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!
b) Compare to your competitors pages and devise a plan to beat them. Sort of–I may want to write a follow up piece to this checklist with what comes next! It may not be realistic for you to go toe-to-toe with Amazon, for instance, if they have more linking root domains than your site does. However, if it's clear that you've got a very poor backlinks profile and your competitors outperform you here across the board, that means it's probably time to start discussing creative link building strategies, or content marketing plans.

Even national marketing campaigns can benefit from geo-targeting, as regional differences create opportunities to test multiple messages and refine them as a campaign continues. Geo-targeted experiments has been used successfully by businesses, charities and even political campaigns. Factoring out cultural and ethnic variations, there are still subtle regional differences in something as universal as language. A campaign for donations might be better served by using a “donate” button in one area and a “support” button in another. Similarly, customers might respond differently to the phrase “book your trip” than they do to “buy your ticket” or “schedule your trip.” The same goes for the look and feel of the advertising copy and other content.
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.
If you're a regular blogger, these are probably the topics you blog about most frequently. Or perhaps they're the topics that come up the most in sales conversations. Put yourself in the shoes of your buyer personas -- what types of topics would your target audience search that you'd want your business to get found for? If you were a company like HubSpot, for example -- selling marketing software (which happens to have some awesome SEO tools ... but I digress ;-) -- you might have general topic buckets like "inbound marketing," "blogging," "email marketing," "lead generation," "SEO," "social media," "marketing analytics," and "marketing automation."
Whether you’ve heard a little about PPC marketing and are curious to learn more, or you already know that you want to use PPC to market your business, but aren’t sure where to start, you’ve come to the right place! This is the first lesson in PPC University, a set of three guided courses that will teach you everything you need to know about PPC and how to make it work for you.
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.
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.
It's not always about getting visitors to your site, but about getting the right kind of visitors. The usefulness of this intelligence cannot be overstated; with keyword research you can predict shifts in demand, respond to changing market conditions, and produce the products, services, and content that web searchers are actively seeking. In the history of marketing, there has never been such a low barrier to entry in understanding the motivations of consumers in virtually any niche.
1,000+ keywords: if it’s just you or 2 of you, this is probably more than you can chew off. It’s not hard to gather 1,000 keywords though, so if you’ve got the time, the people and the inspiration, it usually does pay off to write a lot of meaningful content. Do make sure that all those keywords relate to your products or services as otherwise it’s nonsense and make sure that you’re structuring your site well around it.
We constantly sharpen our PPC skills -  by speaking at national search marketing conferences, writing helpful "how-to" blogs for other search marketers,  and consuming daily blogs and news to stay abreast of everthing that this crazy industry throws at us! It's unlikely that your in-house employee(s) can achieve the level of focus and commitment of PPC-Strategies.
“The sales cycle is an average of 9-12 months. When a qualified lead enters the funnel, the revenue generated from that lead is an unknown variable that will not be fully identified until several months into the cycle. In order to increase the probability of a PPC lead turning into a viable source of revenue we need to generate leads at a ratio of high ratio of sales quality leads to conversions (roughly 65%). We will continue to test new targeting in order to reach our 20% YoY growth goal at a reasonable average CPA in order to continually grow the account and keep the sales funnel full every month.”
This is a great list! I especially appreciate the sample set of pages you recommended - oftentimes we ask clients we're onboarding who they consider to be their competitors, but once we start digging into their sites we see they're not necessarily "search" competitors or the sites just aren't that similar to be regarded as such in the search engine's eyes. At least these pages can help weed out any sites that just aren't built out to be similar to a client or are way ahead, so you can get an accurate comparison!
A competitor's capabilities can be analyzed according to its strengths and weaknesses in various functional areas, as is done in a SWOT analysis. The competitor's strengths define its capabilities. The analysis can be taken further to evaluate the competitor's ability to increase its capabilities in certain areas. A financial analysis can be performed to reveal its sustainable growth rate.
However, all these are for your own company. Marketing competitor analysis is done with relation to your competitors. That is to say, you do the analysis of your competitor’s firm. In marketing competitor analysis, you assess the strengths and weaknesses of your rivals.  You try to figure out what situations may provide an opportunity for them. Find situations which are likely to become a threat for them as well.

