Google's AdWords Keyword Planner tool is another common starting point for SEO keyword research. It not only suggests keywords and provides estimated search volume, but also predicts the cost of running paid campaigns for these terms. To determine volume for a particular keyword, be sure to set the Match Type to [Exact] and look under Local Monthly Searches. Remember that these represent total searches. Depending on your ranking and click-through rate, the actual number of visitors you achieve for these keywords will usually be much lower.
Between 2016 and 2017, Amazon was mentioned almost 3 times more frequently by senior executives on earning calls than any other company. It’s no wonder executives at public companies are obsessed with the retail giant. Even the threat of an Amazon entrance could result in a seismic shift in the market and put them out of business overnight. In other words, the SaaS world moves fast —  and the only way to keep up is to be one step ahead.

It's quite likely that no prospect or customer reads your press releases as carefully as your competitors do. Press releases are helpful in understanding a company’s strategic focus. Sometimes PRs show your competitors’ customer count. The About section in a press release shows your competitor's strategic messaging. These two to five sentences are how your competitor wants their customers and prospects to perceive the company and its products.
Even national marketing campaigns can benefit from geo-targeting, as regional differences create opportunities to test multiple messages and refine them as a campaign continues. Geo-targeted experiments has been used successfully by businesses, charities and even political campaigns. Factoring out cultural and ethnic variations, there are still subtle regional differences in something as universal as language. A campaign for donations might be better served by using a “donate” button in one area and a “support” button in another. Similarly, customers might respond differently to the phrase “book your trip” than they do to “buy your ticket” or “schedule your trip.” The same goes for the look and feel of the advertising copy and other content.
How do current customers rate the following features of your business compared to your competition.Rate the following as: fair, good or excellent. Our Company / Competition ___________ /__________ Price ___________ /__________ Quality ___________ /__________ Durability ___________ /__________ Image/style ___________ /__________ Value ___________ /__________ Name Recognition ___________ /__________ Customer Service ___________ /__________ Customer Relations ___________ /__________ Location ___________ /__________ Convenience ___________ /__________ Other
Increase Clicks: If you have a niche site that has high quality scores and impression shares, but not enough volume to spend your budget, you will want to increase the traffic sent to your site while maintaining control over click costs. This can be done by increasing bids, expanding your keyword list, improving click through rates and refining ad copy. All of these items can be adjusted/improved upon to help reach your budgeted spend.
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.

You will likely run into some difficulties along the way, and you may need to develop a hybrid strategy to achieve your goals. For example, I have often broken out campaigns between profitability focused keywords and brand focused keywords in order to satisfy clients. This is especially useful when someone demands visibility for certain keywords but does not give enough budget to achieve that visibility. The same goes for balancing visibility and profit.
L’Oreal did something similar when it used geolocation technology to create a virtual art exhibit that allowed attendees to uncover the art and feel as though they were right there looking at it. Brands can also use geolocation technology in mobile apps that include gamification aspects to engage a user more fully in a particular product or service.
Examples like the above support metrics that find geotargeting doubles the performance of all kinds of marketing methods, from email campaigns to paid search. Per data from the Local Search Association’s LSA Insights database, it also doesn’t matter what vertical your business is in.  The click-through rate for geotargeted mobile display ads was higher than the industry benchmark for all verticals.
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.

This is a great list! I especially appreciate the sample set of pages you recommended - oftentimes we ask clients we're onboarding who they consider to be their competitors, but once we start digging into their sites we see they're not necessarily "search" competitors or the sites just aren't that similar to be regarded as such in the search engine's eyes. At least these pages can help weed out any sites that just aren't built out to be similar to a client or are way ahead, so you can get an accurate comparison!
By looking at them from a customer’s point of view, you are looking at their major strengths and flaws. In other words, you are doing the first part of the SWOT analysis. You think like a customer would. Why would a customer go for their services? Is it because they do things differently or their quality is top notch? Either way these things are like strengths for the competitors. You put yourself in the customer’s shoes and wonder why you would go for them instead of coming to your own company.

