It's quite likely that no prospect or customer reads your press releases as carefully as your competitors do. Press releases are helpful in understanding a company’s strategic focus. Sometimes PRs show your competitors’ customer count. The About section in a press release shows your competitor's strategic messaging. These two to five sentences are how your competitor wants their customers and prospects to perceive the company and its products.
Remember: The idea of a competitive analysis isn't to overly focus on the competition but to understand where your company stands in the marketplace and identify opportunities to further differentiate. At the end of the day, a focus on the customer will serve your company far more than a focus on the competition. Done well, a competitive analysis can help you find ways to outplay the competition by better serving customers —  theirs and yours.
Once you've done your research, you want to make sure you're incorporating it into your content marketing strategy every step of the way. One of the best ways to keep yourself and your team on track is to use  a tool that's already integrated with your marketing automation platform. This will give everyone visibility into what keywords your team is using, how they're using them and how your content is performing. 
Having initiated a Geo Targeting conversion experiment, you are faced with an inherent problem: how can you verify that your Geo Targeting works? One option is to ask people that are located worldwide to browse your targeted pages and inform you of the results. Another, far more convenient method, is to use a “global geo proxy network” that allows you to browse the web from different global locations.

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.


Let’s take the example of a guy, we’ll call him Jerry, who runs a coworking space in the city of Bristol, UK. He’s concerned about his keyword rankings, as seen in WooRank’s SERPs tool. Even his main keywords are only providing ‘+100’ rankings. (If you have used our SERPs tool, you know that this is the number we give to search engine results that rank out of the first ten pages in Google and Bing for a certain query.)
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.
Before you begin, you’ll need to identify six brands to compare your website against. These should be your search competitors (who else is ranking for terms that you’re ranking for, or would like to rank for?) in addition to a business competitor (or two). Don’t know who your search competition is? You can use SEMRush and Searchmetrics to identify them, and if you want to be extra thorough you can use this Moz post as a guide.
Instead of immediately sponsoring a Search Engine Marketing (SEM) campaign for certain keywords, keep an eye on your competitors for the best moment to do it. An SEM campaign implies a daily expenditure that most companies can’t afford long-term, so they won’t keep it up for long. If you are determined to spend some money on it, don’t just go crazy and then measure your ROI. After 3 – 4 months of watching, you should know if it’s worth it for your business to spend money on search engine ads. For an advanced strategy, try to identify your competitors’ timing for purchasing search engine ads, and try to replace them when they are not actively sponsoring results.
Exhaustive – Your keyword research should include not only the most popular and frequently searched terms in your niche, but also extend 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.
You’ll often find your hottest leads among people who have already encountered your business once. Depending on your industry, it may be unlikely for people to purchase your product the first time they visit. If you’re an e-commerce operation selling lower-ticket items, you may be able to send people directly to a sales page with excellent results. But if you’re like the dishwasher store we invented above, visiting your PPC landing page may be one step in a larger research process for your customers.

More importantly, take the time as you conduct your keyword research to segment and categorize your keywords to map to the right landing pages. If the page doesn’t exist on your site yet, then that is your cue to build a new page for that set of keywords. By doing this you will achieve the relevance that will lead to more engaged visitors and higher conversion rates.
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!
Yes, that sounds like it would be awesome. Another great update would be to add a script that populates the spreadsheet automatically from a file structure containing the downloads (organic KWs and Links) to save copying and pasting everything. I’m going to have a chat with a friend in the Analytics space to see if he can help. Will share any successful output.
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.
Geo-Fencing refers to drawing a virtual barrier around a location using your devices global positioning system (GPS) or Internet Protocol (IP) address, which is just like your virtual address.  Ads inside of geo-fenced areas can be seen on computer, tablet, or mobile devices as potential customers are browsing the web.  Technically, geo-fencing can be any size radius from a particular location, anywhere from a mile to state-wide.  But most people when they are referring to geo-fencing are looking for a very tight radius around a location.   A misconception with geo-fencing is that once inside the fence you receive push notifications, or text messages to the device, which is not accurate.   What geo-fencing does instead is show ads to the person inside the geo-fenced radius if they are browsing the web, to alert them of a local deal or the distance you are from a particular store location.
Steve Webb is an SEO audit specialist at Web Gnomes. He received his Ph.D. from Georgia Tech, where he published dozens of articles on Internet-related topics. Professionally, Steve has worked for Google and various other Internet startups, and he's passionate about sharing his knowledge and experiences with others. You can find him on Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn.

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.
Great article. This ties in perfectly with the article I just published yesterday. This checklist in conjunction with my competitor analysis, that is more based on keyword and traffic data, will really round out the research stage of your campaign. Taking a deep look at a competitors website just like you would do your own, can be a valuable exercise that drives strategy.
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.
"Cloaking" via IP delivery works differently from cloaking via "user agent". While IP address spoofing is harder than user-agent spoofing and more reliable, it is also harder to keep the list of IP addresses used by search engines for their crawlers up-to-date. An outdated list with active crawler IP addresses missing enables the search engines to detect the cloaking and may result in a removal of the site from the search engine's index.

