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.

Another method that you may consider is following Google’s Webmaster guidelines for country segmentations and either using subdomains or subfolders for specific countries and languages. This assumes that you have a generic TLD (.com, .org, etc). For example, es.example.com or www.example.com/es/ for Spain/Spanish. This might be the better local SEO solution because it also means that the subdomains or subfolders you specify will be shown in local searches on Google, based on TLD. The downside is that it requires a fair amount of work to setup, and might not coincide with your branding efforts internationally. An important note about this method is that it does not solve the problem of language, but only the country location. So if your service or product is available internationally, you probably shouldn’t limit the geographic location for which Google serves results. Nonetheless, this approach serves as a good platform to initiate conversion optimization on those segmented pages or sites.


Using geo-targeting, you use smart marketing tactics. A great example of a successful use of area segmenting is evo, an e-commerce sporting goods store. When they took the leap to open up three brick and mortar stores. Their first step was to send out an email blast for a $200 shopping trip to users in the area. Though the campaign had a 58% conversion on mobile users, the campaign wasn’t as effective at driving traffic to their store fronts.

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 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.

Everyone knows intent behind the search matters. In e-commerce, intent is somewhat easy to see. B2B or, better yet, healthcare, isn't quite as easy. Matching persona intent to keywords requires a bit more thought. In this video, we'll cover how to find intent modifiers during keyword research, how to organize those modifiers into the search funnel, and how to quickly find unique universal results at different levels of the search funnel to utilize.


Your CompetitorsYou probably see the owner of a rival organization at trade shows, association meetings, and perhaps even socially. You can garner a great deal of information through a simple, friendly conversation. People like to talk about themselves and share their success stories and concerns with business associates. Assign someone to check the competitions' Web sites regularly for pertinent changes and news. (And take a good look at your own: Do you say anything there that you'd just as soon not have your competitors see?)  
Some websites regard visitors in different ways. For example, blogs are not as concerned with their visitor type, so long as they are drawing in visitors. In short, having an audience matters more than who makes up the audience. A business website, on the other hand, is looking for a certain type of traffic. This traffic should come from your target market. To make this happen, creating a keyword theme is necessary.
Example 1: Say your business focuses on skin care. Your keywords might center around the idea: “how proper skin care can improve your health.” You would then begin looking for a keyword theme that sums up the idea of skin care relating to health. The takeaway message is that your business has a goal, and the right keywords will relay this goal to site visitors in a clear, concise way.
The distinctions here can become quite urgent depending on the kind of product you’re selling or the kind of customer you’re looking to find. If you’re trying to find people who are interested in selling their homes in the East Village, then you don’t want to target people who are just in the East Village on their spring break or while visiting family. If you’re trying to target high net worth individuals on vacation in Montauk, New York because you believe they’re ripe targets for ads about buying beachfront houses in Montauk, then you don’t want to waste your ad spend showing ads to locals.
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.
I include specific, real world examples of every type of content in the wild as well as showing you how I design keyword architecture on my sites. I even provide a general model and walk you through exactly how to make decisions on what levels of architecture should get a dedicated URL versus what content should live on parent pages or use JSON/AJAX to not generate new URL's but still provide an ideal user experience.

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 :)


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.
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!
Of course you don’t have to achieve all of these things in the headline of the ad! In fact, in the case of sitelinks and ad extensions, that’s not possible by definition. There are many parts to an ad that allow you to achieve all the above tips and still be highly relevant to what the person is searching for (the keyword!). Let’s break down sections of ad copy that you can use to show off your small business and attract leads from PPC. These are the basic components of your ad copy in AdWords according to Google’s length limits.
When a competitor is identified, have your sales team dive deeper by asking why they are considering switching to your product. If you've already lost the deal, be sure to follow up the with prospect to determine why you lost to your competitor. What services or features attracted the prospect? Was it about price? What's the prospect's impression of your sales process? If they've already made the switch, find out why they made this decision.
First, start with a simple online search for your business type and location. For example, if you’re starting a retail business in Los Angeles, you’ll want to think about how a customer might search for your business (or one like yours). They might search for “los angeles retail store,” “clothing store in LA,” and “LA apparel store.” Create a list of businesses that appear in the search results (and take note of those that frequent the top three results).
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, I’ve got some good news for you: you don’t have to spend countless hours manually creating custom landing pages for every ad group. Instead, use dynamic text replacement. Dynamic text replacement allows you to replace certain areas of text with with specific keywords. For example, you could use dynamic text replacement to change the heading and CTA of a landing page to the specific keyword that a user searched for. That way, when they visit your landing page, it appears to be a completely personalized experience.
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. 
Based on your competitor’s marketing message, what kind of customer does the viewer have to be for these messages to appeal to him or her? What is their age range? Where do they have to be located? What's their profession, if any? What other customer demographics can you infer? You're essentially trying to come up with a "buyer persona", a character who best represents the person your competition is trying to reach.
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.
The secondary and tertiary groups are both your indirect competition.Their products may not be the same as yours, but could satisfy the same need or solve the same problem. You should primarily focus on your direct competitors, but you should watch your indirect competitors. These businesses may move into another group as your business, or theirs, grows and expand product offerings.
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.

