For our clients, we typically gain a few backlinks at the beginning of an SEO campaign just from this data alone. It also serves as a long-term guide for link building in the months to come as getting links from high-authority sites takes time and resources. The main benefit is that we have a starting point full of low-hanging fruit from which to base our initial outreach.
Instead, SEO now takes a multi-faceted approach where you’re involving different disciplines (i.e. content, email, advertising, social), building a brand (i.e. investing in intangibles, not just conversions), and competing on multiple fronts (i.e. paid search positions, review & aggregation sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, beefing up your local listings, and more) – all at the same time.
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.
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.
This section serves as a summary and analysis for all of the research you've done so far. You'll review all the aspects of your competition's business and determine whether they are strengths or weaknesses. List their strengths and advantages under "Strengths" in the worksheet. Note down how equipped you are to deal with these strengths. Can you do better than them or would it serve you better to outdo them elsewhere?
The metrics you provide here will depend on the depth of your research. Be sure to keep it consistent by including criteria that can be answered for all competitors. Providing specific, additional information for just one competitor will give your document a bias. As far as gathering publicly available information, here are the first places to look. For company size, LinkedIn is a great resource for discovering the approximate number of employees. Financial details? Check Yahoo Finance and Wikipedia for relevant information. Want to get an idea of their website’s traffic and ranking score? Search on Alexa. More Free Resources: AngelList, Crunchbase
Take Coca Cola and Red Bull for example. They have massive marketing budgets, and the majority of that budget goes into branding and (I am guessing) very little attention is paid to determining the ROI of each individual activity they sponsor. They just know that the more they can build equity in their brand, the more products they will sell. The result? They are some of the most recognizable brands in the world. They are also extremely profitable at the end of the year – they just achieve that profitability differently than what we are used to seeing as direct response marketers.
Across the top of the paper, list the main features and characteristics of each product or service. Include such things as target market, price, size, method of distribution, and extent of customer service for a product. For a service, list prospective buyers, where the service is available, price, website, toll-free phone number, and other features that are relevant. A glance at the competition grid will help you see where your product fits in the overall market.
Online pay-per-click (PPC) advertising allows almost anyone to create ads. Each time your ad pops up online and someone clicks on it, you pay a small fee. PPC advertising appears in search engines like Google or Bing and on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. The point of PPC is to get fresh visitors to discover your business online.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There is a “home” for newly published content. A hub for new content can be the site’s blog, or a news section. For instance, Distilled’s “home for newly published content” is the Resources section. While this line item may seem like a binary (score of “0” if you don’t have a dedicated section for new content, or score of “2” if you do), there are nuances that can bring each brand’s score up or down. For example:
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.
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.
Getting your site to rank on Google is not as simple as plugging a keyword into a website and hoping for the best. In short, placing them into an intentional keyword strategy is just the beginning. By definition, keywords are words or phrases that describe and sum up a central idea pertinent to your business and marketing strategy. Keyword strategy means using keywords in your business and ad campaigns to attract your target market audience. When it comes to B2B marketing, keyword strategy is necessary to draw in your target audience. As B2B marketing is not the typical Buyer-to-customer setup, your keyword strategy needs a B2B marketing and relations spin. For example, if your business were looking to bring in ordinary customers, your keyword strategy might look like this:
In this example, competitor #1 is rated higher than competitor #2 on product innovation ability (7 out of 10, compared to 4 out of 10) and distribution networks (6 out of 10), but competitor #2 is rated higher on customer focus (5 out of 10). Overall, competitor #1 is rated slightly higher than competitor #2 (20 out of 40 compared to 15 out of 40). When the success factors are weighted according to their importance, competitor #1 gets a far better rating (4.9 compared to 3.7).
There are some general negative keywords that should be added to almost any campaign, such as “free”, “jobs” “training”, as people searching for these terms are not likely to be looking to buy your product. Keywords like “review” and “opinions” can also be useful, as they will reduce the number of window shoppers who aren’t necessarily looking to buy now. But you’ll also want to research negative keywords specific to your business or audience. For example, if you are an optometrist, you’ll want to use words like “wine”, as you aren’t looking for customers in search of “wine glasses.
Title tags appear optimized (editorially). Here is where we can add more context to the overall quality of the sample pages’ titles. Even if they are technically optimized, the titles may not be optimized for distinctiveness or written quality. Note that we are not evaluating keyword targeting, but rather a holistic (and broad) evaluation of how each competitor’s site approaches SEO factors. You should evaluate each page’s titles based on the following:
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.
Privacy and security concerns are, by many accounts, the one thing holding location based services back from exploding. One of the first backlashes came from Nordstrom customers, when that retailer tracked customers through its physical locations for market research purposes. The word “creepy” was applied at the time, and it’s still a word commonly found in discussions of how location-based marketing can tend to make people feel.
…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:
On the positive side, you can have personalized ads appear for every search query, and improve account performance by increasing CTR and quality scores. On the other hand, if not set up correctly DKI ads can hurt your account if you don’t take into account plurals, misspellings or any other grammatical errors that can occur. Like any strategy, DKI ads require time, testing and good organization to be most effective.
Finally, since the competitive environment is dynamic, the competitor's ability to react swiftly to change should be evaluated. Some firms have heavy momentum and may continue for many years in the same direction before adapting. Others are able to mobilize and adapt very quickly. Factors that slow a company down include low cash reserves, large investments in fixed assets, and an organizational structure that hinders quick action.
Lastly, if you have the opportunity, maintain the competitor review and analysis every 6 months. It provides you with an external perspective. Competitive analysis needs to be integrated with other product management and marketing activities. Overly concentrating on what competitors are doing can distract you from remaining focused on your customers.
Once you have caught the attention of people with your ad and they click on it, you want to make sure that you direct them to a customized landing page that specifically relates to what they just clicked on. Many small businesses make the mistake of sending them to their website homepage, but this isn’t the best tactic to convert visitors. Instead, you need to design landing pages that reflect the keywords from the PPC ad, show the product or service solution that your new visitors were searching Google for, and have a prominent, clear call to action like “Book Now” or “Buy Now”.
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.
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.
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.
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.