A FINAL WORD [top] Schedule a competitive analysis on a regular basis, as you do for inventory and other business functions. Depending on what market you're operating in it could be every two months or once a year. Consider employing a college student for the summer or create student internship positions to fulfill the task. You must remember that your competitive research and analysis is never finished. This is on-going, rather than a one-time process. Your competition can change quickly, new players can emerge tomorrow, the economy may upswing or downswing at any moment. It's only when you clearly understand your competition that you can evaluate your own market position. Only then can you exploit their weaknesses to your competitive advantage and seek to improve your own marketing efforts. CHECKLIST [top] ___ Have you identified your direct and indirect competitors? ___ Do you know how the customers in your target market rate your product in comparison with your cometitors'? ___ Have you compiled the intelligence you have gathered on each competitor in a format that fosters comparison of features and market postions? ___ Do you have strategies for building on your strengths and minimizing your vulnerability where you have weakenesses? Do you have strategies for minimizing the value of your competitors' strengths and taking advantage of their weaknesses? ___ Have you communicated the competitor information and your strategies to every worker who needs to know? In research and development? In production? In marketing and sales? ___ Have you established procedures for keeping your industry and competitor profiles current? RESOURCES [top] Books Competitive Intelligence for the Competitive Edge, by Alan Dutka. (NTC Business Books, 1999). Brief discussions of competitive intelligence activities are followed by extensive real-life case-study examples. Web Sites "Do You REALLY Know What The Competition Is Doing?" by Darrell S. Mockus. Journal of Business Strategy 24:1 (January-February, 2003), 8-10. "Spies Like Us," by Carole Ashkinaze. Business Week (July 12, 2000), F4+. "Face-to-Face: Spies Like Us," by Stephanie L. Gruner. Inc. 20:11 (August 1998), 45 (7). "Spy Away," by Mark Henricks. Entrepreneur 28:3 (March 2000), 98. Fuld and Company. What Is CI?. Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals. "Competitive Intelligence vs. Espionage," by Fred White. ThomasNet Industrial Newsroom, May 22, 2007. Writer: Susan MaGee All rights reserved. The text of this publication, or any part thereof, may not be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the publisher.  
It’s all about repeated exposure—while your previous site visitors browse other websites, your retargeting provider will show them ads for your services and products. Using retargeting, you can entice visitors back to your website and effectively convert these digital window shoppers into customers for your business. In fact, potential customers who are retargeted with display ads are 70 percent more likely to convert. Now, doesn’t that sound nice?
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.

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It's quite likely that no prospect or customer reads your press releases as carefully as your competitors do. Press releases are helpful in understanding a company’s strategic focus. Sometimes PRs show your competitors’ customer count. The About section in a press release shows your competitor's strategic messaging. These two to five sentences are how your competitor wants their customers and prospects to perceive the company and its products.

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.
"Modern SEO focuses on using the variations of the word or phrase that work naturally within the content because users will have a better experience, and search engines are capable of rewarding rankings to sites regardless of the variation of that keyword used. In other words, when a shopper searches for 'books,' the pages that best serve that user’s search query will, in theory, be ranked highest regardless of whether the content reflects the word 'book' or 'books.'"
A logo offers a brief glimpse into a company’s branding language. This section will quickly provide your audience with that value, as the different colors and imagery will give life and organization to your document by separating the competitors’ brands from each other. When it comes to adding your competitors’ logos, make sure to use high-quality images. Including words like “vector” and “high-res” to your Google search will bring in superior results. Make sure your logos are consistent across the board. (Most companies have both with-text and without-text logo variations — double check to make sure it’s the same format for each of your competitors.)  
Page Content: The days of minimum keyword density are gone. The number of times you use a keyword is really determined by the length of your content. If you are creating unique, quality content your will naturally use your keyword throughout your page. Sprinkle latent semantic keywords throughout your content to strengthen the page’s topical relevance.

Exhaustive – Your keyword research should include not only the most popular and frequently searched terms in your niche, but also to the long tail of search. Long-tail keywords are more specific and less common, but they add up to account for the majority of search-driven traffic. In addition, they are less competitive, and therefore less expensive.

