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.
Competitive analysis is an exercise of comparing your business, product, and service to companies and finding similarities and differences. The most critical part of kicking off a competitive analysis is choosing the right competitors to analyze. Otherwise, you will spend tons of time on competitive research with very limited insight to show for it. In other words, the competitors you select determines how you will perceive your company and the final analysis.
Remember: The idea of a competitive analysis isn't to overly focus on the competition but to understand where your company stands in the marketplace and identify opportunities to further differentiate. At the end of the day, a focus on the customer will serve your company far more than a focus on the competition. Done well, a competitive analysis can help you find ways to outplay the competition by better serving customers —  theirs and yours.
Dmitry single-handedly grew a startup from zero to 40 million page views through PR & SEO and got acquired by Google. He has translated his know-how into an SEO and PR coaching program PRThatConverts and a 'PR on a shoestring' pitching service and software JustReachOut which is used by 4,000+ professionals and entrepreneurs to pitch relevant influencers and bloggers to get featured in press every single day. In his spare time he writes about SEO and PR on his blog CriminallyProlific.
Along with understanding how your potential customers are searching for your company and/or product online, you also need to decide what part of the sales process you want to target. Are you looking to start a prospecting campaign that attracts users at the very beginning of the process, and then convert them later via email marketing or retargeting? Or do you want your website to be shown in front of in-market searchers who are looking to buy right away?
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.
First, start with a simple online search for your business type and location. For example, if you’re starting a retail business in Los Angeles, you’ll want to think about how a customer might search for your business (or one like yours). They might search for “los angeles retail store,” “clothing store in LA,” and “LA apparel store.” Create a list of businesses that appear in the search results (and take note of those that frequent the top three results).

PPC marketing is now a standard way for businesses to find new customers for their products and services. Yet many small businesses have been disappointed with their first steps into PPC. It can be a tricky marketing strategy. First-time PPC marketers often underestimate the time it takes to lay down the right foundations, the budget required, and the work needed to keep on top of your game.

As of 2017, there are over 5,000 products in the martech sphere alone competing for business in complex and overlapping ways. Some companies leverage their expertise and resources to enter new markets. Salesforce is a great example; look at the number of martech categories it’s listed in. With so much competition, SaaS companies can't win on features alone; they must win on brand and customer experience.

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.
Because someone who is looking for something that specific is probably a much more qualified searcher for your product or service (presuming you're in the blogging space) than someone looking for something really generic. And because long-tail keywords tend to be more specific, it's usually easier to tell what people who search for those keywords are really looking for. Someone searching for the head term "blogging," on the other hand, could be searching it for a whole host of reasons unrelated to your business.
Repeat this exercise for as many topic buckets as you have. And remember, if you're having trouble coming up with relevant search terms, you can always head on over to your employees on the front lines -- like Sales or Services -- and ask them what types of terms their prospects and customers use, or common questions they have. Those are often great starting points for keyword research.
In reality, even profitability focused campaigns will have limits when it comes to budget, so our focus is often maximizing profitability within the budget we have allotted. This can mean bringing in fewer conversions at a lower cost per acquisition (CPA) and eliminating elements of campaigns that are under performing compared to your acceptable conversion goal. Mining search query reports, establishing negative keywords, bidding down on keywords with high CPA’s or no conversions are all techniques we employ in order to maximize our profitability within the parameters given.
Steve Webb is an SEO audit specialist at Web Gnomes. He received his Ph.D. from Georgia Tech, where he published dozens of articles on Internet-related topics. Professionally, Steve has worked for Google and various other Internet startups, and he's passionate about sharing his knowledge and experiences with others. You can find him on Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn.
Competitor analysis is an essential component of corporate strategy.[3] It is argued that most firms do not conduct this type of analysis systematically enough[4]. Instead, many enterprises operate on what is called "informal impressions, conjectures, and intuition gained through the tidbits of information about competitors every manager continually receives." As a result, traditional environmental scanning places many firms at risk of dangerous competitive blindspots due to a lack of robust competitor analysis.[5]

Repeat this exercise for as many topic buckets as you have. And remember, if you're having trouble coming up with relevant search terms, you can always head on over to your employees on the front lines -- like Sales or Services -- and ask them what types of terms their prospects and customers use, or common questions they have. Those are often great starting points for keyword research.


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.
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.

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.
By using organisation techniques, such as document processing solutions and an outsourced document collection service, you will be able to improve customer service. Problems with organisation can lead to a drop in customer service, which is highly detrimental to any start-up. Customer satisfaction is key to any return business, which is why you need to be organised.
4. Choose keywords based on more than just high search traffic. Depending on which strategy you’re using, branding or conversion, you should not fall into the trap of just looking at search volume when judging which keywords to use. Just because one keyword has a whole lot more searches than another doesn’t necessarily mean it will be a better performing search term. Take the time to analyze other factors that provide more granularity. Here is an example of other factors you may want to look at:
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. 

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 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
Yes, that sounds like it would be awesome. Another great update would be to add a script that populates the spreadsheet automatically from a file structure containing the downloads (organic KWs and Links) to save copying and pasting everything. I’m going to have a chat with a friend in the Analytics space to see if he can help. Will share any successful output.

Choosing landing pages for your keywords is an important element of your keyword strategy, and can be critical for both your SEO and your user experience. Look at it this way: When you click through to a site that really isn’t relevant to your search, what do you do? You most likely leave that page after a few seconds and likely won’t consider it in the future. So having poorly optimized landing pages can cost you sales. But they’ll also damage your SEO efforts, making it hard to rank.
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.
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.
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!
A competitor's capabilities can be analyzed according to its strengths and weaknesses in various functional areas, as is done in a SWOT analysis. The competitor's strengths define its capabilities. The analysis can be taken further to evaluate the competitor's ability to increase its capabilities in certain areas. A financial analysis can be performed to reveal its sustainable growth rate.
Every time a search is initiated, Google digs into the pool of bidding AdWords advertisers and chooses a set of winners to appear in the 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 text, as well as the size of their keyword bids. For example, if WordStream bid on the keyword “PPC software,” our ad might show up in the very top spot on the Google results page.

Using negative keywords in PPC campaigns is an often overlooked but highly effective strategy. These are keywords that you add to your campaign that you don’t want to target. Adding negative keywords will let Google know that it should not show your campaigns in searches that include these words. This is a crucial step in order to make sure that you don’t waste money by displaying your ad for irrelevant searches.
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.
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.

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!
Great question. You could adjust the formulas but I find it easier to highlight the full report (after it is populated with your data) then copy it and paste "values only" this way none of the formulas break. Then go into the navigation of google sheets and select "Data" then "Filter". You will now have filtering options on all of the headings. Then you can simple select your website and uncheck "Yes" so you only see the domains that do not link to you. Give that a shot and let me know if it works for you.
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