The 30 minutes competitive research


Estimated reading time: 10 minutes, 24 seconds

Every time we receive a quote request, we are also asked by the potential clients to discuss what we will do so to improve their business via organic search or, in general, thanks to our digital marketing services.

If you are serious, you will have not present an “SEO package”, you will prepare a pitch.

The most common mistake I see in pitches – and I saw many because, you know, clients tend to tell you what others agencies or consultants are proposing them – is that we tend to sell ourselves using our jargon (link juice, canonicalization, hreflang,, DA/PA/TrustFlow…) and not really talk about what matters to them: money and how to beat their competitors.

But, how to do a competitive research without loosing too much time and that is good enough for showing the client that we know their market, what their competitors are doing (and they are not) and so to propose concrete ideas for achieving their desired goals?

What I am going to present you is an hypothetic exercise, which is the best way I found to present you how I prepare my pitches without being “foggy” thanks to my 30 minutes competitive research.

The exercise

An Italian real estate portal – for this exercise –  contacted you because they want to “reaffirm their leadership in the market” and improve it.

After doing the happy dance, you must start thinking about the pitch, but do you have the information for creating a good one? Do you know the market?

#1 – Inform yourself about the niche of your client (5 minutes)

Do you really know the Italian real estate niche? No, I am not talking about the technical SEO peculiarities of that niche, neither about how to promote or doing link building in that niche. I am talking about real business knowledge.

Thankfully there is something called Google and thousands of official studies in the web, or even white papers competitors or even our potential client have published.

The most important thing is to use well the “Search tools” option Google offers. Ok, I know it may sound obvious but, let me tell you, it is not so obvious at all.

evoluzione del mercato immobiliare in Italia - Google Search Google Chrome, hoy at 11.40.18

If you have the Mozbar installed in your Chrome or Firefox browser, you can immediately have interesting information you will use later too:

evoluzione del mercato immobiliare in Italia - Buscar con Google Google Chrome, hoy at 11.50.49

Do not forget to look at the Images SERPs, because there you can find charts that can help you understand the state of your client’s industry very fast, apart presenting graphics you may use in your same pitch, like this:figura2-nomisma

Thanks to this relatively simple search, we now understand – and have data to show our awareness of – that the Italian real estate market suffered a dramatic decrease in the volume of sold houses because of the recent economic crisis, albeit the price per square meter did not collapsed so much as it happened, for instance, in the Spanish market.

We know, now, that our client objective is:

  1. To gain as much visibility it’s possible;
  2. So it may obtain as many leads it can;
  3. Because it needs to sell more houses in order to sustain its activity.

In others words, we have real goals and not some SEOish ones to talk about. Links, optimized architecture et al will be only means to achieve those goals.

#2 Discovering and analyzing the competitors (3 minutes)

The search we did gave us already a hint about a potential competitor (, but using Google Search and keywords for understanding which are the real competitors is not the best way to follow.

Much better is using a tool like Similarweb, which offers us the possibility to analyze industry niches per country:

SimilarWeb Pro - Industry Analysis Google Chrome, hoy at 12.51.36

Similarweb is not perfect. For instance, in the snapshot we can see websites like that nothing have to do with real estate.

Moreover, Similarweb clickstream based metrics tend to fail when it comes to very niche industries or to websites with low traffic metrics.

However, when it comes to industries like real estate, tourism or fashion where the numbers tend to be high, then Similarweb proved having a stronger correlation with real data than any other tool like Quantcast, Alexa or Comscore.

In our exercise, we discover that, and are the competitors to look after in terms of traffic share.