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?
Funny thing is we’re not seeing users click on the extension itself very often – slightly more often than we’d see for sitelinks, but not by much – maybe 15 percent of total clicks, albeit not necessarily on the extension itself. It may be the way that we’ve set it up (we say chat with a live expert rather than text us), so that may have skewed the behavior.
A transactional sales approach to customer acquisition is best for products with a higher average selling price (ASP) then self-service solutions. Customers expect to see a demo, or even try the product. In fact, when customers are paying more, they expect more hand-holding throughout the process. While this can drive up organizational costs and complexity for a SaaS vendor, it can yield significant revenues and long-term customer loyalty. For this approach, companies need to optimize their sales, marketing, and support in a way that allows them to build a relationship with the customer over the customer lifetime. Most SaaS companies fall under this category.
Informational: These keywords represent the very beginning of the conversion process, and are not very likely to convert on the first visit. If you’re running a branding campaign you’ll want to be sure to include informational keywords on your list. If you’ve got a conversion goal, you still can’t afford to ignore these keywords as they make up the majority of searches. Informational keywords often use words/phrases like "how to", “do I need” and “where to find”. Consider these leads to be converted later via your website or a retargeting campaign.
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.
This emphasis on competition is related to the advent of game theory in the mid 20th century around the same time. The problem is that game theory is one mental model of many to help make decisions, not the only one (Ben Thompson from Stratechery has a good post on the Prisoner’s Dilemma that is a fundamental one). Even researchers are starting to point to the fact that there are no perfect solutions (such as a Nash equilibrium) to most situations.
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.

Generic keywords: These are generic words that describe your business as well as other businesses in your niche. They do not necessarily set your business apart from the million other businesses out there and ranking for these keywords is difficult given the immense competition for both paid and organic results. Nevertheless, these terms are likely to be used by your audience in the first stage of searching.
Today, more companies, brands and platforms are recognizing the value of integrating geotargeting into social media advertising campaigns. According to Lathan Fritz, local sales expert, big data geomarketing thought leader and founder of sales funnel agency Amerisales, there are numerous benefits to adding geotargeting to your Facebook ad campaigns. By specifically targeting a demographic based on location, companies experience increased returns on their social media advertising investments. This success comes from more precise targeting of an ad’s intended audience—something that is made even easier thanks to the ability to add geotargeting to previous Facebook posts.
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.
A competitive analysis won’t help you with pressing business decisions, such as what product feature to build next. (Never copy your competitors for the sake of it; they could be 100% winging it!) Moreover, if you’re the industry leader, the value of analyzing competitors is limited because you’re the one leading the pack through uncharted territory.
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.
Are they targeting low, middle, or high income customers? Look at their pricing information, including how they phrase it. If they use words like discounts, sale, affordable, or cheap, then they aren’t targeting the high income crowd. Also look at the marketing materials themselves, whether it’s a brochure or online banner. Are they attention-grabbing or elegant?
To determine your company's market share on a percentage basis, the following formula should be used: Current Market Share = Company sales Industry salesYou should then compute each of your competitors' market shares. It will give you a clear idea of how your sales volume compares to your competition's. If you don't have total industry sales figures you won't be able to figure out your market share, but you can still get a good idea of your competitive position by comparing the sales volume figures. For example, say last year Company A sold $3 million dollars worth of copiers, Company B sold $5 million, and you sold $4 million. It's obvious that Company B has the largest share of your market and is your greatest competitor. Competitive Objectives and Strategies For each competitor in your analysis, you should try to identify what their market objectives are and determine what types of strategies they are using to achieve them. Are your competitors trying:
Lower Costs: When there is a near-infinite supply of search query impressions each month, your strategy is to lower your cost per click in order to drive more click (and conversion) volume to your website. This generally involves making use of keyword list refinement (match types, negative keywords) and lowering bids while keeping an eye on average position.
From my experience, you don’t need complex algorithms to save money with paid search. You don’t need a crazy PPC management tool to trim down costs for campaigns. You need only employ one of 3 core paid search strategies in order to succeed in your PPC campaigns: 1) Maximize your budget, 2) Improve Branding by showing up in a top position and 3) Maximize your profit potential.
This analysis should help you holistically identify areas of opportunity available in your search landscape, without having to guess which “best practice” you should test next. Once you’ve started this competitive analysis, trends among the competition will emerge, and expose niches where your site can improve and potentially outpace your competition.
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.
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.