Geography can also be used to predict desirable demographics and information about users in that area. Neighborhoods can often be delineated by residents’ income bracket, age, ethnicity, education, and many other demographics or interests. Politicians often draw district boundaries into areas of common political constituencies that also predict demographics or common values.
Strategy is more than a bundle of cultivated tactics. When we onboard a new client, we have a whole arsenal of tools to use and reports to run that help us understand the account better. It is easy for us to pat ourselves on the back and say “this is a good strategy for learning the account!” Pardon my language when I say: That ain’t no heckin’ strategy.

If not, you’ll need to determine how close to being profitable you are. If it would only take one or two more sales or leads to turn a profit, it’s time to start optimizing your PPC campaign so you can cross that threshold sooner rather than later. Start adjusting your landing page (perhaps with the help of A/B testing), your ad text, and your keyword strategy until you find a winning combination.
If your account is currently achieving a return on ad spend (ROAS) of 5, and your goal is to achieve a ROAS of 6, your strategy should focus on efficiency optimizations to improve ROAS. If your account is achieving a ROAS of 5 and your goal is to increase revenue as long as your ROAS is at or above 4 (and you have additional budget to spend), then your strategy will need to focus on growth initiatives.
The assumptions that a competitor's managers hold about their firm and their industry help to define the moves that they will consider. For example, if in the past the industry introduced a new type of product that failed, the industry executives may assume that there is no market for the product. Such assumptions are not always accurate and if incorrect may present opportunities. For example, new entrants may have the opportunity to introduce a product similar to a previously unsuccessful one without retaliation because incumbant firms may not take their threat seriously. Honda was able to enter the U.S. motorcycle market with a small motorbike because U.S. manufacturers had assumed that there was no market for small bikes based on their past experience.
Conducting PPC marketing through Google Ads is particularly valuable because, as the most popular search engine, Google gets massive amounts of traffic and therefore delivers the most impressions and clicks to your ads. How often your PPC ads appear depends on which keywords and match types you select. While a number of factors determine how successful your PPC advertising campaign will be, you can achieve a lot by focusing on:
For example, “Austin gyms” or “coffee shops near Dupont Circle” or “uptown restaurants” provide location intent that you can target. Include location terms such as area code, ZIP code, neighborhood, community name, nearby landmarks, popular venues, tourist destinations, well known street names, local jargon and other keywords that will help you get found when a consumer is searching for businesses around you.

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!
SEMrush isn't free, but it will give you the comprehensive data you need to make smart decisions about what keywords to target. It's also easy to use. Let's say your company wants to be the first name to show up when someone searches for "solar panel installation." Type that keyword into the Phrase Match tool within SEMrush, and you'll be able to see that term along with other related terms. 

The best way to see what geotargeting can do for your company is to undertake a test campaign on a site like Facebook employing the parameters that would best access your target audience in various parts of the country. Include the specified area(s) within the ad’s content and launch it to see how it impacts results at your various locations and your online business. From there, you can further expand on what the technique can do, even using it as a recruitment tool to locate new marketing talent to run your next geotargeting campaign.


Chesky and Gebbia believed that most people thought hotels were the only option for travelers, but the truth was that renting someone’s extra room was cheaper with an added dose of personalised hospitality – and likely a higher margin business as well. Hyman and Fleiss believed that most people thought they needed to buy the dress they wanted to wear, but the truth was that you didn’t need to own a dress that you only wear a few times. Both teams set out to challenge old customer preferences with modern technology and logic.
You should also take time to ensure that your landing page is designed well, but not just in appearance. Be sure to focus on loading speed and usability as well. Together, all of these elements are crucial to the success of your campaigns. Afterall, you don’t want to spend all your time designing PPC ads only to have your leads bounce right off as soon as they reach your boring or unsightly landing page design—or worse, leave before it even has a chance to load.
This is one of the major reasons why organisation in a start-up is essential. You will spend less time procrastinating and more time achieving goals and completing client tasks. Spend time every day organising your digital folders and your physical folders before you start working. This will ensure that there are no distractions throughout the day and you can complete all the important tasks on time and within budget.
After years of working with relatively inexpensive homes in rural areas, we’re looking to break into the competitive and high-flying Manhattan real estate market. Referrals and word of mouth have been powerful drivers of growth up to this point, but they won’t cut it anymore. We need to get in front of people who are trying to sell their homes in Manhattan, and we decide to run Facebook ads to do it.

