With the constant stream of new betas, introduction of format changes (hello Expanded Text Ads!) and a multitude of new targeting methods such as tablet bid modifiers and demographic bidding for search, paid search marketing continues to become more and more complex. Gone are the days when running ad copy tests, adding negative keywords, performing bid adjustments, and launching more targeted ad groups was sufficient to drive account growth. Today’s paid search advertiser must choose from hundreds of available account optimization strategies.
But switching costs, or the cost that a customer incurs as a result of switching products, still exist. Technology can be a driver of higher switching costs. When a product is integrated with multiple systems and APIs, switching to another product becomes increasingly difficult. Such a switch usually results in business interruption and the need to retrain staff, among other unwelcome effects.
The primary goal of a competitive analysis is to understand the marketplace and how you can differentiate from other players. At the end of a competitive analysis, you should create a battlecard for each competitor. A competitive battlecard is essentially a quick visual reference for your sales and marketing team, guiding them as they position your organization against competitors.
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.
Privacy and security concerns are, by many accounts, the one thing holding location based services back from exploding. One of the first backlashes came from Nordstrom customers, when that retailer tracked customers through its physical locations for market research purposes. The word “creepy” was applied at the time, and it’s still a word commonly found in discussions of how location-based marketing can tend to make people feel.
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.
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.

Google considers your landing page quality as one of the important factor to determine ad quality score. Your landing page is where user redirects when they click your ad. Landing pages with poor content or under construction website pages will give bad experience to your users. Users will not buy from you if you are landing them on an irrelevant page. A well optimize landing page should have complete information about your product and call to action buttons like “Subscribe here” or “Buy Now”. If you are creating multiple ads for your product then you should optimize your landing pages for each ad copy.
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.
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.
Remember that you are the jockey, the driver and the visionary. The best horse cannot win the race without the jockey – it is important to believe in your business and live by example through the core values of your business. An entrepreneur should show commitment, determination, leadership, tolerance of risk, creativity, self-reliance and the ability to adapt to excel.
Some publishers and networks have even developed performance-based marketing plans based on geo-targeted ads. Ads and marketing are only placed and paid for when there have been proven results to show that this venture is worth it. It has always been very effective to target a certain demographic based off of their age, gender, or career. This can be taken even further by taking a look at certain locations and what demographics reside there. Website data can be used to determine what geographic locations are most frequently perusing a site and that area can be targeted as well.

Small businesses typically don’t have the budget or the amount of data necessary to take advantage of the benefits machine learning offers PPC marketers. If they’re not using a marketing agency to manage PPC that gives them access to machine learning optimization, they can also sign up directly. Acquisio’s Promote product was designed for small business owners to use with a monthly subscription model, simplifying ad creation and set up while allowing ad spend amounts as low as $100 using machine learning optimization. They explain in a past post about the small-business-machine-learning conundrum.

Successful online advertising requires ongoing work and optimisation to improve performance and results. Maximising output and reducing input is critical. You must clearly outline the business objectives, goals, and audiences for each campaign. This chapter outlines our PPC model which considers objectives, goals, audience, and targeting to ensure your PPC is based on a solid strategy with clear measures in place to analyse and improve as you go.
Use these consumer characteristics to time and target your marketing. For example, airports on weekdays are a great source of business travelers looking for high-end restaurants, while weekends and Spring Break bring more leisure visitors and families looking for more casual dining options. Likewise, dance clubs and bars can benefit by promoting 18 and over events targeted at universities whose student bodies are largely between the ages of 18-21. These are just a few examples of how venues define audiences that can be effectively targeted.
All sorts of companies in all sorts of industries can make use of geo-targeting.  By refining the ad copy to include the city name and a reference to the current weather – for example, including the words “start sleeping cooler” in an ad during periods of hot weather – Purple Mattress, an ecommerce bedding brand has been able to generate higher click-through rates by online shoppers. In an effort to update its aging "Let's Go Places" campaign,  Toyota incorporated city-specific information into each of its Google ads, encouraging consumers to go to places and attractions near them.  Whole Foods targeted ads to the smartphones of consumers visiting nearby supermarkets, encouraging them to come to a nearby Whole Foods nearby exchange for better deals.
Twitter is also a great place to get guidance about what's popular as it relates to your search terms. Just type a word or phrase into the search bar and see what trending topics come up. You can also use social media monitoring tools like Hootsuite, which allows you to create a stream based on a particular phrase and monitor mentions of it, or TweetReach, which gives you a similar quick analysis. 
Remember: The idea of a competitive analysis isn't to overly focus on the competition but to understand where your company stands in the marketplace and identify opportunities to further differentiate. At the end of the day, a focus on the customer will serve your company far more than a focus on the competition. Done well, a competitive analysis can help you find ways to outplay the competition by better serving customers —  theirs and yours.
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.

Preparing a Competitor Analysis is an activity that all Product Managers undertake at some point in the job. As Product Managers, having solid knowledge of our rivals and their activity in the marketplace helps us make better decisions during the strategic product planning phase. It ensures that we’re ready to respond to our competitors and exploit any weakness in order to gain a larger share of the pie.