It’s good for searchers – Research indicates that searchers click on paid search ads more often than any other form of digital advertising. This means that people really don’t mind being advertised to, provided that the products and services advertised actually fit the searcher’s needs. And because we use search engines when we’re looking for products and services, the results, including the ads, are generally highly relevant to what we’re looking for. Plus, Google has developed an excellent formula for ensuring that PPC ads meet the user’s needs.
This emphasis on competition is related to the advent of game theory in the mid 20th century around the same time. The problem is that game theory is one mental model of many to help make decisions, not the only one (Ben Thompson from Stratechery has a good post on the Prisoner’s Dilemma that is a fundamental one). Even researchers are starting to point to the fact that there are no perfect solutions (such as a Nash equilibrium) to most situations.
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.
For example, a coffee shop can set a 1-mile perimeter around its store and reach any user within that radius. Or, it could set a 3-mile perimeter around a nearby office complex to reach users that may be looking for somewhere to grab coffee before going into work. You can also try geo-conquesting, which targets customers around a competitor’s location.
For many of you reading this post, you may wonder why these other strategies exist at all. Shouldn’t people only be paying for clicks that directly impact their ability to generate revenue and ultimately profit? I struggled with this concept early in my career, but ultimately came to the conclusion that not every single marketing activity can be direct response.
Website. What’s the first thing visitors see in your competitor’s website? Is there much text on the website, and if there is, what does it emphasize about your competitor’s business? Do they have customer reviews and testimonials? Make note of the design as well. Is their website static and minimalist, or does it have animation and other interactive features? Apart from judging the copy, design, and features of the site itself, does the site rank well for relevant search terms that you think your potential customers could use? If you’re selling handmade leather wallets, try doing a Google search for “handmade leather tool wallets” and see if any of your competitors are in the first few pages.
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?)  

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.
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. 
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.
You should invest in having a well-structured filing system, both in the office and digitally. Use neatly organised folders with clear and relevant names on them for all of your documents, bills and emails. By doing this, you can free up hours of the day to work on important tasks, such as drumming up more business through a new and exciting marketing strategy. You will also be setting an example for your team by having an organised office and computer.
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.
Megan Malone is a Founding Partner with Vici, and leads our Operations division. Megan has both a radio and digital marketing background working for the Philadelphia Eagles, Beasley Broadcast Group, and Cox Media Group. In her career she has helped plan and implement thousands of digital media campaigns. She holds a certification from Disney Institute’s People Management, and was awarded the top 10 advertisers in Louisville from the American Advertisers Federation.

If you have and use a smartphone, it’s possible for you to set location-based reminders for yourself, right now. You can, for example, tell your phone to alert you when you’re within range of the frame shop, so that new piece of art doesn’t become a six-month fixture in your trunk. Or, if you’ve attended a concert lately, and the band sends you a push notification to buy some gear while you’re in the venue, they’ve likely used geofencing.
Both geo-fencing and geo-targeting can be done on mobile, tablet, computer, or even gaming devices with internet access.  When it comes to deciding which is best for your marketing, think of who your target customer is. If you are interested in advertising to a population of all ages and all interests, geo-fencing is perfect for you. If you are only interested in hitting only a specific consumer demographic that is more niche, then you should be doing geo-targeting.
In the last year, Google and Bing have both indicated a shift to entity-based search results as part of their evolution. Google has unscored this point with rich snippets and Knowledge Graph, and Bing has now upped the ante on personal search results with Bing Snapshots. Find out how you can adopt strategies to stay ahead of the curve in the new world of semantic search results.

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.
GREAT suggestions, Nicholas! I've definitely customized this checklist for clients' various needs too (some care about having an "email signup form" as something to check, while others are international and we'd need to make sure their href lang tags were correct). Please keep the recs coming–this checklist will only get better as we make it work for different scenarios :)
Some very general words such as “marketing” or “business” are very competitive, making it harder to rank well for them in search engine results. If you are a small- or medium-sized business, you probably want to choose less competitive keywords, more specifically related to your business (these are commonly referred to as long tail keywords). The greater the volume of searches on a keyword, the more competitive it is. There are a number of different tools you can use to determine thecompetitiveness of a specific keyword as well as suggest and help you brainstorm new keyword ideas.

