Steve Webb is an SEO audit specialist at Web Gnomes. He received his Ph.D. from Georgia Tech, where he published dozens of articles on Internet-related topics. Professionally, Steve has worked for Google and various other Internet startups, and he's passionate about sharing his knowledge and experiences with others. You can find him on Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn.
He is the co-founder of Neil Patel Digital. The Wall Street Journal calls him a top influencer on the web, Forbes says he is one of the top 10 marketers, and Entrepreneur Magazine says he created one of the 100 most brilliant companies. Neil is a New York Times bestselling author and was recognized as a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 30 by President Obama and a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 35 by the United Nations.
Beacons are little physical objects (under two square inches, in most cases) that can be placed in desired locations. Their sole purpose is to detect you, or more specifically, your device, as you move into their range. The beacons themselves don’t send content. Like geofencing, a signal is triggered when you’re near one, and a server sends a push, text, in-app message, or even an email (though currently, that’s a less likely application for beacons).
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).
The personal intent targeting is nearly as strong as search, which is really saying something! The Q&A format of Quora lends itself to fairly specific intent (e.g., "What is a good program for learning data science online?"). That question is loaded with high-quality intent potential for my client, and anyone clicking on it likely wants to actually discover the answer.
Competitive analyses for SEO are not something that should be overlooked when planning a digital marketing strategy. This process can help you strategically build unique and complex SEO campaigns based on readily available data and the demand of your market. This analysis will instantly put you ahead of competitors who are following cookie-cutter SEO programs and not diving deep into their industry. Start implementing this process as soon as you can and adjust it based on what is important to your own business or client’s business.
But while many marketers understand the value of geotargeting, not many are likely to understand how the technology behind it works. Having a firm grasp on the technology though is actually critical in this case, as different solutions take different approaches to the problem of determining the physical location of a consumer, and the simplest solution is usually the least accurate. Just as traditional strategies don’t always translate well to digital, many desktop strategies don’t translate well to mobile.
A company rarely competes against just one competitor. In fact, in many cases, the biggest competition in the SaaS and tech industries is coming from indirect competitors. These competitors hold a commanding position in their core market, allowing them to expand into different industries and verticals. Who would have thought that Uber and Google would become die-hard competitors in the autonomous car market? As I wrote previously in my analysis of sales enablement and acceleration industry, it is almost impossible to distinguish direct and indirect competitors. In many SaaS verticals everyone competes with everyone.
First, start with a simple online search for your business type and location. For example, if you’re starting a retail business in Los Angeles, you’ll want to think about how a customer might search for your business (or one like yours). They might search for “los angeles retail store,” “clothing store in LA,” and “LA apparel store.” Create a list of businesses that appear in the search results (and take note of those that frequent the top three results).
Do I Need to Analyze All of My Competitors? There are several markets where it is relatively easy to name every competitor. These are concentrated markets where only a handful of competitors exist. If this is the scenario for your product or service, you will need to develop an analysis for each competitor. The steel industry and automobile industry are examples of these types of markets. If you are selling in a market with many competitors, your job of analyzing the competition becomes a little more difficult. Since it is unrealistic to collect and maintain information on dozens of competitors, you will be able to save yourself valuable time, without sacrificing the integrity of your competitive analysis, by using the old 80/20 rule. In fragmented markets with many competitors, it is most probable that 80% of the total market revenues are accounted for by 20% of the competition. It's the 20% you would examine most closely. For instance, in the computer industry, the personal computer market, is represented by hundreds of clone manufacturers with the majority of the market being captured by a handful of manufacturers such as Compaq, IBM, and Apple. When using this approach it is important to keep abreast of your market for new and upcoming players who through some variable, whether it be new technology or an aggressive advertising campaign, may become a dominant player. What Means are Available to Limit and Control the Competition? Marketers of different brands of products will often pursue a particular market segment. Market Segmentation, which is the means of breaking down larger markets into smaller ones requiring different marketing mixes, is a means for strengthening and focusing your attempt to limit and control the competition. There are however, a broad range of strategies a business can employ in a competitive environment — from price changing and new packaging to improving customer service and new product development. CONDUCTING AND PREPARING YOUR COMPETITIVE ANALYSIS [top] Conducting and preparing your competitive analysis will follow these steps:
Competitor analysis is an essential component of corporate strategy. It is argued that most firms do not conduct this type of analysis systematically enough. Instead, many enterprises operate on what is called "informal impressions, conjectures, and intuition gained through the tidbits of information about competitors every manager continually receives." As a result, traditional environmental scanning places many firms at risk of dangerous competitive blindspots due to a lack of robust competitor analysis.
