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.
But what is a brand keyword? A brand keyword is the keyword used to search for a company name. The term branding stems from the literal act of branding cattle with a hot brand. You “mark your ownership” by branding a cow. You can “own” a product group too by putting your brand on it. Our brand is “Yoast”. It’s not “WordPress SEO”, nor is it “Google Analytics”. Those are keywords. We have one brand and we’ve slowly moved all our product names to be completely branded too, instead of generic. You might have noticed our WordPress SEO plugin is now called Yoast SEO and the same is true for our Google Analytics plugin, which is called Google Analytics by Yoast.

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.


You and your competitors are competing for the attention of potential customers. That’s why it's useful to know how your competitors use social media channels and paid acquisition channels to reach their target audience. While digital channels are key in today’s marketplace, you also need to pay attention to offline channels like events, meetups, conferences, and direct mail. This is where the face-to-face interactions occur that are often the key to establishing connections and sealing deals. You can usually find out information about offline events by visiting the “Events” section of your competitors’ websites and also searching for their names in relation to conferences and events on the wider web.
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.
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. 
You can use this tool to get new ideas for paid search campaigns as well as ideas to drive organic traffic. One big advantage of the tool is it gives you historical statistics on past search volume, as well as predictions about the number of clicks and conversions. You can search for keyword ideas based on what makes sense for your products, services or other phrases you're trying to target. 

IP delivery for search engine optimization (SEO) is the method of delivering different content to search engine spiders (also known as robots and crawlers) than to human visitors. The determination if the visitor is a known search engine spider is done based on the IP address. SEOs compare the visitor's IP address with their list of IP addresses, which are known to be servers that are owned by a search engine and used to run their crawler applications (spiders). The delivery of different content to search engine spiders than to human visitors is called cloaking and is against most search engines' webmaster guidelines.[8][9][10]
You may be thinking... Google can index my site and learn what my site is about without keywords now... keywords aren't as important as they used to be... I'm doing fine I don't need any keyword help I have been doing this for years... I said all of those things (and more). The truth of the matter is: as long as we use the written word on line to match intent keywords will be valuable. If you are going to treat yourself to one bit of continuing education this year, this needs to be the one.
Reason: If visitors find your website with a certain keyword but you have a high bounce rate, that’s enough to know that something is not going as it should. Ask yourself and test if it is a problem with content quality, appearance, etc. There is often more than one explanation for a high bounce rate, and there could be more than one solution. If you are totally lost at this point, a feedback session with five potential users might provide some insightful ideas.
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!
Competitor analysis in marketing and strategic management is an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of current and potential competitors[1]. This analysis provides both an offensive and defensive strategic context to identify opportunities and threats. Profiling combines all of the relevant sources of competitor analysis into one framework in the support of efficient and effective strategy formulation, implementation, monitoring and adjustment.[2]
You should also take time to ensure that your landing page is designed well, but not just in appearance. Be sure to focus on loading speed and usability as well. Together, all of these elements are crucial to the success of your campaigns. Afterall, you don’t want to spend all your time designing PPC ads only to have your leads bounce right off as soon as they reach your boring or unsightly landing page design—or worse, leave before it even has a chance to load.
The best way to see what geotargeting can do for your company is to undertake a test campaign on a site like Facebook employing the parameters that would best access your target audience in various parts of the country. Include the specified area(s) within the ad’s content and launch it to see how it impacts results at your various locations and your online business. From there, you can further expand on what the technique can do, even using it as a recruitment tool to locate new marketing talent to run your next geotargeting campaign.
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.
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.
You can, for instance, target multiple areas specifically by their zip codes. Let’s say our real estate business explodes and goes nationwide and we want to look for the cheapest places to buy homes in America. We can look up a list of the zip codes with the cheapest homes and enter them as our targeting criteria, giving us a “geo-fence” that spans different communities and states:
Beyond the city level, your geotargeting on Facebook can further narrow your targeted customers to within miles. For example, a fairly standard radius is 10 miles and closer when you’re targeting a specific product or service in a particular vicinity. If you’re in a more rural setting, you can expand that radius to 20 or 25 miles. Urban areas like Chicago, Los Angeles and New York are targeted within one mile.
For example, “Austin gyms” or “coffee shops near Dupont Circle” or “uptown restaurants” provide location intent that you can target. Include location terms such as area code, ZIP code, neighborhood, community name, nearby landmarks, popular venues, tourist destinations, well known street names, local jargon and other keywords that will help you get found when a consumer is searching for businesses around you.
Region-specific marketing is currently utilized in a variety of marketing campaigns. A fairly basic marketing concept can be used, but it is presented to a location or market that has shown a demand for that specific product or service. This can be a certain State, City, neighborhood or even a specific building. Programs like Google Adwords lets you target these specific locations and tailor your marketing. On a more broad scale, you can target a certain demographic based on their language.
Reliable lifts come from knowing your customer and tailoring the value proposition to match that customer’s motivations in a way that no other website will. You can enhance it with a bunch of human behavior principles (liking, scarcity, reciprocity, social proof, consistency etc.). But you have to have the foundation of what makes you unique, in order to get people return to you after they browse around.”
John Lincoln is CEO of Ignite Visibility, one of the top digital marketing agencies in the nation and the number 698 fastest growing company in the USA in the 2017 Inc. 5000. As a digital marketing expert and in-demand public speaker, Lincoln is consistently named one of the top influencers in the industry. In 2017, he was the recipient of the Search Engine Land "Search Marketer of the Year" award. Ignite Visibility crafts custom digital marketing strategies for clients, including services in SEO, social media, paid media, email marketing, Amazon and more.
Use these consumer characteristics to time and target your marketing. For example, airports on weekdays are a great source of business travelers looking for high-end restaurants, while weekends and Spring Break bring more leisure visitors and families looking for more casual dining options. Likewise, dance clubs and bars can benefit by promoting 18 and over events targeted at universities whose student bodies are largely between the ages of 18-21. These are just a few examples of how venues define audiences that can be effectively targeted.
Keyword strategies are essential to developing winning search engine marketing campaigns. Your keyword strategy should involve selecting high-performing keywords that drive relevant traffic to your business. Choosing the right keywords for advertising can make all the difference in your campaigns, determining how well your advertisements rank on Google and other search engine platforms.

