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.


SEO competitive analysis is critical because it gives data about which tactics are working in the industry we are in and what we will need to do to start improving our keyword rankings. The insights gained from this analysis help us understand which tasks we should prioritize and it shapes the way we build out our campaigns. By seeing where our competitors are strongest and weakest, we can determine how difficult it will be to outperform them and the amount of resources that it will take to do so.

It simplified the ways that an organization can compete into four: cost leadership, differentiation, the focus on cost, and the focus on differentiation. Since the inception of Five Forces there has been a lot of discussion about how helpful the categories are, but it seems to be part of everyone’s strategy and competitive toolbox, especially for MBAs.
In the figure below, you can see I have set up a keyword rating spreadsheet. I first gathered keyword data from a keyword tool to populate the orange columns. In this example, I used the Google AdWords Keyword Tool. From there I began looking at each keyword and gave each one a score from one to 10. For some I built a formula to automate the process, which comes in handy with larger keyword lists.
Google's AdWords Keyword Planner tool is another common starting point for SEO keyword research. It not only suggests keywords and provides estimated search volume, but also predicts the cost of running paid campaigns for these terms. To determine volume for a particular keyword, be sure to set the Match Type to [Exact] and look under Local Monthly Searches. Remember that these represent total searches. Depending on your ranking and click-through rate, the actual number of visitors you achieve for these keywords will usually be much lower.

“We’re seeing a lot of attention on our Promote product, a solution for small business owners, that few people realize is powered by automation and machine learning behind the scenes. We’ve partnered with large banks, small business service providers, and more to bring this machine learning martech to small business owners. And we’re not alone. There are many examples of increasingly accessible machine learning tools for small businesses.”
1. Branding or converting strategy. One of the first things to consider in developing a keyword strategy is what you want to accomplish when you reach your target audience. Do you just want to generate an impression for branding purposes or do you want to invite them to your place where you get them to make a purchase? Here are three types of strategies to consider:
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?
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 :)
Overall score: Finally, you simply add up the scores and divide by the number of columns you have. This will give you an overall score. Then you can sort your keyword list by overall score and voilà, your keywords that are likely to perform the best for you bubble up to the top. You can weight each column if you like based on which factors are most important to you.
Customer preference of products is only part of the analysis. There are internal operational factors which can provide a competitive edge as well. Your competitors' products may not have the high quality of yours, but they might offer free delivery; or their employees might be extremely motivated and committed to gaining market share. You need to learn how they are doing on the inside. Some factors to consider:
As a manager, this may take the form of believing that people with less experience but lots of initiative tend to outperform experts. It may mean looking past the traditional resume. As an entrepreneur, this may be a conviction that some social stigma, like sleeping in someone else’s home (Airbnb), wearing someone else’s dress (Rent the Runway) or persistently sharing your location with all your friends (FourSquare), will lessen over time and eventually disappear.

