For small businesses, PPC can be competitive and expensive, which is why many struggle to break through. Especially when they are competing with bigger companies with sophisticated digital marketing departments and huge budgets. The good news is it IS possible for small businesses to compete with larger, established companies for clicks. Being a little bit smarter and nimble will make all the difference.


You need to develop tactics to recognise and double down on the deep conviction you have in your gut that nobody else understands. Stop looking for consensus or opportunities that seem obvious and compelling at first glance. Great opportunities never have “great opportunity” in the subject line. Honing your gut instincts and acting upon conviction is a theme of every successful journey.

Conducting PPC marketing through Google Ads is particularly valuable because, as the most popular search engine, Google gets massive amounts of traffic and therefore delivers the most impressions and clicks to your ads. How often your PPC ads appear depends on which keywords and match types you select. While a number of factors determine how successful your PPC advertising campaign will be, you can achieve a lot by focusing on:


There are some general negative keywords that should be added to almost any campaign, such as “free”, “jobs” “training”, as people searching for these terms are not likely to be looking to buy your product. Keywords like “review” and “opinions” can also be useful, as they will reduce the number of window shoppers who aren’t necessarily looking to buy now. But you’ll also want to research negative keywords specific to your business or audience. For example, if you are an optometrist, you’ll want to use words like “wine”, as you aren’t looking for customers in search of “wine glasses.
Lower Costs: When there is a near-infinite supply of search query impressions each month, your strategy is to lower your cost per click in order to drive more click (and conversion) volume to your website. This generally involves making use of keyword list refinement (match types, negative keywords) and lowering bids while keeping an eye on average position.
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 2017, it’s a requirement for any company to live on the internet. This section gives you and your team easy access to your competitors’ online presence. Include links to the social media channels and webpages your competition has the most activity on. By providing these links, your audience can quickly determine what channels the companies take advantage of the most and how they use them to tell their brand story. Understanding why and how the competition is doing well or not with their online presence will reveal the opportunity.
Some examples of typical insights from this document would be the average number of referring domains that our competitors have and how that relates to our own backlink profile. If we are ahead of our competitors regarding backlinks, content creation might be the focal point of the campaign. If we are behind our competitors in regards to backlinks, we know that we need to start a link building campaign as soon as possible.
Sometimes even the most savvy among us can feel like a confused great-granny on a MacBook Pro running Linux when it comes to the newest, latest tech, and how it actually works. Location-based marketing is already happening. All of the available tools provide opportunities to serve highly localized, highly relevant communications to your customers, based on where they are right now. But what exactly are those options, and how do they work?
This data gives us a starting point to build out complex keyword mapping strategy documents that set the tone for our client campaigns. Rather than just starting keyword research by guessing what we think is relevant, we have hundreds of keywords to start with that we know are relevant to the industry. Our keyword research process then aims to dive deeper into these topics to determine the type of content needed to rank well.
Some examples of typical insights from this document would be the average number of referring domains that our competitors have and how that relates to our own backlink profile. If we are ahead of our competitors regarding backlinks, content creation might be the focal point of the campaign. If we are behind our competitors in regards to backlinks, we know that we need to start a link building campaign as soon as possible.
More specifically, who gets to appear on the page and where is based on an 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, among other factors). In turn, your Quality Score affects your actual cost per click, or CPC.
Conduct Research Professional marketing research, such as focus groups and questionnaires, can provide you with valuable information about your competition. While a marketing research firm can save you time and legwork, it can be quite expensive and simply not a possibility for new and growing businesses. Much of the information you need in order to profile your competitors is readily available to all business owners. As your business grows and expands, you should consider supplementing your own research efforts with some formal research conducted for you by an outside firm. Before you begin seeking out the sources listed below, keep in mind that you need to obtain answers to the following questions:
Website. What’s the first thing visitors see in your competitor’s website? Is there much text on the website, and if there is, what does it emphasize about your competitor’s business? Do they have customer reviews and testimonials? Make note of the design as well. Is their website static and minimalist, or does it have animation and other interactive features? Apart from judging the copy, design, and features of the site itself, does the site rank well for relevant search terms that you think your potential customers could use? If you’re selling handmade leather wallets, try doing a Google search for “handmade leather tool wallets” and see if any of your competitors are in the first few pages.
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.
By looking at them from a customer’s point of view, you are looking at their major strengths and flaws. In other words, you are doing the first part of the SWOT analysis. You think like a customer would. Why would a customer go for their services? Is it because they do things differently or their quality is top notch? Either way these things are like strengths for the competitors. You put yourself in the customer’s shoes and wonder why you would go for them instead of coming to your own company.
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.
Keyword Competition tools can make things much easier on your keyword strategy. Some tools include the Adwords Keyword Planner  (you can tailor this for B2B) and MozBar. Google Adwords help you discover and compare new keywords. MozBar helps you check keyword competition against other B2B business sites. Some tools must be purchased, such as Long Tail Pro. This tool identifies profitable long tail keywords focused on your content.
Another way to do this is to analyze the keywords that are driving traffic to your site and match the user intent to the right page of your site. In the figure below, you can see a typical buy cycle for a new searcher. They will start off using broad keywords to get a general idea of what content is out there. Searchers who use these broad terms would infer that they’re in the information gathering stage of their search. So ask yourself, which page on your site is best suited to help them gather the information they’re seeking? Do you have an article, how-to, or comparison page you can lead them to that helps them get the information they need?
That’s right. Unfortunately, all those slight tweaks to your ad copy and bidding strategies actually do very little in terms of turning leads into customers. So, what exactly should you do to PPC campaigns to maximize conversion potential? Don’t fret—there are actually quite a few things, and we’re going to teach you about each one of them. Below, check out the strategies you should be focusing on to achieve ultimate results.
You may be thinking... Google can index my site and learn what my site is about without keywords now... keywords aren't as important as they used to be... I'm doing fine I don't need any keyword help I have been doing this for years... I said all of those things (and more). The truth of the matter is: as long as we use the written word on line to match intent keywords will be valuable. If you are going to treat yourself to one bit of continuing education this year, this needs to be the one.
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. 
It's not always about getting visitors to your site, but about getting the right kind of visitors. The usefulness of this intelligence cannot be overstated; with keyword research you can predict shifts in demand, respond to changing market conditions, and produce the products, services, and content that web searchers are actively seeking. In the history of marketing, there has never been such a low barrier to entry in understanding the motivations of consumers in virtually any niche.
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?
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. 