It is important to look also to what the segmented vision of the different channels tell us:

  • Referrals, for instance, tells us that the competitors is able to drive traffic to its own site thanks to offsite marketing campaign or, more realistically in the real estate market, thanks to co-marketing actions like having a houses search box in others websites (i.e.: news sites). Both cases alert us of possible issues (Duplicated content?) and/or opportunities (diversification of the traffic sources);
  • Search informs us about the organic visibility of our competitors and its quality;
  • Social tells us about the ability our competitors have in translating social conversations into traffic. For instance, in our case, we would see how and exceed very much all the others brands on this front;
  • Display Advertising is an important view, because – for instance – is telling us that is investing a lot in this channel, about 10X more than Why? Or that is almost not investing in display advertising, but still it is the second most powerful real estate brand in terms of overall traffic;
  • Direct traffic is the thermometer of how much a brand is known. The more a brand in known in a niche, the more it will receive direct traffic… and branding is essential right now in digital marketing and SEO, because it has been proved how much branded keywords may lead a site to rank for the equivalent non branded keywords even if it is not very well optimized for them;
  • Mail, finally, tells us about the ability the competitors have in retaining leads and, eventually, to convert and improve the Lifetime value of their users.

#3 Analyzing the Organic Search Competition (6 minutes)

If you are an SEO, but even if you are a broader digital marketer, analyzing how your competitors perform in organic search is extremely useful, because we can discover things that go further the simple SEO sphere.

For this kind of competitive analysis, I tend to use SIStrix and SEMrush, but surely there are others tools that can offer the same insights.

The reason I like SIStrix is because I consider that its Visibility Index is the closest to what Google Analytics may tell us in terms of organic search visibility of a site.

Let see what it tells us about our hypothetical client ( and the competitors we individuated before:

SISTRIX Google Chrome, hoy at 17.22.19

The Visibility Index graphic is a like a painting: you can read many stories behind the simple lines… and in this case the stories are very interesting also for our hypothetic pitch:

  1., the competitor that seemed being the hardest to win, is clearly living in an SEO emergency state since Panda 4.0 (pin C in the graph), and it was not able to solve the penalization, which became more severe after the Phantom Update. This may explain why – as we saw before – it is investing so much in Display Advertising.
  2., our “client”, has become the leader in terms of Visibility Index, but it does not seem that it earned this status because it did something special. It became the leader because had fallen.
  3. is the real estate portal that in reality has the biggest chances to become the market leader in Italy in the next future, because – on the contrary of all the others – is the only website that steadily grows since November 2014. Our “client”, then, should look and analyze what Idealista is doing so to justify that growth. Does Idealista have a better architecture? Does it have a better link building strategy?
  4. Visibility is flat, which suggests us that SEO maybe its not something they really care about…

With SIStrix, then, we can easily discover gaps in the architecture of our potential client. For instance, we can see how is composed by a quite complicated (and absurd) system of subdomains, which maybe would need to be consolidated:

Panoramica - Google Chrome, hosts

We can discover this kind of information also with other tools (eg.: Similarweb > Website Analysis > Website Content > Subdomains) or with a simple advanced search on Google.

#4 Keyword Competitive Analysis (4 minutes)

Keywords matters, we should not have any doubt about it, and rankings too, not by themselves obviously, but because indicators of a healthy search visibility.

In our preparation for the pitch, we should also note, again, how Idealista really should be considered as the Competitor, because – and this is something we can easily discover with the Domain vs. Domain tools by SEMrush, it does not do almost any Adwords: (by adwords) * (by adwords) * (by adwords) Google Chrome, hoy at 18.12.57

The Domain Vs Domain tool is, obviously, extremely useful for discovering how much our “client” and the competitors are overlapping in organic keyword competition: (by organic) * (by organic) * (by organic) Google Chrome, hoy at 18.20.56

#5 Competitive Link Analysis (7 minutes)

We can use whatever of the main link analysis tools for this quick analysis.

In my case I tend to use Open Site Explorer:

  • because metrics like DA/PA somehow have become a standard;
  • because of the usability of its output;
  • because it includes the Spam Score both at subdomain and domain level;
  • because its “Compare Links Metrics” section presents us also useful social media shares metrics.

#6 Competitive Content Analysis (5 minutes)

One of the less talked features of Buzzsumo is the “Domain Comparison” one.

