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.
There are some general negative keywords that should be added to almost any campaign, such as “free”, “jobs” “training”, as people searching for these terms are not likely to be looking to buy your product. Keywords like “review” and “opinions” can also be useful, as they will reduce the number of window shoppers who aren’t necessarily looking to buy now. But you’ll also want to research negative keywords specific to your business or audience. For example, if you are an optometrist, you’ll want to use words like “wine”, as you aren’t looking for customers in search of “wine glasses.

Knowing your business’ target audience and matching it up with where they live or work helps you find those who might be most interested in your product or service.  For example, a ticket broker might want to advertise NCAA basketball tickets in the state of Kentucky and might think of using Kentucky basketball in its messaging.  However, Louisville basketball would be preferable for any advertising within 50 miles of the city on the Kentucky side of the border and 70 miles into Indiana due to the strength of Louisville’s fan base in those areas.


Bonus Trick: Try typing in your basic keyword phrase, followed by every letter of the alphabet, and making a list of those phrases. If your product or service is specific to locations, try typing in those locations to see what kind of search volume exists. (Are alternative energy tax credits more commonly searched in Austin compared with Cleveland?)
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.

That said, if you’ve never had to come up with a keyword strategy before, it might seem a bit daunting to generate a list of terms that will drive qualified search traffic to your website. Not to worry. Creating an effective keyword strategy—figuring out which terms you should create content for—isn’t hard. It just involves a little bit of reverse engineering and some research.


Location history of a consumer provides a lot of information specific to that person: where they like to shop, what they like to buy, how often they make the trip, and even how they get there. Obtaining this information gives great insight to marketers that enhances the ability to target consumers and deliver relevant, responsive location specific ads and information, even if the consumer is not currently in that area.
Whether you’ve heard a little about PPC marketing and are curious to learn more, or you already know that you want to use PPC to market your business, but aren’t sure where to start, you’ve come to the right place! This is the first lesson in PPC University, a set of three guided courses that will teach you everything you need to know about PPC and how to make it work for you.

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.
a) Look for any gaps ("0's") on you score sheet and try to fix them. Yes, to an extent–an "ideal" score would be all "4s" down your brand's column. However, that's not always possible and highly unlikely. That said, it might not be the most pertinent thing to address technical SEO issues if you can see that your area of greatest weakness is, for instance, building an audience. Look for the greatest difference in performance between your brand and your competitors, which will illuminate what their main legs-up are.
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”.)
Thanks Ramon! You can easily add more tabs to input more backlink data for additional competitors and then adjust the query formula to use the new tabs. I often increase this to 10, 15 or even 20 competitors for larger clients. The beauty of Google Sheets templates is the ease in which you can make these adjustments. Let me know if you need any help with that.
Keyword gap analysis is the process of determining which keywords your competitors rank well for that your own website does not. From there, we reverse-engineer why the competition is ranking well and then look at how we can also rank for those keywords. Often, it could be reworking metadata, adjusting site architecture, revamping an existing piece of content, creating a brand-new piece of content specific to a theme of keywords, or building links to your content containing these desirable keywords.

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.
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.
When I was working on my own startup, Complete Seating, we did this for OpenTable. I spent at least a night a week working as a host. What was most interesting was all of the other tools that they needed to get their job done: hardwired phone, discussions with waiters, discussions with the kitchen, POS access, and more. We saw some key differentiation with automating the communication through SMS and phone before a guest got to the restaurant. They were really powerful in showing how OpenTable was just a digitization of the maitre d book.
A great way to make your website mobile friendly is to implement AMP for your site. Previously it was mainly used by publishers; today it is also a platform for e-commerce and advertising. Since autumn 2017, advertisers can implement AMP for their Google Ads landing pages, making them faster. Building AMP pages for your advertising campaigns can have a positive impact on conversion rates, time on page, bounce rates, and more.
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.
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