Your entire PPC campaign is built around keywords, and the most successful AdWords advertisers continuously grow and refine their PPC keyword list (ideally, using a variety of tools, not just Keyword Planner). If you only do keyword research once, when you create your first campaign, you are probably missing out on hundreds of thousands of valuable, long-tail, low-cost and highly relevant keywords that could be driving traffic to your site.
More specifically, who gets to appear on the page and where is based on an advertiser’s Ad Rank, a metric calculated by multiplying two key factors – CPC Bid (the highest amount an advertiser is willing to spend) and Quality Score (a value that takes into account your click-through rate, relevance, and landing page quality, among other factors). In turn, your Quality Score affects your actual cost per click, or CPC.
Competitive analyses help you evaluate your competition’s strategies to determine their strengths and weaknesses relative to your brand. When it comes to digital marketing and SEO, however, there are so many ranking factors and best practices to consider that can be hard to know where to begin. Which is why my colleague, Ben Estes, created a competitive analysis checklist (not dissimilar to his wildly popular technical audit checklist) that I’ve souped up for the Moz community.
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).
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.
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!
Your CompetitorsYou probably see the owner of a rival organization at trade shows, association meetings, and perhaps even socially. You can garner a great deal of information through a simple, friendly conversation. People like to talk about themselves and share their success stories and concerns with business associates. Assign someone to check the competitions' Web sites regularly for pertinent changes and news. (And take a good look at your own: Do you say anything there that you'd just as soon not have your competitors see?)  
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:
Another easy, yet possibly expensive, way of testing geo-location is using a PPC platform such as AdWords. You can set your campaign targeting to very specific locations and languages, as well as set the destination URLs of your individual ads. Similarly, this will require a set of landing pages for each campaign, but delivers results very quickly. You may be able to run a fast, data rich, and location-based conversion analysis with little more.
One of the major promises of enterprise PPC management tools is that they employ bidding strategies that will save you all kinds of money by trimming down your cost per click through intelligent bid algorithms. These algorithms often let you adjust bids by just about any variable available in the AdWords/Bing API’s (you can even create calculated metrics) and adjust bids according to these rules in order to reduce costs. What they usually don’t tell you is the best way to set them up or provide algorithms to you that work out of the box. They give you the fishing line, but don’t always teach you to fish. They are a tool, and what we need is a PPC strategy.

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.  ‎
Make a list of product features and benefits in order of importance, and prepare a table to show whether or not each of your competitors fulfill them.For example, Medium-sized companies that purchase copier machines may look for the following product benefits and features when making buying decisions: Competing Company: A B C D Features: 1. Auto paper feed 2. Auto enlarge or reduce 3. Collates 4. Staples 5. 24 Hour Repair Service 6. Warranty Benefits: 1. Easy to operate 2. Saves money 3. Good print quality 4. Dependable 5. Fast Price: $ Other factors you may want to evaluate include:

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.


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 and your competitors are competing for the attention of potential customers. That’s why it's useful to know how your competitors use social media channels and paid acquisition channels to reach their target audience. While digital channels are key in today’s marketplace, you also need to pay attention to offline channels like events, meetups, conferences, and direct mail. This is where the face-to-face interactions occur that are often the key to establishing connections and sealing deals. You can usually find out information about offline events by visiting the “Events” section of your competitors’ websites and also searching for their names in relation to conferences and events on the wider web.
Keyword Difficulty (KD). This is a cumulative score that shows you how difficult it will be to rank organically for this keyword. It accounts for the number of competitors within this space as well as the strength of those competitors. If one of your competitors is a government website that gets millions of visits each month, for instance, that will impact your difficulty score. Other factors that impact difficulty include the quality of content your competitors have and how relevant it is to the searcher.  As a best practice, look for keywords with a difficulty score that's no higher than 80.
A company’s slogan, tagline, mission statement and unique value proposition — all of these are important when determining how you stack up against your competitors. What is the company’s key positioning and how does it compare with other companies in this space? How do they describe themselves? This section is your opportunity to include what you feel is valuable descriptive information. 
Great article. This ties in perfectly with the article I just published yesterday. This checklist in conjunction with my competitor analysis, that is more based on keyword and traffic data, will really round out the research stage of your campaign. Taking a deep look at a competitors website just like you would do your own, can be a valuable exercise that drives strategy.

