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.
It has also become remarkably difficult to distinguish direct competitors from indirect threats - and when you do, you find competition often comes from surprising places. In fact, competition in the SaaS and tech industries is increasingly coming from indirect competitors, whose core technology enables them to invade adjacent verticals and industries.
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.

Geo-targeting refers to the ability for advertisers to place their marketing materials in a specific region or locale. In digital advertising specifically, geo-targeting is just one of many tweaks that an advertiser can make to ensure that its messages and ad campaigns reach a particular customer in a particular market. In addition to geo-targeting, online ads can be targeted by additional demographic information like age, gender, hobbies and so on.
Images: Even though search engines don’t really see images, you can still use them as part of your keyword strategy. First, make sure they are relevant to your page content, and add to the overall user experience. For search engines, use the alt attribute to help crawlers "see" what an image is about. The alt attribute is a part of the image HTML tag that is used by search engines, text-only browsers and screen readers to “see” an image. Use your keywords in the alt text, but be sure to do so naturally. Stuffing alt attributes full of keywords and synonyms will make your page look like spam and do more harm than good.
In Keyword Planner, formerly known as the Keyword Tool, you can get search volume and traffic estimates for keywords you're considering. Unfortunately, when Google transitioned from Keyword Tool to Keyword Planner, they stripped out a lot of the more interesting functionality. But you can make up for it a bit if you take the information you learn from Keyword Planner and use Google Trends to fill in some blanks.
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.
Repeat this exercise for as many topic buckets as you have. And remember, if you're having trouble coming up with relevant search terms, you can always head on over to your employees on the front lines -- like Sales or Services -- and ask them what types of terms their prospects and customers use, or common questions they have. Those are often great starting points for keyword research.
Chesky and Gebbia believed that most people thought hotels were the only option for travelers, but the truth was that renting someone’s extra room was cheaper with an added dose of personalised hospitality – and likely a higher margin business as well. Hyman and Fleiss believed that most people thought they needed to buy the dress they wanted to wear, but the truth was that you didn’t need to own a dress that you only wear a few times. Both teams set out to challenge old customer preferences with modern technology and logic.
When setting up conversion experiments that test different page elements, it may be valuable to make a prior segmentation that is location-based. Testing different ideas and approaches when location is taken into account, usually creates very interesting insights. What will work better for your funnel – showing your traffic from Spain pages in Spanish or English? Will you quote Euro or Dollar?
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.
This is the paid search strategy that is deployed most often by search marketers and for good reason: it focuses purely on maximizing the profitability of campaigns. For most of us, that is the reason why we continue to spend money with search engines, and why the industry keeps on growing year over year. We manage campaigns to maximize profitability and we don’t have to worry about budgets as long as it’s profitable. Or at least that’s what we hope will happen.
Your entire PPC campaign is built around keywords, and the most successful AdWords advertisers continuously grow and refine their PPC keyword list (ideally, using a variety of tools, not just Keyword Planner). 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.
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. 
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.
Device targeting is important nowadays since most of the users are using mobile devices to browse the web. Use device targeting to reach your best customers on any device. With device targeting, you can customize your ads for different mobile devices and operating systems. This way you can target people who are online on mobile devices or using different operating systems.
It’s easy to get blindsided by our own opinion on “high-quality” content. You might be thinking you have an awesome idea that everyone wants to read about, but how do you know with absolute certainty that it’s really that great? And even if your hunch is spot on and you’ve discovered something truly worth sharing, how do you quantify its value? How do you find the right content marketing keywords?
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.
When an ad mentions the target customer’s region or city, such as Chicago, this approach has proven to deliver a much better response rate than running a national campaign that doesn’t include a location. “It goes back to the messaging aspect,” Fritz explains. “Your geolocation ad targeting is much more effective. That’s because it connects more deeply with prospective customers than a generic advertisement. You are running a social advertisement that is very specific to someone in a particular place. This could be Cleveland, New York City, Miami, Dallas, Los Angeles, or whatever area you have targeted.”
Features/commentsIn this column, I put all of my comments, some ”star” features I needed to focus on, and the pros and cons of the competitor. I color-coded the cells so that later I (or anyone viewing the matrix) could easily identify the difference between them. For example, I used light yellow for features, light purple for comments, green for pros and red for cons.
A quality ad account in 2018, according to Google, is an “autopiloted” account; the more options that are delegated to Google Ads, the better. However, even if Google is now able to decide on its own which banner size will fit best on a particular website, it is still your responsibility to provide catchy text, relevant images, and the right keywords.
Stadiums, airports, universities, and malls are examples of specific venues that can be targeted in order to reach specific interest groups. Stadiums provide a great opportunity to focus on specific short engagement events with an audience defined by that event. They often host fans from two specific cities or schools or fans of a specific music genre that is heavy in one demographic. A band like One Direction, for example, is likely to attract school-age female fans.
Images: Even though search engines don’t really see images, you can still use them as part of your keyword strategy. First, make sure they are relevant to your page content, and add to the overall user experience. For search engines, use the alt attribute to help crawlers "see" what an image is about. The alt attribute is a part of the image HTML tag that is used by search engines, text-only browsers and screen readers to “see” an image. Use your keywords in the alt text, but be sure to do so naturally. Stuffing alt attributes full of keywords and synonyms will make your page look like spam and do more harm than good.
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.
Typically, VCs make just one bet in a product category to avoid cannibalizing their investments. You are either an Uber or Lyft investor. This is a commonly accepted view in the Valley. If you see a VC’s name missing from the category you’re competing in, they might be a good candidate to approach for fundraising. They missed the chance to invest in your competitor, but now they have the opportunity to work with you.

