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.

Some examples of typical insights from this document would be the average number of referring domains that our competitors have and how that relates to our own backlink profile. If we are ahead of our competitors regarding backlinks, content creation might be the focal point of the campaign. If we are behind our competitors in regards to backlinks, we know that we need to start a link building campaign as soon as possible.
It can be easy to go down a deep rabbit hole with this process. There are thousands of blog posts with helpful hints (you’re reading one right now), and hundreds of tools that can potentially improve or otherwise streamline the process of researching keywords and devising a smart keyword strategy. That’s why we advise you keep things simple for starters. You can always layer on complexity as you gain experience. More than anything, good SEO efforts revolve around creating content experiments, measuring them, then doing more of what works and less of what doesn’t. Simpler is often better, especially if you are resource constrained. A good content governance strategy should dictate that you take on only as much as your resources allow.
It’s easy to get frustrated when stakeholders ask how to rank for a specific term, and solely focus on content to create, or on-page optimizations they can make. Why? Because we’ve known for a while that there are myriad factors that play into search engine rank. Depending on the competitive search landscape, there may not be any amount of “optimizing” that you can do in order to rank for a specific term.
The metrics you provide here will depend on the depth of your research. Be sure to keep it consistent by including criteria that can be answered for all competitors. Providing specific, additional information for just one competitor will give your document a bias. As far as gathering publicly available information, here are the first places to look. For company size, LinkedIn is a great resource for discovering the approximate number of employees. Financial details? Check Yahoo Finance and Wikipedia for relevant information. Want to get an idea of their website’s traffic and ranking score? Search on Alexa. More Free Resources: AngelList, Crunchbase
SpyFu displays side-by-side data on your competitors' paid and organic search results, so you can easily see where it's more cost-effective to bid on a particular keyword as opposed to trying to rank for  it organically. That way you can use your time more efficiently by writing content around those keywords that drive a lot of traffic but are more expensive to bid on.
Because of our idea that you should have one brand and several (hundreds) keywords, we’re not big fans of keyword domains at Yoast either. By using a keyword domain you bind your companies past, present and future to a single keyword. And with the abundance of new top level domains (TLDs) now available, you’ll have a very hard time buying all of the TLDs with the same keyword to keep out the competition.
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.
Recently, I was working on a project in which I did a competitive analysis of a feature (collaborative meeting note-taking) that a client wanted to introduce in their web app. Note-taking is not exactly a new or highly innovative thing, so the biggest challenge I was facing was to make this functionality simpler and easier to handle, because the product I was working on was in the very early stages of development. The feature, in a nutshell, was to create a simple text document where some interactive action items could be added.
Great article. This ties in perfectly with the article I just published yesterday. This checklist in conjunction with my competitor analysis, that is more based on keyword and traffic data, will really round out the research stage of your campaign. Taking a deep look at a competitors website just like you would do your own, can be a valuable exercise that drives strategy.
Local plumbers can’t provide their services even three counties over (let alone three states over), and a juicy burger wouldn’t exactly hold up well in express shipping. Some businesses rely only on local customers. As a result, they’ll want their PPC campaigns only to appear in the feeds and searches of users who are within a set distance from their home b3ase.
Using SKAGs will help you improve your overall quality score, which will also improve the effectiveness of your PPC campaigns. In order to get the best possible quality score, you need to make sure that your user experience is consistent. For instance, your ad, keyword, and landing page should all match and seamlessly flow together. This is why using just one keyword per ad group is so helpful. It allows you to ensure that your ad and landing page perfectly align with the ad keyword. If you use multiple keywords, especially more than 15, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to thoroughly represent all those keywords in your ad and landing page.
Competitive analysis is an exercise of comparing your business, product, and service to companies and finding similarities and differences. The most critical part of kicking off a competitive analysis is choosing the right competitors to analyze. Otherwise, you will spend tons of time on competitive research with very limited insight to show for it. In other words, the competitors you select determines how you will perceive your company and the final analysis.
One way to get a good idea of how your target market might view your industry is to just ask them. Using focus groups, questionnaires, and surveys can help you can gather information on popular businesses with products similar to your own. You’ll also get first-hand information of how customers feel about the products that are already on the market.
SpyFu displays side-by-side data on your competitors' paid and organic search results, so you can easily see where it's more cost-effective to bid on a particular keyword as opposed to trying to rank for  it organically. That way you can use your time more efficiently by writing content around those keywords that drive a lot of traffic but are more expensive to bid on.
The secondary and tertiary groups are both your indirect competition.Their products may not be the same as yours, but could satisfy the same need or solve the same problem. You should primarily focus on your direct competitors, but you should watch your indirect competitors. These businesses may move into another group as your business, or theirs, grows and expand product offerings.
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.
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.
Geo-Fencing refers to drawing a virtual barrier around a location using your devices global positioning system (GPS) or Internet Protocol (IP) address, which is just like your virtual address.  Ads inside of geo-fenced areas can be seen on computer, tablet, or mobile devices as potential customers are browsing the web.  Technically, geo-fencing can be any size radius from a particular location, anywhere from a mile to state-wide.  But most people when they are referring to geo-fencing are looking for a very tight radius around a location.   A misconception with geo-fencing is that once inside the fence you receive push notifications, or text messages to the device, which is not accurate.   What geo-fencing does instead is show ads to the person inside the geo-fenced radius if they are browsing the web, to alert them of a local deal or the distance you are from a particular store location.
Gather Competitive Information Secondary sources of information are recommended as an excellent starting point for developing a competitive and industry analysis. Secondary sources include information developed for a specific purpose but subsequently made available for public access and thus alternative uses. For example, books are secondary sources of information as are articles published in journals. Marketing reports offered for sale to the general public also are considered secondary sources. Although, they have been created for a purpose other than your current need, they are still excellent sources of information and data. With the ever increasing speed of document identification and retrieval through electronic means, secondary sources are not only an inexpensive source of information but are readily available soon after publication. Sources of information include:
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.  
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.
Sales BrochuresSales brochures provide a wealth of product information. You can learn how your competitor is positioning their product and company and what features and benefits they're using to sell their product. Try to obtain all new sales brochures and literature your competitor publishes. Significant changes in the content will indicate that new strategies are being employed.  
Because of our idea that you should have one brand and several (hundreds) keywords, we’re not big fans of keyword domains at Yoast either. By using a keyword domain you bind your companies past, present and future to a single keyword. And with the abundance of new top level domains (TLDs) now available, you’ll have a very hard time buying all of the TLDs with the same keyword to keep out the competition.
Competitive analyses help you evaluate your competition’s strategies to determine their strengths and weaknesses relative to your brand. When it comes to digital marketing and SEO, however, there are so many ranking factors and best practices to consider that can be hard to know where to begin. Which is why my colleague, Ben Estes, created a competitive analysis checklist (not dissimilar to his wildly popular technical audit checklist) that I’ve souped up for the Moz community.

