It’s good for searchers – Research indicates that searchers click on paid search ads more often than any other form of digital advertising. This means that people really don’t mind being advertised to, provided that the products and services advertised actually fit the searcher’s needs. And because we use search engines when we’re looking for products and services, the results, including the ads, are generally highly relevant to what we’re looking for. Plus, Google has developed an excellent formula for ensuring that PPC ads meet the user’s needs.
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More specifically, who gets to appear on the page is based on and advertiser’s Ad Rank, a metric calculated by multiplying two key factors – CPC Bid (the highest amount an advertiser is willing to spend) and Quality Score (a value that takes into account your click-through rate, relevance, and landing page quality). This system allows winning advertisers to reach potential customers at a cost that fits their budget. It’s essentially a kind of auction. The below infographic illustrates how this auction system works.
Of course, many small businesses don’t have the time or expertise to run tests on the successes and failures of their PPC campaigns. This is why simplified tools that use complex machine learning to do the testing for you are so helpful to manage PPC for small businesses. If you’re a small business owner and want to take it on yourself though, follow the winning strategies above to get started on the right track!
With the constant stream of new betas, introduction of format changes (hello Expanded Text Ads!) and a multitude of new targeting methods such as tablet bid modifiers and demographic bidding for search, paid search marketing continues to become more and more complex. Gone are the days when running ad copy tests, adding negative keywords, performing bid adjustments, and launching more targeted ad groups was sufficient to drive account growth. Today’s paid search advertiser must choose from hundreds of available account optimization strategies.

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.

Stadiums, airports, universities, and malls are examples of specific venues that can be targeted in order to reach specific interest groups. Stadiums provide a great opportunity to focus on specific short engagement events with an audience defined by that event. They often host fans from two specific cities or schools or fans of a specific music genre that is heavy in one demographic. A band like One Direction, for example, is likely to attract school-age female fans.
Your keyword strategy should make clear which “keyword groups” you focus on. It doesn’t have to be a long list of keywords (though it doesn’t hurt to have one). Your keyword strategy should be a definition of a group of keywords that you’re tackling. Every time you’re writing new content you can have a quick look at those groups and pick a new keyword that falls in line with the strategy.
It works like this – if there is an IP address the company wants to locate, they ping ‎it from a few of their servers, for which they already know the location.  A ping is ‎just a way to test if a computer can connect, and how long it takes to do so, but ‎doesn’t transmit any meaningful data.  Then, by looking at the time it takes each ‎server to connect, it can establish a shared point or origin, and thereby physically ‎locate the user.  It uses the public IP locations to validate their approach and check ‎for anomalies in network latency which would lead to bad data.  ‎

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.
Once you have a short list of keywords, create separate pieces of valuable, high-quality content, each optimized for an individual term on the list. Through the process outlined above, you aligned keywords with searcher intent. You ostensibly know what searchers commonly put into search engines to find content related to your business goals. Now, your content should actually meet those searchers’ needs. In fact, it should be your goal to create the best, most actionable content to answer a specific question a target user might have as possible.
If you have a poor billing system or are constantly losing invoices and important documents, soon your clients will move on to greener pastures (and more organised businesses). If you implement a strategy to become more organised, you will find your customer service improving. This will lead not only to return clients but to new business, as word-of-mouth travels about your professionalism and efficiency.
The first case is quite simple yet happens often. So for example, you have not sold tandem bikes for years (and had the word “tandem” in a negative list), then you started to sell them again. But your PPC specialist forgot to remove the word from negatives, and now you are left wondering why you are not getting any traffic for this keyword. To avoid this situation, check your negative keyword lists regularly and bring the relevant keywords back to life.

Thanks Ramon! You can easily add more tabs to input more backlink data for additional competitors and then adjust the query formula to use the new tabs. I often increase this to 10, 15 or even 20 competitors for larger clients. The beauty of Google Sheets templates is the ease in which you can make these adjustments. Let me know if you need any help with that.


It can be easy to go down a deep rabbit hole with this process. There are thousands of blog posts with helpful hints (you’re reading one right now), and hundreds of tools that can potentially improve or otherwise streamline the process of researching keywords and devising a smart keyword strategy. That’s why we advise you keep things simple for starters. You can always layer on complexity as you gain experience. More than anything, good SEO efforts revolve around creating content experiments, measuring them, then doing more of what works and less of what doesn’t. Simpler is often better, especially if you are resource constrained. A good content governance strategy should dictate that you take on only as much as your resources allow.
Keyword research is a time consuming and continuous activity. Create your list of core keywords at the time of campaign planning and you should constantly refine and expand your keyword list for long-tail, low cost and highly relevant keywords. Another important step in keyword research is to review high cost, under performing keywords. Remove these keywords from your list.
Strategic technique used to evaluate outside competitors. The analysis seeks to identify weaknesses and strengths that a company's competitors may have, and then use that information to improve efforts within the company. An effective analysis will first obtain important information from competitors and then based on this information predict how the competitor will react under certain circumstances.

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.


