Exhaustive – Your keyword research should include not only the most popular and frequently searched terms in your niche, but also to the long tail of search. Long-tail keywords are more specific and less common, but they add up to account for the majority of search-driven traffic. In addition, they are less competitive, and therefore less expensive.
Chesky and Gebbia believed that most people thought hotels were the only option for travelers, but the truth was that renting someone’s extra room was cheaper with an added dose of personalised hospitality – and likely a higher margin business as well. Hyman and Fleiss believed that most people thought they needed to buy the dress they wanted to wear, but the truth was that you didn’t need to own a dress that you only wear a few times. Both teams set out to challenge old customer preferences with modern technology and logic.

I mentioned earlier that I recently performed a competitive analysis for a collaborative meeting note-taking feature, to be introduced in the app that I was developing for a client. The goals for my research were very general because innumerable apps all provide this type of functionality, and the product I was working on was in the very early stages of development.
Many marketers experience this issue during PPC campaigns: They’re attracting the attention of their audience and driving traffic with their ads, yes—but those website and landing page visits aren’t resulting in the amount of conversions they would have expected. If you are also experiencing this, your ads may be targeting consumers who aren’t quite in the decision stage of their buyer’s journey through the use of too many top-of-the-funnel (TOFU) keywords in your ad copy.
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.
AdvertisingNot only does advertising copy tell you a competitor's price and other product information, it provides an indication of your competitor's entire promotional program and budget. When reading a competitor's advertisement be sure to note the following: publication, frequency, special offers, product features and benefits highlighted. If your competitor suddenly places an advertisement in an industry publication that neither of you are currently selling to, it's an indication that they're trying to reach a new market segment. It's also important to notice the design and tone of your competitor's advertisements. What kind of image do they convey? How does your own image compare? Are their advertisements in color while your own are black-and-white? Even if they're not, a clever advertising campaign can communicate that your competitor is an innovative, fresh company.  
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.

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.  
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.
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.
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.
Your conclusion should be presented to other business stakeholders especially when you’ve decided the next steps. For example, you may alter your Product Roadmap as a result of the competitor analysis. Sales and marketing teams may benefit from summaries that contrast your product with key competitors and emphasise your product’s strengths so that they can take this message to market.
When I was working with BLADE, an Uber-like helicopter service, we wanted to know why people would pay $600 for a 5-minute long helicopter ride from Manhattan to the airport, but not the other way. In this particular case, our competitor was sitting alone in a black car in traffic back to the city. The benefit was that they weren’t really in a rush and they could catch up on things. It was the only time they could be alone with their thoughts.
To create a similar chart, start with your website goals and map them to a potential visitor’s goal. For example, you may want to generate more event space inquiries, which means potential visitors to your website would likely be searching for an event space. Now ask yourself: what do people searching for an event space type into Google? If I were looking for this type of product or service, how would I search for it on the web?
This can mean simply using pictures from the surrounding area or structuring the landing page around a theme that is relevant. A great example of this is Grubhub. If you access their site from Boston, you get completely different suggestions and images than you do if you access it from San Francisco. Not only does this engage the user on a personal level, it also draws them in to the page, keeping them clicking for longer.
Add in geolocation, and you get geotargeting, a technique that has proved highly beneficial to local small businesses, especially restaurants, retail shops, and service providers. While that’s great, what happens if you’re a large corporation running national campaigns? As a CMO, you can still use geotargeting to increase the return on your marketing investments.
Research: These searchers are further down the funnel than informational searchers. They’ve already decided that they want to buy a product, but they haven’t quite decided which one is best. They’re looking for more information, so product keywords usually include words such as "review", “top 10”, “comparison”. And while it may look like spam to you, a word like “cheap” can actually help turn researchers into conversions.
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.
A competitor's media strategy reveals budget allocation, segmentation and targeting strategy, and selectivity and focus.[13][14] From a tactical perspective, it can also be used to help a manager implement his own media plan. By knowing the competitor's media buy, media selection, frequency, reach, continuity, schedules, and flights, the manager can arrange his own media plan so that they do not coincide.
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.

Page Content: The days of minimum keyword density are gone. The number of times you use a keyword is really determined by the length of your content. If you are creating unique, quality content your will naturally use your keyword throughout your page. Sprinkle latent semantic keywords throughout your content to strengthen the page’s topical relevance.
An important distinction to make before we begin is that a Competitor Analysis is not a Product Comparison. Although we may make mention of the types of products sold, we should not be including the detailed product features in a Competitor Analysis. Quite often, two seemingly distinct products can solve the same customer problem or satisfy a similar need. At its core, a Competitor Analysis is a document that evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of your rivals.
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).

When I was working with BLADE, an Uber-like helicopter service, we wanted to know why people would pay $600 for a 5-minute long helicopter ride from Manhattan to the airport, but not the other way. In this particular case, our competitor was sitting alone in a black car in traffic back to the city. The benefit was that they weren’t really in a rush and they could catch up on things. It was the only time they could be alone with their thoughts.

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This can mean simply using pictures from the surrounding area or structuring the landing page around a theme that is relevant. A great example of this is Grubhub. If you access their site from Boston, you get completely different suggestions and images than you do if you access it from San Francisco. Not only does this engage the user on a personal level, it also draws them in to the page, keeping them clicking for longer.

