If the SaaS world feels like a blur these days, it’s not just you. SaaS products and services have proliferated. Product categories have gotten more crowded. A lot of their features and functionality have started to overlap. The subscription economy has made it easier to switch to competing products. The marketplace has turned into a competitive high-stakes, “winner-takes-all” environment.


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.
3. Video Ads Become More Practical: Video engages viewers extremely effectively, but advertisers have sometimes avoided it because of the perceived difficulty in making a video and the high cost of running video ads. Remember, video ads can be very short, from 15 -30 seconds, depending upon where you run them. To keep production costs down, there will be more and more free video tools provided by advertisers who want your business, for instance, Boomerang, free Instagram video ad creator. In 2018, consider YouTube, which offers a variety of video ad formats and, as part of the Google ecosystem, makes a great bet to place effective PPC ads. Consider Bing advertising, especially for higher-end products, since one-third or their traffic earns over $100k. Look at options to advertise with Yahoo/Verizon, Facebook/Instagram, Amazon (for product ads), LinkedIn video ads (for B2B) and more.
There are some general negative keywords that should be added to almost any campaign, such as “free”, “jobs” “training”, as people searching for these terms are not likely to be looking to buy your product. Keywords like “review” and “opinions” can also be useful, as they will reduce the number of window shoppers who aren’t necessarily looking to buy now. But you’ll also want to research negative keywords specific to your business or audience. For example, if you are an optometrist, you’ll want to use words like “wine”, as you aren’t looking for customers in search of “wine glasses.
But what is a brand keyword? A brand keyword is the keyword used to search for a company name. The term branding stems from the literal act of branding cattle with a hot brand. You “mark your ownership” by branding a cow. You can “own” a product group too by putting your brand on it. Our brand is “Yoast”. It’s not “WordPress SEO”, nor is it “Google Analytics”. Those are keywords. We have one brand and we’ve slowly moved all our product names to be completely branded too, instead of generic. You might have noticed our WordPress SEO plugin is now called Yoast SEO and the same is true for our Google Analytics plugin, which is called Google Analytics by Yoast.
Bonus Trick: Try typing in your basic keyword phrase, followed by every letter of the alphabet, and making a list of those phrases. If your product or service is specific to locations, try typing in those locations to see what kind of search volume exists. (Are alternative energy tax credits more commonly searched in Austin compared with Cleveland?)
2. Define how will you measure success. This is probably one of the most important questions to answer before you begin any campaign. As a consultant, this is one of the first questions I ask a potential client. The answer as you might expect is page one ranking. If your objective is branding only, then this is fine, however, if like most organizations yours is a conversion strategy, then I would caution you to not be so short-sighted. Your objective should be how many conversions you want to achieve for each keyword. Top ranking will help you with visibility, which is a good thing, but if you bring in traffic from that keyword and those visitors do not engage and convert, then why bother? You must set your sights on keywords that convert.
Don’t forget, content marketing should be customer-centric. One of the best ways to know what content you should create is to find out from your customers. There are a number of ways to go about asking, whether it’s through customer surveys, social media, or just giving them a phone call. Listen to what they have to say, and jot down some unique ideas or suggestions that you might have missed yourself. Sometimes their responses can really surprise you!
Not every keyword is worth ranking for. This may seem obvious, but it’s an important lesson for search marketers to learn. Often times we can get caught falling down the rabbit hole or chasing the long tail dragon to boost our rankings without thinking of the time and resources it takes to rank for these terms. Especially for highly competitive, high-volume keywords – it simply isn’t worth the time and effort it might take to get onto page one.
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.
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.
If you are a UX designer, then you might be aware of the service design cycle. This cycle contains four stages: discover, explore, test and listen. Each one of these stages has multiple research methods, and competitive analysis is part of the exploration. Susan Farrell has very helpfully distinguished different UX research methods and activities that can be performed for your project. (You can check this detailed segregation in her “UX Research Cheat Sheet”.)
Having initiated a Geo Targeting conversion experiment, you are faced with an inherent problem: how can you verify that your Geo Targeting works? One option is to ask people that are located worldwide to browse your targeted pages and inform you of the results. Another, far more convenient method, is to use a “global geo proxy network” that allows you to browse the web from different global locations.

The easiest way to target a particular geographic area is simply to set up a Facebook ad as usual. When you’re setting up the audience and you get to the map, hit “Drop Pin” and place the indicator in the middle of your intended target area. Then, use the radius slider to modify the full range of land that your targeting will cover. You can adjust this from 1 mile to up to 50 miles.
The personal intent targeting is nearly as strong as search, which is really saying something! The Q&A format of Quora lends itself to fairly specific intent (e.g., "What is a good program for learning data science online?"). That question is loaded with high-quality intent potential for my client, and anyone clicking on it likely wants to actually discover the answer.

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.

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:
This broken-link checker makes it easy for a publisher or editor to make corrections before a page is live. Think about a site like Wikipedia, for example. The Wikipedia page for the term "marketing" contains a whopping 711 links. Not only was Check My Links able to detect this number in a matter of seconds, but it also found (and highlighted) seven broken links.
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