It is crucial to separate business and personal finances – and to be very prudent in the first few years of running your business, especially when you start making profit. Keep tight record, develop regular forecasts, avoid overdrafts, watch interest rates, keep track of expenses, bank all income, self-fund if possible and check bank statement regularly. Re-invest your profits into the growth and development of the business, the reward will be well worth the investment.
Once you know your target audience, you can easily aim your advertisements towards areas where your target audience would be. Bonobos, an online male clothing store, did a great job of this when they were launching their Guide Shops pop-ups. The “store” would serve purely as a try on and styling area. Once you ordered clothes, they’d be sent to your house directly.
If the SaaS world feels like a blur these days, it’s not just you. SaaS products and services have proliferated. Product categories have gotten more crowded. A lot of their features and functionality have started to overlap. The subscription economy has made it easier to switch to competing products. The marketplace has turned into a competitive high-stakes, “winner-takes-all” environment.
In particular, strategy is how the team aligns so that decisions made at any level are likely to be better for the longer term goals of the organization. If you don’t have that alignment, you will be constantly struggling to move the organization ahead, together. A well-executed competitive analysis provides the framing for how your group is the best one to take on the challenges and opportunities ahead.
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.
Choosing which PPC strategies to deploy will largely depend on the type of business you have and the goals you’d like to achieve. By now, almost all of Google’s above-the-fold search engine result page (SERP) space is PPC advertising, which includes Google Shopping ads and PPC Adwords ads, as well as organic search results. Given this increasingly competitive and limited landscape, it’s important that you use the tools available to get a leg up on the competition. To help you navigate the field, here are 8 of the best PPC strategies your competition is not doing (and that you should be).
2. Voice Search Comes into Its Own: It’s time to start optimizing your ads for voice search: The ease of use and prevalence of virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa, as well as Google’s Voice Search (“OK Google…”) make using vocal search utterly quick and convenient. Voice search accounted for 20 percent of mobile searches in 2016, according to a Kleiner Perkins study quoted by CNN. Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home are on many Christmas Wish Lists this year. Grab the voice searcher’s attention by using the first person question format in your ads and content. Most voice searches are geographically specific, so use correct and popular names for your local neighborhood(s), city, county, and region in your PPC ads.

