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 :)
As a start-up, you likely have a lot of competition in your industry. This means that you need to stay organised in order to keep ahead of the curve. By being more organised, you will be able to meet client briefs on time and keep to your schedule. Organisation is important for your start-up because it saves you time, stops you from procrastinating and keeps your employees on track. With improved customer service due to your efficiency, you will soon find your business growing in leaps and bounds.

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!
In the Google Sheets Template, I've provided you with the data points that we'll be collecting, the tools you'll need to do so, and then bucketed the metrics based on similar themes. The data we're trying to collect relates to SEO metrics like domain authority, how much traffic the competition is getting, which keywords are driving that traffic, and the depth of competitors’ backlink profiles. I have built in a few heatmaps for key metrics to help you visualize who's the strongest at a glance.
We must clearly identify our objectives for the campaign and tie the campaign objectives to business objectives. Your objectives could include raising awareness, increasing engagement, generating conversions, and customer retention. Your objectives will need to be tailored to your specific business and you will want to map your objectives to a typical marketing funnel. This chapter highlights how to identify your objectives to measure success.
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.
Search engine advertising is one of the most popular forms of PPC. It allows advertisers to bid for ad placement in a search engine's sponsored links when someone searches on a keyword that is related to their business offering. For example, if we bid on the keyword “PPC software,” our ad might show up in the very top spot on the Google results page.

Once you have determined which keywords you should focus on, use them repeatedly in your content. Use an Excel sheet to keep an organized eye on your usage by tracking how many times you use each of your selected terms in your content. Why? The latest Google algorithm update is penalizing pages whose anchor text is over-optimized, and having an updated list of the terms you have already used will help you to vary them smartly.


WHAT TO EXPECTAn in-depth investigation and analysis of your competition is one of the most important components of a comprehensive market analysis. A competitive analysis allows you to assess your competitor's strengths and weaknesses in your marketplace and implement effective strategies to improve your competitive advantage. This Business Builder will take you through a step-by-step process of competitive analysis, helping you to identify your competition, determine and weigh their attributes, assess their strengths and weaknesses, and uncover their objectives and strategies in your market segment. WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE GETTING STARTED [top] What Types of Organizations Should I Consider as Competitors? Any business marketing a product similar to, or as a substitute for, your own product in the same geographic area is a direct competitor. Firms offering dissimilar or substitute products in relation to your product or service are considered indirect competitors. Indirect competition would exist between the manufacturer of butter and a manufacturer of margarine selling to the same customers. Another example is the manufacturer of eyeglasses who competes indirectly with contact lens manufacturers. Stated in other terms, indirect competition will satisfy the customer's need with a particular product or service, although the product or service used may be different from yours. If a firm has similar products and distribution channels, but has chosen to operate in different market segments, they are not at this time your direct competitor. However, it's important to monitor the marketing activities of such firms because they may decide to move into your market segment, just as you may decide to move into theirs. Take a moment and identify your direct and indirect competitors: Why is a Comprehensive Competitive Analysis an Important Part of a Marketing Plan? To achieve and maintain a competitive advantage in reaching and selling to your target market, you must possess a thorough knowledge of your competition. An in-depth competitive analysis will provide you with the following:
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.
It’s easy to get frustrated when stakeholders ask how to rank for a specific term, and solely focus on content to create, or on-page optimizations they can make. Why? Because we’ve known for a while that there are myriad factors that play into search engine rank. Depending on the competitive search landscape, there may not be any amount of “optimizing” that you can do in order to rank for a specific term.

