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.
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.  

On the other hand, version B not only communicates the valueof the cyber security business (protecting other business’s data from hackers and cyber attacks), but also acknowledges the potential customer. The copy in version B also addresses the fact that what the viewer is likely looking for in such a company is a sense of security, and caters to that with the words “protect” and “safe”.
Website. What’s the first thing visitors see in your competitor’s website? Is there much text on the website, and if there is, what does it emphasize about your competitor’s business? Do they have customer reviews and testimonials? Make note of the design as well. Is their website static and minimalist, or does it have animation and other interactive features? Apart from judging the copy, design, and features of the site itself, does the site rank well for relevant search terms that you think your potential customers could use? If you’re selling handmade leather wallets, try doing a Google search for “handmade leather tool wallets” and see if any of your competitors are in the first few pages.
Conduct a thorough account audit and gap analysis. Audits are time-consuming and tedious, but they’re absolutely necessary. I use the account audit to understand underlying drivers of performance and to determine whether work being done in the account is in alignment with business goals. Uncovering the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities provides critical information I need to form my guiding principle for account management.
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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.


Instead, SEO now takes a multi-faceted approach where you’re involving different disciplines (i.e. content, email, advertising, social), building a brand (i.e. investing in intangibles, not just conversions), and competing on multiple fronts (i.e. paid search positions, review & aggregation sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, beefing up your local listings, and more) – all at the same time.
We at SEMrush continuously monitor Google’s updates, as the search engine rarely stands still. While testing the updates that are most likely to impact advertisers, we have come to the conclusion that Google is moving in the direction of “autopiloted” campaigns. The message is clear, the more you delegate to Google Ads’ artificial mind - bids, placements, banner sizes, etc. - the more benefit you and your customers will get from the campaign.
Conduct a business download meeting. I meet with key stakeholders to learn everything I can about the business and the industry they compete in. Is the business itself growing or struggling? What about the industry as a whole? I use this time to learn what has worked and not worked from a PPC perspective and to determine if PPC performance goals are realistic and achievable (or if they exist at all).
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. 
Keyword research is a time consuming and continuous activity. Create your list of core keywords at the time of campaign planning and you should constantly refine and expand your keyword list for long-tail, low cost and highly relevant keywords. Another important step in keyword research is to review high cost, under performing keywords. Remove these keywords from your list.

There are lots of questions, as yet unanswered. For example, when considering anonymity, is it okay if trackers gather data, but aren’t able to discern exactly who a user is? There are questions of security and privacy, and information one company might share with another. There are questions of choice: should customers always have to opt-in, or can opt-outs work, too? There are questions about who can and can’t be trusted with these services: your company, for example, versus, say, the U.S. government.
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. 
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 :)
Instead, SEO now takes a multi-faceted approach where you’re involving different disciplines (i.e. content, email, advertising, social), building a brand (i.e. investing in intangibles, not just conversions), and competing on multiple fronts (i.e. paid search positions, review & aggregation sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, beefing up your local listings, and more) – all at the same time.
Great insight here. This template is meant to serve as a base for further customization. Feel free to build on top of it with metrics and data that you find useful, I would love to see what you come up with. You can actually configure the backlink gap analysis to run for majestic or ahrefs by adjusting the query formula slightly. You bring up a great point about analyzing link data from multiple sources to get a more accurate picture so I would definitely recommend exploring majestic and ahrefs data as well..

In reality, even profitability focused campaigns will have limits when it comes to budget, so our focus is often maximizing profitability within the budget we have allotted. This can mean bringing in fewer conversions at a lower cost per acquisition (CPA) and eliminating elements of campaigns that are under performing compared to your acceptable conversion goal. Mining search query reports, establishing negative keywords, bidding down on keywords with high CPA’s or no conversions are all techniques we employ in order to maximize our profitability within the parameters given.
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.
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."

Some competitors solve the same problem with the same technology but focus on a different customer. For example, Zum provides schoolchildren with rides to school, solving a transportation problem for kids and parents. Zum solves a slightly different problem too: safety. Safety is the primary concern for parents when it comes to kids riding back from school. However, it’s ultimately grounded in the same tech as Uber.

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.
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.
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.
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.

The first part of your competitive analysis only requires basic research. You’ll just be looking up and making note of easy-to-find facts about your competitor’s business. For this part, you’ll need to have some idea about who your small business competitors are, where to find their website and social media pages, and perhaps have access to their offline marketing materials such as brochures, ads, and posters.

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.
You need to develop tactics to recognise and double down on the deep conviction you have in your gut that nobody else understands. Stop looking for consensus or opportunities that seem obvious and compelling at first glance. Great opportunities never have “great opportunity” in the subject line. Honing your gut instincts and acting upon conviction is a theme of every successful journey.

Once your ad is displayed, it’s likely to be clicked by only a tiny percentage of people who search for such a broad term, making it less likely to be displayed in the future. And even if you create an ad that’s broad enough for those searchers to reliably click, they’re unlikely to find exactly what they’re looking for on your landing page. You’re paying a lot for poor-quality traffic.
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!
Set priorities. Once goals are established, it’s important to determine key priorities. For instance, if the primary goal is revenue growth, the priority should be executing initiatives that drive conversions, such as keyword or audience expansion. On the other hand, if the primary goal is driving profit, then the priority should be focused on initiatives such as search query report (SQR) mining for negative keywords and other forms of optimization.
As the content manager, Annie manages a team of brand journalists and is the driving force behind the content strategy for companies in a wide range of industries, including healthcare, technology and professional services. Relying on interviewing skills she developed in her seven years as a journalist, she uncovers insights about what motivates buyers in these industries and uses that knowledge to shape client websites and editorial calendars.

