Internal linking allows indexation of content. Observe the internal outlinks on your sample pages, apart from the sites’ navigation and footer links. This line item serves to check that the domains are consolidating their crawl budgets by linking to discoverable, indexable content on their websites. Here is an easy-to-use Chrome plugin from fellow Distiller Dom Woodman to see whether the pages are indexable.
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.
This checklist is broken out into sections that reflect key elements from our Balanced Digital Scorecard. As previously mentioned, this checklist is to help you identify opportunities (and possibly areas not worth your time and budget). But this competitive analysis is not prescriptive in and of itself. It should be used as its name suggests: to analyze what your competition’s “edge” is.

This analysis should help you holistically identify areas of opportunity available in your search landscape, without having to guess which “best practice” you should test next. Once you’ve started this competitive analysis, trends among the competition will emerge, and expose niches where your site can improve and potentially outpace your competition.


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.
Keyword competitiveness lets you know which keywords often show up on other websites. This usually means that your keyword strategy concept exists on other sites. For B2B marketing and SEO, keyword competitiveness is a little different. Since keywords and themes are more specific, there’s a lower chance of other sites using the same keywords. Of course, remember that most B2B companies write about similar issues and concepts.
Knowledge of a competitor's objectives facilitates a better prediction of the competitor's reaction to different competitive moves. For example, a competitor that is focused on reaching short-term financial goals might not be willing to spend much money responding to a competitive attack. Rather, such a competitor might favor focusing on the products that hold positions that better can be defended. On the other hand, a company that has no short term profitability objectives might be willing to participate in destructive price competition in which neither firm earns a profit.
There is a “home” for newly published content. A hub for new content can be the site’s blog, or a news section. For instance, Distilled’s “home for newly published content” is the Resources section. While this line item may seem like a binary (score of “0” if you don’t have a dedicated section for new content, or score of “2” if you do), there are nuances that can bring each brand’s score up or down. For example:

L’Oreal did something similar when it used geolocation technology to create a virtual art exhibit that allowed attendees to uncover the art and feel as though they were right there looking at it. Brands can also use geolocation technology in mobile apps that include gamification aspects to engage a user more fully in a particular product or service.
What is the main messaging of their marketing materials? What common customer problems or goals do they often refer to? Let’s say you’re a pet sitter going through a rival business’ brochure. There is a huge difference between a brochure emphasizing frequent real-time online updates, and another brochure emphasizing pet pampering and grooming. The group of clients who are attracted by frequent real-time online updates are often focused on the safety and welfare of their pets, while those looking for more pampering and grooming services are focused on comfort and appearance.
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.  
L’Oreal did something similar when it used geolocation technology to create a virtual art exhibit that allowed attendees to uncover the art and feel as though they were right there looking at it. Brands can also use geolocation technology in mobile apps that include gamification aspects to engage a user more fully in a particular product or service.

Are they targeting low, middle, or high income customers? Look at their pricing information, including how they phrase it. If they use words like discounts, sale, affordable, or cheap, then they aren’t targeting the high income crowd. Also look at the marketing materials themselves, whether it’s a brochure or online banner. Are they attention-grabbing or elegant?
Examples like the above support metrics that find geotargeting doubles the performance of all kinds of marketing methods, from email campaigns to paid search. Per data from the Local Search Association’s LSA Insights database, it also doesn’t matter what vertical your business is in.  The click-through rate for geotargeted mobile display ads was higher than the industry benchmark for all verticals.
John Lincoln is CEO of Ignite Visibility, one of the top digital marketing agencies in the nation and the number 698 fastest growing company in the USA in the 2017 Inc. 5000. As a digital marketing expert and in-demand public speaker, Lincoln is consistently named one of the top influencers in the industry. In 2017, he was the recipient of the Search Engine Land "Search Marketer of the Year" award. Ignite Visibility crafts custom digital marketing strategies for clients, including services in SEO, social media, paid media, email marketing, Amazon and more.
These are usually single-word keywords with insane amounts of search volume and competition (for example, “insurance” or “vitamins”). Because searcher intent is all over the place (someone searching for “insurance” might be looking for a car insurance quote, a list of life insurance companies or a definition of the word), Head Terms usually don’t convert very well.
Svitlana Graves Svitlana Graves is a digital marketer with a focus on conversion optimization. She enjoys combining in-depth customer research with data to conduct smart experiments. At the moment Svitlana is taking clients’ revenues to new levels as part of CRO Team at 3Q Digital. On a personal note, Svitlana loves Latin Dance and foreign languages. She speaks 5 and is learning her 6th.