Preparing a Competitor Analysis is an activity that all Product Managers undertake at some point in the job. As Product Managers, having solid knowledge of our rivals and their activity in the marketplace helps us make better decisions during the strategic product planning phase. It ensures that we’re ready to respond to our competitors and exploit any weakness in order to gain a larger share of the pie.
Along with understanding how your potential customers are searching for your company and/or product online, you also need to decide what part of the sales process you want to target. Are you looking to start a prospecting campaign that attracts users at the very beginning of the process, and then convert them later via email marketing or retargeting? Or do you want your website to be shown in front of in-market searchers who are looking to buy right away?
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.
Knowing your business’ target audience and matching it up with where they live or work helps you find those who might be most interested in your product or service.  For example, a ticket broker might want to advertise NCAA basketball tickets in the state of Kentucky and might think of using Kentucky basketball in its messaging.  However, Louisville basketball would be preferable for any advertising within 50 miles of the city on the Kentucky side of the border and 70 miles into Indiana due to the strength of Louisville’s fan base in those areas.
When you conduct your competitive analysis, it's worth analyzing the sales models of your competitors. In his article Three SaaS Sales Models, Joel York describes the three most common SaaS sales models based on the relationship between price and product complexity. Companies with low priced and low-complexity products must focus on developing a self-service option so they can maintain a healthy relationship between customer acquisition cost (CAC) and customer lifetime value (CLV). Slack, Trello, Dropbox, GitHub are all low-price, low-complexity products.
Attribution. Use attribution data to prove the influence of PPC on conversions either cross-channel or within the channel. For instance, you might learn that certain campaigns don’t convert well, and the instinct is to turn them off. However, if they lead to conversions in other campaigns, you’ll want to allocate budget to keep the conversion path open.
It’s worth mentioning that some of these terms are still evolving, and their use is still being defined. For example, geo-targeting is often used synonymously with location targeting, for now, but that could change. Terms and meaning might shift over time as the technology and its uses evolve. But, like geo-targeting, we’ve got you covered right here, right now.
When I was working on my own startup, Complete Seating, we did this for OpenTable. I spent at least a night a week working as a host. What was most interesting was all of the other tools that they needed to get their job done: hardwired phone, discussions with waiters, discussions with the kitchen, POS access, and more. We saw some key differentiation with automating the communication through SMS and phone before a guest got to the restaurant. They were really powerful in showing how OpenTable was just a digitization of the maitre d book.

Retargeting is a great way to close sales that you otherwise might’ve missed. A variety of ad platforms offer retargeting services, including Google and social media networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn (we previously wrote about LinkedIn’s retargeting platform Lead Accelerator.) To learn more about retargeting and remarketing, read our post, Retargeting for Rookies: Your Guide to What it is and How to Use it.

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.  
If not, you’ll need to determine how close to being profitable you are. If it would only take one or two more sales or leads to turn a profit, it’s time to start optimizing your PPC campaign so you can cross that threshold sooner rather than later. Start adjusting your landing page (perhaps with the help of A/B testing), your ad text, and your keyword strategy until you find a winning combination.

IP delivery for search engine optimization (SEO) is the method of delivering different content to search engine spiders (also known as robots and crawlers) than to human visitors. The determination if the visitor is a known search engine spider is done based on the IP address. SEOs compare the visitor's IP address with their list of IP addresses, which are known to be servers that are owned by a search engine and used to run their crawler applications (spiders). The delivery of different content to search engine spiders than to human visitors is called cloaking and is against most search engines' webmaster guidelines.[8][9][10]
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.  ‎
Jeff Baum is Director of Services at Hanapin Marketing and a seasoned PPC advertising professional with Hanapin Marketing. a 13 year track record of success in digital advertising. He has developed and implemented strategies to substantially grow revenue and profits for a variety of lead generation and e-commerce businesses. He has also been responsible and accountable for managing hundreds of thousands of dollars in PPC advertising spend per month. Jeff is a recurring writer for Hanapin's blog and PPC Hero.

