Competitive Research

Aug 8, 2005 • 9:00 pm | comments (0) by twitter | Filed Under Search Engine Strategies 2005 San Jose

(note: Partnering with the Search Engines session was cancelled, so I went to this as a backup.)

Moderator: Detlev Johnson - Position Tech

Competitive aspect has grown to fairly sophisticated tactics from the initial copying of META information that was popular in the early days. This topic is very important as is in all marketing.

Allan Dick - Vintage Tub and Bath

The Ever Popular competitive research toolkit. Types of competition analysis that can be done by the marketer themselves: Loves it. Free and fairly accurate as an entry level tool. Made by Amazon. Likes it for the multitude of competitor and other information including traffic ranks, server speed and inbound links. Use “page views” to determine quality of traffic, what is the competition’s page depth? Can ause it to check past versions of websites. Keyword search - both PPC and organic…look for your competitors, especially those that are in both. can find lots of information about competitors thought his portal. Manufacturing contacts, newspaper articles, distributor information, etc… e-mail alerts: Google alerts, Feedster and Technorati all will feed you information based on your choice of content. Google hacks- search for your site mentioned within competitors sites. Using “in title” searches for manufacturer + product. Search by phone number…can also find other companies run by competition that way. These are just a few examples of usefull Google hacks.

e-bay- “the forgotten search engine” use your top keywords to find up-and coming sellers, etc. Look at customer feedback to find out if they are successful. His experience shows that people leave feedback 1 out of 3 times, so you can estimate total sales by multiplying by 3.

Search your brand name in all major search engines to see if others are using it.

Dave Williams - 360i

Thanks Allan for another very interesting presentation. A great example of how competitive a niche opportunity can be. The rest of the speakers today will focus on Vintage Tub and Bath.

Why research competition? What is marketing opportunity? Competitive landscape? Types of competition? Potential benchmarks? Budget allocations? Campaign strategies?

Who is competition? Comp differs depending on channel. Offline, algorithmic, paid search, shopping engines, etc. goal is to ID comp and breakdown by channels. Understand tactics and channel competition and track to desired KPIs.

Can track who the competitors by using referral tracking…where do visitors go when they go to competition? Is site designed for success? Look for things like quality code and content, internal/external linking, kw density in copy and links, multivariable URL links. Also look at Pages indexed, Google PageRank, Quality titles, headers etc…, Site layout and design, Conversion process, Site load time, Dedicated host?, Site content/depth.

Vintage tub vs. Top competitor: Both have SEO optimized titles and content. 6,600 pages indexed at VTB versus 16,000 at competitor. Both have kw rich anchor text. Both have Ok conversion process. Avg page views 4.3 VTB versus 4.7 competitor. This is an example of the kind of in-depth research that is only the beginning.

360i also looks at variety of other things including what you can learn from links. They use a tool called “Optisite” to analyze links which performs a variety of useful thing such as spidering the entire site for metrics such as page kw density, anchor text used in internal links, and computing the page topic/PageRank, for starters. It also summarizes results in a nice format.

Must analyze how competitive the search results are in terms of numbers of competitors, diversity in the channels, kw cost, difficulty to get rankings, algorithmic ranks and paid ranks and more. Also mentioned a cool tool called Scroogle that allows you to see instantly if someone is bidding for a keyword though the Yahoo Site Inclusion product (allows for paid listings within the “natural” results. Also asks if competitors are using shopping feeds. Says you can use ratings at to see what kind of Customer Service reputation your competitor seems to have. Lastly, Dave mentions that you should be able to tell from campaign activities if your competitors are using campaign optimization tools.

Cam Balzer - Performics

Discussed the idea of reverse engineering the competitions PPC campaigns. PPC is the essence of marketing competition in that it is continuous head-to-head for every click, on every kw, in always-on auctions against every competitor and in the public eye (including the eye of the CEO checking rankings. You have to know your competitor both pre-launch and during campaigns, as well as keep an eye out for new competition.

Staret techniques include those described by Dave. Also use Google and search for all yourt keywords and use kw research tools to help find more possibilities. Cam likes the competitive anaylis tools offered by for campaigns in both G and Y! Discusses that both VTB and top competitor rank well using this tool to analyze their kw’s in both overall visibility and high rankings. The rest of the competition is clearly much worse off than these two top sites for these bathtub terms. The tool also allows yout o see ad text and the percentage of times it was shown to searchers. You can use this data to help create or modify your own campaigns.

Cam describes a way to estimate spending for PPC at Yahoo by suing the kw suggestion tool in correlation with the bid price. He says to use 3.5% CTR for #1 slot, 1.5% for 2-4, and .75% for below that. (Did not mention that these numbers, especially those provided in the kw search tool, can be very misleading). Cam also described that you can do a head-to-head test with competition to see “how far they can go.” How closely are they paying attention? Do they stop bidding after a certain point in the month because they have reached their limit? Once you estimate their ability to compete, then you must chose how to fight the battle.

The keys are knowledge, expertise, vigilance, and optimism. Test your own limits and “wring every last penny out of your campaign. He also introduced the new “performics 50,” which is a report of their top clients average bids over a twelve month period (without naming names). Looks interesting.

Gavin Appel - Hitwise

Spent his time showing some sharp-looking and very useful reporting tools offered by Hitwise, “an online competitive intelligence service.” Traffic share performance is measured for Vintage Tub versus other top competitors, and only the main competitor comes close. Interesting (and becoming more common to see) that these two highly optimized sites that also use PPC get at least 50% of ALL their traffic from search engines. Of that 50%, 30% comes from Google and 8-12%, respectively from Yahoo. The rest are far below. Also looked at their search traffic versus the industry and they both way out-perform. Once you understand traffic trends, you must drill down to search terms. Ensure that you are looking at the competitors search terms. The Hitwise reporting allows you to see that in this case, 14 of the top competitor keywords were not optimized-for at Vintage. Adjustments can be made to ensure that the site is optimized or these terms are bidded-on.

Chart search terms over to help ID seasonality as well as to see which terms consistently outperform others. Also analyse what percentage of total searches are performed at which SE. Forexample, 54% of ALL searches for the term “bath tubs” occurred at Google, thus it is very important to rank well.

Closing, reiterated that you need to continually research competition in order to understand: how you fit, what they use, which SE’s performs strongest for which kw’s, and are you maximizing your opportunities?

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