The final and most important metric is conversion. Make sure that you set up your conversion goals within your analytics. That way you can see which keywords are not only driving traffic but out of that traffic what percentage is converting. That is how you can measure keyword success. If you’re not doing this, then it becomes more difficult to identify your highest performing keywords.
We must clearly identify our objectives for the campaign and tie the campaign objectives to business objectives. Your objectives could include raising awareness, increasing engagement, generating conversions, and customer retention. Your objectives will need to be tailored to your specific business and you will want to map your objectives to a typical marketing funnel. This chapter highlights how to identify your objectives to measure success.

You should invest in having a well-structured filing system, both in the office and digitally. Use neatly organised folders with clear and relevant names on them for all of your documents, bills and emails. By doing this, you can free up hours of the day to work on important tasks, such as drumming up more business through a new and exciting marketing strategy. You will also be setting an example for your team by having an organised office and computer.


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.”
HubSpot also has a campaign tool that allows you to associate keyword phrases, related blog posts, emails and landing pages with a particular campaign so you can get a better idea of the overall performance. If a particular set of keywords doesn't seem to be bringing in new site visits or converting leads to customers, it might be time to search for alternatives.  
7. Use a keyword research brief to share for unified messaging. The final tip is to attempt to break down the silos that are typical in medium to large organizations and share with them enough keyword data so they can be encouraged to use your targeted keywords in their respective messaging. One way to do this is to develop what I call a keyword research brief. This is simply a document that is like an executive summary of keyword research for your top keywords. This document should be no more than one to two pages. It should be a quick read. See an example of this below.
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.
A transactional sales approach to customer acquisition is best for products with a higher average selling price (ASP) then self-service solutions. Customers expect to see a demo, or even try the product. In fact, when customers are paying more, they expect more hand-holding throughout the process. While this can drive up organizational costs and complexity for a SaaS vendor, it can yield significant revenues and long-term customer loyalty. For this approach, companies need to optimize their sales, marketing, and support in a way that allows them to build a relationship with the customer over the customer lifetime. Most SaaS companies fall under this category.
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]
For both teams, first reactions from people were often strongly negative. I cringe to think what focus groups would have done with these ideas. But, Chesky and Gebbia, and Hyman and Fleiss, were undeterred. To these founders, their ideas were obvious and they set out to find investors and employees who got the vision when most everyone else did not.
This is a great list! I especially appreciate the sample set of pages you recommended - oftentimes we ask clients we're onboarding who they consider to be their competitors, but once we start digging into their sites we see they're not necessarily "search" competitors or the sites just aren't that similar to be regarded as such in the search engine's eyes. At least these pages can help weed out any sites that just aren't built out to be similar to a client or are way ahead, so you can get an accurate comparison!
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.
We constantly sharpen our PPC skills -  by speaking at national search marketing conferences, writing helpful "how-to" blogs for other search marketers,  and consuming daily blogs and news to stay abreast of everthing that this crazy industry throws at us! It's unlikely that your in-house employee(s) can achieve the level of focus and commitment of PPC-Strategies.
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.”

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.
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.
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.
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.)
Using geo-targeting, you use smart marketing tactics. A great example of a successful use of area segmenting is evo, an e-commerce sporting goods store. When they took the leap to open up three brick and mortar stores. Their first step was to send out an email blast for a $200 shopping trip to users in the area. Though the campaign had a 58% conversion on mobile users, the campaign wasn’t as effective at driving traffic to their store fronts.
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.  ‎

Example 2: If your goal is B2B marketing and relations, your keyword(s) should have a revenue spin. For example, if your business sells software for eCommerce, your keywords would focus on that. Your concept might sound something like this: “the best software for B2B marketing and eCommerce.” You would then create a keyword theme around this concept, leading to use of the keyword or phrase for B2B SEO. This specific keyword concept is more likely to attract your target audience of B2B marketers and companies.