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.
After setting your campaign goal and choosing the right platform for your ad, the next step is to plan your ad targeting for your most relevant audience. There are two types of targeting. You can target audience for a specific geographic location and you can also optimize your campaign for a specific device type, operating systems and wireless networks.

Unless you have a budget to conduct formal research, its best to use available resources such as news articles, industry journals, analyst reports, the company’s website, marketing collateral, company reports and so forth. You may also want to do a general blog search to find out what their customers’ and others are saying about the company and the products they offer. Networking events and tradeshows also present great opportunities to collect data about your competitors. Your more loyal customers may also share information with you.
If you're a regular blogger, these are probably the topics you blog about most frequently. Or perhaps they're the topics that come up the most in sales conversations. Put yourself in the shoes of your buyer personas -- what types of topics would your target audience search that you'd want your business to get found for? If you were a company like HubSpot, for example -- selling marketing software (which happens to have some awesome SEO tools ... but I digress ;-) -- you might have general topic buckets like "inbound marketing," "blogging," "email marketing," "lead generation," "SEO," "social media," "marketing analytics," and "marketing automation."

Attribution. Use attribution data to prove the influence of PPC on conversions either cross-channel or within the channel. For instance, you might learn that certain campaigns don’t convert well, and the instinct is to turn them off. However, if they lead to conversions in other campaigns, you’ll want to allocate budget to keep the conversion path open.


A company’s slogan, tagline, mission statement and unique value proposition — all of these are important when determining how you stack up against your competitors. What is the company’s key positioning and how does it compare with other companies in this space? How do they describe themselves? This section is your opportunity to include what you feel is valuable descriptive information. 
Between 2016 and 2017, Amazon was mentioned almost 3 times more frequently by senior executives on earning calls than any other company. It’s no wonder executives at public companies are obsessed with the retail giant. Even the threat of an Amazon entrance could result in a seismic shift in the market and put them out of business overnight. In other words, the SaaS world moves fast —  and the only way to keep up is to be one step ahead.
I mentioned earlier that I recently performed a competitive analysis for a collaborative meeting note-taking feature, to be introduced in the app that I was developing for a client. The goals for my research were very general because innumerable apps all provide this type of functionality, and the product I was working on was in the very early stages of development.
Jeff Baum is Director of Services at Hanapin Marketing and a seasoned PPC advertising professional with Hanapin Marketing. a 13 year track record of success in digital advertising. He has developed and implemented strategies to substantially grow revenue and profits for a variety of lead generation and e-commerce businesses. He has also been responsible and accountable for managing hundreds of thousands of dollars in PPC advertising spend per month. Jeff is a recurring writer for Hanapin's blog and PPC Hero.

It would be unreasonable to run a full technical audit of each competitor, but take into account your own site’s technical SEO performance if you know there are outstanding technical issues to be addressed. In addition to the previous checklist items, I also like to use these Chrome extensions from Ayima: Page Insights and Redirect Path. These can provide quick checks for common technical SEO errors.


When looking at competitors for the PwC field service operations group there were lots of competitors (including paper printed out and stuck to the wall). What was interesting was that most of the competitors were originally independent companies, but then acquired by larger companies. What was most helpful was looking at how each organization’s strategy changed their end goals. In the case of Field Service Lightning it was originally about the CRM capabilities of SalesForce, but is now about the integration of machine learning for Salesforce’s Einstein.
The other option is to follow up with page visitors outside of AdWords. To do this, you’ll want to create an opt-in page (like the templates above) that offers visitors something of value in exchange for their email address or other contact information. Our dishwasher vendor could offer a free guide on the best way to prolong the life of your dishwasher.
“Now that the “algos” are perfected, they can be used for accounts as small as 100$ monthly ad spend. While it’s difficult for the small guys to access machine learning on their own, agencies who are servicing SMBs should use tools like ours to manage, optimize and scale multiple accounts. Google Channel Partners, Publishers and Resellers that service hundreds of small-business PPC accounts benefit from our machine learning technology already.”
Limiting your organization to direct competitors only might lead you to a very narrow view of the market. This framework allows you to evaluate companies that aren’t just your direct competitors but companies that could easily move into your turf. You want to consider companies that aren’t currently in your category but could potentially leverage their product or technology in your space.
So, fellow marketers, the secret is out—now you know that the key to really driving your conversion rate isn’t in minor copy or bidding adjustments. The true PPC CRO best practices require you to use negative keywords and to target keywords that your bottom-of-the-funnel prospects are searching for—including those that are pricing and service-oriented. You want to use high-converting ad formats, such as Google Shopping Campaigns and video ads, to capture the attention of your audience and engage them. Your landing pages should be designed well, easily browsable, and have fast loading times. It’s also important to personalize your ads so that your potential customers feel like you’re speaking directly to them, which also helps humanize your brand. Finally, use retargeting to remarket your products and services to previously interested visitors to your website, enticing them back and convert. 
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.
You’ve probably been hearing more and more about retargeting in the couple of years or so, and for good reason too. Retargeting campaigns use cookies to keep track of the internet users who visit your site so that you can continue to market to them once they leave. Have you ever shopped for an item and then suddenly noticed it following you around on other sites? That’s retargeting. And believe it or not, it really works.
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.  ‎
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