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.
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.

GREAT suggestions, Nicholas! I've definitely customized this checklist for clients' various needs too (some care about having an "email signup form" as something to check, while others are international and we'd need to make sure their href lang tags were correct). Please keep the recs coming–this checklist will only get better as we make it work for different scenarios :)
An important distinction to make before we begin is that a Competitor Analysis is not a Product Comparison. Although we may make mention of the types of products sold, we should not be including the detailed product features in a Competitor Analysis. Quite often, two seemingly distinct products can solve the same customer problem or satisfy a similar need. At its core, a Competitor Analysis is a document that evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of your rivals.
SEOptimer is a free SEO Audit Tool that will perform a detailed SEO Analysis across 100 website data points, and provide clear and actionable recommendations for steps you can take to improve your online presence and ultimately rank better in Search Engine Results. SEOptimer is ideal for website owners, website designers and digital agencies who want to improve their own sites or theirs of their clients.
It’s good for searchers – Research indicates that searchers click on paid search ads more often than any other form of digital advertising. This means that people really don’t mind being advertised to, provided that the products and services advertised actually fit the searcher’s needs. And because we use search engines when we’re looking for products and services, the results, including the ads, are generally highly relevant to what we’re looking for. Plus, Google has developed an excellent formula for ensuring that PPC ads meet the user’s needs.

Not every keyword is worth ranking for. This may seem obvious, but it’s an important lesson for search marketers to learn. Often times we can get caught falling down the rabbit hole or chasing the long tail dragon to boost our rankings without thinking of the time and resources it takes to rank for these terms. Especially for highly competitive, high-volume keywords – it simply isn’t worth the time and effort it might take to get onto page one.
Protecting your company with one of the core barriers is smart. Nailing down two barriers is even better. Slack is a great example of a company that has a network effect, having successfully created widespread demand through word-of-mouth referrals and a highly engaging product. It has also invested in building strong relationships with developers. Slack’s developer platform roadmap and its commitment to transparency for developers has helped the company build a strong ecosystem around its product.
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!
Successful online advertising requires ongoing work and optimisation to improve performance and results. Maximising output and reducing input is critical. You must clearly outline the business objectives, goals, and audiences for each campaign. This chapter outlines our PPC model which considers objectives, goals, audience, and targeting to ensure your PPC is based on a solid strategy with clear measures in place to analyse and improve as you go.
Images: Even though search engines don’t really see images, you can still use them as part of your keyword strategy. First, make sure they are relevant to your page content, and add to the overall user experience. For search engines, use the alt attribute to help crawlers "see" what an image is about. The alt attribute is a part of the image HTML tag that is used by search engines, text-only browsers and screen readers to “see” an image. Use your keywords in the alt text, but be sure to do so naturally. Stuffing alt attributes full of keywords and synonyms will make your page look like spam and do more harm than good.
That would work but I would prefer to keep the data consistent and use Majestic or Ahrefs instead in that case. The template formulas can be adjusted to work with either tool. Sometimes, I will combine the data from all 3 tools to increase the amount of backlinks in the analysis but that takes a little bit more work and formatting to get it to work properly.

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.
Test putting the location in the ad copy. If you’re a local business, there’s a chance that people want to find you locally. Who cares about a tire repair shop in Massachusetts if you’re in Denver? Because of this, putting the location in your ad copy can give you an edge. If necessary, run multiple campaigns with each specifying the individual location.<

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”.


In more sophisticated use cases, geotargeting doesn’t have to be solely based on a consumer’s real-time location. Locations or businesses a customer has visited recently can be a great predictor of interests and intent, so adding targeting based on historical location as well can be key to delivering a captivating, relevant message. Denny’s had great success with this tactic in a campaign with xAd, detailed below.
The effectiveness of geo-targeting is only going to further improve as mobile use grows and location data becomes more accurate and available. The Local Search Association (LSA) just released data that found that, for the first time, mobile devices surpassed PC use in search for local businesses and services. As I reported last month, the majority of searches (52%) for local information on mobile devices occur either in the car or away from home or work.
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.
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.