It’s not easy to find information on market share. Large companies invest millions of dollars to investigate market share but most SaaS companies don’t have such resources. The best shortcut is to conduct a survey with a sample size of 200-300 respondents, asking them what tools and solutions they are using. That’s usually just enough to get a ballpark estimate of market share in the SaaS industry.


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!
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, I’ve got some good news for you: you don’t have to spend countless hours manually creating custom landing pages for every ad group. Instead, use dynamic text replacement. Dynamic text replacement allows you to replace certain areas of text with with specific keywords. For example, you could use dynamic text replacement to change the heading and CTA of a landing page to the specific keyword that a user searched for. That way, when they visit your landing page, it appears to be a completely personalized experience.
Device targeting is important nowadays since most of the users are using mobile devices to browse the web. Use device targeting to reach your best customers on any device. With device targeting, you can customize your ads for different mobile devices and operating systems. This way you can target people who are online on mobile devices or using different operating systems.
Be sure to re-evaluate these keywords every few months -- once a quarter is a good benchmark, but some businesses like to do it even more often than that. As you gain even more authority in the SERPs, you'll find that you can add more and more keywords to your lists to tackle as you work on maintaining your current presence, and then growing in new areas on top of that.
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.)
This emphasis on competition is related to the advent of game theory in the mid 20th century around the same time. The problem is that game theory is one mental model of many to help make decisions, not the only one (Ben Thompson from Stratechery has a good post on the Prisoner’s Dilemma that is a fundamental one). Even researchers are starting to point to the fact that there are no perfect solutions (such as a Nash equilibrium) to most situations.
When a competitor is identified, have your sales team dive deeper by asking why they are considering switching to your product. If you've already lost the deal, be sure to follow up the with prospect to determine why you lost to your competitor. What services or features attracted the prospect? Was it about price? What's the prospect's impression of your sales process? If they've already made the switch, find out why they made this decision.
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.