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…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:
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.
Limiting your organization to direct competitors only might lead you to a very narrow view of the market. This framework allows you to evaluate companies that aren’t just your direct competitors but companies that could easily move into your turf. You want to consider companies that aren’t currently in your category but could potentially leverage their product or technology in your space.

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?
The risk to this approach is that it isn’t always terribly accurate beyond the city to ‎zip code level.  If, for example, you were to use MaxMind’s demo service to locate ‎your own IP, it will likely show you perhaps a mile away from your actual address, ‎likely at the nearest network node, the point at which your computer connects to ‎your ISP’s network infrastructure.   ‎
The effectiveness of geo-targeting is only going to further improve as mobile use grows and location data becomes more accurate and available. The Local Search Association (LSA) just released data that found that, for the first time, mobile devices surpassed PC use in search for local businesses and services. As I reported last month, the majority of searches (52%) for local information on mobile devices occur either in the car or away from home or work.

Competitor analysis is an essential component of corporate strategy.[3] It is argued that most firms do not conduct this type of analysis systematically enough[4]. Instead, many enterprises operate on what is called "informal impressions, conjectures, and intuition gained through the tidbits of information about competitors every manager continually receives." As a result, traditional environmental scanning places many firms at risk of dangerous competitive blindspots due to a lack of robust competitor analysis.[5]
Geography can also be used to predict desirable demographics and information about users in that area. Neighborhoods can often be delineated by residents’ income bracket, age, ethnicity, education, and many other demographics or interests. Politicians often draw district boundaries into areas of common political constituencies that also predict demographics or common values.
Think about what else is around you. Don’t just think about where you are; think about what’s around you. Are you a restaurant near a stadium or an airport? Encourage people to stop by after the big game, before that Ed Sheeran concert, or for a graduation celebration in your ad copy. If you’re a boutique fitness studio, advertise to people who are health-conscious and attending the farmer’s market nearby. Put these suggestions into your copy to increase in-store events.
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.

Scanning competitor's ads can reveal much about what that competitor believes about marketing and their target market.[10] Changes in a competitor's advertising message can reveal new product offerings, new production processes, a new branding strategy, a new positioning strategy, a new segmentation strategy, line extensions and contractions, problems with previous positions, insights from recent marketing or product research, a new strategic direction, a new source of sustainable competitive advantage, or value migrations within the industry. It might also indicate a new pricing strategy such as penetration, price discrimination, price skimming, product bundling, joint product pricing, discounts, or loss leaders. It may also indicate a new promotion strategy such as push, pull, balanced, short term sales generation, long term image creation, informational, comparative, affective, reminder, new creative objectives, new unique selling proposition, new creative concepts, appeals, tone, and themes, or a new advertising agency. It might also indicate a new distribution strategy, new distribution partners, more extensive distribution, more intensive distribution, a change in geographical focus, or exclusive distribution. Similar techniques can be used by observing a competitor's search engine optimization targets and practices.[11] For example, by conducting keyword research, one may be able to determine a competitor's target market, keywords, or products. Other metrics allow for detection of a competitor's success.[12] Little of this intelligence is definitive: additional information is needed before conclusions should be drawn.
SpyFu displays side-by-side data on your competitors' paid and organic search results, so you can easily see where it's more cost-effective to bid on a particular keyword as opposed to trying to rank for  it organically. That way you can use your time more efficiently by writing content around those keywords that drive a lot of traffic but are more expensive to bid on.
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.
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. 
6. Use social media to help provide context for user intent. Another important keyword strategy is to align your social media efforts, especially the “listening” part, to help provide context to your targeted keywords. I have outlined a few ways in this column to infer user intent by keyword but to see the search term used in a tweet or blog will provide a much better context to user intent and usage. You can gauge user wants, needs, and sentiment that will help you as you construct your landing pages with keyword-relevant content.
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.
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.
Remember that you are the jockey, the driver and the visionary. The best horse cannot win the race without the jockey – it is important to believe in your business and live by example through the core values of your business. An entrepreneur should show commitment, determination, leadership, tolerance of risk, creativity, self-reliance and the ability to adapt to excel.
The Keyword Planner is a free tool, but you'll need to set up a Google AdWords account first if you don't have one already.  Once you're set up and logged in, go to the Tools bar at the top of the home page and you'll find the Keyword Planner there. Click Search for new keyword and ad group ideas. You'll be able to see suggestions in both the Ad group ideas tab and the Keyword ideas tab. You can add new keywords to an ad group by clicking the double arrows >> next to the keyword or remove them by clicking on the ad group and then the X next to that keyword.

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.

The gap between your goal and your recent performance should guide how you choose from the menu of strategy options. If you have aggressive growth targets and are consistently meeting or exceeding your ROAS threshold, then you should primarily focus on growth initiatives, and sprinkle in a few efficiency optimizations to ensure that you’re not wasting spend. If you are not achieving your ROAS goal, you’ll want to focus primarily on efficiency optimizations. If you fall somewhere in the middle of these two scenarios, you should select an even mix of growth and efficiency efforts.
Use the Keyword Planner to flag any terms on your list that have way too little (or way too much) search volume, and don't help you maintain a healthy mix like we talked about above. But before you delete anything, check out their trend history and projections in Google Trends. You can see whether, say, some low-volume terms might actually be something you should invest in now -- and reap the benefits for later.
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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