Your competitor analysis framework should give your stakeholders an overview of how the playing field looks. A side-by-side comparison with top competitors helps teams strategize better, plan business growth and provide a clearer vision for the organization. When creating a competitive analysis, you should first consider defining the criteria for the comparison. Common high-level pieces are company information, description, products or services, strengths and weaknesses and market-fit.
This analysis should help you holistically identify areas of opportunity available in your search landscape, without having to guess which “best practice” you should test next. Once you’ve started this competitive analysis, trends among the competition will emerge, and expose niches where your site can improve and potentially outpace your competition.
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.
Conversion: This strategy is what most of us are after. We want our keywords to draw traffic to our website or landing page, and then we want that traffic to convert by making a purchase or otherwise doing something specific like filling out a contact form, picking up the phone, or downloading something. In this case, long-tail or more specific keywords will likely work best for you.
John Boyd, a famous military strategist, thought a lot about how competitors change the way that we strive for our own goals. The concept he popularized around the OODA loop talked about making decisions faster than your competition as a way to win. It was also key to understanding what your competitor values so you can find other ways than fighting directly.

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.).


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.


Knowing your business’ target audience and matching it up with where they live or work helps you find those who might be most interested in your product or service.  For example, a ticket broker might want to advertise NCAA basketball tickets in the state of Kentucky and might think of using Kentucky basketball in its messaging.  However, Louisville basketball would be preferable for any advertising within 50 miles of the city on the Kentucky side of the border and 70 miles into Indiana due to the strength of Louisville’s fan base in those areas.
Starting small will also help you devise a repeatable process that can then be applied across a wider range of search terms as your list grows over time. If you really want to go pro, keyword management tools like Moz Keyword Explorer or SEM Rush’s Keyword Magic Tool can help you streamline this entire process and will allow you to create lists that include hundreds of keywords. 
Now the ad servers don’t create this table themselves, they license it from another ‎company like MaxMind or DigitalEnvoy, whose primary business is geolocation ‎data.   This is no enviable task; IP addresses themselves don’t necessarily have an ‎obvious pattern in the way they are assigned like a telephone area code would.  It’s ‎a bit like solving a mystery, and the geolocation companies use a variety of ‎methods to approach the problem.  ‎
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.

City advertising[19] by advertising on web sites with extensive content related to particular cities. Such web sites can connect large city audiences with products/services for sale in those cities. Surfers searching for information about particular cities find adverts at such web sites as a result of city name related searches rather than product/service keyword searches. In this way businesses, e.g. shops, restaurants, can advertise and reach out to consumers located in the real-world localities of their product/service offerings.
I always tell people to think of their site as a pyramid. Your brand is at the very top, below that is your cornerstone content for your “head: keywords, the keywords you care about the most, below those are dozens – if not hundreds or thousands – of pages, strengthening your site’s structure. I wrote about site structure & SEO over 3 years ago but it still rings true. We wrote about both these topics in our ebook too.
It simplified the ways that an organization can compete into four: cost leadership, differentiation, the focus on cost, and the focus on differentiation. Since the inception of Five Forces there has been a lot of discussion about how helpful the categories are, but it seems to be part of everyone’s strategy and competitive toolbox, especially for MBAs.
When they started to open these “stores”, it didn’t make sense to advertise to everyone because not everyone would be near the pop-up stores. So instead, they only advertised within a small radius of their shop. By using geo-targeting to drive traffic to their shops, they were able to save money and resources while still achieving success in their pop-up shops.

Finally, since the competitive environment is dynamic, the competitor's ability to react swiftly to change should be evaluated. Some firms have heavy momentum and may continue for many years in the same direction before adapting. Others are able to mobilize and adapt very quickly. Factors that slow a company down include low cash reserves, large investments in fixed assets, and an organizational structure that hinders quick action.


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.

Geolocation technology can also be used for planning virtual events or experiences that combine physical and virtual or augmented reality. For example, the Pokémon GO game was able to parlay geolocation into a great success. Advertisers can use the same strategy to develop virtual experiences around a brand or product. This can involve using geolocation at events to track attendees and deliver specific information that enhances their overall experience.


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.


After setting your campaign goal and choosing the right platform for your ad, the next step is to plan your ad targeting for your most relevant audience. There are two types of targeting. You can target audience for a specific geographic location and you can also optimize your campaign for a specific device type, operating systems and wireless networks.
1. Branding or converting strategy. One of the first things to consider in developing a keyword strategy is what you want to accomplish when you reach your target audience. Do you just want to generate an impression for branding purposes or do you want to invite them to your place where you get them to make a purchase? Here are three types of strategies to consider:
This chapter discusses how to establish goals to measure the success of our campaign. These should be directly tied to the stated objectives, as well as being measureable and achievable. It is important to track as many actions, goals, and engagement data as possible. This is what really drives understanding and insight from your analytics data and will allow you to assess which campaigns are delivering the goods.
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.

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.

