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.

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.
I always tell people to think of their site as a pyramid. Your brand is at the very top, below that is your cornerstone content for your “head: keywords, the keywords you care about the most, below those are dozens – if not hundreds or thousands – of pages, strengthening your site’s structure. I wrote about site structure & SEO over 3 years ago but it still rings true. We wrote about both these topics in our ebook too.
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.
Geolocation technology can also be used for planning virtual events or experiences that combine physical and virtual or augmented reality. For example, the Pokémon GO game was able to parlay geolocation into a great success. Advertisers can use the same strategy to develop virtual experiences around a brand or product. This can involve using geolocation at events to track attendees and deliver specific information that enhances their overall experience.
It’s also best to look for those businesses that are of a similar size as yours. For example, if you’re a solo entrepreneur selling handmade potholders online, big chain grocery stores usually aren’t your direct competitors, even if they might carry handmade potholders in their inventory. Instead, look for other small to medium scale producers of handmade potholders and similar kitchen accessories.
Ad copy is the actual text that you’ll write for your AdWords, Bing or Facebook ads that will attract people to click on your ad. Search engines like Google are looking to show high quality ads, whose text says something closely related to the actual search in the search engine. So if you own a plant nursery in Montreal and your keyword is “Where to buy shrubs in Montreal,” a good headline for your ad could be: “Are You Looking to Buy Shrubs in Montreal?” Because the headline is relevant to the keyword and the query, it will be considered a more high-quality ad result in the eyes of search engines like Google.
Finally, since the competitive environment is dynamic, the competitor's ability to react swiftly to change should be evaluated. Some firms have heavy momentum and may continue for many years in the same direction before adapting. Others are able to mobilize and adapt very quickly. Factors that slow a company down include low cash reserves, large investments in fixed assets, and an organizational structure that hinders quick action.
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.

There are a variety of benefits to incorporating ad customizers into your PPC ads, such as the ability to create a sense of urgency in your target audience and drive clicks. But the biggest boost that ad customizers can provide is that they improve the relevance of your ads, thus improving your quality score. You can also adjust such ad elements as color, size, inventory and stock details, pricing, and seasonal sales to capture the eyes of potential customers.
Next, indicate with a check mark which of your competitors has which features. Features are fairly straightforward, either a product has a feature or it doesn't. Benefits, on the other hand, are not as simple and should only be recorded based on customer feedback. For example, company B may claim in their company literature that their copier is fast, but a user may feel otherwise. Or, company B may indeed have a copier that by industry standards is fast, but you may have a copier that's even faster. 
Understanding which websites already rank for your keyword gives you valuable insight into the competition, and also how hard it will be to rank for the given term. Are there search advertisements running along the top and right-hand side of the organic results? Typically, many search ads means a high-value keyword, and multiple search ads above the organic results often means a highly lucrative and directly conversion-prone keyword.
Once you have determined which keywords you should focus on, use them repeatedly in your content. Use an Excel sheet to keep an organized eye on your usage by tracking how many times you use each of your selected terms in your content. Why? The latest Google algorithm update is penalizing pages whose anchor text is over-optimized, and having an updated list of the terms you have already used will help you to vary them smartly.
The first part of your competitive analysis only requires basic research. You’ll just be looking up and making note of easy-to-find facts about your competitor’s business. For this part, you’ll need to have some idea about who your small business competitors are, where to find their website and social media pages, and perhaps have access to their offline marketing materials such as brochures, ads, and posters.