Still in the early phase of rollout, Store Visits is being added to the Adwords Estimated Conversion tool in order to track in-store visits directly from your AdWords account. According to a recent Google study, 32% of offline customers said that location-based search ads led them to visit a store or make a purchase. For businesses with physical stores, this tool could really help to show how your PPC ads are affecting your overall bottom line and marketing initiatives. To be eligible for the feature you must meet the following criteria:

Based on your competitor’s marketing message, what kind of customer does the viewer have to be for these messages to appeal to him or her? What is their age range? Where do they have to be located? What's their profession, if any? What other customer demographics can you infer? You're essentially trying to come up with a "buyer persona", a character who best represents the person your competition is trying to reach.
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.
Starting small will also help you devise a repeatable process that can then be applied across a wider range of search terms as your list grows over time. If you really want to go pro, keyword management tools like Moz Keyword Explorer or SEM Rush’s Keyword Magic Tool can help you streamline this entire process and will allow you to create lists that include hundreds of keywords. 
Furthermore, 70% of consumers are willing to share their location information if they believe they are getting something of value in return like coupons or loyalty points, according to LSA’s Local Mobile Search Study.  This dynamically moving consumer base is only going to be more receptive to search results and ads that are specific to their location.
A first step is to try to articulate what market it is that you serve. Who are the customers in this market and what problem, need or want are they experiencing? Which organisations are currently satisfying these needs or wants and how do these organisations differ? If there are multiple products tailored to different market segments try to define the ways in which these products can be grouped together or set apart. Using simple 2×2 matrices (e.g. price vs. functionality) can help to categorise your competitors and help to show what customers are looking for.
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.
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.
Finally, some strategies will drive both efficiency and growth within an account. For example, concluding an ad copy test based on CTR, conversion rate, or conversion per impression can increase revenue and improve ROI. However, these strategies typically show incremental long-term improvements, and are less likely to ramp revenue or improve ROAS in the short-term.
The strategic rationale of competitor profiling is simple. Superior knowledge of rivals offers a legitimate source of competitive advantage[7]. The raw material of competitive advantage consists of offering superior customer value in the firm’s chosen market. The definitive characteristic of customer value is the adjective, superior. Customer value is defined relative to rival offerings making competitor knowledge an intrinsic component of corporate strategy. Profiling facilitates this strategic objective in three important ways.[8] First, profiling can reveal strategic weaknesses in rivals that the firm may exploit. Second, the proactive stance of competitor profiling will allow the firm to anticipate the strategic response of their rivals to the firm’s planned strategies, the strategies of other competing firms, and changes in the environment. Third, this proactive knowledge will give the firms strategic agility. Offensive strategy can be implemented more quickly in order to exploit opportunities and capitalize on strengths. Similarly, defensive strategy can be employed more deftly in order to counter the threat of rival firms from exploiting the firm’s own weaknesses.[5]
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 :)

