suggested Adwords bid. Competitive search terms are typically much harder to rank for.

Unfortunately, whilst digital marketing provides these tools, most advertisers still find themselves in a situation where they don’t know what is working. The ubiquity of search engines in our modern lives has led advertisers to skip straight past considerations for strategy, planning, and measurement and dive straight into tactical marketing efforts like Pay-Per-Click and SEO, where they are as equally unsure if their efforts are delivering a meaningful return for their business.


As of 2017, there are over 5,000 products in the martech sphere alone competing for business in complex and overlapping ways. Some companies leverage their expertise and resources to enter new markets. Salesforce is a great example; look at the number of martech categories it’s listed in. With so much competition, SaaS companies can't win on features alone; they must win on brand and customer experience.
Geofencing mostly uses GPS technology (which communicates with the tiny chip in your phone) to cordon off an area with a virtual fence. When a device moves into (or out of) the space defined by the fence, triggers are sent, and the user will receive a notification, for example a text or push notification (provided they are opted into those channels).
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.  
A quality ad account in 2018, according to Google, is an “autopiloted” account; the more options that are delegated to Google Ads, the better. However, even if Google is now able to decide on its own which banner size will fit best on a particular website, it is still your responsibility to provide catchy text, relevant images, and the right keywords.
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!
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.
Michiel wrote about Homepage SEO, telling people not to try and rank their homepage for a specific keyword. In the comments there were clearly some misconceptions about how branding relates to your keyword strategy. We’ve been writing a lot about keyword research lately but we’ve not talked about keyword strategy much, so this post elaborates on what these are and how they connect to each other.
You will likely run into some difficulties along the way, and you may need to develop a hybrid strategy to achieve your goals. For example, I have often broken out campaigns between profitability focused keywords and brand focused keywords in order to satisfy clients. This is especially useful when someone demands visibility for certain keywords but does not give enough budget to achieve that visibility. The same goes for balancing visibility and profit.
Twitter is also a great place to get guidance about what's popular as it relates to your search terms. Just type a word or phrase into the search bar and see what trending topics come up. You can also use social media monitoring tools like Hootsuite, which allows you to create a stream based on a particular phrase and monitor mentions of it, or TweetReach, which gives you a similar quick analysis. 
Conduct Research Professional marketing research, such as focus groups and questionnaires, can provide you with valuable information about your competition. While a marketing research firm can save you time and legwork, it can be quite expensive and simply not a possibility for new and growing businesses. Much of the information you need in order to profile your competitors is readily available to all business owners. As your business grows and expands, you should consider supplementing your own research efforts with some formal research conducted for you by an outside firm. Before you begin seeking out the sources listed below, keep in mind that you need to obtain answers to the following questions:
Comparative user testing to the rescue: you ask the participants to evaluate your website as well as the websites of your top 2 competitors. To avoid biased feedback, try not to disclose which company you are with, and mix up the order in which you show the websites to the participants. Not to overwhelm the participants, limit the number of websites to 3 per person.
Below, you can find our suggested stages for implementing your keyword strategy, specifically if you are trying to get a newer business with a branded service / product to rank higher in an industry with competitors who have already established a presence in the main search engines. We leave it up to you to decide when it is best to move to each stage. In our opinion, what works for SMEs that need to boost their presence on the web is to develop a keyword strategy that starts out general, without worrying too much about competitors. This strategy can then evolve over time to include more and more branded keywords as well as aiming for some SERPs of better-known competitors.
Many marketers experience this issue during PPC campaigns: They’re attracting the attention of their audience and driving traffic with their ads, yes—but those website and landing page visits aren’t resulting in the amount of conversions they would have expected. If you are also experiencing this, your ads may be targeting consumers who aren’t quite in the decision stage of their buyer’s journey through the use of too many top-of-the-funnel (TOFU) keywords in your ad copy.
You will likely run into some difficulties along the way, and you may need to develop a hybrid strategy to achieve your goals. For example, I have often broken out campaigns between profitability focused keywords and brand focused keywords in order to satisfy clients. This is especially useful when someone demands visibility for certain keywords but does not give enough budget to achieve that visibility. The same goes for balancing visibility and profit.

