Annual ReportsIf your competitor is a publicly-held company, many of its reports to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission are available on the SEC-Edgar Web site. Annual reports provide financial information, including sales volume, revenue increases, and their total market share. 10-K reports provide still more detail, and are supplemented by the quarterly 10-Qs. 8-Ks show significant events such as acquisitions and board membership changes when they occur between 10-K and 10-Q filings. Annual reports from privately-held corporations are sometimes available through friends, relatives, and business acquaintances who own stock in a competitor's company.  
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.

Say our real estate marketing business really starts to blow up. We make a few new hires and start to divide Manhattan up into regions, with each new employee responsible for a new section. Each one is responsible for marketing within their region. We can easily carve out an “excluded” area within any local awareness region to, for example, exclude a particular zip code that we’re not responsible for from our ad’s targeting. That lets us save money by not targeting customers that we don’t really want to be attracting:
It's important to check that you have a mix of head terms and long-tail terms because it'll give you a keyword strategy that's well balanced with long-term goals and short-term wins. That's because head terms are generally searched more frequently, making them often (not always, but often) much more competitive and harder to rank for than long-tail terms. Think about it: Without even looking up search volume or difficulty, which of the following terms do you think would be harder to rank for?
A competitor's media strategy reveals budget allocation, segmentation and targeting strategy, and selectivity and focus.[13][14] From a tactical perspective, it can also be used to help a manager implement his own media plan. By knowing the competitor's media buy, media selection, frequency, reach, continuity, schedules, and flights, the manager can arrange his own media plan so that they do not coincide.
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.
Once you have caught the attention of people with your ad and they click on it, you want to make sure that you direct them to a customized landing page that specifically relates to what they just clicked on. Many small businesses make the mistake of sending them to their website homepage, but this isn’t the best tactic to convert visitors. Instead, you need to design landing pages that reflect the keywords from the PPC ad, show the product or service solution that your new visitors were searching Google for, and have a prominent, clear call to action like “Book Now” or “Buy Now”.
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.  
A transactional sales approach to customer acquisition is best for products with a higher average selling price (ASP) then self-service solutions. Customers expect to see a demo, or even try the product. In fact, when customers are paying more, they expect more hand-holding throughout the process. While this can drive up organizational costs and complexity for a SaaS vendor, it can yield significant revenues and long-term customer loyalty. For this approach, companies need to optimize their sales, marketing, and support in a way that allows them to build a relationship with the customer over the customer lifetime. Most SaaS companies fall under this category.

More specifically, who gets to appear on the page is based on and 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). This system allows winning advertisers to reach potential customers at a cost that fits their budget. It’s essentially a kind of auction. The below infographic illustrates how this auction system works.

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.

Has anyone tried to use Changetower (https://changetower.com) to monitor for new competitive keyword changes? I can seem to figure out a way to monitor for specific keywords that my clients wants to get alerted for, just general changes or changes in a certain area of the page… If anyone knows anything about Changetower or another site to recommend for monitoring keywords? Thanks!


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.
In the Google Sheets Template, I've provided you with the data points that we'll be collecting, the tools you'll need to do so, and then bucketed the metrics based on similar themes. The data we're trying to collect relates to SEO metrics like domain authority, how much traffic the competition is getting, which keywords are driving that traffic, and the depth of competitors’ backlink profiles. I have built in a few heatmaps for key metrics to help you visualize who's the strongest at a glance.
SpyFu displays side-by-side data on your competitors' paid and organic search results, so you can easily see where it's more cost-effective to bid on a particular keyword as opposed to trying to rank for  it organically. That way you can use your time more efficiently by writing content around those keywords that drive a lot of traffic but are more expensive to bid on.
Beyond the city level, your geotargeting on Facebook can further narrow your targeted customers to within miles. For example, a fairly standard radius is 10 miles and closer when you’re targeting a specific product or service in a particular vicinity. If you’re in a more rural setting, you can expand that radius to 20 or 25 miles. Urban areas like Chicago, Los Angeles and New York are targeted within one mile.
Furthermore, 70% of consumers are willing to share their location information if they believe they are getting something of value in return like coupons or loyalty points, according to LSA’s Local Mobile Search Study.  This dynamically moving consumer base is only going to be more receptive to search results and ads that are specific to their location.
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.
Your keyword strategy should make clear which “keyword groups” you focus on. It doesn’t have to be a long list of keywords (though it doesn’t hurt to have one). Your keyword strategy should be a definition of a group of keywords that you’re tackling. Every time you’re writing new content you can have a quick look at those groups and pick a new keyword that falls in line with the strategy.
We constantly sharpen our PPC skills -  by speaking at national search marketing conferences, writing helpful "how-to" blogs for other search marketers,  and consuming daily blogs and news to stay abreast of everthing that this crazy industry throws at us! It's unlikely that your in-house employee(s) can achieve the level of focus and commitment of PPC-Strategies.

Also, click on the “CTR” checkbox at the top of the graph. That will display a line graph overlay that displays your click-through rate for search. If you see that it’s dropped recently, it might be a good idea to check your meta description tags to make sure that they haven’t changed. It’s possible that people aren’t as “tempted’ to click on your link in search results because there’s not a very good description of the page contents.
This is one of the major reasons why organisation in a start-up is essential. You will spend less time procrastinating and more time achieving goals and completing client tasks. Spend time every day organising your digital folders and your physical folders before you start working. This will ensure that there are no distractions throughout the day and you can complete all the important tasks on time and within budget.
Beacons are little physical objects (under two square inches, in most cases) that can be placed in desired locations. Their sole purpose is to detect you, or more specifically, your device, as you move into their range. The beacons themselves don’t send content. Like geofencing, a signal is triggered when you’re near one, and a server sends a push, text, in-app message, or even an email (though currently, that’s a less likely application for beacons).
Of course you don’t have to achieve all of these things in the headline of the ad! In fact, in the case of sitelinks and ad extensions, that’s not possible by definition. There are many parts to an ad that allow you to achieve all the above tips and still be highly relevant to what the person is searching for (the keyword!). Let’s break down sections of ad copy that you can use to show off your small business and attract leads from PPC. These are the basic components of your ad copy in AdWords according to Google’s length limits.
I have often gone on the record with my skepticism toward paid search campaign management software, and I have several reasons for being skeptical. My main concern has been that these tools over promise on features and under deliver on performance. They claim to replace the analyst by using algorithms to optimize campaigns, but in reality they replace the fun piece of the analysts job (improving results) and replace it with the tedious task of managing to get their campaigns to work properly in the software. I have been burned by this sales pitch twice and have written about this in a previous post called “Paid Search Bid Management Tools: Great Investment or Save Your Money?” – so feel free to read that post for more details.

Great tips on doing a competitive analysis Zee! I would also add if it is a "local SEO" competitive analysis, you throw in a GMB optimization/completeness and NAP listings quantity/quality (using Moz Local). Also a great free tool for checking how long title tags are when doing the content part of the analysis (and if a search engine will cut it off with the "...") is https://www.portent.com/serp-preview-tool.


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 first step in this process is determining who are the top four competitors that we want to use for this analysis. I like to use a mixture of direct business competitors (typically provided by my clients) and online search competitors, which can differ from whom a business identifies as their main competitors. Usually, this discrepancy is due to local business competitors versus those who are paying for online search ads. While your client may be concerned about the similar business down the street, their actual online competitor may be a business from a neighboring town or another state.
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