Long-tail keywords: Longer keywords or specific phrases might not be used as search queries as frequently by your audience. In the above example, for instance, it’s likely that a freelancer looking for a coworking place queries ‘coworking bristol’ rather than ‘coworking space in bristol’, however, the traffic generated by all combinations of long-tail keywords can provide your site as much traffic as the short-tail keywords. And why would you risk losing any opportunity you have to be present on search engines? We are not the only ones saying this, HitTail also give facts about long-tail keywords; about 70 percent of queries are long-tail.
Before we can create our campaign we must clearly understand our target audience. This will help develop the campaign structure and inform the way you create the campaign. The key to successful advertising is truly understanding the wants and needs of your customers. To understand our audience we can ask Who? What? Where? When? Why? This chapter discusses how to understand your audience and build a campaign around their wants and needs.
Scanning competitor's ads can reveal much about what that competitor believes about marketing and their target market.[10] Changes in a competitor's advertising message can reveal new product offerings, new production processes, a new branding strategy, a new positioning strategy, a new segmentation strategy, line extensions and contractions, problems with previous positions, insights from recent marketing or product research, a new strategic direction, a new source of sustainable competitive advantage, or value migrations within the industry. It might also indicate a new pricing strategy such as penetration, price discrimination, price skimming, product bundling, joint product pricing, discounts, or loss leaders. It may also indicate a new promotion strategy such as push, pull, balanced, short term sales generation, long term image creation, informational, comparative, affective, reminder, new creative objectives, new unique selling proposition, new creative concepts, appeals, tone, and themes, or a new advertising agency. It might also indicate a new distribution strategy, new distribution partners, more extensive distribution, more intensive distribution, a change in geographical focus, or exclusive distribution. Similar techniques can be used by observing a competitor's search engine optimization targets and practices.[11] For example, by conducting keyword research, one may be able to determine a competitor's target market, keywords, or products. Other metrics allow for detection of a competitor's success.[12] Little of this intelligence is definitive: additional information is needed before conclusions should be drawn.

Zee came to Distilled after several web development and digital communications positions in the nonprofit space, including the Ad Council, Power Poetry, VolunteerMatch, DonorsChoose and Planned Parenthood. With her background, Zee learned how to make the most impact with shoestring budgets. A graduate of Smith College, Zee studied French Studies and Psychology and studied psychoanalysis at Paris IV – Denis Diderot University. Aside from analyzing languages and humans, she found a home in the tech space, where solutions are complex and (sometimes) easier to come by. Ask her about: user experience, web development, analytics, technical SEO questions, and rescue dogs like hers.
6. Use social media to help provide context for user intent. Another important keyword strategy is to align your social media efforts, especially the “listening” part, to help provide context to your targeted keywords. I have outlined a few ways in this column to infer user intent by keyword but to see the search term used in a tweet or blog will provide a much better context to user intent and usage. You can gauge user wants, needs, and sentiment that will help you as you construct your landing pages with keyword-relevant content.
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.

Strategic technique used to evaluate outside competitors. The analysis seeks to identify weaknesses and strengths that a company's competitors may have, and then use that information to improve efforts within the company. An effective analysis will first obtain important information from competitors and then based on this information predict how the competitor will react under certain circumstances.

Below, you can find our suggested stages for implementing your keyword strategy, specifically if you are trying to get a newer business with a branded service / product to rank higher in an industry with competitors who have already established a presence in the main search engines. We leave it up to you to decide when it is best to move to each stage. In our opinion, what works for SMEs that need to boost their presence on the web is to develop a keyword strategy that starts out general, without worrying too much about competitors. This strategy can then evolve over time to include more and more branded keywords as well as aiming for some SERPs of better-known competitors.
This report also helps drive our editorial calendar, since we often find keywords and topics where we need to create new content to compete with our competitors. We take this a step further during our content planning process, analyzing the content the competitors have created that is already ranking well and using that as a base to figure out how we can do it better. We try to take some of the best ideas from all of the competitors ranking well to then make a more complete resource on the topic.
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