This checklist is broken out into sections that reflect key elements from our Balanced Digital Scorecard. As previously mentioned, this checklist is to help you identify opportunities (and possibly areas not worth your time and budget). But this competitive analysis is not prescriptive in and of itself. It should be used as its name suggests: to analyze what your competition’s “edge” is.
Keyword strategies are essential to developing winning search engine marketing campaigns. Your keyword strategy should involve selecting high-performing keywords that drive relevant traffic to your business. Choosing the right keywords for advertising can make all the difference in your campaigns, determining how well your advertisements rank on Google and other search engine platforms.
How much is a keyword worth to your website? If you own an online shoe store, do you make more sales from visitors searching for "brown shoes" or "black boots"? The keywords visitors type into search engines are often available to webmasters, and keyword research tools allow us to find this information. However, those tools cannot show us directly how valuable it is to receive traffic from those searches. To understand the value of a keyword, we need to understand our own websites, make some hypotheses, test, and repeat—the classic web marketing formula.
From my experience, you don’t need complex algorithms to save money with paid search. You don’t need a crazy PPC management tool to trim down costs for campaigns. You need only employ one of 3 core paid search strategies in order to succeed in your PPC campaigns: 1) Maximize your budget, 2) Improve Branding by showing up in a top position and 3) Maximize your profit potential.
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.
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:
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.
This is the most basic way to start your keyword research—so basic, in fact, that it's easy to overlook. Let's say you're manufacturing solar panels and you want to target businesses that qualify for alternative energy tax credits. Start with a Google search just like your customers would. You can see which phrases pop up first when you type in "alternative energy tax credits." This should give you a good indication of the most popular searches.
Monitoring also allows you to notice trends. If there’s a high bounce rate (people leaving your landing page before making a purchase) but a high click-through rate as well (lots of people are clicking on your ad), it’s a sign that the issue isn’t with your ad but with your landing page. Instead of throwing the baby out with the bathwater, you can focus exclusively on improving your landing page.
Once you have caught the attention of people with your ad and they click on it, you want to make sure that you direct them to a customized landing page that specifically relates to what they just clicked on. Many small businesses make the mistake of sending them to their website homepage, but this isn’t the best tactic to convert visitors. Instead, you need to design landing pages that reflect the keywords from the PPC ad, show the product or service solution that your new visitors were searching Google for, and have a prominent, clear call to action like “Book Now” or “Buy Now”.
You can search for these types of competitors online (by doing a simple web search), or you can directly ask your current and potential customers what they are using already. You can also look for your direct and indirect competitors on websites such as Crunchbase and Product Hunt, and you can search for them in the Google Play and the iOS App Store.
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.
Retargeting is a great way to close sales that you otherwise might’ve missed. A variety of ad platforms offer retargeting services, including Google and social media networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn (we previously wrote about LinkedIn’s retargeting platform Lead Accelerator.) To learn more about retargeting and remarketing, read our post, Retargeting for Rookies: Your Guide to What it is and How to Use it.
If you want to become a better UX, interaction, visual (UI) or product designer, there are a lot of sources from which you can learn — articles, books, online courses. I often check the following few: Smashing Magazine, InVision blog, Interaction Design Foundation, NN Group and UX Mastery. These websites have a very good collection of articles on the topics of UI and UX design and UX research.
Best used to reach users who: live or move about in a certain area, for whom you have other data like preferences or demographic info Best used to find users who: are nearby your store, venue, or service; users who are in your parking lot, or entering a mall, for example Best used to reach users who: are in a certain aisle of your store; who are on a certain bus or train; who are moving through a space like a museum
In summary, these are but a few of the examples of how geography plays such an important part in creating customized and targeted marketing campaigns. Consumers respond better to relevant marketing which means that ROI of targeted campaigns will increase. Mobile consumers make geography one of the best ways to target while technology and data make doing so a real advantage to those who use it. Sometimes it takes a little creativity, but it is worth the effort. Especially for the business of local.
