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. 
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]

It’s critically important to ensure you are collecting good data, and to do this you must correctly configure Google Analytics and Google AdWords to share data. It is important that this is customised to your reporting needs and individual objectives as you can then use that data to optimise your campaigns. This chapter outlines how to measure your campaign to enhance your PPC strategy.
Some super awesome points here no doubt. What I like about this approach is it is hands on and not just ran via a site being scanned by a third party. Also when a new client comes to you and has these thoughts of ranking the highest in their particular industry you need to know that baseline of who is at the top. Many times when I have conducted a much lesser analysis than what is above I see some items right off the bat that can make that strong competition not so strong after some minor changes.
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.
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.
Let’s start with an easy one: target the areas your business serves. If your restaurant has one location in Chicago, set your search campaigns to only show to searchers in and around Chicago! If you’re an ecommerce site that serves the Pacific Northwest, don’t show your ads outside of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. This is the most basic way to ensure that you’re not wasting clicks – and money – on consumers who can’t convert.
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.

Typically, VCs make just one bet in a product category to avoid cannibalizing their investments. You are either an Uber or Lyft investor. This is a commonly accepted view in the Valley. If you see a VC’s name missing from the category you’re competing in, they might be a good candidate to approach for fundraising. They missed the chance to invest in your competitor, but now they have the opportunity to work with you.
It’s worth mentioning that some of these terms are still evolving, and their use is still being defined. For example, geo-targeting is often used synonymously with location targeting, for now, but that could change. Terms and meaning might shift over time as the technology and its uses evolve. But, like geo-targeting, we’ve got you covered right here, right now.
Take Coca Cola and Red Bull for example. They have massive marketing budgets, and the majority of that budget goes into branding and (I am guessing) very little attention is paid to determining the ROI of each individual activity they sponsor. They just know that the more they can build equity in their brand, the more products they will sell. The result? They are some of the most recognizable brands in the world. They are also extremely profitable at the end of the year – they just achieve that profitability differently than what we are used to seeing as direct response marketers.
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.
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.

Use Google Keyword Planner and your list of potential search ideas to create a list of terms/phrases that align with your brand and that, ideally, aren’t highly competitive. Google ranks competitiveness in Keyword Planner, seen above. You can also get an idea of how competitive a keyword search is by looking at the price of the suggested Adwords bid. Competitive search terms are typically much harder to rank for.
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.
SEMrush isn't free, but it will give you the comprehensive data you need to make smart decisions about what keywords to target. It's also easy to use. Let's say your company wants to be the first name to show up when someone searches for "solar panel installation." Type that keyword into the Phrase Match tool within SEMrush, and you'll be able to see that term along with other related terms. 
Overall score: Finally, you simply add up the scores and divide by the number of columns you have. This will give you an overall score. Then you can sort your keyword list by overall score and voilà, your keywords that are likely to perform the best for you bubble up to the top. You can weight each column if you like based on which factors are most important to you.

Location history of a consumer provides a lot of information specific to that person: where they like to shop, what they like to buy, how often they make the trip, and even how they get there. Obtaining this information gives great insight to marketers that enhances the ability to target consumers and deliver relevant, responsive location specific ads and information, even if the consumer is not currently in that area.
Your costs can be lower when you stay away from national campaigns that take a more shotgun approach to your social media advertising efforts. Instead, geotargeting will enable you to conduct regional-, state- and city-level campaigns that will improve your results. That’s because this approach helps to tighten your campaign’s boundaries around your company’s physical location.

Do I Need to Analyze All of My Competitors? There are several markets where it is relatively easy to name every competitor. These are concentrated markets where only a handful of competitors exist. If this is the scenario for your product or service, you will need to develop an analysis for each competitor. The steel industry and automobile industry are examples of these types of markets. If you are selling in a market with many competitors, your job of analyzing the competition becomes a little more difficult. Since it is unrealistic to collect and maintain information on dozens of competitors, you will be able to save yourself valuable time, without sacrificing the integrity of your competitive analysis, by using the old 80/20 rule. In fragmented markets with many competitors, it is most probable that 80% of the total market revenues are accounted for by 20% of the competition. It's the 20% you would examine most closely. For instance, in the computer industry, the personal computer market, is represented by hundreds of clone manufacturers with the majority of the market being captured by a handful of manufacturers such as Compaq, IBM, and Apple. When using this approach it is important to keep abreast of your market for new and upcoming players who through some variable, whether it be new technology or an aggressive advertising campaign, may become a dominant player. What Means are Available to Limit and Control the Competition? Marketers of different brands of products will often pursue a particular market segment. Market Segmentation, which is the means of breaking down larger markets into smaller ones requiring different marketing mixes, is a means for strengthening and focusing your attempt to limit and control the competition. There are however, a broad range of strategies a business can employ in a competitive environment — from price changing and new packaging to improving customer service and new product development. CONDUCTING AND PREPARING YOUR COMPETITIVE ANALYSIS [top] Conducting and preparing your competitive analysis will follow these steps:
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.
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.
These days, organic SEO is all about creating the highest quality content that is actionable and informative around a specific topic. While your content will no doubt contain keywords referencing said topic in places like heading tags and body copy, search engines are well-versed at filling in gaps about content topics without needing to be bludgeoned by keywords. Keyword research can never—and should never—be used as a crutch for poor content quality. However, exercises like those described below, can play very important roles in helping you define and measure your content strategy as well as mapping your content topics to real users’ needs. Words matter. 
Trade AssociationsMost professional trade associations compile and publish industry statistics and report on industry news and leaders through trade association magazines and newsletters. Most trade associations also sponsor trade shows and other professional meetings. This is an opportunity to see first-hand what your competition is producing. It also provides the opportunity to discover new players who may soon become your competition.  
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.

