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.
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:
But what is a brand keyword? A brand keyword is the keyword used to search for a company name. The term branding stems from the literal act of branding cattle with a hot brand. You “mark your ownership” by branding a cow. You can “own” a product group too by putting your brand on it. Our brand is “Yoast”. It’s not “WordPress SEO”, nor is it “Google Analytics”. Those are keywords. We have one brand and we’ve slowly moved all our product names to be completely branded too, instead of generic. You might have noticed our WordPress SEO plugin is now called Yoast SEO and the same is true for our Google Analytics plugin, which is called Google Analytics by Yoast.

And so on and so on. The point of this step isn't to come up with your final list of keyword phrases -- you just want to end up with a brain dump of phrases you think potential customers might use to search for content related to that particular topic bucket. We'll narrow the lists down later in the process so you don't have something too unwieldy.
It’s easy to notice what your competition is doing wrong, but what about the things they’re doing right? In order to compete, you must dissect all aspects of your competition by completing a SWOT analysis.  What are their customers happy about? What are they complaining about? Use this opportunity to dive into some qualitative competitor analysis. Go online and gather YouTube and Facebook comments, check out conversations on Twitter. If you can interact with your competitors’ customers face-to-face, go out and talk to them. You can use all of this information to your advantage.
Trade AssociationsMost professional trade associations compile and publish industry statistics and report on industry news and leaders through trade association magazines and newsletters. Most trade associations also sponsor trade shows and other professional meetings. This is an opportunity to see first-hand what your competition is producing. It also provides the opportunity to discover new players who may soon become your competition.  
In writing the summary and the presentation for the competitive analysis that I did for this collaborative note-taking app, the competitive analysis matrix helped me a lot. I drafted a document with all of the high-level takeaways from this analysis and answered all of the questions that were set as goals. For the presentation, I shared the document with the client, which helped both the client and me to finalize the features, the flows and the end requirements for the product.

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.
Informational: These keywords represent the very beginning of the conversion process, and are not very likely to convert on the first visit. If you’re running a branding campaign you’ll want to be sure to include informational keywords on your list. If you’ve got a conversion goal, you still can’t afford to ignore these keywords as they make up the majority of searches. Informational keywords often use words/phrases like "how to", “do I need” and “where to find”. Consider these leads to be converted later via your website or a retargeting campaign.
This is another great way to position yourself as a “go to” for information within a community. Surround your campaigns or newsletters around what’s going on in a specific area. If a town that you have a lot of subscribers from holds an antique fair once a year, use it in your marketing campaign. In your newsletter for that area, include tips and tricks on how to bargain prices, articles about the best booths from the year before and sales surrounding your own products that would speak to that target audience.

So there you have it, Xtensio’s Competitive Analysis Template. Remember this document is super flexible — you’re not bound to use any category the way we have it. Click inside text modules and type away, add new modules, graphs, charts, images, etc, drag & drop to reformat — whatever the case is, make something great. And if you’re working on a team, add your colleagues to join in the editing process with Xtensio’s collaboration feature.
Generic keywords: These are generic words that describe your business as well as other businesses in your niche. They do not necessarily set your business apart from the million other businesses out there and ranking for these keywords is difficult given the immense competition for both paid and organic results. Nevertheless, these terms are likely to be used by your audience in the first stage of searching.
The Keyword Planner is a free tool, but you'll need to set up a Google AdWords account first if you don't have one already.  Once you're set up and logged in, go to the Tools bar at the top of the home page and you'll find the Keyword Planner there. Click Search for new keyword and ad group ideas. You'll be able to see suggestions in both the Ad group ideas tab and the Keyword ideas tab. You can add new keywords to an ad group by clicking the double arrows >> next to the keyword or remove them by clicking on the ad group and then the X next to that keyword.
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.
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.

These days, organic SEO is all about creating the highest quality content that is actionable and informative around a specific topic. While your content will no doubt contain keywords referencing said topic in places like heading tags and body copy, search engines are well-versed at filling in gaps about content topics without needing to be bludgeoned by keywords. Keyword research can never—and should never—be used as a crutch for poor content quality. However, exercises like those described below, can play very important roles in helping you define and measure your content strategy as well as mapping your content topics to real users’ needs. Words matter. 
Attribution. Use attribution data to prove the influence of PPC on conversions either cross-channel or within the channel. For instance, you might learn that certain campaigns don’t convert well, and the instinct is to turn them off. However, if they lead to conversions in other campaigns, you’ll want to allocate budget to keep the conversion path open.

This can mean simply using pictures from the surrounding area or structuring the landing page around a theme that is relevant. A great example of this is Grubhub. If you access their site from Boston, you get completely different suggestions and images than you do if you access it from San Francisco. Not only does this engage the user on a personal level, it also draws them in to the page, keeping them clicking for longer.
Once you've done your research, you want to make sure you're incorporating it into your content marketing strategy every step of the way. One of the best ways to keep yourself and your team on track is to use  a tool that's already integrated with your marketing automation platform. This will give everyone visibility into what keywords your team is using, how they're using them and how your content is performing. 
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.
The SEO Checker analyze the title, description, h1/h2/h3/h4/h5/h6 tags, their correct filling, and their relation with the content from the web page. We look at the size of all the content, and if all content files can be loaded and exist. We look for all the keywords on the page, how many times they appear, and if they appear in the title, description, or h1/h2/h3/h4/h5/h6 tags. We analyze your social media status, and look if you use the properly social media meta tags. Also we look for the site usability, site reputation, site speed, and much more.
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