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.

Competitive analysis can help frame your own product context, discover other problems your customers have, and even bond the team together against a common foe. For all of these reasons and more you shouldn’t ignore your competition. However, if you don’t properly understand how they impact your organization’s strategy, competitive analysis is simply a waste of time.
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.

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:

Entrepreneur and marketing guru Peter Yang is the co-founder of ResumeGo, a firm offering resume and CV writing services to people aspiring to advance in their professional careers. As the head of the company’s marketing operations and a content marketing manager for IBM in the past, he wants to share his experience with other marketers looking to make it big.
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.
Do they have separate marketing messages for different segments? Sometimes, you might see a stark difference between how your competitor markets their business for one type of customer versus how they present themselves to another type of customer. For example, if you're trying to sell services as a math tutor to high school students who are struggling to pass their math subjects, you'll be making a completely different pitch than you would to those students who need additional help with their SAT math so that they could get into prestigious universities. Your message to the struggling students might be closer to "I'll help you finally pass your math tests!" While your message to the other market will be similar to "I'll help you get into the school of your dreams!" Also, be sure to note if your competitor does something similar with their own customer segments. 
Some competitors solve the same problem with the same technology but focus on a different customer. For example, Zum provides schoolchildren with rides to school, solving a transportation problem for kids and parents. Zum solves a slightly different problem too: safety. Safety is the primary concern for parents when it comes to kids riding back from school. However, it’s ultimately grounded in the same tech as Uber.
In summary, these are but a few of the examples of how geography plays such an important part in creating customized and targeted marketing campaigns. Consumers respond better to relevant marketing which means that ROI of targeted campaigns will increase. Mobile consumers make geography one of the best ways to target while technology and data make doing so a real advantage to those who use it. Sometimes it takes a little creativity, but it is worth the effort. Especially for the business of local.
Long-tail keywords: Longer keywords or specific phrases might not be used as search queries as frequently by your audience. In the above example, for instance, it’s likely that a freelancer looking for a coworking place queries ‘coworking bristol’ rather than ‘coworking space in bristol’, however, the traffic generated by all combinations of long-tail keywords can provide your site as much traffic as the short-tail keywords. And why would you risk losing any opportunity you have to be present on search engines? We are not the only ones saying this, HitTail also give facts about long-tail keywords; about 70 percent of queries are long-tail.
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.
Google Ads operates on a pay-per-click model, in which users bid on keywords and pay for each click on their advertisements. Every time a search is initiated, Google digs into the pool of Ads advertisers and chooses a set of winners to appear in the valuable 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 campaigns, as well as the size of their keyword bids.
You can use multiple different exclusion zones if you have an extremely particular region that you’re looking to target. The only caveat here is that you have to make sure you’re not being too narrow with your behavioral and demographic targeting. When you focus on too small a region, the size of your audience can get so small that it becomes practically impossible for Facebook to actually deliver your advertisements.

We must clearly identify our objectives for the campaign and tie the campaign objectives to business objectives. Your objectives could include raising awareness, increasing engagement, generating conversions, and customer retention. Your objectives will need to be tailored to your specific business and you will want to map your objectives to a typical marketing funnel. This chapter highlights how to identify your objectives to measure success.
To use this feature, you’ll need at least 15 conversion in the last 30 days, though you should really only use it if you have more historic conversions in order for AdWords to more accurately adjust your bids to meet the target. If you’re selling a product or service that is particularly seasonal, keep a close eye on your Cost per Conversion target to make sure that AdWords doesn’t reduce your bids too much if you have a period where conversions aren’t happening as much as they were during peak season.
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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.
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. 
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:
"My favorite part about voice search is just how clear the intent is in the query. For example, if I typed in 'hotels in the Bahamas', you’d have no idea whether I was looking for a romantic getaway, a singles trip or a family vacation. Chances are the results would be different for each. But if I asked Cortana, 'which are the best family-friendly hotels in the Bahamas,' then a far more targeted result could be served.
“We’re seeing a lot of attention on our Promote product, a solution for small business owners, that few people realize is powered by automation and machine learning behind the scenes. We’ve partnered with large banks, small business service providers, and more to bring this machine learning martech to small business owners. And we’re not alone. There are many examples of increasingly accessible machine learning tools for small businesses.”
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.
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.
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.
How do current customers rate the following features of your business compared to your competition.Rate the following as: fair, good or excellent. Our Company / Competition ___________ /__________ Price ___________ /__________ Quality ___________ /__________ Durability ___________ /__________ Image/style ___________ /__________ Value ___________ /__________ Name Recognition ___________ /__________ Customer Service ___________ /__________ Customer Relations ___________ /__________ Location ___________ /__________ Convenience ___________ /__________ Other
Competitive analysis is a key aspect when in the beginning stages of an SEO campaign. Far too often, I see organizations skip this important step and get right into keyword mapping, optimizing content, or link building. But understanding who our competitors are and seeing where they stand can lead to a far more comprehensive understanding of what our goals should be and reveal gaps or blind spots.