Geofencing hinges on the use of a “fence”—a designated area that a marketer sets. Where geo-targeting allows you to get more granular and include or exclude certain users in the target area (based on demographic, for instance), geofencing is a bit more of a blunt object in that you’ll capture all users who move into a certain area. The purpose of creating a geofence is to target communications in a given zone, in a given context—just like geo-targeting, but with greater accuracy. Retail operators who want to catch the attention of shoppers as they pass by a store, for example, might use geofencing.
Reason: This metric can help you to know if you have well-organized content. Traffic generated from certain keywords can provide good insight into which pages a visitor typically sees as a result of that keyword query. In case you are using Google Analytics for measuring your visits, you can do it within the following path: Traffic sources > Search > Organic > Landing Pages as 1st dimension & 2nd dimension: Keyword.

HubSpot's marketing automation software has several tools just for this purpose.  The first is the HubSpot keyword tool, which allows you to keep track of keywords you're targeting. Once you've done your research and know which keywords are most likely to perform well, you can import those keywords into the tool. The tool will show you how you're currently ranking for those terms and whether your ranking is moving up or down over time. 
Retargeting is a great way to close sales that you otherwise might’ve missed. A variety of ad platforms offer retargeting services, including Google and social media networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn (we previously wrote about LinkedIn’s retargeting platform Lead Accelerator.) To learn more about retargeting and remarketing, read our post, Retargeting for Rookies: Your Guide to What it is and How to Use it.
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.
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.
Remember that martech landscape map with over 5,000 companies? Almost every product category is made up of over a dozen different players. You can’t reasonably expect to analyze all of them. You don’t need to either. An ideal competitor analysis includes three to five companies that represent the biggest threat to your business. (Go with five if you’re operating in a crowded market.)
GREAT suggestions, Nicholas! I've definitely customized this checklist for clients' various needs too (some care about having an "email signup form" as something to check, while others are international and we'd need to make sure their href lang tags were correct). Please keep the recs coming–this checklist will only get better as we make it work for different scenarios :)
Geo-Targeting content is simple and beneficial to most websites, advertisers and publishers, as well anyone using PPC campaigns or SEO. Not only does it enable you to match the most relevant content to your visitor, Geo Targeting also serves as an excellent basis for experimenting with traffic to optimize your funnels. Some ideas were presented here that may be tested, but the options are virtually limitless.
Test putting the location in the ad copy. If you’re a local business, there’s a chance that people want to find you locally. Who cares about a tire repair shop in Massachusetts if you’re in Denver? Because of this, putting the location in your ad copy can give you an edge. If necessary, run multiple campaigns with each specifying the individual location.<
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. 
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.  
2. Voice Search Comes into Its Own: It’s time to start optimizing your ads for voice search: The ease of use and prevalence of virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa, as well as Google’s Voice Search (“OK Google…”) make using vocal search utterly quick and convenient. Voice search accounted for 20 percent of mobile searches in 2016, according to a Kleiner Perkins study quoted by CNN. Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home are on many Christmas Wish Lists this year. Grab the voice searcher’s attention by using the first person question format in your ads and content. Most voice searches are geographically specific, so use correct and popular names for your local neighborhood(s), city, county, and region in your PPC ads.

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.
Pick your battles. Sometimes a keyword is so competitive, it's best to let it go. Focus on keywords where you have the most opportunity to move up in the ranks. Moving up from a ranking of 60 to 50 won't have much of an impact, but moving from a ranking of 15 to 8 pushes you from Page 2 to Page 1 of Google's search results, where you'll have a much better chance of being found.
Exhaustive – Your keyword research should include not only the most popular and frequently searched terms in your niche, but also extend to the long tail of search. Long-tail keywords are more specific and less common, but they add up to account for the majority of search-driven traffic. In addition, they are less competitive, and therefore less expensive.

