competitive keyword intelligence for search marketing

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Learn how to collect intelligence for competitive keyword research and analysis in this detailed presentation from Larry Kim at the SEMPDX event.


  • 1.Competitive Intelligence in Search
    SEMPdxSearchFest: March 9, 2010
    Larry Kim, Founder, VP of Products, WordStream, Inc.

2. Agenda: Competitive Intelligence in Search
Gathering competitive intelligence (CI) for search marketing
Interpreting CI data: Common pitfalls & misconceptions
Suggested workflows for leveraging competitive intelligence data in paid & organic search
3. Gathering CI Data: Plenty of Tools Available
Alexa Search Analytics
Google Keyword Tool
Keyword Spy
SEM Rush
SpyFu (Mikes company)
WordStream (my company)
many others: too many to list out!
4. Competitive Intelligence (CI) Data
5. Interpreting CI data: Common pitfalls & misconceptions
Wow. This is a TON of data!
How do I interpret it?
What should I do with all of this CI data?
4 popular competitive intelligence blunders (and how to avoid them)!
6. Competitive Intelligence Blunder #1
Assuming your competitive intelligence data is relevant
Never blindly assume what works for your competitors will work for you!
Review the data, test it out and see for yourself.
Repeat this process!
7. Competitive Intelligence Blunder #2
Too much analysis, not enough action!
Dont get overly hung up in analyzing CI data
Ideally whatever CI data that you track is actionable (in a scalable way), and that your actions are data driven.
8. Competitive Intelligence Blunder #3
Mistaking estimated CI data for actual campaign data
APPC Example: Suppose CI data shows indicates that your desired target keyword has a high estimated competition and high average CPC
Give up? Never!
The actual CPC you pay in your campaign can be below average, depending on how well you structure your campaigns
How? Focus on improving Quality Score!

  • Ad Rank = Bid * Quality Score

10. Actual CPC = (Ad Rank to Beat/Quality Score) +$0.01 11. Mary bids less than Tom but wins the top spot and pays just (16/10) + 0.01 = $1.61 12. By improving Quality Score, Mary beat the average estimated CPC!How Estimated CPC is NOT the same as Actual CPC!
13. How to Improve Quality Score
Select specific keywords & negative keywords
Group together closely related keywords
Write relevant ad text and landing pages that speak to the intent of the searcher
OK: Somewhat Related
Awful: Too Broad!
Better: Reflects Intent
14. Estimated vs. Actual CI Data: Key Takeaway
Dont be deterred by unfavorable estimated CI data but rather take it under advisement.
There are no set rules on how to interpret CI data
Try to get a quick read on the true PPC or SEO competitive landscape by creating either an ad group (PPC) or content (SEO) and measuring the actual results.
15. Competitive Intelligence Blunder #4:
CI data is an important component of keyword research should be used in addition to other keyword research tools
Dont forget to leverage your own Web analytics data to get a proprietary competitive advantage!
16. The Problem with Keyword Tools
Everyone Shares Same Keyword Data
Keyword Tools
How do you get a competitive advantage?
How does a keyword tool know whats relevant to your business?
17. Use both CI Keyword Suggestions & Web Analytics Data
Some of the BEST keyword opportunities come from your own web site.
Successful Keyword Research integrates both Web analytics and Competitive Intelligence Keyword Tool data
18. A workflow for using competitive intelligence data in PPC
Assemble your keyword list (include CI data, keyword suggestion tool data, Web Analytics, etc.)
Filter & organize your list into small keyword groupings of closely related keywords
Building out themed ad groups & landing pages around your keyword clusters
Get an read on actual PPC competitive landscape
19. Workflow using Competitive Intelligence data for PPC
Was your target PPC cost-per-action achieved?
Mission accomplished. Move on to next keyword grouping.
If NO:
Try targeting sub-niches (long-tail keyword variations)
Look for negative keywords to improve CTR
Try out different bid strategies & match-types
Ad text & landing page optimizations
20. Targeting More-specific (Less Competitive) Keyword Niches

  • Typical Head Term

21. Challenging from both a competitive PPC & SEO standpoint