Sometimes even the most savvy among us can feel like a confused great-granny on a MacBook Pro running Linux when it comes to the newest, latest tech, and how it actually works. Location-based marketing is already happening. All of the available tools provide opportunities to serve highly localized, highly relevant communications to your customers, based on where they are right now. But what exactly are those options, and how do they work?
Ad scheduling is important for optimizing your ad strategy. You can show your ad whenever a customer searches online or you can show your ad on certain days, or during business hours when you’re there to handle customer inquiries. Your ads give different performance result on different days of the week and different hours of a day. Therefore, have a look at which online days and hours are most suitable for your business and then schedule your ad during these times to increase your exposure. You can also adjust your bid for less performing hours and days.
WooRank is a freemium tool that provides an “instant website review.” Without a premium account, you are only allowed to generate a limited number of free reports, but you are able to view previously generated reports. Also, the tool currently offers a 7-day unlimited free trial, which gives you access to unlimited reviews. If you’re interested in purchasing a plan, the cheapest one is $49/month.

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.  
Then how can someone afford to pay $54.20 per click if it does not generate profit? The answer is simple: they are spending that money to build a brand and they are not focused on the profitability on that individual click; they are focused on profitability over time and they most likely have a budget assigned to building that brand. Not having to focus on achieving profit for individual click puts a company at a tremendous advantage for displaying their brand prominently in search results. It also makes it harder for profitability based marketers to compete.

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.
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.
Your Sales ForceYour sales staff probably has more access to competitive information than anyone else in your organization. Customers often show salespeople sales literature, contracts, price quotes, and other information from competitors. Part of a salesperson's job is to get customers to discuss problems they have with a competitor's product. Customers will also reveal your competition's product benefits, strengths, and customer service programs. Instruct your sales force to ask for copies of any competitive literature if and when that's possible. Your entire sales staff should keep a record of all competitive information they discover — even if it's just a rumor or gossip. Devote a regular portion of each sales meeting to a discussion of the competition.  
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.