When I was working on my own startup, Complete Seating, we did this for OpenTable. I spent at least a night a week working as a host. What was most interesting was all of the other tools that they needed to get their job done: hardwired phone, discussions with waiters, discussions with the kitchen, POS access, and more. We saw some key differentiation with automating the communication through SMS and phone before a guest got to the restaurant. They were really powerful in showing how OpenTable was just a digitization of the maitre d book.
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.
If you're a regular blogger, these are probably the topics you blog about most frequently. Or perhaps they're the topics that come up the most in sales conversations. Put yourself in the shoes of your buyer personas -- what types of topics would your target audience search that you'd want your business to get found for? If you were a company like HubSpot, for example -- selling marketing software (which happens to have some awesome SEO tools ... but I digress ;-) -- you might have general topic buckets like "inbound marketing," "blogging," "email marketing," "lead generation," "SEO," "social media," "marketing analytics," and "marketing automation."

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).
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.
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.
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.

Ad copy is the actual text that you’ll write for your AdWords, Bing or Facebook ads that will attract people to click on your ad. Search engines like Google are looking to show high quality ads, whose text says something closely related to the actual search in the search engine. So if you own a plant nursery in Montreal and your keyword is “Where to buy shrubs in Montreal,” a good headline for your ad could be: “Are You Looking to Buy Shrubs in Montreal?” Because the headline is relevant to the keyword and the query, it will be considered a more high-quality ad result in the eyes of search engines like Google.
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.

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.


The first part of your competitive analysis only requires basic research. You’ll just be looking up and making note of easy-to-find facts about your competitor’s business. For this part, you’ll need to have some idea about who your small business competitors are, where to find their website and social media pages, and perhaps have access to their offline marketing materials such as brochures, ads, and posters.
When you conduct your competitive analysis, it's worth analyzing the sales models of your competitors. In his article Three SaaS Sales Models, Joel York describes the three most common SaaS sales models based on the relationship between price and product complexity. Companies with low priced and low-complexity products must focus on developing a self-service option so they can maintain a healthy relationship between customer acquisition cost (CAC) and customer lifetime value (CLV). Slack, Trello, Dropbox, GitHub are all low-price, low-complexity products.
Brands love to be front and center and who can blame them? Essential to becoming a well known brand is achieving awareness and name recognition, and well branded companies tend to do well at drawing in new customers. In the world of search, the best way to build your brand is by showing up in the top position of search results. Preferably you can do this for both organic and paid results, but at the very least you can often buy your way to the top of search results with a high enough Maximum CPC bid. You will also want to enhance your brand even further by adding Sitelinks to your account to showcase the depth of products and services you offer and occupy even more real estate in search results.
“The sales cycle is an average of 9-12 months. When a qualified lead enters the funnel, the revenue generated from that lead is an unknown variable that will not be fully identified until several months into the cycle. In order to increase the probability of a PPC lead turning into a viable source of revenue we need to generate leads at a ratio of high ratio of sales quality leads to conversions (roughly 65%). We will continue to test new targeting in order to reach our 20% YoY growth goal at a reasonable average CPA in order to continually grow the account and keep the sales funnel full every month.”
Below, you can find our suggested stages for implementing your keyword strategy, specifically if you are trying to get a newer business with a branded service / product to rank higher in an industry with competitors who have already established a presence in the main search engines. We leave it up to you to decide when it is best to move to each stage. In our opinion, what works for SMEs that need to boost their presence on the web is to develop a keyword strategy that starts out general, without worrying too much about competitors. This strategy can then evolve over time to include more and more branded keywords as well as aiming for some SERPs of better-known competitors.
In 2017, it’s a requirement for any company to live on the internet. This section gives you and your team easy access to your competitors’ online presence. Include links to the social media channels and webpages your competition has the most activity on. By providing these links, your audience can quickly determine what channels the companies take advantage of the most and how they use them to tell their brand story. Understanding why and how the competition is doing well or not with their online presence will reveal the opportunity.
Geo-targeting (sometimes spelled geotargeting or geo targeting) involves detecting a user’s location, and serving them communications based on that location. Those communications might be ads or other content, like an email or geo-targeted push notification. Geo-targeted communications are delivered most commonly through text or push, and might also come when you open a certain app or social media site. The benefit of geo-targeting services are simple: enhanced personalization.
It would be unreasonable to run a full technical audit of each competitor, but take into account your own site’s technical SEO performance if you know there are outstanding technical issues to be addressed. In addition to the previous checklist items, I also like to use these Chrome extensions from Ayima: Page Insights and Redirect Path. These can provide quick checks for common technical SEO errors.
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