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.
Let’s start with an easy one: target the areas your business serves. If your restaurant has one location in Chicago, set your search campaigns to only show to searchers in and around Chicago! If you’re an ecommerce site that serves the Pacific Northwest, don’t show your ads outside of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. This is the most basic way to ensure that you’re not wasting clicks – and money – on consumers who can’t convert.
The assumptions that a competitor's managers hold about their firm and their industry help to define the moves that they will consider. For example, if in the past the industry introduced a new type of product that failed, the industry executives may assume that there is no market for the product. Such assumptions are not always accurate and if incorrect may present opportunities. For example, new entrants may have the opportunity to introduce a product similar to a previously unsuccessful one without retaliation because incumbant firms may not take their threat seriously. Honda was able to enter the U.S. motorcycle market with a small motorbike because U.S. manufacturers had assumed that there was no market for small bikes based on their past experience.

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.
Geo-Targeting allows you to run different campaigns in different locations. Your ads might be served all over the world and vary in their marketing message according to the segment and audience that you approach. Is the marketing message on your site the same as the geo-targeted ad? Experiment with sending traffic from a geo-targeted banner to a geo-targeted landing page (in language, currency, offer, etc) and to a generic page – what converts better?
I have often gone on the record with my skepticism toward paid search campaign management software, and I have several reasons for being skeptical. My main concern has been that these tools over promise on features and under deliver on performance. They claim to replace the analyst by using algorithms to optimize campaigns, but in reality they replace the fun piece of the analysts job (improving results) and replace it with the tedious task of managing to get their campaigns to work properly in the software. I have been burned by this sales pitch twice and have written about this in a previous post called “Paid Search Bid Management Tools: Great Investment or Save Your Money?” – so feel free to read that post for more details.

Now, evaluate your competition's product or service. How does your product compare to your closest competitor's product? What features and benefits are unique to your product? To theirs? The more unique features and benefits your product has, the stronger your market position will be. For example, if you produce and market an office copying machine that staples collated copies together and your closest competitor doesn't have this feature, you have an advantage. You can then sell the same market segment the benefit of added convenience and time saved. However, your competitor may have developed a feature that you don't have on your copier that gives him/her a selling advantage. 

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.
Both geo-fencing and geo-targeting can be done on mobile, tablet, computer, or even gaming devices with internet access.  When it comes to deciding which is best for your marketing, think of who your target customer is. If you are interested in advertising to a population of all ages and all interests, geo-fencing is perfect for you. If you are only interested in hitting only a specific consumer demographic that is more niche, then you should be doing geo-targeting.
Geofencing hinges on the use of a “fence”—a designated area that a marketer sets. Where geo-targeting allows you to get more granular and include or exclude certain users in the target area (based on demographic, for instance), geofencing is a bit more of a blunt object in that you’ll capture all users who move into a certain area. The purpose of creating a geofence is to target communications in a given zone, in a given context—just like geo-targeting, but with greater accuracy. Retail operators who want to catch the attention of shoppers as they pass by a store, for example, might use geofencing.
Instead of immediately sponsoring a Search Engine Marketing (SEM) campaign for certain keywords, keep an eye on your competitors for the best moment to do it. An SEM campaign implies a daily expenditure that most companies can’t afford long-term, so they won’t keep it up for long. If you are determined to spend some money on it, don’t just go crazy and then measure your ROI. After 3 – 4 months of watching, you should know if it’s worth it for your business to spend money on search engine ads. For an advanced strategy, try to identify your competitors’ timing for purchasing search engine ads, and try to replace them when they are not actively sponsoring results.

But switching costs, or the cost that a customer incurs as a result of switching products, still exist. Technology can be a driver of higher switching costs. When a product is integrated with multiple systems and APIs, switching to another product becomes increasingly difficult. Such a switch usually results in business interruption and the need to retrain staff, among other unwelcome effects.

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.
Geographically targeted ads can increase returns significantly over "blind advertising." On the Internet, clickthrough rates are improved compared with advertisements not targeted by location. The results in a given situation depend on the geographical distribution of potential customers, a variable that requires intensive research to accurately determine.
But consider this: only a lead who is in the early stages of researching a product or solution (aka not ready to convert) uses such general keywords in their search engine research, simply because they aren’t yet educated enough about what they’re looking for. Similar to a negative keyword strategy, bottom-of-the-funnel (BOFU) keywords can help you reach avoid the wrong leads. These keywords are ones that are more pricing and service-oriented, which will bring in consumers who have a higher potential of converting as a result of your PPC ads.
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.
Competitive analysis can help frame your own product context, discover other problems your customers have, and even bond the team together against a common foe. For all of these reasons and more you shouldn’t ignore your competition. However, if you don’t properly understand how they impact your organization’s strategy, competitive analysis is simply a waste of time.
Retargeting is a great way to close sales that you otherwise might’ve missed. A variety of ad platforms offer retargeting services, including Google and social media networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn (we previously wrote about LinkedIn’s retargeting platform Lead Accelerator.) To learn more about retargeting and remarketing, read our post, Retargeting for Rookies: Your Guide to What it is and How to Use it.