John Lincoln is CEO of Ignite Visibility, one of the top digital marketing agencies in the nation and the number 698 fastest growing company in the USA in the 2017 Inc. 5000. As a digital marketing expert and in-demand public speaker, Lincoln is consistently named one of the top influencers in the industry. In 2017, he was the recipient of the Search Engine Land "Search Marketer of the Year" award. Ignite Visibility crafts custom digital marketing strategies for clients, including services in SEO, social media, paid media, email marketing, Amazon and more.

Unless you have a budget to conduct formal research, its best to use available resources such as news articles, industry journals, analyst reports, the company’s website, marketing collateral, company reports and so forth. You may also want to do a general blog search to find out what their customers’ and others are saying about the company and the products they offer. Networking events and tradeshows also present great opportunities to collect data about your competitors. Your more loyal customers may also share information with you.

Conduct a thorough account audit and gap analysis. Audits are time-consuming and tedious, but they’re absolutely necessary. I use the account audit to understand underlying drivers of performance and to determine whether work being done in the account is in alignment with business goals. Uncovering the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities provides critical information I need to form my guiding principle for account management.

I remember my very first week working at Hanapin Marketing. I was working in a REDBOP group (for information on what REDBOP is, see “super awesome opportunity” in the dictionary and you will find information on Hanapin’s monthly PPC training program) and we were tasked with explaining to the rest of the team the differences between tactics and strategy. Easy peasy. Strategy = plan. Tactics = action.
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.
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.
Once you have determined which keywords you should focus on, use them repeatedly in your content. Use an Excel sheet to keep an organized eye on your usage by tracking how many times you use each of your selected terms in your content. Why? The latest Google algorithm update is penalizing pages whose anchor text is over-optimized, and having an updated list of the terms you have already used will help you to vary them smartly.
A company rarely competes against just one competitor. In fact, in many cases, the biggest competition in the SaaS and tech industries is coming from indirect competitors. These competitors hold a commanding position in their core market, allowing them to expand into different industries and verticals. Who would have thought that Uber and Google would become die-hard competitors in the autonomous car market? As I wrote previously in my analysis of sales enablement and acceleration industry, it is almost impossible to distinguish direct and indirect competitors. In many SaaS verticals everyone competes with everyone.
Avoid industry research. Industry analysts aren’t good at predicting disruptive companies and cutting-edge trends because such changes occur at the bottom of the market, which is generally not on their radar. Research giants like Forrester and Gartner provide industry consensus after major shifts have already occurred. Plus, they derive their research by analyzing large organizations, so startups won’t find what they’re looking for here.
In the figure below, you can see I have set up a keyword rating spreadsheet. I first gathered keyword data from a keyword tool to populate the orange columns. In this example, I used the Google AdWords Keyword Tool. From there I began looking at each keyword and gave each one a score from one to 10. For some I built a formula to automate the process, which comes in handy with larger keyword lists.
In writing the summary and the presentation for the competitive analysis that I did for this collaborative note-taking app, the competitive analysis matrix helped me a lot. I drafted a document with all of the high-level takeaways from this analysis and answered all of the questions that were set as goals. For the presentation, I shared the document with the client, which helped both the client and me to finalize the features, the flows and the end requirements for the product.

It has also become remarkably difficult to distinguish direct competitors from indirect threats - and when you do, you find competition often comes from surprising places. In fact, competition in the SaaS and tech industries is increasingly coming from indirect competitors, whose core technology enables them to invade adjacent verticals and industries.
Ad scheduling is important for optimizing your ad strategy. You can show your ad whenever a customer searches online or you can show your ad on certain days, or during business hours when you’re there to handle customer inquiries. Your ads give different performance result on different days of the week and different hours of a day. Therefore, have a look at which online days and hours are most suitable for your business and then schedule your ad during these times to increase your exposure. You can also adjust your bid for less performing hours and days.
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.
Having initiated a Geo Targeting conversion experiment, you are faced with an inherent problem: how can you verify that your Geo Targeting works? One option is to ask people that are located worldwide to browse your targeted pages and inform you of the results. Another, far more convenient method, is to use a “global geo proxy network” that allows you to browse the web from different global locations.
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.

A great way to make your website mobile friendly is to implement AMP for your site. Previously it was mainly used by publishers; today it is also a platform for e-commerce and advertising. Since autumn 2017, advertisers can implement AMP for their Google Ads landing pages, making them faster. Building AMP pages for your advertising campaigns can have a positive impact on conversion rates, time on page, bounce rates, and more.
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.
The primary goal of a competitive analysis is to understand the marketplace and how you can differentiate from other players. At the end of a competitive analysis, you should create a battlecard for each competitor. A competitive battlecard is essentially a quick visual reference for your sales and marketing team, guiding them as they position your organization against competitors.
Zee came to Distilled after several web development and digital communications positions in the nonprofit space, including the Ad Council, Power Poetry, VolunteerMatch, DonorsChoose and Planned Parenthood. With her background, Zee learned how to make the most impact with shoestring budgets. A graduate of Smith College, Zee studied French Studies and Psychology and studied psychoanalysis at Paris IV – Denis Diderot University. Aside from analyzing languages and humans, she found a home in the tech space, where solutions are complex and (sometimes) easier to come by. Ask her about: user experience, web development, analytics, technical SEO questions, and rescue dogs like hers.
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