WHAT TO EXPECTAn in-depth investigation and analysis of your competition is one of the most important components of a comprehensive market analysis. A competitive analysis allows you to assess your competitor's strengths and weaknesses in your marketplace and implement effective strategies to improve your competitive advantage. This Business Builder will take you through a step-by-step process of competitive analysis, helping you to identify your competition, determine and weigh their attributes, assess their strengths and weaknesses, and uncover their objectives and strategies in your market segment. WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE GETTING STARTED [top] What Types of Organizations Should I Consider as Competitors? Any business marketing a product similar to, or as a substitute for, your own product in the same geographic area is a direct competitor. Firms offering dissimilar or substitute products in relation to your product or service are considered indirect competitors. Indirect competition would exist between the manufacturer of butter and a manufacturer of margarine selling to the same customers. Another example is the manufacturer of eyeglasses who competes indirectly with contact lens manufacturers. Stated in other terms, indirect competition will satisfy the customer's need with a particular product or service, although the product or service used may be different from yours. If a firm has similar products and distribution channels, but has chosen to operate in different market segments, they are not at this time your direct competitor. However, it's important to monitor the marketing activities of such firms because they may decide to move into your market segment, just as you may decide to move into theirs. Take a moment and identify your direct and indirect competitors: Why is a Comprehensive Competitive Analysis an Important Part of a Marketing Plan? To achieve and maintain a competitive advantage in reaching and selling to your target market, you must possess a thorough knowledge of your competition. An in-depth competitive analysis will provide you with the following:
Monitoring also allows you to notice trends. If there’s a high bounce rate (people leaving your landing page before making a purchase) but a high click-through rate as well (lots of people are clicking on your ad), it’s a sign that the issue isn’t with your ad but with your landing page. Instead of throwing the baby out with the bathwater, you can focus exclusively on improving your landing page.
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."
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.

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.
An important distinction to make before we begin is that a Competitor Analysis is not a Product Comparison. Although we may make mention of the types of products sold, we should not be including the detailed product features in a Competitor Analysis. Quite often, two seemingly distinct products can solve the same customer problem or satisfy a similar need. At its core, a Competitor Analysis is a document that evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of your rivals.

The assumptions that a competitor's managers hold about their firm and their industry help to define the moves that they will consider. For example, if in the past the industry introduced a new type of product that failed, the industry executives may assume that there is no market for the product. Such assumptions are not always accurate and if incorrect may present opportunities. For example, new entrants may have the opportunity to introduce a product similar to a previously unsuccessful one without retaliation because incumbant firms may not take their threat seriously. Honda was able to enter the U.S. motorcycle market with a small motorbike because U.S. manufacturers had assumed that there was no market for small bikes based on their past experience.


Twitter is also a great place to get guidance about what's popular as it relates to your search terms. Just type a word or phrase into the search bar and see what trending topics come up. You can also use social media monitoring tools like Hootsuite, which allows you to create a stream based on a particular phrase and monitor mentions of it, or TweetReach, which gives you a similar quick analysis. 
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.
You need a keen understanding of your ideal customer and the market so that when you launch, your product is positioned correctly in the ecosystem of all products and services. Since competition can come from anywhere, you need to catalog your strengths and weaknesses relative to both direct and indirect category leaders (i.e., those adjacent to your core business).
Google's AdWords Keyword Planner tool is another common starting point for SEO keyword research. It not only suggests keywords and provides estimated search volume, but also predicts the cost of running paid campaigns for these terms. To determine volume for a particular keyword, be sure to set the Match Type to [Exact] and look under Local Monthly Searches. Remember that these represent total searches. Depending on your ranking and click-through rate, the actual number of visitors you achieve for these keywords will usually be much lower.
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.
By looking at them from a customer’s point of view, you are looking at their major strengths and flaws. In other words, you are doing the first part of the SWOT analysis. You think like a customer would. Why would a customer go for their services? Is it because they do things differently or their quality is top notch? Either way these things are like strengths for the competitors. You put yourself in the customer’s shoes and wonder why you would go for them instead of coming to your own company.
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.

Every company has those dreaded competitors they cannot stand, no matter what you do they are always using your ideas and taking your potential customers. Whether you are a local, national, or international company there is probably someone in your company, specifically the sales and marketing teams, that can quickly rattle off your top competitors as well as what differentiates them from you.


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.  ‎ /injects>
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