As UX designers, we should go out there and collect as much data as possible before building a real product. This data will help us to create a solid product that users will want to use, rather than a product we want or imagine. These kinds of products are more likely to succeed in the market. Competitive analysis is one of the ways to get this data and to create a user-friendly product.
I analyze the story the competitors tell with their landing pages, their site UX, and transparency (reviews, trust). Then I adjust my wireframe, making sure my client’s page can stand up to all that and more. Sometimes all I need is a better visual design than the competitor’s, but often, it is a matter of better explaining the value proposition of the service/product and putting together a more logical flow of elements.”
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).
Also, click on the “CTR” checkbox at the top of the graph. That will display a line graph overlay that displays your click-through rate for search. If you see that it’s dropped recently, it might be a good idea to check your meta description tags to make sure that they haven’t changed. It’s possible that people aren’t as “tempted’ to click on your link in search results because there’s not a very good description of the page contents.
Keyword research for PPC can be incredibly time-consuming, but it is also incredibly important. Your entire PPC campaign is built around keywords, and the most successful Google Ads advertisers continuously grow and refine their PPC keyword list. If you only do keyword research once, when you create your first campaign, you are probably missing out on hundreds of thousands of valuable, long-tail, low-cost and highly relevant keywords that could be driving traffic to your site.
You cannot expect your employees to stick to their schedules and stay organised if the person at the top doesn’t do the same. As the leader of your start-up, you need to set an example for your staff, which means that you have to be the most organised person in the company. While it is important to ensure your employees follow suit, try not to be too overbearing about how they choose to organise their days.
If you’re aiming for a steady cost per conversions (also known as Cost Per Acquisition) average, despite the potential challenge in calculating those costs, then Conversion Optimizer may be of help. This strategy works by setting a target Cost per Conversion at campaign level, and then AdWords uses your historical conversion data to optimize your bidding strategy to reach your targeted average.
Browse. Search the Internet for news, public relations, and other mentions of your competition. Search blogs and Twitter feeds as well as review and recommendation sites. While most of the information you find will be anecdotal and based on the opinion of just a few people, you may at least get a sense of how some consumers perceive your competition. Plus you may also get advance warning about expansion plans, new markets they intend to enter, or changes in management.
Not every keyword is worth ranking for. This may seem obvious, but it’s an important lesson for search marketers to learn. Often times we can get caught falling down the rabbit hole or chasing the long tail dragon to boost our rankings without thinking of the time and resources it takes to rank for these terms. Especially for highly competitive, high-volume keywords – it simply isn’t worth the time and effort it might take to get onto page one.
Reason: This metric can help you to know if you have well-organized content. Traffic generated from certain keywords can provide good insight into which pages a visitor typically sees as a result of that keyword query. In case you are using Google Analytics for measuring your visits, you can do it within the following path: Traffic sources > Search > Organic > Landing Pages as 1st dimension & 2nd dimension: Keyword.
When they started to open these “stores”, it didn’t make sense to advertise to everyone because not everyone would be near the pop-up stores. So instead, they only advertised within a small radius of their shop. By using geo-targeting to drive traffic to their shops, they were able to save money and resources while still achieving success in their pop-up shops.
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.
Because someone who is looking for something that specific is probably a much more qualified searcher for your product or service (presuming you're in the blogging space) than someone looking for something really generic. And because long-tail keywords tend to be more specific, it's usually easier to tell what people who search for those keywords are really looking for. Someone searching for the head term "blogging," on the other hand, could be searching it for a whole host of reasons unrelated to your business.

This is a great list! I especially appreciate the sample set of pages you recommended - oftentimes we ask clients we're onboarding who they consider to be their competitors, but once we start digging into their sites we see they're not necessarily "search" competitors or the sites just aren't that similar to be regarded as such in the search engine's eyes. At least these pages can help weed out any sites that just aren't built out to be similar to a client or are way ahead, so you can get an accurate comparison!
2. Define how will you measure success. This is probably one of the most important questions to answer before you begin any campaign. As a consultant, this is one of the first questions I ask a potential client. The answer as you might expect is page one ranking. If your objective is branding only, then this is fine, however, if like most organizations yours is a conversion strategy, then I would caution you to not be so short-sighted. Your objective should be how many conversions you want to achieve for each keyword. Top ranking will help you with visibility, which is a good thing, but if you bring in traffic from that keyword and those visitors do not engage and convert, then why bother? You must set your sights on keywords that convert.
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.
Next up, it’s time to analyze your competition by doing some competitor research. If you want to do a complete competitive analysis, you’ll need to do a deep dive into the background, location, products or services, marketing, sales, and personnel for each competitor you identified. (You can also break out one of these areas and do a real deep dive into it.)

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 particular, strategy is how the team aligns so that decisions made at any level are likely to be better for the longer term goals of the organization. If you don’t have that alignment, you will be constantly struggling to move the organization ahead, together. A well-executed competitive analysis provides the framing for how your group is the best one to take on the challenges and opportunities ahead.
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.
The same goes for PPC advertising. Potential customers who are targeted with your PPC ads don’t care about your need to fill your pipeline or your salespeople’s need to meet their quota—the truth is they only care about what’s in it for themselves. Cater to this by crafting your ad copy in the second person, keeping the importance on the consumer and not on your company.
Conduct a thorough account audit and gap analysis. Audits are time-consuming and tedious, but they’re absolutely necessary. I use the account audit to understand underlying drivers of performance and to determine whether work being done in the account is in alignment with business goals. Uncovering the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities provides critical information I need to form my guiding principle for account management.
The purpose of this guide is to provide a simple, actionable approach to building strategic PPC campaigns. Much of this is common sense and our goal with this guide is to lay out a strategic and procedural process allowing you to research and implement PPC campaigns that deliver the goods. In this chapter we teach you everything you need to know about putting your PPC strategy into action to begin converting browsers into buyers.
A competitor's capabilities can be analyzed according to its strengths and weaknesses in various functional areas, as is done in a SWOT analysis. The competitor's strengths define its capabilities. The analysis can be taken further to evaluate the competitor's ability to increase its capabilities in certain areas. A financial analysis can be performed to reveal its sustainable growth rate.