Reason: When a visitor sticks around on your site for a minute or less, you can consider their stay to be negligible. When a visit exceeds that amount of time, the visitor has more potential for becoming a client and an increased chance of converting on your calls-to-action. If a visitor spends a considerable amount of time on your website, they are likely to come back or to take action on conversion areas you have included in your site (call-to-actions, downloads, contact forms, etc.).
Geofencing hinges on the use of a “fence”—a designated area that a marketer sets. Where geo-targeting allows you to get more granular and include or exclude certain users in the target area (based on demographic, for instance), geofencing is a bit more of a blunt object in that you’ll capture all users who move into a certain area. The purpose of creating a geofence is to target communications in a given zone, in a given context—just like geo-targeting, but with greater accuracy. Retail operators who want to catch the attention of shoppers as they pass by a store, for example, might use geofencing.
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.
…Well, this is a best practices post, right? It may seem obvious to use the highest converting ad formats in your PPC campaigns to boost their conversion rate, but many marketers don’t actually know what these optimized ads look like—nor that they can do the optimizing themselves even after their ads go live! In this next section, we’ll break down a few important ad formats and options that you should have on your radar and use to maximize your conversion potential:
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.
Steve Webb is an SEO audit specialist at Web Gnomes. He received his Ph.D. from Georgia Tech, where he published dozens of articles on Internet-related topics. Professionally, Steve has worked for Google and various other Internet startups, and he's passionate about sharing his knowledge and experiences with others. You can find him on Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn.

Use Google Keyword Planner and your list of potential search ideas to create a list of terms/phrases that align with your brand and that, ideally, aren’t highly competitive. Google ranks competitiveness in Keyword Planner, seen above. You can also get an idea of how competitive a keyword search is by looking at the price of the suggested Adwords bid. Competitive search terms are typically much harder to rank for.


Geo-Targeting allows you to run different campaigns in different locations. Your ads might be served all over the world and vary in their marketing message according to the segment and audience that you approach. Is the marketing message on your site the same as the geo-targeted ad? Experiment with sending traffic from a geo-targeted banner to a geo-targeted landing page (in language, currency, offer, etc) and to a generic page – what converts better?
Examples like the above support metrics that find geotargeting doubles the performance of all kinds of marketing methods, from email campaigns to paid search. Per data from the Local Search Association’s LSA Insights database, it also doesn’t matter what vertical your business is in.  The click-through rate for geotargeted mobile display ads was higher than the industry benchmark for all verticals.
Information from an analysis of the competitor's objectives, assumptions, strategy, and capabilities can be compiled into a response profile of possible moves that might be made by the competitor. This profile includes both potential offensive and defensive moves. The specific moves and their expected strength can be estimated using information gleaned from the analysis.

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.
You’ll often find your hottest leads among people who have already encountered your business once. Depending on your industry, it may be unlikely for people to purchase your product the first time they visit. If you’re an e-commerce operation selling lower-ticket items, you may be able to send people directly to a sales page with excellent results. But if you’re like the dishwasher store we invented above, visiting your PPC landing page may be one step in a larger research process for your customers.
Megan Malone is a Founding Partner with Vici, and leads our Operations division. Megan has both a radio and digital marketing background working for the Philadelphia Eagles, Beasley Broadcast Group, and Cox Media Group. In her career she has helped plan and implement thousands of digital media campaigns. She holds a certification from Disney Institute’s People Management, and was awarded the top 10 advertisers in Louisville from the American Advertisers Federation.
More specifically, who gets to appear on the page is based on and 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). This system allows winning advertisers to reach potential customers at a cost that fits their budget. It’s essentially a kind of auction. The below infographic illustrates how this auction system works.
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.
Brands love to be front and center and who can blame them? Essential to becoming a well known brand is achieving awareness and name recognition, and well branded companies tend to do well at drawing in new customers. In the world of search, the best way to build your brand is by showing up in the top position of search results. Preferably you can do this for both organic and paid results, but at the very least you can often buy your way to the top of search results with a high enough Maximum CPC bid. You will also want to enhance your brand even further by adding Sitelinks to your account to showcase the depth of products and services you offer and occupy even more real estate in search results.
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. 
Google Ads operates on a pay-per-click model, in which users bid on keywords and pay for each click on their advertisements. Every time a search is initiated, Google digs into the pool of Ads advertisers and chooses a set of winners to appear in the valuable ad space on its search results page. The “winners” are chosen based on a combination of factors, including the quality and relevance of their keywords and ad campaigns, as well as the size of their keyword bids.
This is the most basic way to start your keyword research—so basic, in fact, that it's easy to overlook. Let's say you're  manufacturing solar panels and you want to target businesses that qualify for alternative energy tax credits. Start with a Google search just like your customers would.  You can see which phrases pop up first when you type in "alternative energy tax credits." This should give you a good indication of the most popular searches.
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.
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.

Competitive analyses help you evaluate your competition’s strategies to determine their strengths and weaknesses relative to your brand. When it comes to digital marketing and SEO, however, there are so many ranking factors and best practices to consider that can be hard to know where to begin. Which is why my colleague, Ben Estes, created a competitive analysis checklist (not dissimilar to his wildly popular technical audit checklist) that I’ve souped up for the Moz community.
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