Create different ad groups. Each ad group consists of specific ads that share the same keyword. For example, if you’re a SaaS company, it makes sense to have an ad group for each product category you serve. The SaaS SEO company, MOZ, might have ad groups for keyword research, link building, site audits and web page optimization. Each group consists of different ads for that category.
Conducting PPC marketing through Google Ads is particularly valuable because, as the most popular search engine, Google gets massive amounts of traffic and therefore delivers the most impressions and clicks to your ads. How often your PPC ads appear depends on which keywords and match types you select. While a number of factors determine how successful your PPC advertising campaign will be, you can achieve a lot by focusing on:
L’Oreal did something similar when it used geolocation technology to create a virtual art exhibit that allowed attendees to uncover the art and feel as though they were right there looking at it. Brands can also use geolocation technology in mobile apps that include gamification aspects to engage a user more fully in a particular product or service.
Keywords are the words and phrases that people type into search engines in order to find what they're looking for. By extension, they also describe what a piece of content (or an entire website!) is all about, and they're the words at the heart of on-page optimization. They still play an important role in a site's ability to rank, so by identifying the right words and phrases to target you can have an outsized impact on achieving your SEO goals.
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.

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.
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 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.
Reason: This metric can help you to know if you have well-organized content. Traffic generated from certain keywords can provide good insight into which pages a visitor typically sees as a result of that keyword query. In case you are using Google Analytics for measuring your visits, you can do it within the following path: Traffic sources > Search > Organic > Landing Pages as 1st dimension & 2nd dimension: Keyword.
In writing the summary and the presentation for the competitive analysis that I did for this collaborative note-taking app, the competitive analysis matrix helped me a lot. I drafted a document with all of the high-level takeaways from this analysis and answered all of the questions that were set as goals. For the presentation, I shared the document with the client, which helped both the client and me to finalize the features, the flows and the end requirements for the product.

Knowledge of a competitor's objectives facilitates a better prediction of the competitor's reaction to different competitive moves. For example, a competitor that is focused on reaching short-term financial goals might not be willing to spend much money responding to a competitive attack. Rather, such a competitor might favor focusing on the products that hold positions that better can be defended. On the other hand, a company that has no short term profitability objectives might be willing to participate in destructive price competition in which neither firm earns a profit.

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?


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.

Putting each competitor in the right list is a very important part of competitive analysis because the features and functionality in your competitors’ apps are based on exactly what users of those apps want. Let’s assume you put one indirect competitor, XYZ, under the “direct competitors” list and start doing your analysis. While doing the research, you might find some impressive feature in XYZ’s app and decide to add a similar feature in your own app; then, later it turns out that the feature you added is not useful for the users you are targeting. You might end up wasting a lot of energy, time and money building something that is not at all useful. So, be careful when sorting your competitors.


To determine your company's market share on a percentage basis, the following formula should be used: Current Market Share = Company sales Industry salesYou should then compute each of your competitors' market shares. It will give you a clear idea of how your sales volume compares to your competition's. If you don't have total industry sales figures you won't be able to figure out your market share, but you can still get a good idea of your competitive position by comparing the sales volume figures. For example, say last year Company A sold $3 million dollars worth of copiers, Company B sold $5 million, and you sold $4 million. It's obvious that Company B has the largest share of your market and is your greatest competitor. Competitive Objectives and Strategies For each competitor in your analysis, you should try to identify what their market objectives are and determine what types of strategies they are using to achieve them. Are your competitors trying:
Competitive analysis is a key aspect when in the beginning stages of an SEO campaign. Far too often, I see organizations skip this important step and get right into keyword mapping, optimizing content, or link building. But understanding who our competitors are and seeing where they stand can lead to a far more comprehensive understanding of what our goals should be and reveal gaps or blind spots.
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