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."
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.
Example 1: Say your business focuses on skin care. Your keywords might center around the idea: “how proper skin care can improve your health.” You would then begin looking for a keyword theme that sums up the idea of skin care relating to health. The takeaway message is that your business has a goal, and the right keywords will relay this goal to site visitors in a clear, concise way.
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.
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.

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.
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.
The best way to see what geotargeting can do for your company is to undertake a test campaign on a site like Facebook employing the parameters that would best access your target audience in various parts of the country. Include the specified area(s) within the ad’s content and launch it to see how it impacts results at your various locations and your online business. From there, you can further expand on what the technique can do, even using it as a recruitment tool to locate new marketing talent to run your next geotargeting campaign.
xAd’s first step was to expand its use of location data. “We wanted to move beyond just the where, and use location data to define the who and the what of audience targeting,” Monica Ho, xAd’s CMO, told GeoMarketing in 2015. After all, while a consumer’s proximity to a Denny’s can be significant, targeting someone who has been to and enjoys their local Denny’s will often prove more successful — whether or not they happen to be near the restaurant at the time they see the ad.
Try to match the offer you make on your pages (product, service, message, etc) to the visitor’s specific location. This sounds simple but requires careful thought and planning. Measure funnel performance for visitors that are geo-targeted versus a control group – are people finding this “filtration” helpful or confining in a way? Statistically, do visitors that are directly served with local offers differ in behavior than those that are asked to “choose your location”? Test it!
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.
Sometimes even the most savvy among us can feel like a confused great-granny on a MacBook Pro running Linux when it comes to the newest, latest tech, and how it actually works. Location-based marketing is already happening. All of the available tools provide opportunities to serve highly localized, highly relevant communications to your customers, based on where they are right now. But what exactly are those options, and how do they work?
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. 
- Hi, I'm Matt Bailey. Welcome to keyword strategy in depth. Keyword research is the fundamental building block, for all of your on-line marketing efforts. It goes beyond optimizing your website, to enabling a better connection when marketing to your audience, as you are using their language. We'll begin by finding sources for keywords, seeing how search engines deliver different results based on the types of keywords, and building your keyword lists. Next, I'll demonstrate how to effectively sift through the keyword data, in ways that maximize your ability to understand the searcher, and derive their intent. We'll see how to implement your keywords throughout the content of your website. Then, I'll demonstrate how to setup an initial Google AdWords campaign, utilizing your keywords, and avoiding the top five mistakes that companies make in AdWords. I've been marketing online for nearly 20 years, and I love to teach people how to be successful in their own businesses with the tools, tips, and experience I've learned along the way. Now, let's get started.

Finding the right competitors for my research wasn’t a hard task because I already knew many apps that provided similar features, but I still did a quick search on Google, and the results were a bit surprising — surprising because most of the apps I knew turned out to be more like indirect competitors to the app I was working on; and later, after a bit more searching, I also found the apps that were our direct competitors.
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. 

You can, for instance, target multiple areas specifically by their zip codes. Let’s say our real estate business explodes and goes nationwide and we want to look for the cheapest places to buy homes in America. We can look up a list of the zip codes with the cheapest homes and enter them as our targeting criteria, giving us a “geo-fence” that spans different communities and states:
Your Sales ForceYour sales staff probably has more access to competitive information than anyone else in your organization. Customers often show salespeople sales literature, contracts, price quotes, and other information from competitors. Part of a salesperson's job is to get customers to discuss problems they have with a competitor's product. Customers will also reveal your competition's product benefits, strengths, and customer service programs. Instruct your sales force to ask for copies of any competitive literature if and when that's possible. Your entire sales staff should keep a record of all competitive information they discover — even if it's just a rumor or gossip. Devote a regular portion of each sales meeting to a discussion of the competition.  

It is crucial to separate business and personal finances – and to be very prudent in the first few years of running your business, especially when you start making profit. Keep tight record, develop regular forecasts, avoid overdrafts, watch interest rates, keep track of expenses, bank all income, self-fund if possible and check bank statement regularly. Re-invest your profits into the growth and development of the business, the reward will be well worth the investment.
Finally, since the competitive environment is dynamic, the competitor's ability to react swiftly to change should be evaluated. Some firms have heavy momentum and may continue for many years in the same direction before adapting. Others are able to mobilize and adapt very quickly. Factors that slow a company down include low cash reserves, large investments in fixed assets, and an organizational structure that hinders quick action.
Finding the right competitors for my research wasn’t a hard task because I already knew many apps that provided similar features, but I still did a quick search on Google, and the results were a bit surprising — surprising because most of the apps I knew turned out to be more like indirect competitors to the app I was working on; and later, after a bit more searching, I also found the apps that were our direct competitors.
Take Coca Cola and Red Bull for example. They have massive marketing budgets, and the majority of that budget goes into branding and (I am guessing) very little attention is paid to determining the ROI of each individual activity they sponsor. They just know that the more they can build equity in their brand, the more products they will sell. The result? They are some of the most recognizable brands in the world. They are also extremely profitable at the end of the year – they just achieve that profitability differently than what we are used to seeing as direct response marketers.
If you aren’t aware of buzzwords in your industry or the terms your potential audience will search to try to find you, you need to do some more research or you will definitely be losing people. In Jerry’s case, he has office space for rent as individual desks in a common room. He needs to realize that the term his potential audience will use to search for that is ‘coworking’. A five-minute keywords change would provide Jerry with a clearer vision of his website’s performance and a greater likelihood of being found through search. Check out the revised keywords below:

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.


