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.
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.
Another way to define a perimeter is not by distance, but by time. A company named iGeolise developed a platform they call TravelTime, an API that allows mobile apps and sites to search by time rather than distance. This could be useful for a condo unit near downtown looking to attract workers with very long commutes, or a restaurant targeting hotel patrons within a 10-minute walking distance.
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.
The easiest way to target a particular geographic area is simply to set up a Facebook ad as usual. When you’re setting up the audience and you get to the map, hit “Drop Pin” and place the indicator in the middle of your intended target area. Then, use the radius slider to modify the full range of land that your targeting will cover. You can adjust this from 1 mile to up to 50 miles.
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.
If you don't know the difference between head terms and long-tail keywords, let me explain. Head terms are keywords phrases that are generally shorter and more generic -- they're typically just one to three words in length, depending on who you talk to. Long-tail keywords, on the other hand, are longer keyword phrases usually containing three or more 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:
For example, say you have a clinic in Des Moines, Iowa. Someone looking at your social media advertising in California isn’t likely to come to your clinic. A geotargeted campaign would help you find social media users that need your clinic and live in your area. And if you have multiple locations, you can run geotargeted social media ads in each area where you want to increase your customer base.
For branding campaigns, your budget is often not an issue. You may have a fixed budget or your budget may be seemingly limitless. It doesn’t matter, because with this strategy the focus is on position; and in most cases only position #1 will do. This is often the easiest strategy to execute for paid search, but it’s also inefficient. The reality is that bidding into the top position in search results is often a waste of money. Google has gone on the record as saying that conversion rates don’t vary much by position, so in many cases all that the first position buys you in paid search is brand awareness (and vanity).
Keyword Competition tools can make things much easier on your keyword strategy. Some tools include the Adwords Keyword Planner  (you can tailor this for B2B) and MozBar. Google Adwords help you discover and compare new keywords. MozBar helps you check keyword competition against other B2B business sites. Some tools must be purchased, such as Long Tail Pro. This tool identifies profitable long tail keywords focused on your content.
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.
The strategic rationale of competitor profiling is simple. Superior knowledge of rivals offers a legitimate source of competitive advantage[7]. The raw material of competitive advantage consists of offering superior customer value in the firm’s chosen market. The definitive characteristic of customer value is the adjective, superior. Customer value is defined relative to rival offerings making competitor knowledge an intrinsic component of corporate strategy. Profiling facilitates this strategic objective in three important ways.[8] First, profiling can reveal strategic weaknesses in rivals that the firm may exploit. Second, the proactive stance of competitor profiling will allow the firm to anticipate the strategic response of their rivals to the firm’s planned strategies, the strategies of other competing firms, and changes in the environment. Third, this proactive knowledge will give the firms strategic agility. Offensive strategy can be implemented more quickly in order to exploit opportunities and capitalize on strengths. Similarly, defensive strategy can be employed more deftly in order to counter the threat of rival firms from exploiting the firm’s own weaknesses.[5]
If you are a UX designer, then you might be aware of the service design cycle. This cycle contains four stages: discover, explore, test and listen. Each one of these stages has multiple research methods, and competitive analysis is part of the exploration. Susan Farrell has very helpfully distinguished different UX research methods and activities that can be performed for your project. (You can check this detailed segregation in her “UX Research Cheat Sheet”.)
Your costs can be lower when you stay away from national campaigns that take a more shotgun approach to your social media advertising efforts. Instead, geotargeting will enable you to conduct regional-, state- and city-level campaigns that will improve your results. That’s because this approach helps to tighten your campaign’s boundaries around your company’s physical location.
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.

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.
They differ in many aspects, from gender to age; from organic to paid; from 1024×768 to 320×480 and onwards. More significantly though, people arrive to your site from across the world: from different countries and languages, different currencies and climates, and a whole assortment of cultural expectations. Hence, even if you have a “.com” English only site, you may very well be an international business by default.
The unique advantage of PPC marketing is that Google (and other ad networks) don’t just reward the highest bidders for that ad space, they reward the highest-quality ads (meaning the ads that are most popular with users). Essentially, Google rewards good performance. The better your ads, the greater your click-through rates and the lower your costs.
Once your ad is displayed, it’s likely to be clicked by only a tiny percentage of people who search for such a broad term, making it less likely to be displayed in the future. And even if you create an ad that’s broad enough for those searchers to reliably click, they’re unlikely to find exactly what they’re looking for on your landing page. You’re paying a lot for poor-quality traffic.
Competitive analyses for SEO are not something that should be overlooked when planning a digital marketing strategy. This process can help you strategically build unique and complex SEO campaigns based on readily available data and the demand of your market. This analysis will instantly put you ahead of competitors who are following cookie-cutter SEO programs and not diving deep into their industry. Start implementing this process as soon as you can and adjust it based on what is important to your own business or client’s 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.
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.
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.
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