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”.)

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.
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.  
Geofencing hinges on the use of a “fence”—a designated area that a marketer sets. Where geo-targeting allows you to get more granular and include or exclude certain users in the target area (based on demographic, for instance), geofencing is a bit more of a blunt object in that you’ll capture all users who move into a certain area. The purpose of creating a geofence is to target communications in a given zone, in a given context—just like geo-targeting, but with greater accuracy. Retail operators who want to catch the attention of shoppers as they pass by a store, for example, might use geofencing.
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:
Unfortunately, I can’t answer all of these questions for you. But I will offer up one solution, and that’s the valuable question of where to begin. Segmenting out an audience is often one of the most important and daunting tasks for a marketer. But the work is worth it. Segmenting visitors into audiences is going to make conversion marketing campaigns more relevant and effective. An easier way to segment is by using something called geo-targeting.
Understanding the balance of terms that might be a little more difficult due to competition, versus those terms that are a little more realistic, will help you maintain a similar balance that the mix of long-tail and head terms allows. Remember, the goal is to end up with a list of keywords that provide some quick wins but also helps you make progress toward bigger, more challenging SEO goals.
PPC or Pay per click advertising is an Internet advertising model which is used to generate clicks to your website. It is the way of directing traffic to your website using relevant keywords related to your product or services. It is a paid traffic and an advertiser will pay an amount to the publisher each time the ads get clicked. Pay Per Click or PPC is one of the effective strategies applied in the search engine marketing campaign. Learn more about PPC Campaign and it’s benefits. If your ad campaign is not well optimized and you are not following PPC best practices, your ROI will be impacted. It is important to spend some time in planning your ad campaign.

You have now reached the final step of creating a keyword strategy: keyword research. Quality keyword research is as essential as doing market research for marketing strategy. By the same token, forming a keyword strategy for B2B marketing and SEO needs heavy research as well. When doing keyword research, there are three important factors to remember:
It is dependent on the pre-analysis of the entire IP address space. There are more than 4 billion possible IP addresses, and detailed analysis of each of them is a Herculean task, especially in light of the fact that IP addresses are constantly being assigned, allocated, reallocated, moved and changed due to routers being moved,[6] enterprises being assigned IP addresses or moving, and networks being built or changed. In order to keep up with these changes, complex algorithms, bandwidth measurement and mapping technology, and finely tuned delivery mechanisms are necessary.[7] Once all of the IP space is analyzed, each address must be periodically updated to reflect changes in the IP address information, without invading a user's privacy. This process is similar in scale to the task of Web spidering.
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.
You need to develop tactics to recognise and double down on the deep conviction you have in your gut that nobody else understands. Stop looking for consensus or opportunities that seem obvious and compelling at first glance. Great opportunities never have “great opportunity” in the subject line. Honing your gut instincts and acting upon conviction is a theme of every successful journey.

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.
A competitive analysis won’t help you with pressing business decisions, such as what product feature to build next. (Never copy your competitors for the sake of it; they could be 100% winging it!) Moreover, if you’re the industry leader, the value of analyzing competitors is limited because you’re the one leading the pack through uncharted territory.
I include specific, real world examples of every type of content in the wild as well as showing you how I design keyword architecture on my sites. I even provide a general model and walk you through exactly how to make decisions on what levels of architecture should get a dedicated URL versus what content should live on parent pages or use JSON/AJAX to not generate new URL's but still provide an ideal user experience.
Great tips on doing a competitive analysis Zee! I would also add if it is a "local SEO" competitive analysis, you throw in a GMB optimization/completeness and NAP listings quantity/quality (using Moz Local). Also a great free tool for checking how long title tags are when doing the content part of the analysis (and if a search engine will cut it off with the "...") is https://www.portent.com/serp-preview-tool.

Then, a few months ago, I was driving around town and the beloved Comedy Attic had a brand new LED Sign. A beautiful high-resolution digital sign manufactured by my client. I had a fangirl moment in my car upon recognizing my client’s name in small letters underneath the sign. Next call I had, I mentioned this moment to the client. I asked when that lead came in. The client looked up The Comedy Attic and divulged the sign was purchased in March 2018. The purchase came from a lead that came into the funnel in July 2016.
Across the top of the paper, list the main features and characteristics of each product or service. Include such things as target market, price, size, method of distribution, and extent of customer service for a product. For a service, list prospective buyers, where the service is available, price, website, toll-free phone number, and other features that are relevant. A glance at the competition grid will help you see where your product fits in the overall market.