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.
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.
It’s good for search engines – PPC enables search engines to cater to searchers and advertisers simultaneously. The searchers comprise their user-base, while the advertisers provide them with their revenue stream. The engines want to provide relevant results, first and foremost, while offering a highly targeted, revenue-driving advertising channel.
But consider this: only a lead who is in the early stages of researching a product or solution (aka not ready to convert) uses such general keywords in their search engine research, simply because they aren’t yet educated enough about what they’re looking for. Similar to a negative keyword strategy, bottom-of-the-funnel (BOFU) keywords can help you reach avoid the wrong leads. These keywords are ones that are more pricing and service-oriented, which will bring in consumers who have a higher potential of converting as a result of your PPC ads.
AdWords may suggest keywords based on your website content. Feel free to use them for inspiration, but also consider the many different ways you and your customers talk about your business and be sure those turns of phrase are reflected in your keywords. Start by creating a list of about 10 “head terms”—the concepts from which everything else you do follows.
“The sales cycle is an average of 9-12 months. When a qualified lead enters the funnel, the revenue generated from that lead is an unknown variable that will not be fully identified until several months into the cycle. In order to increase the probability of a PPC lead turning into a viable source of revenue we need to generate leads at a ratio of high ratio of sales quality leads to conversions (roughly 65%). We will continue to test new targeting in order to reach our 20% YoY growth goal at a reasonable average CPA in order to continually grow the account and keep the sales funnel full every month.”
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.
If you’re aiming for a steady cost per conversions (also known as Cost Per Acquisition) average, despite the potential challenge in calculating those costs, then Conversion Optimizer may be of help. This strategy works by setting a target Cost per Conversion at campaign level, and then AdWords uses your historical conversion data to optimize your bidding strategy to reach your targeted average.
Your competitor analysis framework should give your stakeholders an overview of how the playing field looks. A side-by-side comparison with top competitors helps teams strategize better, plan business growth and provide a clearer vision for the organization. When creating a competitive analysis, you should first consider defining the criteria for the comparison. Common high-level pieces are company information, description, products or services, strengths and weaknesses and market-fit.
Nick's Keyword Strategy Implementation Guide is a MUST read. All too often you will see an eBook make wild promises about how it can teach you XYZ. When you finally get it the book is filled with fluff that you have seen on a thousand other sites. What set's Nick's guide apart is the STRATEGY. You cannot hope to use keyword effectively on your site in the current state of the internet without a strategy. Nick has put a ton of information on a few pages, folks this book is dense. If you are in B2B, B2C, SaaS, or eCommerce you can benefit from the strategies outlined in this book. 

Some very general words such as “marketing” or “business” are very competitive, making it harder to rank well for them in search engine results. If you are a small- or medium-sized business, you probably want to choose less competitive keywords, more specifically related to your business (these are commonly referred to as long tail keywords). The greater the volume of searches on a keyword, the more competitive it is. There are a number of different tools you can use to determine thecompetitiveness of a specific keyword as well as suggest and help you brainstorm new keyword ideas.
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 :)
In order to get more specific with our audience, we set up our targeting to focus on those people that Facebook says are interested in moving. We narrow our age range slightly to exclude those too young to (probably) be looking to sell their home, and also include some demographic and behavioral targeting traits. We target those who are “likely to move” and those within a range of incomes and net worths that we like:

Once you know your target audience, you can easily aim your advertisements towards areas where your target audience would be. Bonobos, an online male clothing store, did a great job of this when they were launching their Guide Shops pop-ups. The “store” would serve purely as a try on and styling area. Once you ordered clothes, they’d be sent to your house directly.


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:
We constantly sharpen our PPC skills -  by speaking at national search marketing conferences, writing helpful "how-to" blogs for other search marketers,  and consuming daily blogs and news to stay abreast of everthing that this crazy industry throws at us! It's unlikely that your in-house employee(s) can achieve the level of focus and commitment of PPC-Strategies.
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.
No, but you will need to have completed keyword research beforehand - and I mean thorough keyword research, not a bullshit download from Google Keyword Planner. You will need to have a handle on the competitive metrics for your target SERP's. If you have no idea how to get these, I strongly encourage you to also check out my course Master Keyword Research.
In pay per click advertising, negative keywords prevent your advertisements from displaying for particular keywords. Identify the keywords that you don’t want your ads to show up for and add them to your negative keyword list. A well-researched Negative Keyword list will reduce the cost of your ad by filtering out non-converting traffic and irrelevant clicks. It also improves your ROI by reducing the average CPC.

