Monday, March 31, 2014

5 SEM Spying Strategies You Can Use Today to Generate More Profit

Internet Marketing is getting more and more competitive and if you want to run profitable campaigns, you need to know what your competition is doing. We have all done market research on our competitor's website, keywords and ads, but how actionable is that data?
I'm going to show you what spying data can actually help you improve results.
If you're doing paid search, you typically want to know which keywords your competition is using, what ads and landing pages they serve up, and how much they are spending.
If you're doing SEO, you want to know who is ranking for your important keywords, how many links do they have, and from where. Some popular spying tools for SEO include,,, and
Remember, begin with the end in mind.
You can't be successful at marketing if you don't know who you are marketing to. Ask yourself, Who is my ideal, best or most profitable customer? What keywords would they be searching to find my products or services?
Once you've clearly defined your target market, important keywords and specific PPC and/or SEO competitors, the spying can begin!

1. Keyword and Competitive Research Tools

Most marketers have used a keyword spy tool before, usually entering in a keyword or domain to see what the tool reports back. I highly recommend doing this for anyone involved in marketing and especially the organization's executives. 
Here is a good post that lists and reviews competitive analysis and keyword research tools.
We break the spying down into three components:
  1. Visibility for keywords searched and content sites that your target market is using.
  2. Ad Creative and effectiveness.
  3. Continuity between the keyword searched and the ad, also the ad to the landing page.
There is obviously different data to collect within the three strategies, but it's really important to define each metric and how it can be used to improve your results.  
Use this example of metrics to benchmark your efforts against the competition and measure visibility, creative, and continuity.
Visibility Creative Continuity Spreadsheet
This post will cover some specific examples from a tool called and a few specific examples of how to monetize this data. The same principles and strategies apply no matter which tool you're using, so go ahead and apply them with any keyword and competitive analysis tools.

Keyword Research

Entering a keyword, for example "iPhone cases", reveals that this keyword has more than 4 million monthly searches and the average CPC is $.88.
Also, you can quickly begin to see who you're up against. You can analyze how many PPC advertisers, which keywords they are using, which ads have been shown, how many SEO competitors, and any social mentions for this keyword.
iPhone Cases Keyword Example
By trying different combinations of keywords that are important to my business you can find opportunities and threats. By shifting money into these opportunities, avoiding extremely competitive terms and finding more profitable keywords, you bring the overall campaign ROI up.
In the example below, the keyword phrase "Search Marketing Agency" has 8,100 searches per month and a CPC of $16.76. It shows the 1,420 ads that have been used for this keyword, the 262 PPC competitors and 357 SEO competitors.
Search Marketing Agency Keyword Example
If we change the keyword phrase slightly to "Search Marketing Consultant", there are still 5,400 searches per month (2,700 less) but a CPC of $13.99 (17 percent less). Most importantly, there are only 40 PPC competitor (85 percent less) and 94 SEO competitors (66 percent less) for this phrase. By doing this simple exercise, we can find less competitive keyword that we can focus on to drive more profit.
Search Marketing Consulting Keyword Example
If we look at the more competitive keyword, "Search Marketing Agency" I can evaluate the top competitors, how many keywords they are using and the Keyword Effectiveness Index (KEI) to determine which keywords are working for them. The KEI works by analyzing when they starting using that keyword and how recently they have used that keyword.