Strategy is more than a bundle of cultivated tactics. When we onboard a new client, we have a whole arsenal of tools to use and reports to run that help us understand the account better. It is easy for us to pat ourselves on the back and say “this is a good strategy for learning the account!” Pardon my language when I say: That ain’t no heckin’ strategy.
It doesn’t take a marketing expert to know that marketing is a complex endeavor. With so many moving pieces, it can be hard to decide what you should focus on. What mediums do you prioritize? How do you narrow down your target audience? How do you rank better on search engines? Should you have a social media campaign? And if so, which social media platform should drive that campaign? And where in the world do you even begin to dig into this stuff?
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.
This can mean simply using pictures from the surrounding area or structuring the landing page around a theme that is relevant. A great example of this is Grubhub. If you access their site from Boston, you get completely different suggestions and images than you do if you access it from San Francisco. Not only does this engage the user on a personal level, it also draws them in to the page, keeping them clicking for longer.
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.
Location history of a consumer provides a lot of information specific to that person: where they like to shop, what they like to buy, how often they make the trip, and even how they get there. Obtaining this information gives great insight to marketers that enhances the ability to target consumers and deliver relevant, responsive location specific ads and information, even if the consumer is not currently in that area.
If you’re an ecommerce business, then you need to be running Google Shopping Campaigns. Consumers use Google’s search engine on a daily basis to find all kinds of products that they need (including yours), and running Google Shopping campaigns can help you connect with them. These campaigns pull product information, such as the product image, price, and merchant name, from your company’s Merchant Center data feed and conveniently display them to the viewer. Because it pulls this data each time a user makes a search inquiry, you can be assured that your product ads are always up to date and accurate (so long as you keep your data feed that way), keeping your potential customer from feeling confused or frustrated.
Exhaustive – Your keyword research should include not only the most popular and frequently searched terms in your niche, but also 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 need a keen understanding of your ideal customer and the market so that when you launch, your product is positioned correctly in the ecosystem of all products and services. Since competition can come from anywhere, you need to catalog your strengths and weaknesses relative to both direct and indirect category leaders (i.e., those adjacent to your core business).
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.)

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:
"Since consumers know what they are looking for, you can optimize your content around the core needs and problems your target audience experiences. It is your job to build an SEO strategy by knowing what your customers are looking for. This will allow you to create relevant content that your customers want to read, and as a result, your content will rank higher in Google."
You can also find articles written about companies in local newspapers or on a Nexis file. Online databases are available from soures such as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and Standard & Poor’s and news sources such as PR Newswire, and as we'll explain in this article, you can use search engines to find information on individual companies.

I remember my very first week working at Hanapin Marketing. I was working in a REDBOP group (for information on what REDBOP is, see “super awesome opportunity” in the dictionary and you will find information on Hanapin’s monthly PPC training program) and we were tasked with explaining to the rest of the team the differences between tactics and strategy. Easy peasy. Strategy = plan. Tactics = action.
Your CompetitorsYou probably see the owner of a rival organization at trade shows, association meetings, and perhaps even socially. You can garner a great deal of information through a simple, friendly conversation. People like to talk about themselves and share their success stories and concerns with business associates. Assign someone to check the competitions' Web sites regularly for pertinent changes and news. (And take a good look at your own: Do you say anything there that you'd just as soon not have your competitors see?)  
Estimated Costs: Creating content to adequately target specific keywords will require varying amounts of time, money, and effort. In some situations, you might find that targeting a certain keyword also allows you to SEO your landing page at the same time. So be on the lookout for shortcuts that might make ranking for a keyword more cost-efficient than it would otherwise be. That’s how you can find real money-makers!

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.
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.

Do they have separate marketing messages for different segments? Sometimes, you might see a stark difference between how your competitor markets their business for one type of customer versus how they present themselves to another type of customer. For example, if you're trying to sell services as a math tutor to high school students who are struggling to pass their math subjects, you'll be making a completely different pitch than you would to those students who need additional help with their SAT math so that they could get into prestigious universities. Your message to the struggling students might be closer to "I'll help you finally pass your math tests!" While your message to the other market will be similar to "I'll help you get into the school of your dreams!" Also, be sure to note if your competitor does something similar with their own customer segments. 

He is the co-founder of Neil Patel Digital. The Wall Street Journal calls him a top influencer on the web, Forbes says he is one of the top 10 marketers, and Entrepreneur Magazine says he created one of the 100 most brilliant companies. Neil is a New York Times bestselling author and was recognized as a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 30 by President Obama and a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 35 by the United Nations.
Use these consumer characteristics to time and target your marketing. For example, airports on weekdays are a great source of business travelers looking for high-end restaurants, while weekends and Spring Break bring more leisure visitors and families looking for more casual dining options. Likewise, dance clubs and bars can benefit by promoting 18 and over events targeted at universities whose student bodies are largely between the ages of 18-21. These are just a few examples of how venues define audiences that can be effectively targeted.

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.
There are various platforms available for PPC ads like Google, Yahoo, Bing and social media channels like Facebook. Choose wisely your platform and plan your ad campaign strategy, according to it. Google is the most effective and famous platform for PPC campaigns. Google Adwords is an advertising interface provided by Google, which is used to plan and publish Google ads. Similarly, Bing ads and Facebook ads provide all required interfaces for an effective PPC campaign.
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. 
The jockey does not have to be the manager of all the operations and support functions of your business, but it is your duty as founder of the business to ensure that the fundamentals are in place. Institute controls by identifying strengths and weaknesses in yourself and your team. Then implement solutions to avoid any pitfalls or risks in your business.
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.
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