You have now reached the final step of creating a keyword strategy: keyword research. Quality keyword research is as essential as doing market research for marketing strategy. By the same token, forming a keyword strategy for B2B marketing and SEO needs heavy research as well. When doing keyword research, there are three important factors to remember:
It is dependent on the pre-analysis of the entire IP address space. There are more than 4 billion possible IP addresses, and detailed analysis of each of them is a Herculean task, especially in light of the fact that IP addresses are constantly being assigned, allocated, reallocated, moved and changed due to routers being moved,[6] enterprises being assigned IP addresses or moving, and networks being built or changed. In order to keep up with these changes, complex algorithms, bandwidth measurement and mapping technology, and finely tuned delivery mechanisms are necessary.[7] Once all of the IP space is analyzed, each address must be periodically updated to reflect changes in the IP address information, without invading a user's privacy. This process is similar in scale to the task of Web spidering.

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.


Use the search intent of a keyword to help determine what sort of page it should be used on. Informational keywords should be used on pages optimized for a branding campaign with content such as how to guides or product comparison articles. Avoid using these pages to target more specific in-market keywords. Those searchers have no use for a how-to guide or product comparisons. Use those to target your product pages that include specs, reviews, options and, most importantly, price and the "buy now" button. Of course, the “buy now” button could also be the email sign-up page or contact information form, depending on the type of goals you’re targeting.
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.
But while many marketers understand the value of geotargeting, not many are ‎likely to understand how the technology behind it works.  Having a firm grasp on ‎the technology though is actually critical in this case, as different solutions take ‎different approaches to the problem of determining the physical location of a ‎consumer, and the simplest solution is usually the least accurate.  Just as traditional ‎strategies don’t always translate well to digital, many desktop strategies don’t ‎translate well to mobile.  ‎
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.  

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.

For example, it’s important to look at the response based on urban, suburban or rural locations. Someone living in northern Indiana may consider driving 25 miles to your store to be no big deal. Most customers or prospects could make the drive in less than half an hour and, therefore, they will visit your store. However, if the prospects live in the River North neighborhood of Chicago, they aren’t going to want to go to your store in Wrigleyville because that’s going to take 50 minutes.

Evaluate your competitor's price. Just because you have the same products as other businesses, doesn't mean everyone has the same price. Your own production costs greatly impact your pricing. If your price for a similar product is higher than your competitor's, then your market position is weaker; and if it's lower, then your competitive position is better.A temporary price decrease by a competitor might indicate nothing more serious than a transient need to move excess inventory. However, a trend of lowered prices may indicate that your competition is doing it to gain market share and improve production costs. It could also mean your rival is in financial trouble and has been forced to lower prices. It's in this type of situation that rumors and gossip become helpful. If there are rumors that a company is in financial trouble and you discover price fluctuations, it's more likely that there are problems. Be sure your analysis includes product/service charges added to the purchase price, such as installation or additional equipment required.
Ad text plays an important role in the success of your ads. It is the form of marketing communication that advertisers can use to promote their product or service on search platforms. An effective ad text consists at least one of your core keyword, attractive discounts and promotion and a call to action. The quality score of your ad depends on multiple factors and your ad text is one of them. Your ad text should be unique and appealing. Include discount amount in your ad copy and also add a strong call to action that can compel searchers to click on your ads. Use action words like buy now, order now, resister today or sign up here. Include one of your keyword in your ad text and match your ad to your landing page.
We at Moz custom-built the Keyword Explorer tool from the ground up to help streamline and improve how you discover and prioritize keywords. Keyword Explorer provides accurate monthly search volume data, an idea of how difficult it will be to rank for your keyword, estimated click-through rate, and a score representing your potential to rank. It also suggests related keywords for you to research. Because it cuts out a great deal of manual work and is free to try, we recommend starting there.

This is one of the major reasons why organisation in a start-up is essential. You will spend less time procrastinating and more time achieving goals and completing client tasks. Spend time every day organising your digital folders and your physical folders before you start working. This will ensure that there are no distractions throughout the day and you can complete all the important tasks on time and within budget.