Svitlana Graves Svitlana Graves is a digital marketer with a focus on conversion optimization. She enjoys combining in-depth customer research with data to conduct smart experiments. At the moment Svitlana is taking clients’ revenues to new levels as part of CRO Team at 3Q Digital. On a personal note, Svitlana loves Latin Dance and foreign languages. She speaks 5 and is learning her 6th.
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.
Lower Costs: When there is a near-infinite supply of search query impressions each month, your strategy is to lower your cost per click in order to drive more click (and conversion) volume to your website. This generally involves making use of keyword list refinement (match types, negative keywords) and lowering bids while keeping an eye on average position.
Everyone knows intent behind the search matters. In e-commerce, intent is somewhat easy to see. B2B or, better yet, healthcare, isn't quite as easy. Matching persona intent to keywords requires a bit more thought. In this video, we'll cover how to find intent modifiers during keyword research, how to organize those modifiers into the search funnel, and how to quickly find unique universal results at different levels of the search funnel to utilize.
Unfortunately, whilst digital marketing provides these tools, most advertisers still find themselves in a situation where they don’t know what is working. The ubiquity of search engines in our modern lives has led advertisers to skip straight past considerations for strategy, planning, and measurement and dive straight into tactical marketing efforts like Pay-Per-Click and SEO, where they are as equally unsure if their efforts are delivering a meaningful return for their business.

Surprisingly, you can mine a lot of useful intelligence from employee reviews on Glassdoor. Because employees leave anonymous feedback, they don’t hold back on what they love (and don’t love) about their employer. You can often uncover cultural aspects of the organization by reading how employees perceive senior leadership and whether or not they enjoy working there.

The benefit of clearly describing a strategy for your PPC campaign is that it can inform the creative, particularly when it comes to building PPC adverts with our various elements: header, ad copy, ad extensions – where does everything go? Great advertising is built on great creative, so spend as much time crafting solid messages as you do on the strategic elements of the campaign. This chapter looks at how you can craft the best ad creative to communicate your message.
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.
Keyword research is a time consuming and continuous activity. Create your list of core keywords at the time of campaign planning and you should constantly refine and expand your keyword list for long-tail, low cost and highly relevant keywords. Another important step in keyword research is to review high cost, under performing keywords. Remove these keywords from your list.
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.
For example, if a user from a high income neighborhood visits a car dealer’s site or clicks on a paid search display ad, that consumer may be directed to a landing page displaying a luxury vehicle, while consumers located in a lower income area may be targeted with a deal on an economy vehicle. The higher income consumers may be more interested in deals such as cash off or lower interest rates whereas those in lower income brackets may be more receptive to lower monthly payments.
1,000+ keywords: if it’s just you or 2 of you, this is probably more than you can chew off. It’s not hard to gather 1,000 keywords though, so if you’ve got the time, the people and the inspiration, it usually does pay off to write a lot of meaningful content. Do make sure that all those keywords relate to your products or services as otherwise it’s nonsense and make sure that you’re structuring your site well around it.
These are usually single-word keywords with insane amounts of search volume and competition (for example, “insurance” or “vitamins”). Because searcher intent is all over the place (someone searching for “insurance” might be looking for a car insurance quote, a list of life insurance companies or a definition of the word), Head Terms usually don’t convert very well.
These are usually single-word keywords with insane amounts of search volume and competition (for example, “insurance” or “vitamins”). Because searcher intent is all over the place (someone searching for “insurance” might be looking for a car insurance quote, a list of life insurance companies or a definition of the word), Head Terms usually don’t convert very well.