Future Competition. In your competitive analysis, you need to make a few predictions about what the competition is going to look like in the future. Competitors are constantly coming and going in the marketplace. Ask yourself: Who are my competitors likely to be? If you are introducing a new widget, how long before the competition catches on? Forecasting future competition will give your potential investors the confidence in the long term viability of your business.Barriers to Entry. Companies whose competitive edge depends on new technology, new manufacturing techniques or access to new markets need to be aware of the common barriers new competition faces when trying to gain entry into the marketplace. They include:

Increase Clicks: If you have a niche site that has high quality scores and impression shares, but not enough volume to spend your budget, you will want to increase the traffic sent to your site while maintaining control over click costs. This can be done by increasing bids, expanding your keyword list, improving click through rates and refining ad copy. All of these items can be adjusted/improved upon to help reach your budgeted spend.

"Modern SEO focuses on using the variations of the word or phrase that work naturally within the content because users will have a better experience, and search engines are capable of rewarding rankings to sites regardless of the variation of that keyword used. In other words, when a shopper searches for 'books,' the pages that best serve that user’s search query will, in theory, be ranked highest regardless of whether the content reflects the word 'book' or 'books.'"
Understanding which websites already rank for your keyword gives you valuable insight into the competition, and also how hard it will be to rank for the given term. Are there search advertisements running along the top and right-hand side of the organic results? Typically, many search ads means a high-value keyword, and multiple search ads above the organic results often means a highly lucrative and directly conversion-prone keyword.
What’s the difference between your brand and your keywords? Are you using both effectively? Your brand is one of your most important keywords, but it shouldn’t be your only keyword, nor should you have lots of keywords but no brand. There should be a keyword strategy behind the keywords you pick. This post highlights the why of that and explains the basis of the how, then points you to several useful posts for the how.

Another thing to keep in mind is your landing page’s loading speed. Can you remember the last time you waited for a page to load? Probably not. Chances are you exited the page and moved on to something else. That’s the last thing you want when there’s a customer willing to spend money. Speak to your website manager to ensure your landing pages load quickly.
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.

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.
You can use this tool to get new ideas for paid search campaigns as well as ideas to drive organic traffic. One big advantage of the tool is it gives you historical statistics on past search volume, as well as predictions about the number of clicks and conversions. You can search for keyword ideas based on what makes sense for your products, services or other phrases you're trying to target. 
Comparative user testing to the rescue: you ask the participants to evaluate your website as well as the websites of your top 2 competitors. To avoid biased feedback, try not to disclose which company you are with, and mix up the order in which you show the websites to the participants. Not to overwhelm the participants, limit the number of websites to 3 per person.
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.
If you have been dabbling in this PPC advertising thing and not noticed much traction, you might want to reconsider your budget. Many small businesses set a PPC spend that is too small to make any significant impact. Most people don’t realize that while PPC campaigns generate an average of 2% click-through, most do much better, especially with the help of new technology like machine learning.
Make a list of product features and benefits in order of importance, and prepare a table to show whether or not each of your competitors fulfill them.For example, Medium-sized companies that purchase copier machines may look for the following product benefits and features when making buying decisions: Competing Company: A B C D Features: 1. Auto paper feed 2. Auto enlarge or reduce 3. Collates 4. Staples 5. 24 Hour Repair Service 6. Warranty Benefits: 1. Easy to operate 2. Saves money 3. Good print quality 4. Dependable 5. Fast Price: $ Other factors you may want to evaluate include:
Geographic targeting allows your ads to appear in the locations that you choose: country, city, areas within a country or city, a radius around a location, or location groups. Geo targeting helps you focus your ad campaign on the locations where you’ll find the right customers, and restrict it in locations where you don’t, which could help increase your ROI. Right geographic region can significantly help you optimize your campaign for better results. Identify countries, states, regions, or areas where your ad campaign can perform well.
However, if “cheap renters insurance” doesn’t match your brand, then don’t use a phrase with higher search volume just to get more traffic. You want to attract more qualified leads not just more traffic. If your page more accurately matches a searcher’s intent, lower search volume could actually provide a higher number of qualified leads even though it may not generate as much overall traffic. In other words, if a keyword or search term doesn’t match your brand standards, don’t optimize for it, no matter how much traffic it could potentially drive.

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.
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.

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.
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.
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