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 chapter will discuss how to best structure your campaign within Google AdWords. These basic building blocks are campaigns and ad groups contained within those campaigns. How you structure this will depend upon your business and marketing and the main takeaway here is that there is no single way to structure a campaign. Just be mindful of what matters when it comes to advertising and measuring the results of your campaign.
Tertiary Competition: This category includes businesses that are tangentially related to yours, and really comes in handy when you’re looking to expand your product catalog. These could be related products and services that are trending, as well as businesses that may be beneficial to partner with further down the line. For instance, if you sell jewelry, a tertiary competitor may sell gems and stones.
The unique advantage of PPC marketing is that Google (and other ad networks) don’t just reward the highest bidders for that ad space, they reward the highest-quality ads (meaning the ads that are most popular with users). Essentially, Google rewards good performance. The better your ads, the greater your click-through rates and the lower your costs.
Now as searchers start to gather information, they begin to refine their search and start using more specific terms. Then finally they begin to use very specific terms. They have switched from information gathering to a transactional mode. If someone searches on the term “canon eos mark III,” what does that suggest about their intent? That they have done their research and are ready to buy. So do you send them to your home page? Absolutely not. You need to send them to your product page that has the product, its features, maybe related products, the price, and most importantly the “buy now” button. They don’t need more information; they’re probably price shopping and are looking for a trusted source with the best price.
Informational: These keywords represent the very beginning of the conversion process, and are not very likely to convert on the first visit. If you’re running a branding campaign you’ll want to be sure to include informational keywords on your list. If you’ve got a conversion goal, you still can’t afford to ignore these keywords as they make up the majority of searches. Informational keywords often use words/phrases like "how to", “do I need” and “where to find”. Consider these leads to be converted later via your website or a retargeting campaign.
Ad text plays an important role in the success of your ads. It is the form of marketing communication that advertisers can use to promote their product or service on search platforms. An effective ad text consists at least one of your core keyword, attractive discounts and promotion and a call to action. The quality score of your ad depends on multiple factors and your ad text is one of them. Your ad text should be unique and appealing. Include discount amount in your ad copy and also add a strong call to action that can compel searchers to click on your ads. Use action words like buy now, order now, resister today or sign up here. Include one of your keyword in your ad text and match your ad to your landing page.
Michiel wrote about Homepage SEO, telling people not to try and rank their homepage for a specific keyword. In the comments there were clearly some misconceptions about how branding relates to your keyword strategy. We’ve been writing a lot about keyword research lately but we’ve not talked about keyword strategy much, so this post elaborates on what these are and how they connect to each other.
Overall score: Finally, you simply add up the scores and divide by the number of columns you have. This will give you an overall score. Then you can sort your keyword list by overall score and voilà, your keywords that are likely to perform the best for you bubble up to the top. You can weight each column if you like based on which factors are most important to you.
So there you have it, Xtensio’s Competitive Analysis Template. Remember this document is super flexible — you’re not bound to use any category the way we have it. Click inside text modules and type away, add new modules, graphs, charts, images, etc, drag & drop to reformat — whatever the case is, make something great. And if you’re working on a team, add your colleagues to join in the editing process with Xtensio’s collaboration feature.
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?

The central idea behind geotargeting is that understanding a consumers real-time — or past —location helps marketers achieve the holy grail of delivering the “right message at the right time.” In a simple example, an adult customer visiting car dealerships is likely interested in buying a car, and serving a local Honda ad to this customer more likely to be successful.
Great article. This ties in perfectly with the article I just published yesterday. This checklist in conjunction with my competitor analysis, that is more based on keyword and traffic data, will really round out the research stage of your campaign. Taking a deep look at a competitors website just like you would do your own, can be a valuable exercise that drives strategy.

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:
It is dependent on the pre-analysis of the entire IP address space. There are more than 4 billion possible IP addresses, and detailed analysis of each of them is a Herculean task, especially in light of the fact that IP addresses are constantly being assigned, allocated, reallocated, moved and changed due to routers being moved,[6] enterprises being assigned IP addresses or moving, and networks being built or changed. In order to keep up with these changes, complex algorithms, bandwidth measurement and mapping technology, and finely tuned delivery mechanisms are necessary.[7] Once all of the IP space is analyzed, each address must be periodically updated to reflect changes in the IP address information, without invading a user's privacy. This process is similar in scale to the task of Web spidering.
6. Use social media to help provide context for user intent. Another important keyword strategy is to align your social media efforts, especially the “listening” part, to help provide context to your targeted keywords. I have outlined a few ways in this column to infer user intent by keyword but to see the search term used in a tweet or blog will provide a much better context to user intent and usage. You can gauge user wants, needs, and sentiment that will help you as you construct your landing pages with keyword-relevant content.
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!
This helpful tool scans your backlink profile and turns up a list of contact information for the links and domains you'll need to reach out to for removal. Alternatively, the tool also allows you to export the list if you wish to disavow them using Google's tool. (Essentially, this tool tells Google not to take these links into account when crawling your site.)
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