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.

Then how can someone afford to pay $54.20 per click if it does not generate profit? The answer is simple: they are spending that money to build a brand and they are not focused on the profitability on that individual click; they are focused on profitability over time and they most likely have a budget assigned to building that brand. Not having to focus on achieving profit for individual click puts a company at a tremendous advantage for displaying their brand prominently in search results. It also makes it harder for profitability based marketers to compete.
Google is constantly refining and adding new tools to AdWords, so remaining active with your PPC strategies is critical if you want to beat out your competition. There’s never a set-it-and-forget-it approach that you can take–as much as one might wish–so it’s important that you test, analyze, re-test, and repeat to find out what is working for you and what is not. Also, keep in mind that while some strategies might work wonders for a particular business or industry, they may not be as effective with yours. Experiment with different approaches, but don’t be too quick to abandon ones that don’t show immediate results. Some investments require time to show their return.
When an ad mentions the target customer’s region or city, such as Chicago, this approach has proven to deliver a much better response rate than running a national campaign that doesn’t include a location. “It goes back to the messaging aspect,” Fritz explains. “Your geolocation ad targeting is much more effective. That’s because it connects more deeply with prospective customers than a generic advertisement. You are running a social advertisement that is very specific to someone in a particular place. This could be Cleveland, New York City, Miami, Dallas, Los Angeles, or whatever area you have targeted.”
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”.
The strategic rationale of competitor profiling is simple. Superior knowledge of rivals offers a legitimate source of competitive advantage[7]. The raw material of competitive advantage consists of offering superior customer value in the firm’s chosen market. The definitive characteristic of customer value is the adjective, superior. Customer value is defined relative to rival offerings making competitor knowledge an intrinsic component of corporate strategy. Profiling facilitates this strategic objective in three important ways.[8] First, profiling can reveal strategic weaknesses in rivals that the firm may exploit. Second, the proactive stance of competitor profiling will allow the firm to anticipate the strategic response of their rivals to the firm’s planned strategies, the strategies of other competing firms, and changes in the environment. Third, this proactive knowledge will give the firms strategic agility. Offensive strategy can be implemented more quickly in order to exploit opportunities and capitalize on strengths. Similarly, defensive strategy can be employed more deftly in order to counter the threat of rival firms from exploiting the firm’s own weaknesses.[5]

The same goes for PPC advertising. Potential customers who are targeted with your PPC ads don’t care about your need to fill your pipeline or your salespeople’s need to meet their quota—the truth is they only care about what’s in it for themselves. Cater to this by crafting your ad copy in the second person, keeping the importance on the consumer and not on your company.
Ad extension provides extra benefits for your PPC advertising. Use these extensions to enhance your ad and to show additional information with your ad, like an address, phone number, store rating, or additional webpage links. Ad extension ensures high CTR because they make your ad more relevant and prominent. It also improve your quality score. Google says “If two competing ads have the same bid and quality, then the ad with the more relevant extensions will most likely appear in a higher position than the other.”
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.
Across the top of the paper, list the main features and characteristics of each product or service. Include such things as target market, price, size, method of distribution, and extent of customer service for a product. For a service, list prospective buyers, where the service is available, price, website, toll-free phone number, and other features that are relevant. A glance at the competition grid will help you see where your product fits in the overall market.

Once your ad is displayed, it’s likely to be clicked by only a tiny percentage of people who search for such a broad term, making it less likely to be displayed in the future. And even if you create an ad that’s broad enough for those searchers to reliably click, they’re unlikely to find exactly what they’re looking for on your landing page. You’re paying a lot for poor-quality traffic.
In this example, competitor #1 is rated higher than competitor #2 on product innovation ability (7 out of 10, compared to 4 out of 10) and distribution networks (6 out of 10), but competitor #2 is rated higher on customer focus (5 out of 10). Overall, competitor #1 is rated slightly higher than competitor #2 (20 out of 40 compared to 15 out of 40). When the success factors are weighted according to their importance, competitor #1 gets a far better rating (4.9 compared to 3.7).
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.