Use voice search to your advantage by skewing your ad strategy toward answering questions customers need to know (intent), rather than just including keywords. Search engine AI for voice and mobile search is getting more sophisticated and better at serving results that meet the user’s intent, therefore PPC best practices will be continually refined.
Across the top of the paper, list the main features and characteristics of each product or service. Include such things as target market, price, size, method of distribution, and extent of customer service for a product. For a service, list prospective buyers, where the service is available, price, website, toll-free phone number, and other features that are relevant. A glance at the competition grid will help you see where your product fits in the overall market.
Zee came to Distilled after several web development and digital communications positions in the nonprofit space, including the Ad Council, Power Poetry, VolunteerMatch, DonorsChoose and Planned Parenthood. With her background, Zee learned how to make the most impact with shoestring budgets. A graduate of Smith College, Zee studied French Studies and Psychology and studied psychoanalysis at Paris IV – Denis Diderot University. Aside from analyzing languages and humans, she found a home in the tech space, where solutions are complex and (sometimes) easier to come by. Ask her about: user experience, web development, analytics, technical SEO questions, and rescue dogs like hers.
Knowing your business’ target audience and matching it up with where they live or work helps you find those who might be most interested in your product or service.  For example, a ticket broker might want to advertise NCAA basketball tickets in the state of Kentucky and might think of using Kentucky basketball in its messaging.  However, Louisville basketball would be preferable for any advertising within 50 miles of the city on the Kentucky side of the border and 70 miles into Indiana due to the strength of Louisville’s fan base in those areas.

What’s the difference between your brand and your keywords? Are you using both effectively? Your brand is one of your most important keywords, but it shouldn’t be your only keyword, nor should you have lots of keywords but no brand. There should be a keyword strategy behind the keywords you pick. This post highlights the why of that and explains the basis of the how, then points you to several useful posts for the how.


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. 
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.

Region-specific marketing is currently utilized in a variety of marketing campaigns. A fairly basic marketing concept can be used, but it is presented to a location or market that has shown a demand for that specific product or service. This can be a certain State, City, neighborhood or even a specific building. Programs like Google Adwords lets you target these specific locations and tailor your marketing. On a more broad scale, you can target a certain demographic based on their language.

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.


Your costs can be lower when you stay away from national campaigns that take a more shotgun approach to your social media advertising efforts. Instead, geotargeting will enable you to conduct regional-, state- and city-level campaigns that will improve your results. That’s because this approach helps to tighten your campaign’s boundaries around your company’s physical location.
Ever heard the saying that a picture is worth 1,000 words? Well, a video is worth 1.8 million, and YouTube is the best place to promote your video ad to an engaged audience. One of the most popular YouTube ad formats, TrueView ads, play before other videos on the site and allow users the option to skip after five seconds (and you don’t have to pay if a viewer skips your ad!). Since there is less competition on YouTube compared to other search engines, your brand has a massive opportunity to reach and convert a ton of consumers across a variety of different demographics.
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.

All sorts of companies in all sorts of industries can make use of geo-targeting.  By refining the ad copy to include the city name and a reference to the current weather – for example, including the words “start sleeping cooler” in an ad during periods of hot weather – Purple Mattress, an ecommerce bedding brand has been able to generate higher click-through rates by online shoppers. In an effort to update its aging "Let's Go Places" campaign,  Toyota incorporated city-specific information into each of its Google ads, encouraging consumers to go to places and attractions near them.  Whole Foods targeted ads to the smartphones of consumers visiting nearby supermarkets, encouraging them to come to a nearby Whole Foods nearby exchange for better deals.
Conducting PPC marketing through Google Ads is particularly valuable because, as the most popular search engine, Google gets massive amounts of traffic and therefore delivers the most impressions and clicks to your ads. How often your PPC ads appear depends on which keywords and match types you select. While a number of factors determine how successful your PPC advertising campaign will be, you can achieve a lot by focusing on:
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.
City advertising[19] by advertising on web sites with extensive content related to particular cities. Such web sites can connect large city audiences with products/services for sale in those cities. Surfers searching for information about particular cities find adverts at such web sites as a result of city name related searches rather than product/service keyword searches. In this way businesses, e.g. shops, restaurants, can advertise and reach out to consumers located in the real-world localities of their product/service offerings.
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!
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