To create a similar chart, start with your website goals and map them to a potential visitor’s goal. For example, you may want to generate more event space inquiries, which means potential visitors to your website would likely be searching for an event space. Now ask yourself: what do people searching for an event space type into Google? If I were looking for this type of product or service, how would I search for it on the web?

Now as searchers start to gather information, they begin to refine their search and start using more specific terms. Then finally they begin to use very specific terms. They have switched from information gathering to a transactional mode. If someone searches on the term “canon eos mark III,” what does that suggest about their intent? That they have done their research and are ready to buy. So do you send them to your home page? Absolutely not. You need to send them to your product page that has the product, its features, maybe related products, the price, and most importantly the “buy now” button. They don’t need more information; they’re probably price shopping and are looking for a trusted source with the best price.


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 super awesome points here no doubt. What I like about this approach is it is hands on and not just ran via a site being scanned by a third party. Also when a new client comes to you and has these thoughts of ranking the highest in their particular industry you need to know that baseline of who is at the top. Many times when I have conducted a much lesser analysis than what is above I see some items right off the bat that can make that strong competition not so strong after some minor changes.
So how is geo-targeting different? Geo-targeting refers to delivering ads to people meeting a specific targeting criteria and who enter inside of a defined radius using the same geo-fencing location technology. The key difference is geo-targeting hones in on specific consumer targeting criteria like demographics, behaviors, interests, as well as where the person is located.  You often need bigger geos to do this since you are not showing the ads to EVERYONE inside the geo-fence, they must also meet the targeting criteria.
But consider this: only a lead who is in the early stages of researching a product or solution (aka not ready to convert) uses such general keywords in their search engine research, simply because they aren’t yet educated enough about what they’re looking for. Similar to a negative keyword strategy, bottom-of-the-funnel (BOFU) keywords can help you reach avoid the wrong leads. These keywords are ones that are more pricing and service-oriented, which will bring in consumers who have a higher potential of converting as a result of your PPC ads.
What’s the difference between your brand and your keywords? Are you using both effectively? Your brand is one of your most important keywords, but it shouldn’t be your only keyword, nor should you have lots of keywords but no brand. There should be a keyword strategy behind the keywords you pick. This post highlights the why of that and explains the basis of the how, then points you to several useful posts for the how.

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?


Don’t forget, content marketing should be customer-centric. One of the best ways to know what content you should create is to find out from your customers. There are a number of ways to go about asking, whether it’s through customer surveys, social media, or just giving them a phone call. Listen to what they have to say, and jot down some unique ideas or suggestions that you might have missed yourself. Sometimes their responses can really surprise you!