Knowledge of a competitor's objectives facilitates a better prediction of the competitor's reaction to different competitive moves. For example, a competitor that is focused on reaching short-term financial goals might not be willing to spend much money responding to a competitive attack. Rather, such a competitor might favor focusing on the products that hold positions that better can be defended. On the other hand, a company that has no short term profitability objectives might be willing to participate in destructive price competition in which neither firm earns a profit.
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.
Use voice search to your advantage by skewing your ad strategy toward answering questions customers need to know (intent), rather than just including keywords. Search engine AI for voice and mobile search is getting more sophisticated and better at serving results that meet the user’s intent, therefore PPC best practices will be continually refined.
CTAs match user intent inferred from content. Here is where you’ll evaluate whether the CTAs match the user intent from the content as well as the CTA language. For instance, if a CTA prompts a user to click “for more information,” and takes them to a subscription page, the visitor will most likely be confused or irritated (and, in reality, will probably leave the site).
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
The first case is quite simple yet happens often. So for example, you have not sold tandem bikes for years (and had the word “tandem” in a negative list), then you started to sell them again. But your PPC specialist forgot to remove the word from negatives, and now you are left wondering why you are not getting any traffic for this keyword. To avoid this situation, check your negative keyword lists regularly and bring the relevant keywords back to life.
As a manager, this may take the form of believing that people with less experience but lots of initiative tend to outperform experts. It may mean looking past the traditional resume. As an entrepreneur, this may be a conviction that some social stigma, like sleeping in someone else’s home (Airbnb), wearing someone else’s dress (Rent the Runway) or persistently sharing your location with all your friends (FourSquare), will lessen over time and eventually disappear.
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.
But switching costs, or the cost that a customer incurs as a result of switching products, still exist. Technology can be a driver of higher switching costs. When a product is integrated with multiple systems and APIs, switching to another product becomes increasingly difficult. Such a switch usually results in business interruption and the need to retrain staff, among other unwelcome effects.
The unique advantage of PPC marketing is that Google (and other ad networks) don’t just reward the highest bidders for that ad space, they reward the highest-quality ads (meaning the ads that are most popular with users). Essentially, Google rewards good performance. The better your ads, the greater your click-through rates and the lower your costs.
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.
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.
We at Moz custom-built the Keyword Explorer tool from the ground up to help streamline and improve how you discover and prioritize keywords. Keyword Explorer provides accurate monthly search volume data, an idea of how difficult it will be to rank for your keyword, estimated click-through rate, and a score representing your potential to rank. It also suggests related keywords for you to research. Because it cuts out a great deal of manual work and is free to try, we recommend starting there.
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.
Geotargeting in geomarketing and internet marketing is the method of determining the geolocation of a website visitor and delivering different content to that visitor based on their location. This includes country, region/state, city, metro code/zip code, organization, IP address, ISP or other criteria. A common usage of geo targeting is found in online advertising, as well as internet television with sites such as iPlayer and Hulu. In these circumstances, content is often restricted to users geolocated in specific countries; this approach serves as a means of implementing digital rights management. Use of proxy servers and virtual private networks may give a false location.
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.
Geographic targeting allows your ads to appear in the locations that you choose: country, city, areas within a country or city, a radius around a location, or location groups. Geo targeting helps you focus your ad campaign on the locations where you’ll find the right customers, and restrict it in locations where you don’t, which could help increase your ROI. Right geographic region can significantly help you optimize your campaign for better results. Identify countries, states, regions, or areas where your ad campaign can perform well.
SEO competitive analysis is critical because it gives data about which tactics are working in the industry we are in and what we will need to do to start improving our keyword rankings. The insights gained from this analysis help us understand which tasks we should prioritize and it shapes the way we build out our campaigns. By seeing where our competitors are strongest and weakest, we can determine how difficult it will be to outperform them and the amount of resources that it will take to do so.