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.
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.
Geolocation technology can also be used for planning virtual events or experiences that combine physical and virtual or augmented reality. For example, the Pokémon GO game was able to parlay geolocation into a great success. Advertisers can use the same strategy to develop virtual experiences around a brand or product. This can involve using geolocation at events to track attendees and deliver specific information that enhances their overall experience.
Based on your competitor’s marketing message, what kind of customer does the viewer have to be for these messages to appeal to him or her? What is their age range? Where do they have to be located? What's their profession, if any? What other customer demographics can you infer? You're essentially trying to come up with a "buyer persona", a character who best represents the person your competition is trying to reach.
WHAT TO EXPECTAn in-depth investigation and analysis of your competition is one of the most important components of a comprehensive market analysis. A competitive analysis allows you to assess your competitor's strengths and weaknesses in your marketplace and implement effective strategies to improve your competitive advantage. This Business Builder will take you through a step-by-step process of competitive analysis, helping you to identify your competition, determine and weigh their attributes, assess their strengths and weaknesses, and uncover their objectives and strategies in your market segment. WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE GETTING STARTED [top] What Types of Organizations Should I Consider as Competitors? Any business marketing a product similar to, or as a substitute for, your own product in the same geographic area is a direct competitor. Firms offering dissimilar or substitute products in relation to your product or service are considered indirect competitors. Indirect competition would exist between the manufacturer of butter and a manufacturer of margarine selling to the same customers. Another example is the manufacturer of eyeglasses who competes indirectly with contact lens manufacturers. Stated in other terms, indirect competition will satisfy the customer's need with a particular product or service, although the product or service used may be different from yours. If a firm has similar products and distribution channels, but has chosen to operate in different market segments, they are not at this time your direct competitor. However, it's important to monitor the marketing activities of such firms because they may decide to move into your market segment, just as you may decide to move into theirs. Take a moment and identify your direct and indirect competitors: Why is a Comprehensive Competitive Analysis an Important Part of a Marketing Plan? To achieve and maintain a competitive advantage in reaching and selling to your target market, you must possess a thorough knowledge of your competition. An in-depth competitive analysis will provide you with the following:
Finally, some strategies will drive both efficiency and growth within an account. For example, concluding an ad copy test based on CTR, conversion rate, or conversion per impression can increase revenue and improve ROI. However, these strategies typically show incremental long-term improvements, and are less likely to ramp revenue or improve ROAS in the short-term.
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.

You’ll often find your hottest leads among people who have already encountered your business once. Depending on your industry, it may be unlikely for people to purchase your product the first time they visit. If you’re an e-commerce operation selling lower-ticket items, you may be able to send people directly to a sales page with excellent results. But if you’re like the dishwasher store we invented above, visiting your PPC landing page may be one step in a larger research process for your customers.


Remember that martech landscape map with over 5,000 companies? Almost every product category is made up of over a dozen different players. You can’t reasonably expect to analyze all of them. You don’t need to either. An ideal competitor analysis includes three to five companies that represent the biggest threat to your business. (Go with five if you’re operating in a crowded market.)


When I was working on my own startup, Complete Seating, we did this for OpenTable. I spent at least a night a week working as a host. What was most interesting was all of the other tools that they needed to get their job done: hardwired phone, discussions with waiters, discussions with the kitchen, POS access, and more. We saw some key differentiation with automating the communication through SMS and phone before a guest got to the restaurant. They were really powerful in showing how OpenTable was just a digitization of the maitre d book.
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.  
Be sure to re-evaluate these keywords every few months -- once a quarter is a good benchmark, but some businesses like to do it even more often than that. As you gain even more authority in the SERPs, you'll find that you can add more and more keywords to your lists to tackle as you work on maintaining your current presence, and then growing in new areas on top of that.
Competitive analyses help you evaluate your competition’s strategies to determine their strengths and weaknesses relative to your brand. When it comes to digital marketing and SEO, however, there are so many ranking factors and best practices to consider that can be hard to know where to begin. Which is why my colleague, Ben Estes, created a competitive analysis checklist (not dissimilar to his wildly popular technical audit checklist) that I’ve souped up for the Moz community.
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