On the positive side, you can have personalized ads appear for every search query, and improve account performance by increasing CTR and quality scores. On the other hand, if not set up correctly DKI ads can hurt your account if you don’t take into account plurals, misspellings or any other grammatical errors that can occur. Like any strategy, DKI ads require time, testing and good organization to be most effective.
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.
A first step is to try to articulate what market it is that you serve. Who are the customers in this market and what problem, need or want are they experiencing? Which organisations are currently satisfying these needs or wants and how do these organisations differ? If there are multiple products tailored to different market segments try to define the ways in which these products can be grouped together or set apart. Using simple 2×2 matrices (e.g. price vs. functionality) can help to categorise your competitors and help to show what customers are looking for.
Although this process can be tedious and time consuming, it is essential in identifying where your competition may be surpassing you as well as what advantages you have over your competition. Developing takeaways will help identify these strengths and weaknesses. From there, you can improve your marketing plan by putting greater influence on the features your company offers and finding ways to implement features your company doesn’t offer that seem crucial to gaining customers.
This is one of the major reasons why organisation in a start-up is essential. You will spend less time procrastinating and more time achieving goals and completing client tasks. Spend time every day organising your digital folders and your physical folders before you start working. This will ensure that there are no distractions throughout the day and you can complete all the important tasks on time and within budget.
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:
"My favorite part about voice search is just how clear the intent is in the query. For example, if I typed in 'hotels in the Bahamas', you’d have no idea whether I was looking for a romantic getaway, a singles trip or a family vacation. Chances are the results would be different for each. But if I asked Cortana, 'which are the best family-friendly hotels in the Bahamas,' then a far more targeted result could be served.
It works like this – if there is an IP address the company wants to locate, they ping ‎it from a few of their servers, for which they already know the location.  A ping is ‎just a way to test if a computer can connect, and how long it takes to do so, but ‎doesn’t transmit any meaningful data.  Then, by looking at the time it takes each ‎server to connect, it can establish a shared point or origin, and thereby physically ‎locate the user.  It uses the public IP locations to validate their approach and check ‎for anomalies in network latency which would lead to bad data.  ‎
Remember that you are the jockey, the driver and the visionary. The best horse cannot win the race without the jockey – it is important to believe in your business and live by example through the core values of your business. An entrepreneur should show commitment, determination, leadership, tolerance of risk, creativity, self-reliance and the ability to adapt to excel.
It’s important to remember that online shoppers are humans, and to treat them as such. The examples below show two versions of the same ad for a fake cyber security business. While version A does provide potential customers with information about the company and the services it offers, it fails to address them as people or speak to the challenges or pain points they might be experiencing.
Use the Keyword Planner to flag any terms on your list that have way too little (or way too much) search volume, and don't help you maintain a healthy mix like we talked about above. But before you delete anything, check out their trend history and projections in Google Trends. You can see whether, say, some low-volume terms might actually be something you should invest in now -- and reap the benefits for later.

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.
Reason: When a visitor sticks around on your site for a minute or less, you can consider their stay to be negligible. When a visit exceeds that amount of time, the visitor has more potential for becoming a client and an increased chance of converting on your calls-to-action. If a visitor spends a considerable amount of time on your website, they are likely to come back or to take action on conversion areas you have included in your site (call-to-actions, downloads, contact forms, etc.).
The final and most important metric is conversion. Make sure that you set up your conversion goals within your analytics. That way you can see which keywords are not only driving traffic but out of that traffic what percentage is converting. That is how you can measure keyword success. If you’re not doing this, then it becomes more difficult to identify your highest performing keywords.

That’s right. Unfortunately, all those slight tweaks to your ad copy and bidding strategies actually do very little in terms of turning leads into customers. So, what exactly should you do to PPC campaigns to maximize conversion potential? Don’t fret—there are actually quite a few things, and we’re going to teach you about each one of them. Below, check out the strategies you should be focusing on to achieve ultimate results.
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.
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.
The gap between your goal and your recent performance should guide how you choose from the menu of strategy options. If you have aggressive growth targets and are consistently meeting or exceeding your ROAS threshold, then you should primarily focus on growth initiatives, and sprinkle in a few efficiency optimizations to ensure that you’re not wasting spend. If you are not achieving your ROAS goal, you’ll want to focus primarily on efficiency optimizations. If you fall somewhere in the middle of these two scenarios, you should select an even mix of growth and efficiency efforts.
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:
Analyze Competitive Information Once you've gathered all of the competitive data you have been able to locate, it's analysis time. You should analyze to determine product information, market share, marketing strategies, and to identify your competition's strengths and weaknesses. Product Evaluation You should know from your sales staff and customer feedback what product features and benefits are most important to your customers and potential customers. A product's or service's competitive position is largely determined by how well it is differentiated from its competition and by its price.
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.
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?)
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. 

Remember that you are the jockey, the driver and the visionary. The best horse cannot win the race without the jockey – it is important to believe in your business and live by example through the core values of your business. An entrepreneur should show commitment, determination, leadership, tolerance of risk, creativity, self-reliance and the ability to adapt to excel.
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:
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.
Try to match the offer you make on your pages (product, service, message, etc) to the visitor’s specific location. This sounds simple but requires careful thought and planning. Measure funnel performance for visitors that are geo-targeted versus a control group – are people finding this “filtration” helpful or confining in a way? Statistically, do visitors that are directly served with local offers differ in behavior than those that are asked to “choose your location”? Test it!

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.
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