Competitive Analysis 101

As I stepped into the world of PPC on the first day of my internship, I was told I would be responsible for compiling and presenting a competitive analysis for a client based in the IT help desk software field. A confused intern sat in her cube. Question arose such as, “What’s help desk software?” More importantly, “How do I create a competitive analysis?” After the initial confusion and questions, I decided to take a whack at it. First I got familiar with the client, their products, features, and current Adwords account. Next, I picked four main competitors to focus on. I selected only four, as it is important to keep the analysis manageable – focusing on quality not quantity. After I chose my main competitors, I became familiar with their sites, their products and landing pages and made note anything of value our competitors were offering that our client wasn’t.

There are several helpful tools I used in the process of creating my analysis, which can also help you in developing your own competitive analysis.

  • Keyword Spy is a helpful research tool which exposes what ads and keywords your competitors are showing for, in addition to ROI estimates.
  • Google Insights for Search allows you to search keywords search volume and interest over time across categories, time ranges, and geographic distribution.

Using Keyword Spy I pulled the keywords competitors were bidding on, including our client’s keywords. Next, I compiled these terms and deleted keywords that were showing for less than 25 days. This was done to make the analysis more manageable and can be changed based on your needs. Following this, I inserted a pivot table showing the competitor, keyword, and number of days seen. Next I sorted the pivot from largest to smallest days seen and deleted keywords if less than half of competitors were bidding on them. I would suggest making note of the terms your client isn’t bidding on that your competitors are. This may indicate possible room for keyword expansion. Running them through Google’s Traffic Estimator will give you a better idea of how they could affect your budget and how much traffic they could generate. It is important to keep in mind that the numbers Keyword Spy and Google Traffic Estimator generate are estimates, and should be taken with a grain of salt.

Through Keyword Spy I was also able to pull ads our competitors were showing for. Looking at competitors ads, allows you to see what ads are receiving a high ROI and insight into ways to manipulate and optimize your own ad copy to receive more clicks and conversions. Another important tool discussed above was Google Insights for Search, which allows you to pull interest reports to see search terms trends over time- weekly, monthly, yearly etc. You can also narrow your search by geographic region. The reports which allow you to see trends in search volume index geographically, could peak an interest in possible regional, national and international campaign expansions.

Another way I analyzed competition in my analysis was by evaluating the competitors landing pages through exploring a series of best practices.  By analyzing their landing pages, we could visibly see aspects we liked and disliked on their pages and room for improvement on our own landing page. In order to increase conversion rates, it is important to optimize your landing page.  An interesting call-to-action, formatting selection, or testimonial could motivate you to enhance areas of your own landing page. Whether you are moving the form, changing fonts, or adding video, testing allows you to see what incites users to convert, which can ultimately determine which strategy is best for you.  Although there are many steps you can take to create an effective landing page, we recommend keeping changes to a minimum, that way it is easier to determine which aspects of the page affect the results.

There are many ways you can create a competitive analysis and many tools which can assist you in the process. Overall you want to expose your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses, give you a better understanding of what your competitors are doing and ultimately determine how you can generate strategies to create a competitive advantage. Have any tips, suggestions, or further insight on forming a competitive analysis? Comment Below!



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