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.
Future Competition. In your competitive analysis, you need to make a few predictions about what the competition is going to look like in the future. Competitors are constantly coming and going in the marketplace. Ask yourself: Who are my competitors likely to be? If you are introducing a new widget, how long before the competition catches on? Forecasting future competition will give your potential investors the confidence in the long term viability of your business.Barriers to Entry. Companies whose competitive edge depends on new technology, new manufacturing techniques or access to new markets need to be aware of the common barriers new competition faces when trying to gain entry into the marketplace. They include:
To determine your company's market share on a percentage basis, the following formula should be used: Current Market Share = Company sales Industry salesYou should then compute each of your competitors' market shares. It will give you a clear idea of how your sales volume compares to your competition's. If you don't have total industry sales figures you won't be able to figure out your market share, but you can still get a good idea of your competitive position by comparing the sales volume figures. For example, say last year Company A sold $3 million dollars worth of copiers, Company B sold $5 million, and you sold $4 million. It's obvious that Company B has the largest share of your market and is your greatest competitor. Competitive Objectives and Strategies For each competitor in your analysis, you should try to identify what their market objectives are and determine what types of strategies they are using to achieve them. Are your competitors trying:

We constantly sharpen our PPC skills -  by speaking at national search marketing conferences, writing helpful "how-to" blogs for other search marketers,  and consuming daily blogs and news to stay abreast of everthing that this crazy industry throws at us! It's unlikely that your in-house employee(s) can achieve the level of focus and commitment of PPC-Strategies.
Monitoring also allows you to notice trends. If there’s a high bounce rate (people leaving your landing page before making a purchase) but a high click-through rate as well (lots of people are clicking on your ad), it’s a sign that the issue isn’t with your ad but with your landing page. Instead of throwing the baby out with the bathwater, you can focus exclusively on improving your landing page.

No matter how marketing-savvy your company may be, you can always learn more about your customers, especially when it comes to personalizing your advertising. That’s where geotargeting can again be beneficial. The information received from geolocation can help a brand determine where a consumer is looking so it can better tailor events, products, and services to those consumer interests in the near future.
Geo-targeting is virtually a necessity for businesses advertising online, since they cannot assume – as one can with traditional media, like newspapers or radio – where their audience is located. Luckily, this powerful tool is not hard to implement. For example, a small outfit like a pizza parlor with a finite delivery range can purchase online ads that only appear in the browsers of people with an IP address within the neighborhood. Geo-targeting also increases the opportunities for A/B testing. For example, a Japanese-speaking immigration lawyer in the U.S. may choose to run two separately geo-targeted campaigns: one locally for people looking to bring family over or maintain status in the country, and another one in Japan targeting people looking to emigrate.
If your competitors are using a social network that you may not be on, it's worth learning more about how that platform may be able to help your business, too. To determine if a new social media platform is worth your time, check your competitor's engagement rates on those sites. First, visit the following sites to see if your competition has an account on these platforms:
Conversion: This strategy is what most of us are after. We want our keywords to draw traffic to our website or landing page, and then we want that traffic to convert by making a purchase or otherwise doing something specific like filling out a contact form, picking up the phone, or downloading something. In this case, long-tail or more specific keywords will likely work best for you.
In the last year, Google and Bing have both indicated a shift to entity-based search results as part of their evolution. Google has unscored this point with rich snippets and Knowledge Graph, and Bing has now upped the ante on personal search results with Bing Snapshots. Find out how you can adopt strategies to stay ahead of the curve in the new world of semantic search results.
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.
For this reason, some companies have taken a more direct measurement approach ‎to IP geolocation vs. trying to infer it through ping triangulation.  It’s far more ‎straightforward, but requires a lot more manual effort.  Basically, these companies ‎send cars out to drive up and down every street in the country and log WiFi IP ‎addresses as well as their physical location to populate the same table that more ‎traditional geolocation companies build through technical means.   Google and ‎Skyhook both use this approach. 
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. 
Another thing you need to do in order to maximize the effectiveness of your PPC campaigns is increase the quality and relevancy of your landing page content and user experience. These two elements have a big influence on whether or not leads will convert between your PPC ads and landing pages. A poorly designed or irrelevant landing page is a sure way to tank conversion rates.
So how is geo-targeting different? Geo-targeting refers to delivering ads to people meeting a specific targeting criteria and who enter inside of a defined radius using the same geo-fencing location technology. The key difference is geo-targeting hones in on specific consumer targeting criteria like demographics, behaviors, interests, as well as where the person is located.  You often need bigger geos to do this since you are not showing the ads to EVERYONE inside the geo-fence, they must also meet the targeting criteria.

Conduct a business download meeting. I meet with key stakeholders to learn everything I can about the business and the industry they compete in. Is the business itself growing or struggling? What about the industry as a whole? I use this time to learn what has worked and not worked from a PPC perspective and to determine if PPC performance goals are realistic and achievable (or if they exist at all).
Once your campaign is established you must review the analytics data and look for ways to optimise the campaign. Setting clear goals and measurements are absolutely critical to allow the campaign to be reviewed against each stated goal, in which you will consider ad performance, keyword performance, ad placement performance, campaign structure, and campaign targeting. This chapter highlights how to analyse and optimise your PPC campaign for success.
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.
Thanks for sharing your template file. It will help focussing on the right things right from the beginning. I checked out SEMrush to get a comparison of the keywords our competition is using. The results are poor basically. Its about sites in Switzerland for keywords and competitors we know since years. The data these tools show you is not at all reflecting the actual situtation here. I guess they perform well in the US/Canada, by far less good in rest of the world...
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