This feature – as it name says – allows us to compare two domains knowing:

  • Article Metrics (how many Buzzsumo analyzed, total shares and average shares);
  • Average Shares by Network;
  • Average Shares by Content Type;
  • Total Shares by Date Published;
  • Average Shares by Content Length.

In this exercise I compared, the “client”, with, the “Competitor”, and I was able to understand very fast that:

  1. is publishing less but have better shares average than;
  2. Both sites see in Facebook their main Social Network;
  3. That both rely strongly on List kind of articles;
  4. That they most successful day for posting is Thursday;
  5. That has more shares for long-forms than, which seems telling us that is more proactive in producing studies, while relies more on short and – maybe – easier to produce clickbaits.

Social shares, though, doesn’t equal to earning links, as the same Buzzsumo and Moz study proved. And this is not different for

However, if we have seen from the .csv of the backlinks of our competitors we downloaded that they have links from big sites, it is surely important to see what kind of content types are the most successful in those big sites themselves.

For instance, has inbound links from the important news site, and Buzzsumo is telling us how long-forms and studies published there tend to have an important volume of shares, which matches with the information we had about having good volume of social share for long-forms: - Content Analysis Google Chrome, hoy at 19.51.56

#7 Social Media Competitive Analysis (5 minutes)

This is the last analysis we need for preparing our pitch call with the “client”.

Be aware, though, that I am not talking about Social Media as a Social Media Marketer would do, but as an SEO or Content Marketer. In other words, with this analysis I want to have a first glimpse of the so-called influencers and people/brands that can help amplifying the “client” campaigns and website.

For this analysis we can use tools like Followerwonk, Klear or Impactana, but we should remember how the main Social Network for all the sites in this niche is Facebook. Moreover, we should know that Twitter is indeed used in Italy, but where the influencers really are is Facebook.

Therefore, we should spend 3 of the 5 minutes in performing searches in Facebook using some the great suggestions David Mihm shared at Mozcon this year.


30 minutes, or little more, is enough for retrieving useful information with which you can inform your pitch, written or by voice.

Hopefully, you have snapshotted all the researches you have done, so you can use them in your documents or look at more quietly or use for informing and making deeper competitive research you will perform later… because, yes, doing so your probabilities of winning the client are bigger than just talking about link juice and architecture.

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Gianluca Fiorelli is an SEO and Web Marketing Strategist, who operates in the Italian, Spanish and English speaking countries market. He also works regularly as independent consultant with bigger international SEO agencies.

State of Digital


Facebook Retargeting Spend Increases: New Research


social media researchWant to see a higher ROI from Facebook?

Have you considered Facebook retargeting ads?

Facebook retargeting allows you to reach your website visitors via custom ads on Facebook.

In this article you’ll discover recent findings from studies focused on Facebook retargeting.

Why Facebook Retargeting?

While everyone has probably seen Facebook retargeting, not everyone knows how it works.

Have you ever noticed that after visiting a website, suddenly an ad for that site pops up in your Facebook feed or on other websites or a mobile app? When you visited the website initially, it put a code into your browsing history, allowing it to follow you around the web. When you visit a different site or Facebook, the code triggers those sites to show the initial site’s ads.

facebook retargeting spend research

Discover new research on trends in Facebook retargeting spending.

Retargeting is an online version of the basic sales and advertising principle of the follow-up. Without retargeting, your website has only one shot to convert. All motivation to go back to it depends strictly on the visitor. As sales and marketing statistics prove, most consumers need more nurturing. Retargeting releases your website from that one static location, freeing it to wander around the Internet, following customers with an enticing ad.

Google had been handling retargeting (which it calls remarketing) for websites for years before Facebook started in 2012. Of course being on Facebook, which nearly every American visits once (if not multiple times) per day, increases the odds of getting your ads in front of someone who is interested in your products or services. Once there, you can even get them to follow you, another bump down the sales funnel.