Let’s start with an easy one: target the areas your business serves. If your restaurant has one location in Chicago, set your search campaigns to only show to searchers in and around Chicago! If you’re an ecommerce site that serves the Pacific Northwest, don’t show your ads outside of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. This is the most basic way to ensure that you’re not wasting clicks – and money – on consumers who can’t convert.
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.
Preparing a Competitor Analysis is an activity that all Product Managers undertake at some point in the job. As Product Managers, having solid knowledge of our rivals and their activity in the marketplace helps us make better decisions during the strategic product planning phase. It ensures that we’re ready to respond to our competitors and exploit any weakness in order to gain a larger share of the pie.

It’s important to remember that online shoppers are humans, and to treat them as such. The examples below show two versions of the same ad for a fake cyber security business. While version A does provide potential customers with information about the company and the services it offers, it fails to address them as people or speak to the challenges or pain points they might be experiencing.
The answers remain to be seen, but there’s one no brainer in all of this; one best practice that can dictate any brand’s choices around location-based marketing: ask your users. Explain why you want to target them, tell them how you plan to use their data, and make some commitments about how you won’t use it. Ask for feedback via quick polls, or consider doing some market research on your audience. See what your users most want. Then respect that.
Pick your battles. Sometimes a keyword is so competitive, it's best to let it go. Focus on keywords where you have the most opportunity to move up in the ranks. Moving up from a ranking of 60 to 50 won't have much of an impact, but moving from a ranking of 15 to 8 pushes you from Page 2 to Page 1 of Google's search results, where you'll have a much better chance of being found.
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.
Beacons are little physical objects (under two square inches, in most cases) that can be placed in desired locations. Their sole purpose is to detect you, or more specifically, your device, as you move into their range. The beacons themselves don’t send content. Like geofencing, a signal is triggered when you’re near one, and a server sends a push, text, in-app message, or even an email (though currently, that’s a less likely application for beacons).
No, but you will need to have completed keyword research beforehand - and I mean thorough keyword research, not a bullshit download from Google Keyword Planner. You will need to have a handle on the competitive metrics for your target SERP's. If you have no idea how to get these, I strongly encourage you to also check out my course Master Keyword Research.
Shakeups. As you analyze your competitive information be on the look out for broad management changes or changes in ownership. This is an indication that major policies and marketing shifts are on the horizon and you should anticipate changes. It may be a good opportunity to court your competitor's star employees. People often change jobs during management shakeups. 
Geo-Fencing refers to drawing a virtual barrier around a location using your devices global positioning system (GPS) or Internet Protocol (IP) address, which is just like your virtual address.  Ads inside of geo-fenced areas can be seen on computer, tablet, or mobile devices as potential customers are browsing the web.  Technically, geo-fencing can be any size radius from a particular location, anywhere from a mile to state-wide.  But most people when they are referring to geo-fencing are looking for a very tight radius around a location.   A misconception with geo-fencing is that once inside the fence you receive push notifications, or text messages to the device, which is not accurate.   What geo-fencing does instead is show ads to the person inside the geo-fenced radius if they are browsing the web, to alert them of a local deal or the distance you are from a particular store location.
Other EmployeesYour employees working in other areas of the company also become exposed to competitive information. They interact with others in their industry area and often learn what your rival is doing or hear gossip and rumors. Make sure your entire staff knows they should share any information concerning the competition immediately. Former employees of a competitor can provide you with insight on: your competitor's new products, marketing strategies, how-to improve productivity and employ other resources more effectively, and what your competitor's general working environment is like.  

Let’s take the example of a guy, we’ll call him Jerry, who runs a coworking space in the city of Bristol, UK. He’s concerned about his keyword rankings, as seen in WooRank’s SERPs tool. Even his main keywords are only providing ‘+100’ rankings. (If you have used our SERPs tool, you know that this is the number we give to search engine results that rank out of the first ten pages in Google and Bing for a certain query.)
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.
GREAT suggestions, Nicholas! I've definitely customized this checklist for clients' various needs too (some care about having an "email signup form" as something to check, while others are international and we'd need to make sure their href lang tags were correct). Please keep the recs coming–this checklist will only get better as we make it work for different scenarios :)
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