I include specific, real world examples of every type of content in the wild as well as showing you how I design keyword architecture on my sites. I even provide a general model and walk you through exactly how to make decisions on what levels of architecture should get a dedicated URL versus what content should live on parent pages or use JSON/AJAX to not generate new URL's but still provide an ideal user experience.
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.  
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.
Here’s how it works: Every time your ad is clicked, sending a visitor to your website, you pay the search engine a small fee. (That’s why it’s called “pay per click.”) When your PPC campaign is well-designed and running smoothly, that fee will be trivial, because the visit is worth more to your business than what you pay for it. For example, if you pay $10 for a click, but the click results in a $300 sale, then using PPC is a no-brainer.
In the Google Sheets Template, I've provided you with the data points that we'll be collecting, the tools you'll need to do so, and then bucketed the metrics based on similar themes. The data we're trying to collect relates to SEO metrics like domain authority, how much traffic the competition is getting, which keywords are driving that traffic, and the depth of competitors’ backlink profiles. I have built in a few heatmaps for key metrics to help you visualize who's the strongest at a glance.
The primary goal of a competitive analysis is to understand the marketplace and how you can differentiate from other players. At the end of a competitive analysis, you should create a battlecard for each competitor. A competitive battlecard is essentially a quick visual reference for your sales and marketing team, guiding them as they position your organization against competitors.
SEO competitive analysis is critical because it gives data about which tactics are working in the industry we are in and what we will need to do to start improving our keyword rankings. The insights gained from this analysis help us understand which tasks we should prioritize and it shapes the way we build out our campaigns. By seeing where our competitors are strongest and weakest, we can determine how difficult it will be to outperform them and the amount of resources that it will take to do so.

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.


Although this process can be tedious and time consuming, it is essential in identifying where your competition may be surpassing you as well as what advantages you have over your competition. Developing takeaways will help identify these strengths and weaknesses. From there, you can improve your marketing plan by putting greater influence on the features your company offers and finding ways to implement features your company doesn’t offer that seem crucial to gaining customers.
Then, within your campaigns, you will have your ad groups. Ad groups should be formed based on themes of keywords. For example, all keywords that relate to dark chocolate could go into one ad group (ie. Dark chocolate bars, dark chocolate for sale online, best dark chocolate shops, where to buy dark chocolate, dark chocolate with almonds etc.). Again, keep your ad groups to a minimum when you are starting. You don’t need more than 6-8 ads within each campaign. Try to limit the amount of keywords per ad group to 10 to 20 per ad group. The keywords will be the trigger for the PPC ads that will appear in searches containing those words.
In order to get more specific with our audience, we set up our targeting to focus on those people that Facebook says are interested in moving. We narrow our age range slightly to exclude those too young to (probably) be looking to sell their home, and also include some demographic and behavioral targeting traits. We target those who are “likely to move” and those within a range of incomes and net worths that we like:
Your CompetitorsYou probably see the owner of a rival organization at trade shows, association meetings, and perhaps even socially. You can garner a great deal of information through a simple, friendly conversation. People like to talk about themselves and share their success stories and concerns with business associates. Assign someone to check the competitions' Web sites regularly for pertinent changes and news. (And take a good look at your own: Do you say anything there that you'd just as soon not have your competitors see?)  
Here’s where artifacts like user personas may come in handy. A persona should clearly outline what potential customers want and how they plan to get it. It’s your job to map their needs to content you create, using the list of keywords as a guideline for topics. That said, since they’re based on assumptions and not real user input, personas shouldn’t be a replacement for user research and testing. If your buying cycle is long and complicated, a customer journey mapping exercise could also help you identify wants and needs during individual steps of the cycle. Software service Autopilot HQ has a great post about how to map content to customer needs throughout their journey. 

What is the main messaging of their marketing materials? What common customer problems or goals do they often refer to? Let’s say you’re a pet sitter going through a rival business’ brochure. There is a huge difference between a brochure emphasizing frequent real-time online updates, and another brochure emphasizing pet pampering and grooming. The group of clients who are attracted by frequent real-time online updates are often focused on the safety and welfare of their pets, while those looking for more pampering and grooming services are focused on comfort and appearance.
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.
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.”
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.
Because someone who is looking for something that specific is probably a much more qualified searcher for your product or service (presuming you're in the blogging space) than someone looking for something really generic. And because long-tail keywords tend to be more specific, it's usually easier to tell what people who search for those keywords are really looking for. Someone searching for the head term "blogging," on the other hand, could be searching it for a whole host of reasons unrelated to your business.

