Competitive analysis is an exercise of comparing your business, product, and service to companies and finding similarities and differences. The most critical part of kicking off a competitive analysis is choosing the right competitors to analyze. Otherwise, you will spend tons of time on competitive research with very limited insight to show for it. In other words, the competitors you select determines how you will perceive your company and the final analysis.
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.

Understanding the balance of terms that might be a little more difficult due to competition, versus those terms that are a little more realistic, will help you maintain a similar balance that the mix of long-tail and head terms allows. Remember, the goal is to end up with a list of keywords that provide some quick wins but also helps you make progress toward bigger, more challenging SEO goals.
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.
Recently, I was working on a project in which I did a competitive analysis of a feature (collaborative meeting note-taking) that a client wanted to introduce in their web app. Note-taking is not exactly a new or highly innovative thing, so the biggest challenge I was facing was to make this functionality simpler and easier to handle, because the product I was working on was in the very early stages of development. The feature, in a nutshell, was to create a simple text document where some interactive action items could be added.
Small businesses typically don’t have the budget or the amount of data necessary to take advantage of the benefits machine learning offers PPC marketers. If they’re not using a marketing agency to manage PPC that gives them access to machine learning optimization, they can also sign up directly. Acquisio’s Promote product was designed for small business owners to use with a monthly subscription model, simplifying ad creation and set up while allowing ad spend amounts as low as $100 using machine learning optimization. They explain in a past post about the small-business-machine-learning conundrum.

Some competitors solve the same problem with the same technology but focus on a different customer. For example, Zum provides schoolchildren with rides to school, solving a transportation problem for kids and parents. Zum solves a slightly different problem too: safety. Safety is the primary concern for parents when it comes to kids riding back from school. However, it’s ultimately grounded in the same tech as Uber.
Beacons aren’t designed to know you’re you, where you were a moment ago, or where you’re going next. By and large, they’re just little stationary computers that react: when your device moves near the beacon itself, it triggers a ping, and your app—if you have an app with notifications enabled for the beacon’s particular location—goes to work communicating with you. When you move out of that beacon’s range, it’s basically a done deal.
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!
Great insight here. This template is meant to serve as a base for further customization. Feel free to build on top of it with metrics and data that you find useful, I would love to see what you come up with. You can actually configure the backlink gap analysis to run for majestic or ahrefs by adjusting the query formula slightly. You bring up a great point about analyzing link data from multiple sources to get a more accurate picture so I would definitely recommend exploring majestic and ahrefs data as well..
You can set a bid adjustment based on a user’s previous behavior on your site, so if they’ve bought one item, you could increase your bids in your other campaign to promote related accessories or products that they are most likely to be interested when they search on Google. This can also work even if they haven’t made a purchase, but simply browsed for your products.

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”.)


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!
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.
Recently, I was working on a project in which I did a competitive analysis of a feature (collaborative meeting note-taking) that a client wanted to introduce in their web app. Note-taking is not exactly a new or highly innovative thing, so the biggest challenge I was facing was to make this functionality simpler and easier to handle, because the product I was working on was in the very early stages of development. The feature, in a nutshell, was to create a simple text document where some interactive action items could be added.
In B2B, the term target customer (or ideal customer profile) refers to both the company and decision maker profiles. We can’t fully grasp the pains and challenges of a decision maker without looking into his/her organization —  and their stakeholders. Larger organizations can throw more money at problems than a smaller, more agile company. Even decision makers with the same title, same goals, and same challenges might have different priorities and stakeholders to convince depending on the size of their organization.
As you consider new ideas for your next project or business, give extra credence to the things you believe to be true that others doubt. The most exciting products are created by people with tons of conviction for something that strikes most others as odd. I’ve heard from Joe Gebbia, co-founder of Airbnb, that when he and his co-founder Brian Chesky pitched the idea of having strangers sleeping in your home when you weren’t there, many investors shifted uncomfortably in their seats.
This chapter discusses how to establish goals to measure the success of our campaign. These should be directly tied to the stated objectives, as well as being measureable and achievable. It is important to track as many actions, goals, and engagement data as possible. This is what really drives understanding and insight from your analytics data and will allow you to assess which campaigns are delivering the goods.
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. 

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:

It is a common misconception that sprinkling your chosen keyword randomly throughout your site is enough to improve SEO for B2B marketing. Unfortunately, doing so can actually result in a serious loss of business. Creating a strong keyword strategy is one of the most important things you can do to improve SEO. It is equally important to know how to do it right, as well as understand why it’s so necessary. This post will explain why a keyword strategy is important for SEO and B2B marketing, as well as explain how to create one that will draw in business.
Although this process can be tedious and time consuming, it is essential in identifying where your competition may be surpassing you as well as what advantages you have over your competition. Developing takeaways will help identify these strengths and weaknesses. From there, you can improve your marketing plan by putting greater influence on the features your company offers and finding ways to implement features your company doesn’t offer that seem crucial to gaining customers.
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.
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.

For many of you reading this post, you may wonder why these other strategies exist at all. Shouldn’t people only be paying for clicks that directly impact their ability to generate revenue and ultimately profit? I struggled with this concept early in my career, but ultimately came to the conclusion that not every single marketing activity can be direct response.
One of the major promises of enterprise PPC management tools is that they employ bidding strategies that will save you all kinds of money by trimming down your cost per click through intelligent bid algorithms. These algorithms often let you adjust bids by just about any variable available in the AdWords/Bing API’s (you can even create calculated metrics) and adjust bids according to these rules in order to reduce costs. What they usually don’t tell you is the best way to set them up or provide algorithms to you that work out of the box. They give you the fishing line, but don’t always teach you to fish. They are a tool, and what we need is a PPC strategy.
It’s all about repeated exposure—while your previous site visitors browse other websites, your retargeting provider will show them ads for your services and products. Using retargeting, you can entice visitors back to your website and effectively convert these digital window shoppers into customers for your business. In fact, potential customers who are retargeted with display ads are 70 percent more likely to convert. Now, doesn’t that sound nice?
It's important to note your competitor's actions over time. For example, if one of your competitors is consistent with pricing, product features, promotion, and their market share it may mean that they're not exploring or exploiting additional market opportunities. Or, if one of your competitors has a decline in sales volume it may mean they will be employing new marketing strategies in the near future and should be monitored closely. Identify the Competitions Strengths and Weaknesses In order to develop effective competitive strategies, you need to make a realistic assessment of your competitors' strengths and weaknesses, as viewed by the market. You need to ask yourself what each of your competitors do very well, better than your own company? Then, ask yourself in what areas are each of your competitors weak. Construct a simple chart. The copier company's might appear like this: Strengths and Weaknesses of Competitors Competitor: Strengths Weaknesses A. Superior customer service 3-year warranty Higher price B. Quick innovator Unique features Higher price Limited distribution channels C. Large market share Lower price Comprehensive ad campaign Viewed as market leader by market segment Slower product No direct access to parts Other Factors to Consider
This report also helps drive our editorial calendar, since we often find keywords and topics where we need to create new content to compete with our competitors. We take this a step further during our content planning process, analyzing the content the competitors have created that is already ranking well and using that as a base to figure out how we can do it better. We try to take some of the best ideas from all of the competitors ranking well to then make a more complete resource on the topic.
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