Lower Costs: When there is a near-infinite supply of search query impressions each month, your strategy is to lower your cost per click in order to drive more click (and conversion) volume to your website. This generally involves making use of keyword list refinement (match types, negative keywords) and lowering bids while keeping an eye on average position.

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.
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.
It's quite likely that no prospect or customer reads your press releases as carefully as your competitors do. Press releases are helpful in understanding a company’s strategic focus. Sometimes PRs show your competitors’ customer count. The About section in a press release shows your competitor's strategic messaging. These two to five sentences are how your competitor wants their customers and prospects to perceive the company and its products.
The first part of your competitive analysis only requires basic research. You’ll just be looking up and making note of easy-to-find facts about your competitor’s business. For this part, you’ll need to have some idea about who your small business competitors are, where to find their website and social media pages, and perhaps have access to their offline marketing materials such as brochures, ads, and posters.

Your campaigns are the foundation of your structure. You will probably only have a few campaigns, which is fine. The less you have, the more manageable it will be. Start small and only expand when it makes sense to. You could have a campaign for each type of chocolate (fair trade, milk, white, dark, vegan) if you were a small chocolate shop for example. You could have a campaign for sale and non-sale items as well. You have to decide what makes sense for your small business.
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.

More and more consumers are finding businesses online through search engines. How do they find them? By using keywords! Fortunately, you can take advantage of this consumer habit by optimizing your website around the keywords that are relevant to your business and which keywords consumers are using to find you online. This will increase your chances of getting found by people searching with those keywords, which will drive more and better quality traffic to your business’ website.

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.
Your keyword strategy should make clear which “keyword groups” you focus on. It doesn’t have to be a long list of keywords (though it doesn’t hurt to have one). Your keyword strategy should be a definition of a group of keywords that you’re tackling. Every time you’re writing new content you can have a quick look at those groups and pick a new keyword that falls in line with the strategy.
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.
Every business can benefit from attracting higher value customers. Whether you’re a real estate company looking for high net worth individuals looking to buy property or a B2B SaaS company looking for a higher average revenue per user (ARPU), attracting customers who will pay you more than others is a powerful way to amplify the growth of your business.
Evaluate your competitor's price. Just because you have the same products as other businesses, doesn't mean everyone has the same price. Your own production costs greatly impact your pricing. If your price for a similar product is higher than your competitor's, then your market position is weaker; and if it's lower, then your competitive position is better.A temporary price decrease by a competitor might indicate nothing more serious than a transient need to move excess inventory. However, a trend of lowered prices may indicate that your competition is doing it to gain market share and improve production costs. It could also mean your rival is in financial trouble and has been forced to lower prices. It's in this type of situation that rumors and gossip become helpful. If there are rumors that a company is in financial trouble and you discover price fluctuations, it's more likely that there are problems. Be sure your analysis includes product/service charges added to the purchase price, such as installation or additional equipment required.
Next, indicate with a check mark which of your competitors has which features. Features are fairly straightforward, either a product has a feature or it doesn't. Benefits, on the other hand, are not as simple and should only be recorded based on customer feedback. For example, company B may claim in their company literature that their copier is fast, but a user may feel otherwise. Or, company B may indeed have a copier that by industry standards is fast, but you may have a copier that's even faster. 
Instead of immediately sponsoring a Search Engine Marketing (SEM) campaign for certain keywords, keep an eye on your competitors for the best moment to do it. An SEM campaign implies a daily expenditure that most companies can’t afford long-term, so they won’t keep it up for long. If you are determined to spend some money on it, don’t just go crazy and then measure your ROI. After 3 – 4 months of watching, you should know if it’s worth it for your business to spend money on search engine ads. For an advanced strategy, try to identify your competitors’ timing for purchasing search engine ads, and try to replace them when they are not actively sponsoring results.
Google is constantly refining and adding new tools to AdWords, so remaining active with your PPC strategies is critical if you want to beat out your competition. There’s never a set-it-and-forget-it approach that you can take–as much as one might wish–so it’s important that you test, analyze, re-test, and repeat to find out what is working for you and what is not. Also, keep in mind that while some strategies might work wonders for a particular business or industry, they may not be as effective with yours. Experiment with different approaches, but don’t be too quick to abandon ones that don’t show immediate results. Some investments require time to show their return.

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.

Long tail keywords are longer word phrases. They are specific phrases searchers are more likely to use when doing a specified search.  Due to the more tailored nature of long tail keywords, it is important to create a theme around these phrases. Doing so will increase your business’ rank in search engine results. A generic single keyword is not as valuable as multiple keywords that match a user’s search. In short, long tail keywords prove that, as far as B2B SEO goes, less is not always more. Once you’ve compiled a list of “long tail keywords” that describe a certain theme, you can begin conducting your keyword research.

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.

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?


Every time a search is initiated, Google digs into the pool of bidding AdWords advertisers and chooses a set of winners to appear in the 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 text, as well as the size of their keyword bids. For example, if WordStream bid on the keyword “PPC software,” our ad might show up in the very top spot on the Google results page.
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. 

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.
Again, keyword strategy does not mean randomly sprinkling certain words throughout your website. In actuality, B2B marketing and SEO need a focused strategy to make a difference. The first step is identifying your optimization intent and tailoring it for B2B marketing and SEO.  Next, create a keyword theme with specified long tail keywords and research them. 
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.)
Some super awesome points here no doubt. What I like about this approach is it is hands on and not just ran via a site being scanned by a third party. Also when a new client comes to you and has these thoughts of ranking the highest in their particular industry you need to know that baseline of who is at the top. Many times when I have conducted a much lesser analysis than what is above I see some items right off the bat that can make that strong competition not so strong after some minor changes.
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