…Well, this is a best practices post, right? It may seem obvious to use the highest converting ad formats in your PPC campaigns to boost their conversion rate, but many marketers don’t actually know what these optimized ads look like—nor that they can do the optimizing themselves even after their ads go live! In this next section, we’ll break down a few important ad formats and options that you should have on your radar and use to maximize your conversion potential:
The central idea behind geotargeting is that understanding a consumers real-time — or past —location helps marketers achieve the holy grail of delivering the “right message at the right time.” In a simple example, an adult customer visiting car dealerships is likely interested in buying a car, and serving a local Honda ad to this customer more likely to be successful.
Now the ad servers don’t create this table themselves, they license it from another ‎company like MaxMind or DigitalEnvoy, whose primary business is geolocation ‎data.   This is no enviable task; IP addresses themselves don’t necessarily have an ‎obvious pattern in the way they are assigned like a telephone area code would.  It’s ‎a bit like solving a mystery, and the geolocation companies use a variety of ‎methods to approach the problem.  ‎

Bonus Trick: Try typing in your basic keyword phrase, followed by every letter of the alphabet, and making a list of those phrases. If your product or service is specific to locations, try typing in those locations to see what kind of search volume exists. (Are alternative energy tax credits more commonly searched in Austin compared with Cleveland?)

For small businesses, PPC can be competitive and expensive, which is why many struggle to break through. Especially when they are competing with bigger companies with sophisticated digital marketing departments and huge budgets. The good news is it IS possible for small businesses to compete with larger, established companies for clicks. Being a little bit smarter and nimble will make all the difference.


Other EmployeesYour employees working in other areas of the company also become exposed to competitive information. They interact with others in their industry area and often learn what your rival is doing or hear gossip and rumors. Make sure your entire staff knows they should share any information concerning the competition immediately. Former employees of a competitor can provide you with insight on: your competitor's new products, marketing strategies, how-to improve productivity and employ other resources more effectively, and what your competitor's general working environment is like.  
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.
For example, if a user from a high income neighborhood visits a car dealer’s site or clicks on a paid search display ad, that consumer may be directed to a landing page displaying a luxury vehicle, while consumers located in a lower income area may be targeted with a deal on an economy vehicle. The higher income consumers may be more interested in deals such as cash off or lower interest rates whereas those in lower income brackets may be more receptive to lower monthly payments.
You may be wondering why these seemingly different strategies are included as one. The reason is that the strategy is the same: Getting the most out of your budget. The only difference is the tactics to achieve that strategy. Sure you may need to look at different metrics and dimensions of your campaigns to maximize your budget, but in the end you achieve the same thing.

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:


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.
Use the Keyword Planner to flag any terms on your list that have way too little (or way too much) search volume, and don't help you maintain a healthy mix like we talked about above. But before you delete anything, check out their trend history and projections in Google Trends. You can see whether, say, some low-volume terms might actually be something you should invest in now -- and reap the benefits for later.

When setting up conversion experiments that test different page elements, it may be valuable to make a prior segmentation that is location-based. Testing different ideas and approaches when location is taken into account, usually creates very interesting insights. What will work better for your funnel – showing your traffic from Spain pages in Spanish or English? Will you quote Euro or Dollar?
The gap between your goal and your recent performance should guide how you choose from the menu of strategy options. If you have aggressive growth targets and are consistently meeting or exceeding your ROAS threshold, then you should primarily focus on growth initiatives, and sprinkle in a few efficiency optimizations to ensure that you’re not wasting spend. If you are not achieving your ROAS goal, you’ll want to focus primarily on efficiency optimizations. If you fall somewhere in the middle of these two scenarios, you should select an even mix of growth and efficiency efforts.

When an ad mentions the target customer’s region or city, such as Chicago, this approach has proven to deliver a much better response rate than running a national campaign that doesn’t include a location. “It goes back to the messaging aspect,” Fritz explains. “Your geolocation ad targeting is much more effective. That’s because it connects more deeply with prospective customers than a generic advertisement. You are running a social advertisement that is very specific to someone in a particular place. This could be Cleveland, New York City, Miami, Dallas, Los Angeles, or whatever area you have targeted.”
Some websites regard visitors in different ways. For example, blogs are not as concerned with their visitor type, so long as they are drawing in visitors. In short, having an audience matters more than who makes up the audience. A business website, on the other hand, is looking for a certain type of traffic. This traffic should come from your target market. To make this happen, creating a keyword theme is necessary.
Yes, that sounds like it would be awesome. Another great update would be to add a script that populates the spreadsheet automatically from a file structure containing the downloads (organic KWs and Links) to save copying and pasting everything. I’m going to have a chat with a friend in the Analytics space to see if he can help. Will share any successful output.
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