A FINAL WORD [top] Schedule a competitive analysis on a regular basis, as you do for inventory and other business functions. Depending on what market you're operating in it could be every two months or once a year. Consider employing a college student for the summer or create student internship positions to fulfill the task. You must remember that your competitive research and analysis is never finished. This is on-going, rather than a one-time process. Your competition can change quickly, new players can emerge tomorrow, the economy may upswing or downswing at any moment. It's only when you clearly understand your competition that you can evaluate your own market position. Only then can you exploit their weaknesses to your competitive advantage and seek to improve your own marketing efforts. CHECKLIST [top] ___ Have you identified your direct and indirect competitors? ___ Do you know how the customers in your target market rate your product in comparison with your cometitors'? ___ Have you compiled the intelligence you have gathered on each competitor in a format that fosters comparison of features and market postions? ___ Do you have strategies for building on your strengths and minimizing your vulnerability where you have weakenesses? Do you have strategies for minimizing the value of your competitors' strengths and taking advantage of their weaknesses? ___ Have you communicated the competitor information and your strategies to every worker who needs to know? In research and development? In production? In marketing and sales? ___ Have you established procedures for keeping your industry and competitor profiles current? RESOURCES [top] Books Competitive Intelligence for the Competitive Edge, by Alan Dutka. (NTC Business Books, 1999). Brief discussions of competitive intelligence activities are followed by extensive real-life case-study examples. Web Sites "Do You REALLY Know What The Competition Is Doing?" by Darrell S. Mockus. Journal of Business Strategy 24:1 (January-February, 2003), 8-10. "Spies Like Us," by Carole Ashkinaze. Business Week (July 12, 2000), F4+. "Face-to-Face: Spies Like Us," by Stephanie L. Gruner. Inc. 20:11 (August 1998), 45 (7). "Spy Away," by Mark Henricks. Entrepreneur 28:3 (March 2000), 98. Fuld and Company. What Is CI?. Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals. "Competitive Intelligence vs. Espionage," by Fred White. ThomasNet Industrial Newsroom, May 22, 2007. Writer: Susan MaGee All rights reserved. The text of this publication, or any part thereof, may not be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the publisher.  
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.
The key to getting the most successful results from your PPC (pay-per-click) campaigns is developing a strategy that utilizes the many powerful tools at your disposal with Google Adwords. While boosting your clicks and conversions may at first seem like some sort of magical alchemy, there are actually tons of tangible ways to help drive traffic and increase sales. Best of all, Google is constantly adding new tools and refining older ones that you can add to your arsenal.
Great tips on doing a competitive analysis Zee! I would also add if it is a "local SEO" competitive analysis, you throw in a GMB optimization/completeness and NAP listings quantity/quality (using Moz Local). Also a great free tool for checking how long title tags are when doing the content part of the analysis (and if a search engine will cut it off with the "...") is https://www.portent.com/serp-preview-tool.
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.

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.


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.
According to Lathan Fritz, founder of Amerisales, geotargeting doesn’t have to mean getting down to the local level. Larger companies can use geotargeting on a regional basis to locate specific audiences for their marketing campaigns. He knows this firsthand from helping one of his clients, an e-commerce company that sells shipping supplies. Fritz’s company conducts national campaigns for this client, ranking it for search engine optimization terms in Google and running national Facebook campaigns.
The Keyword Planner is a free tool, but you'll need to set up a Google AdWords account first if you don't have one already.  Once you're set up and logged in, go to the Tools bar at the top of the home page and you'll find the Keyword Planner there. Click Search for new keyword and ad group ideas. You'll be able to see suggestions in both the Ad group ideas tab and the Keyword ideas tab. You can add new keywords to an ad group by clicking the double arrows >> next to the keyword or remove them by clicking on the ad group and then the X next to that keyword.
When creating and implementing a digital marketing campaign, you first need to design your keyword strategy. This strategy is more than just finding keywords that will bring you the highest number of visitors. It’s a top-to-bottom concept that will influence how you design your site, select keywords, optimize your pages and measure the success of your campaign.
Another easy, yet possibly expensive, way of testing geo-location is using a PPC platform such as AdWords. You can set your campaign targeting to very specific locations and languages, as well as set the destination URLs of your individual ads. Similarly, this will require a set of landing pages for each campaign, but delivers results very quickly. You may be able to run a fast, data rich, and location-based conversion analysis with little more.
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.
In more sophisticated use cases, geotargeting doesn’t have to be solely based on a consumer’s real-time location. Locations or businesses a customer has visited recently can be a great predictor of interests and intent, so adding targeting based on historical location as well can be key to delivering a captivating, relevant message. Denny’s had great success with this tactic in a campaign with xAd, detailed below.
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.
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?)  