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.
Reliable lifts come from knowing your customer and tailoring the value proposition to match that customer’s motivations in a way that no other website will. You can enhance it with a bunch of human behavior principles (liking, scarcity, reciprocity, social proof, consistency etc.). But you have to have the foundation of what makes you unique, in order to get people return to you after they browse around.”
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.
The easiest way to target a particular geographic area is simply to set up a Facebook ad as usual. When you’re setting up the audience and you get to the map, hit “Drop Pin” and place the indicator in the middle of your intended target area. Then, use the radius slider to modify the full range of land that your targeting will cover. You can adjust this from 1 mile to up to 50 miles.
It is important to set the objective of your campaign. Ad objective will help you to drive your campaign effectively. Identify your ad objective and keep it in mind while planning your campaign strategy. Your ad objective or marketing objective can be brand awareness, lead generation, to increase your website traffic and to increase the sale of your website. For each objective, you need to plan your ad strategy, which helps to fulfill your goals.
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.
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.
Use these consumer characteristics to time and target your marketing. For example, airports on weekdays are a great source of business travelers looking for high-end restaurants, while weekends and Spring Break bring more leisure visitors and families looking for more casual dining options. Likewise, dance clubs and bars can benefit by promoting 18 and over events targeted at universities whose student bodies are largely between the ages of 18-21. These are just a few examples of how venues define audiences that can be effectively targeted.
So, fellow marketers, the secret is out—now you know that the key to really driving your conversion rate isn’t in minor copy or bidding adjustments. The true PPC CRO best practices require you to use negative keywords and to target keywords that your bottom-of-the-funnel prospects are searching for—including those that are pricing and service-oriented. You want to use high-converting ad formats, such as Google Shopping Campaigns and video ads, to capture the attention of your audience and engage them. Your landing pages should be designed well, easily browsable, and have fast loading times. It’s also important to personalize your ads so that your potential customers feel like you’re speaking directly to them, which also helps humanize your brand. Finally, use retargeting to remarket your products and services to previously interested visitors to your website, enticing them back and convert. 
“Now that the “algos” are perfected, they can be used for accounts as small as 100$ monthly ad spend. While it’s difficult for the small guys to access machine learning on their own, agencies who are servicing SMBs should use tools like ours to manage, optimize and scale multiple accounts. Google Channel Partners, Publishers and Resellers that service hundreds of small-business PPC accounts benefit from our machine learning technology already.”
If you want to see what people are talking about at any given moment, there's no better way than to check in with your social media channels. Most of us already do this throughout the day, but if you haven't tapped into your channels for keyword research, you're missing out on valuable insights. Here are just a few things you can uncover by typing a word or phrase into the Facebook search bar:
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.
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.
Keyword Difficulty (KD). This is a cumulative score that shows you how difficult it will be to rank organically for this keyword. It accounts for the number of competitors within this space as well as the strength of those competitors. If one of your competitors is a government website that gets millions of visits each month, for instance, that will impact your difficulty score. Other factors that impact difficulty include the quality of content your competitors have and how relevant it is to the searcher.  As a best practice, look for keywords with a difficulty score that's no higher than 80.
The SEO Checker analyze the title, description, h1/h2/h3/h4/h5/h6 tags, their correct filling, and their relation with the content from the web page. We look at the size of all the content, and if all content files can be loaded and exist. We look for all the keywords on the page, how many times they appear, and if they appear in the title, description, or h1/h2/h3/h4/h5/h6 tags. We analyze your social media status, and look if you use the properly social media meta tags. Also we look for the site usability, site reputation, site speed, and much more.
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