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.
Competitor analysis in marketing and strategic management is an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of current and potential competitors. This analysis provides both an offensive and defensive strategic context to identify opportunities and threats. Profiling combines all of the relevant sources of competitor analysis into one framework in the support of efficient and effective strategy formulation, implementation, monitoring and adjustment.
Images: Even though search engines don’t really see images, you can still use them as part of your keyword strategy. First, make sure they are relevant to your page content, and add to the overall user experience. For search engines, use the alt attribute to help crawlers "see" what an image is about. The alt attribute is a part of the image HTML tag that is used by search engines, text-only browsers and screen readers to “see” an image. Use your keywords in the alt text, but be sure to do so naturally. Stuffing alt attributes full of keywords and synonyms will make your page look like spam and do more harm than good.
Take advantage of location extensions and call extensions to make it as easy as possible for local prospects to contact and reach you. When location extensions are enabled for your search ads, prospects in your specified, targeted areas will see your street address. A call extension, alternatively, provides either your phone number or a direct link to a phone line. Landing pages are often referred to as the leakiest part of the marketing funnel, and extensions such as these help cut out the middle ground and prevent the lead leakage.
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.
Without machine learning reducing the cost of PPC for small businesses, it’s true that they typically aren’t willing to spend the necessary budget to see results. Traditionally (are you sitting down?), —anything under $500 a month is not worth it. In fact (take a deep breath), you probably won’t see great results with a budget of less than $1000 a month.
A quick and easy way to compare your product or service with similar ones on the market is to make a competition grid. Down the left side of a piece of paper, write the names of four or five products or services that compete with yours. To help you generate this list, think of what your customers would buy if they didn't buy your product or service.
I have often gone on the record with my skepticism toward paid search campaign management software, and I have several reasons for being skeptical. My main concern has been that these tools over promise on features and under deliver on performance. They claim to replace the analyst by using algorithms to optimize campaigns, but in reality they replace the fun piece of the analysts job (improving results) and replace it with the tedious task of managing to get their campaigns to work properly in the software. I have been burned by this sales pitch twice and have written about this in a previous post called “Paid Search Bid Management Tools: Great Investment or Save Your Money?” – so feel free to read that post for more details.
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:
Every company has those dreaded competitors they cannot stand, no matter what you do they are always using your ideas and taking your potential customers. Whether you are a local, national, or international company there is probably someone in your company, specifically the sales and marketing teams, that can quickly rattle off your top competitors as well as what differentiates them from you.
It’s important to classify your keywords. You should distinguish your most important high level keywords, the ones that have sufficient traffic for your business and connect the best to your business. These are usually more “head” than “tail”. You should only have a few of these keywords for your business. The rest of it are bound to be more down the tail. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go read up on long tail keywords.
For example, say you have a clinic in Des Moines, Iowa. Someone looking at your social media advertising in California isn’t likely to come to your clinic. A geotargeted campaign would help you find social media users that need your clinic and live in your area. And if you have multiple locations, you can run geotargeted social media ads in each area where you want to increase your customer base.
Reason: If visitors find your website with a certain keyword but you have a high bounce rate, that’s enough to know that something is not going as it should. Ask yourself and test if it is a problem with content quality, appearance, etc. There is often more than one explanation for a high bounce rate, and there could be more than one solution. If you are totally lost at this point, a feedback session with five potential users might provide some insightful ideas.
In the print days, taking out an ad in the Detroit Free Press allowed businesses to know that primarily Detroit area residents who could actually visit the business would see the ad in question. Not so in the era of mobile ads which, if delivered indiscriminately and without location context, can be less successful because they aren’t relevant or personal. Ad creative targeted at — and customized for — an Oklahoma consumer versus a New York City one is likely to be more effective in driving a physical sale.