Tertiary Competition: This category includes businesses that are tangentially related to yours, and really comes in handy when you’re looking to expand your product catalog. These could be related products and services that are trending, as well as businesses that may be beneficial to partner with further down the line. For instance, if you sell jewelry, a tertiary competitor may sell gems and stones.
The distinctions here can become quite urgent depending on the kind of product you’re selling or the kind of customer you’re looking to find. If you’re trying to find people who are interested in selling their homes in the East Village, then you don’t want to target people who are just in the East Village on their spring break or while visiting family. If you’re trying to target high net worth individuals on vacation in Montauk, New York because you believe they’re ripe targets for ads about buying beachfront houses in Montauk, then you don’t want to waste your ad spend showing ads to locals.
In online environments, ad servers look at a user’s IP address to figure out their ‎location.  Behind the scenes, the ad server maintains a large database that has ‎every IP address already mapped to its country, state, and postal code.  So, when a ‎request comes in, the ad server strips the IP address from the header of the ‎request, queries this table, finds the necessary location data, and then picks an ad ‎that matches that criteria.  ‎

Website. What’s the first thing visitors see in your competitor’s website? Is there much text on the website, and if there is, what does it emphasize about your competitor’s business? Do they have customer reviews and testimonials? Make note of the design as well. Is their website static and minimalist, or does it have animation and other interactive features? Apart from judging the copy, design, and features of the site itself, does the site rank well for relevant search terms that you think your potential customers could use? If you’re selling handmade leather wallets, try doing a Google search for “handmade leather tool wallets” and see if any of your competitors are in the first few pages.
Next, indicate with a check mark which of your competitors has which features. Features are fairly straightforward, either a product has a feature or it doesn't. Benefits, on the other hand, are not as simple and should only be recorded based on customer feedback. For example, company B may claim in their company literature that their copier is fast, but a user may feel otherwise. Or, company B may indeed have a copier that by industry standards is fast, but you may have a copier that's even faster. 
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.
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.
IT is more cost-effective to target already existing demand to increase your market share for more qualified leads. For more tips on how to prioritize your keyword strategy and your comprehensive search campaigns, check out Directive’s Complete Guide to B2B Marketing and Demand Generation. And be sure to subscribe to our blog for weekly updates on the most innovative industry-leading tactics!
Geo-targeting in the most traditional sense uses IP addresses to figure out where users are. Every internet-connected device has a unique IP. It’s like an address for your computer, tablet, phone, or wearable. The first three digits provide a country code. The digits after that indicate specific areas within a country, down to state, city, and postal code. To learn more about the tech behind geo-targeting, geoedge.com is a good source.
HubSpot also has a campaign tool that allows you to associate keyword phrases, related blog posts, emails and landing pages with a particular campaign so you can get a better idea of the overall performance. If a particular set of keywords doesn't seem to be bringing in new site visits or converting leads to customers, it might be time to search for alternatives.  

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.


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.

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.
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.
3. Video Ads Become More Practical: Video engages viewers extremely effectively, but advertisers have sometimes avoided it because of the perceived difficulty in making a video and the high cost of running video ads. Remember, video ads can be very short, from 15 -30 seconds, depending upon where you run them. To keep production costs down, there will be more and more free video tools provided by advertisers who want your business, for instance, Boomerang, free Instagram video ad creator. In 2018, consider YouTube, which offers a variety of video ad formats and, as part of the Google ecosystem, makes a great bet to place effective PPC ads. Consider Bing advertising, especially for higher-end products, since one-third or their traffic earns over $100k. Look at options to advertise with Yahoo/Verizon, Facebook/Instagram, Amazon (for product ads), LinkedIn video ads (for B2B) and more.
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.
Estimated Costs: Creating content to adequately target specific keywords will require varying amounts of time, money, and effort. In some situations, you might find that targeting a certain keyword also allows you to SEO your landing page at the same time. So be on the lookout for shortcuts that might make ranking for a keyword more cost-efficient than it would otherwise be. That’s how you can find real money-makers!
HubSpot's marketing automation software has several tools just for this purpose.  The first is the HubSpot keyword tool, which allows you to keep track of keywords you're targeting. Once you've done your research and know which keywords are most likely to perform well, you can import those keywords into the tool. The tool will show you how you're currently ranking for those terms and whether your ranking is moving up or down over time. 

IT is more cost-effective to target already existing demand to increase your market share for more qualified leads. For more tips on how to prioritize your keyword strategy and your comprehensive search campaigns, check out Directive’s Complete Guide to B2B Marketing and Demand Generation. And be sure to subscribe to our blog for weekly updates on the most innovative industry-leading tactics!
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.
As you can see, we not only changed which keywords to track (the core of the SERPs tool) but also the location setting of the search engine. As a local business, most of Jerry’s customers will come from the UK. Using this setting rather than the general Google setting will give him much more accurate results on how his keywords rank in his location.
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.
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.
7. Use a keyword research brief to share for unified messaging. The final tip is to attempt to break down the silos that are typical in medium to large organizations and share with them enough keyword data so they can be encouraged to use your targeted keywords in their respective messaging. One way to do this is to develop what I call a keyword research brief. This is simply a document that is like an executive summary of keyword research for your top keywords. This document should be no more than one to two pages. It should be a quick read. See an example of this below.
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.

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..

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