AdvertisingNot only does advertising copy tell you a competitor's price and other product information, it provides an indication of your competitor's entire promotional program and budget. When reading a competitor's advertisement be sure to note the following: publication, frequency, special offers, product features and benefits highlighted. If your competitor suddenly places an advertisement in an industry publication that neither of you are currently selling to, it's an indication that they're trying to reach a new market segment. It's also important to notice the design and tone of your competitor's advertisements. What kind of image do they convey? How does your own image compare? Are their advertisements in color while your own are black-and-white? Even if they're not, a clever advertising campaign can communicate that your competitor is an innovative, fresh company.  
Although more and more keywords are getting encrypted by Google every day, another smart way to come up with keyword ideas is to figure out which keywords your website is already getting found for. To do this, you'll need website analytics software like Google Analytics or HubSpot's Sources tool. Drill down into your website's traffic sources, and sift through you organic search traffic bucket to identify the keywords people are using to arrive at your site.
Another way to define a perimeter is not by distance, but by time. A company named iGeolise developed a platform they call TravelTime, an API that allows mobile apps and sites to search by time rather than distance. This could be useful for a condo unit near downtown looking to attract workers with very long commutes, or a restaurant targeting hotel patrons within a 10-minute walking distance.
It’s also best to look for those businesses that are of a similar size as yours. For example, if you’re a solo entrepreneur selling handmade potholders online, big chain grocery stores usually aren’t your direct competitors, even if they might carry handmade potholders in their inventory. Instead, look for other small to medium scale producers of handmade potholders and similar kitchen accessories.
When I was working with BLADE, an Uber-like helicopter service, we wanted to know why people would pay $600 for a 5-minute long helicopter ride from Manhattan to the airport, but not the other way. In this particular case, our competitor was sitting alone in a black car in traffic back to the city. The benefit was that they weren’t really in a rush and they could catch up on things. It was the only time they could be alone with their thoughts.
Google Ads operates on a pay-per-click model, in which users bid on keywords and pay for each click on their advertisements. Every time a search is initiated, Google digs into the pool of Ads advertisers and chooses a set of winners to appear in the valuable ad space on its search results page. The “winners” are chosen based on a combination of factors, including the quality and relevance of their keywords and ad campaigns, as well as the size of their keyword bids.
Of course you don’t have to achieve all of these things in the headline of the ad! In fact, in the case of sitelinks and ad extensions, that’s not possible by definition. There are many parts to an ad that allow you to achieve all the above tips and still be highly relevant to what the person is searching for (the keyword!). Let’s break down sections of ad copy that you can use to show off your small business and attract leads from PPC. These are the basic components of your ad copy in AdWords according to Google’s length limits.

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. 

The strategic rationale of competitor profiling is simple. Superior knowledge of rivals offers a legitimate source of competitive advantage[7]. The raw material of competitive advantage consists of offering superior customer value in the firm’s chosen market. The definitive characteristic of customer value is the adjective, superior. Customer value is defined relative to rival offerings making competitor knowledge an intrinsic component of corporate strategy. Profiling facilitates this strategic objective in three important ways.[8] First, profiling can reveal strategic weaknesses in rivals that the firm may exploit. Second, the proactive stance of competitor profiling will allow the firm to anticipate the strategic response of their rivals to the firm’s planned strategies, the strategies of other competing firms, and changes in the environment. Third, this proactive knowledge will give the firms strategic agility. Offensive strategy can be implemented more quickly in order to exploit opportunities and capitalize on strengths. Similarly, defensive strategy can be employed more deftly in order to counter the threat of rival firms from exploiting the firm’s own weaknesses.[5]

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.

By sharing this information, you can align all stakeholders that are involved with any kind of messaging (i.e., print, TV, PR, SEO, PPC, email, blog posts, etc.) and get everyone consistently using your targeted keywords. As your audience observes messages from each of these channels, they will see that consistency. This can highly influence which keywords they then use when they use a search engine to find you or your products. These are, of course, keywords you already rank well for, which will help to increase visibility and branding even more for your entire organization.

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.

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.
Don’t base your whole strategy on chasing volume though. Pay attention to the competition column in the keyword research tools. Even though these tools use pay-per-click (PPC) data to determine competitiveness and suggested bid, you can still extrapolate this data for organic search. High competition and suggested bid is a strong indication that there’s money to be made off of these keywords, as advertisers generally won’t bid high CPCs on poorly performing keywords.
Your costs can be lower when you stay away from national campaigns that take a more shotgun approach to your social media advertising efforts. Instead, geotargeting will enable you to conduct regional-, state- and city-level campaigns that will improve your results. That’s because this approach helps to tighten your campaign’s boundaries around your company’s physical location.
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:
Great insight here. This template is meant to serve as a base for further customization. Feel free to build on top of it with metrics and data that you find useful, I would love to see what you come up with. You can actually configure the backlink gap analysis to run for majestic or ahrefs by adjusting the query formula slightly. You bring up a great point about analyzing link data from multiple sources to get a more accurate picture so I would definitely recommend exploring majestic and ahrefs data as well..