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!
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.
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.
The enterprise sales process is reserved for highly complex products sold at a high price. Because enterprise products provide so much value and prospects take longer to evaluate the product, companies must adopt a complex selling process and longer sales cycles. Selling to large enterprises with a high ASP means competing against rivals with high-touch sales models.
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.
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.
For example, it’s important to look at the response based on urban, suburban or rural locations. Someone living in northern Indiana may consider driving 25 miles to your store to be no big deal. Most customers or prospects could make the drive in less than half an hour and, therefore, they will visit your store. However, if the prospects live in the River North neighborhood of Chicago, they aren’t going to want to go to your store in Wrigleyville because that’s going to take 50 minutes.
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?)
Funny thing is we’re not seeing users click on the extension itself very often – slightly more often than we’d see for sitelinks, but not by much – maybe 15 percent of total clicks, albeit not necessarily on the extension itself. It may be the way that we’ve set it up (we say chat with a live expert rather than text us), so that may have skewed the behavior.
In Keyword Planner, formerly known as the Keyword Tool, you can get search volume and traffic estimates for keywords you're considering. Unfortunately, when Google transitioned from Keyword Tool to Keyword Planner, they stripped out a lot of the more interesting functionality. But you can make up for it a bit if you take the information you learn from Keyword Planner and use Google Trends to fill in some blanks.
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, maynot be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from thepublisher.
There are a variety of benefits to incorporating ad customizers into your PPC ads, such as the ability to create a sense of urgency in your target audience and drive clicks. But the biggest boost that ad customizers can provide is that they improve the relevance of your ads, thus improving your quality score. You can also adjust such ad elements as color, size, inventory and stock details, pricing, and seasonal sales to capture the eyes of potential customers.
1. More Powerful Personalization, Targeting and Campaign Analysis Capabilities: The capability for ever-more-specific PPC ad personalization and targeting (plus re-targeting) is available, but underused. You can, of course, target demographics and persona characteristics like age or income, customer type or purchase history/level (existing, repeat, prospect), sales funnel position, company role (for B2B ads) and more. Beyond these basics, you can now map the customer journey, learn how the visitor came to you and/or see much of the path taken to buy. This “attribution” insight can significantly improve the ROI of your 2018 campaigns; you’ll see what’s working and what isn’t, for better PPC strategies.
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.
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.
You should invest in having a well-structured filing system, both in the office and digitally. Use neatly organised folders with clear and relevant names on them for all of your documents, bills and emails. By doing this, you can free up hours of the day to work on important tasks, such as drumming up more business through a new and exciting marketing strategy. You will also be setting an example for your team by having an organised office and computer.
Another way to do this is to analyze the keywords that are driving traffic to your site and match the user intent to the right page of your site. In the figure below, you can see a typical buy cycle for a new searcher. They will start off using broad keywords to get a general idea of what content is out there. Searchers who use these broad terms would infer that they’re in the information gathering stage of their search. So ask yourself, which page on your site is best suited to help them gather the information they’re seeking? Do you have an article, how-to, or comparison page you can lead them to that helps them get the information they need?
This section serves as a summary and analysis for all of the research you've done so far. You'll review all the aspects of your competition's business and determine whether they are strengths or weaknesses. List their strengths and advantages under "Strengths" in the worksheet. Note down how equipped you are to deal with these strengths. Can you do better than them or would it serve you better to outdo them elsewhere?
The risk to this approach is that it isn’t always terribly accurate beyond the city to zip code level. If, for example, you were to use MaxMind’s demo service to locate your own IP, it will likely show you perhaps a mile away from your actual address, likely at the nearest network node, the point at which your computer connects to your ISP’s network infrastructure.
Create different ad groups. Each ad group consists of specific ads that share the same keyword. For example, if you’re a SaaS company, it makes sense to have an ad group for each product category you serve. The SaaS SEO company, MOZ, might have ad groups for keyword research, link building, site audits and web page optimization. Each group consists of different ads for that category.
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.