A company rarely competes against just one competitor. In fact, in many cases, the biggest competition in the SaaS and tech industries is coming from indirect competitors. These competitors hold a commanding position in their core market, allowing them to expand into different industries and verticals. Who would have thought that Uber and Google would become die-hard competitors in the autonomous car market? As I wrote previously in my analysis of sales enablement and acceleration industry, it is almost impossible to distinguish direct and indirect competitors. In many SaaS verticals everyone competes with everyone.

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.

Use voice search to your advantage by skewing your ad strategy toward answering questions customers need to know (intent), rather than just including keywords. Search engine AI for voice and mobile search is getting more sophisticated and better at serving results that meet the user’s intent, therefore PPC best practices will be continually refined.
When they started to open these “stores”, it didn’t make sense to advertise to everyone because not everyone would be near the pop-up stores. So instead, they only advertised within a small radius of their shop. By using geo-targeting to drive traffic to their shops, they were able to save money and resources while still achieving success in their pop-up shops.
Ego and assumptions led me to choose the wrong keywords for my own site. How did I spend three years optimizing my site and building links to finally crack the top three for six critical keywords, only to find out that I wasted all that time? However, in spite of targeting the wrong words, Seer grew the business. In this presentation, Will shows you the mistakes made and share with you the approaches that can help you build content that gets you thanked.
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.
Unfortunately, I can’t answer all of these questions for you. But I will offer up one solution, and that’s the valuable question of where to begin. Segmenting out an audience is often one of the most important and daunting tasks for a marketer. But the work is worth it. Segmenting visitors into audiences is going to make conversion marketing campaigns more relevant and effective. An easier way to segment is by using something called geo-targeting.
Finding the right competitors for my research wasn’t a hard task because I already knew many apps that provided similar features, but I still did a quick search on Google, and the results were a bit surprising — surprising because most of the apps I knew turned out to be more like indirect competitors to the app I was working on; and later, after a bit more searching, I also found the apps that were our direct competitors.
If you're struggling to think of more keywords people might be searching about a specific topic, go to Google.com and take a look at the related search terms that appear when you plug in a keyword. When you type in your phrase and scroll to the bottom of Google's results, you'll notice some suggestions for searches related to your original input. These keywords can spark ideas for other keywords you may want to take into consideration.

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:
Beacons aren’t designed to know you’re you, where you were a moment ago, or where you’re going next. By and large, they’re just little stationary computers that react: when your device moves near the beacon itself, it triggers a ping, and your app—if you have an app with notifications enabled for the beacon’s particular location—goes to work communicating with you. When you move out of that beacon’s range, it’s basically a done deal.
Not every keyword is worth ranking for. This may seem obvious, but it’s an important lesson for search marketers to learn. Often times we can get caught falling down the rabbit hole or chasing the long tail dragon to boost our rankings without thinking of the time and resources it takes to rank for these terms. Especially for highly competitive, high-volume keywords – it simply isn’t worth the time and effort it might take to get onto page one.
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.
What’s the difference between your brand and your keywords? Are you using both effectively? Your brand is one of your most important keywords, but it shouldn’t be your only keyword, nor should you have lots of keywords but no brand. There should be a keyword strategy behind the keywords you pick. This post highlights the why of that and explains the basis of the how, then points you to several useful posts for the how.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Google's AdWords Keyword Planner tool is another common starting point for SEO keyword research. It not only suggests keywords and provides estimated search volume, but also predicts the cost of running paid campaigns for these terms. To determine volume for a particular keyword, be sure to set the Match Type to [Exact] and look under Local Monthly Searches. Remember that these represent total searches. Depending on your ranking and click-through rate, the actual number of visitors you achieve for these keywords will usually be much lower.
This report also helps drive our editorial calendar, since we often find keywords and topics where we need to create new content to compete with our competitors. We take this a step further during our content planning process, analyzing the content the competitors have created that is already ranking well and using that as a base to figure out how we can do it better. We try to take some of the best ideas from all of the competitors ranking well to then make a more complete resource on the topic.
×