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).
Now, to figure out state and postal code involves a more complex process. At the ‎core though, the geolocation services build up a network of servers from which ‎they can send out pings, or connection requests, and known physical locations of ‎public entities like universities and government office IPs.  Eventually, with enough ‎data, the geolocation company has the capability to triangulate any IP on the web.   ‎
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.

Understanding which websites already rank for your keyword gives you valuable insight into the competition, and also how hard it will be to rank for the given term. Are there search advertisements running along the top and right-hand side of the organic results? Typically, many search ads means a high-value keyword, and multiple search ads above the organic results often means a highly lucrative and directly conversion-prone keyword.
IT is more cost-effective to target already existing demand to increase your market share for more qualified leads. For more tips on how to prioritize your keyword strategy and your comprehensive search campaigns, check out Directive’s Complete Guide to B2B Marketing and Demand Generation. And be sure to subscribe to our blog for weekly updates on the most innovative industry-leading tactics!
Evaluate your competitors by placing them in strategic groups according to how directly they compete for a share of the customer's dollar. For each competitor or strategic group, list their product or service, its profitability, growth pattern, marketing objectives and assumptions, current and past strategies, organizational and cost structure, strengths and weaknesses, and size (in sales) of the competitor's business. Answer questions such as:
Try to match the offer you make on your pages (product, service, message, etc) to the visitor’s specific location. This sounds simple but requires careful thought and planning. Measure funnel performance for visitors that are geo-targeted versus a control group – are people finding this “filtration” helpful or confining in a way? Statistically, do visitors that are directly served with local offers differ in behavior than those that are asked to “choose your location”? Test it!
Unfortunately, I can’t answer all of these questions for you. But I will offer up one solution, and that’s the valuable question of where to begin. Segmenting out an audience is often one of the most important and daunting tasks for a marketer. But the work is worth it. Segmenting visitors into audiences is going to make conversion marketing campaigns more relevant and effective. An easier way to segment is by using something called geo-targeting.
Choosing landing pages for your keywords is an important element of your keyword strategy, and can be critical for both your SEO and your user experience. Look at it this way: When you click through to a site that really isn’t relevant to your search, what do you do? You most likely leave that page after a few seconds and likely won’t consider it in the future. So having poorly optimized landing pages can cost you sales. But they’ll also damage your SEO efforts, making it hard to rank.

There are a variety of benefits to incorporating ad customizers into your PPC ads, such as the ability to create a sense of urgency in your target audience and drive clicks. But the biggest boost that ad customizers can provide is that they improve the relevance of your ads, thus improving your quality score. You can also adjust such ad elements as color, size, inventory and stock details, pricing, and seasonal sales to capture the eyes of potential customers.
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.

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.
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.
Google considers your landing page quality as one of the important factor to determine ad quality score. Your landing page is where user redirects when they click your ad. Landing pages with poor content or under construction website pages will give bad experience to your users. Users will not buy from you if you are landing them on an irrelevant page. A well optimize landing page should have complete information about your product and call to action buttons like “Subscribe here” or “Buy Now”. If you are creating multiple ads for your product then you should optimize your landing pages for each ad copy.
Gather Competitive Information Secondary sources of information are recommended as an excellent starting point for developing a competitive and industry analysis. Secondary sources include information developed for a specific purpose but subsequently made available for public access and thus alternative uses. For example, books are secondary sources of information as are articles published in journals. Marketing reports offered for sale to the general public also are considered secondary sources. Although, they have been created for a purpose other than your current need, they are still excellent sources of information and data. With the ever increasing speed of document identification and retrieval through electronic means, secondary sources are not only an inexpensive source of information but are readily available soon after publication. Sources of information include:
In this example, competitor #1 is rated higher than competitor #2 on product innovation ability (7 out of 10, compared to 4 out of 10) and distribution networks (6 out of 10), but competitor #2 is rated higher on customer focus (5 out of 10). Overall, competitor #1 is rated slightly higher than competitor #2 (20 out of 40 compared to 15 out of 40). When the success factors are weighted according to their importance, competitor #1 gets a far better rating (4.9 compared to 3.7).

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..
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