4. Choose keywords based on more than just high search traffic. Depending on which strategy you’re using, branding or conversion, you should not fall into the trap of just looking at search volume when judging which keywords to use. Just because one keyword has a whole lot more searches than another doesn’t necessarily mean it will be a better performing search term. Take the time to analyze other factors that provide more granularity. Here is an example of other factors you may want to look at:
Then, within your campaigns, you will have your ad groups. Ad groups should be formed based on themes of keywords. For example, all keywords that relate to dark chocolate could go into one ad group (ie. Dark chocolate bars, dark chocolate for sale online, best dark chocolate shops, where to buy dark chocolate, dark chocolate with almonds etc.). Again, keep your ad groups to a minimum when you are starting. You don’t need more than 6-8 ads within each campaign. Try to limit the amount of keywords per ad group to 10 to 20 per ad group. The keywords will be the trigger for the PPC ads that will appear in searches containing those words.
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.

It’s worth mentioning that some of these terms are still evolving, and their use is still being defined. For example, geo-targeting is often used synonymously with location targeting, for now, but that could change. Terms and meaning might shift over time as the technology and its uses evolve. But, like geo-targeting, we’ve got you covered right here, right now.


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.
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.
PPC marketing is now a standard way for businesses to find new customers for their products and services. Yet many small businesses have been disappointed with their first steps into PPC. It can be a tricky marketing strategy. First-time PPC marketers often underestimate the time it takes to lay down the right foundations, the budget required, and the work needed to keep on top of your game.
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Think about what else is around you. Don’t just think about where you are; think about what’s around you. Are you a restaurant near a stadium or an airport? Encourage people to stop by after the big game, before that Ed Sheeran concert, or for a graduation celebration in your ad copy. If you’re a boutique fitness studio, advertise to people who are health-conscious and attending the farmer’s market nearby. Put these suggestions into your copy to increase in-store events.
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.

If you are a UX designer, then you might be aware of the service design cycle. This cycle contains four stages: discover, explore, test and listen. Each one of these stages has multiple research methods, and competitive analysis is part of the exploration. Susan Farrell has very helpfully distinguished different UX research methods and activities that can be performed for your project. (You can check this detailed segregation in her “UX Research Cheat Sheet”.)
Protecting your company with one of the core barriers is smart. Nailing down two barriers is even better. Slack is a great example of a company that has a network effect, having successfully created widespread demand through word-of-mouth referrals and a highly engaging product. It has also invested in building strong relationships with developers. Slack’s developer platform roadmap and its commitment to transparency for developers has helped the company build a strong ecosystem around its product.
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.
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).

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.
Exhaustive – Your keyword research should include not only the most popular and frequently searched terms in your niche, but also extend 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.
Competitive analysis. Sometimes, a stakeholder identifies the competition in the PPC space incorrectly. Competitive analysis helps me learn who the competition actually is and what they are doing to be successful in terms of bidding, keyword targeting and creative messaging. The competitive analysis helps me determine how aggressive I need to be in my account management policies in order to successfully compete in the marketplace.
A backlink gap analysis aims to tell us which websites are linking to our competitors, but not to us. This is vital data because it allows us to close the gap between our competitors’ backlink profiles and start boosting our own ranking authority by getting links from websites that already link to competitors. Websites that link to multiple competitors (especially when it is more than three competitors) have a much higher success rate for us when we start reaching out to them and creating content for guest posts.
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