#1: Marketers Are Increasing Spend on Facebook Retargeting

Companies already engaging in retargeting through Google remarketing are widening their retargeting efforts by adding Facebook to the “inventory” (options for where the ad will appear). In its Facebook by the Numbers 2015 survey of 1,000 marketers, retargeting service AdRoll found significantly increased spend via Facebook.

The year spanning July 2014 to June 2015 showed increased activity and improved results over the same period the previous year. In the United States, B2B companies increased average spend on Facebook retargeting by 51%. Retail companies invested an average of 26% more. Of AdRoll’s global customers, the average B2B company increased Facebook retargeting spend by 66%, and the average retail company by 31%.

adroll study stats

On average, B2B spent 51% more on Facebook retargeting in 2015 than in 2014. Retail spent 26% more. Image source: AdRoll’s “Facebook by the Numbers 2015”

Key Takeaway: With 1.5 billion active users globally now, Facebook user adoption is still racing ahead. From July 2014 to July 2015, Facebook’s ad revenue increased by 43%. With its enormous audience, you can narrowly target your ads and still reach a decent number of consumers. You have the opportunity to reach people who not only have indicated a need, but also have already indicated interest in specific, branded products and services.

#2: Increasing ROI Is Driving Retargeting Spend

One of the AdRoll survey’s major findings is that running ad campaigns across a variety of Internet channels (websites, Facebook and mobile apps) results in better performance and greater ROI than staying with display ads only.

As the chart below shows, adding Facebook retargeting doubles the static displayad impression reach, and lowers the cost per click (CPC) by 26% and cost per action (CPA) by 33%.

adroll study stats

Adding Facebook retargeting nearly doubles impression reach and reduces cost per action by 33%. Image source: AdRoll’s “Facebook by the Numbers 2015”

The arrival of B2B advertising on Facebook pushed up retargeting results. While many marketers considered Facebook the domain of B2C, this year B2B got impressive results adding Facebook to their retargeting destinations.

As the chart below shows, on average, B2B companies that spent an additional 60% of their budgets on Facebook retargeting saw an increased click-through rate of 140%. They also reduced cost per click by 11% and cost per action by 42%.

adroll study stats

A click-through rate increase of 140% indicates B2B’s additional spend on Facebook retargeting is paying off. Image source: AdRoll’s “Facebook by the Numbers 2015”

Key Takeaway: It only makes sense that hyper-targeting drives improved click-through rates. Facebook broke the mold when it was able to get ads to audiences with specific interests and living in defined locations.

Now, by adding Facebook retargeting, you can put your ads in front of not only local consumers most likely to be interested in your product or service, but also interested local consumers who have visited your website. Because these people have proven interest in your product or service, they’re more likely to be far down the funnel and ready to buy.

#3: Mobile Retargeting Provides New Opportunities

Of Facebook’s 1.5 billion users, 1.3 billion currently access the platform via mobile. In the United States, Europe and all over the world, more people are accessing Facebook via their smartphones than desktop.

As discussed in a prior research article, digital giant comScore’s 2015 study, U.S. Digital Future in Focus reveals that mobile access to the Internet has quadrupled over the past four years, while desktop access has risen a comparably smaller 37%. Many citizens in developing countries use their smartphones in place of a computer.

With social networking as the predominant Internet activity on mobile, it’s no wonder Facebook wants to get their ads on those phones.

It was only last year that Facebook engineered the ability to retarget ads on their mobile app. As a dominant remarketing agency, AdRoll was one of the first to take advantage of Facebook mobile retargeting. The company determined that when their advertisers included mobile retargeting with existing desktop campaigns, performance jumped.

Every area that AdRoll monitored reported an increase in impressions and click-through rates. In the United States, impressions jumped by 58%. In Europe, that number was 103%, and in Japan 101%. Cost per click dropped by 35% in the United States and 42% in Europe, but only 6% in Japan.

adroll study stats

Adding Facebook mobile retargeting boosted the impression reach by 58% in the United States, 103% in Europe and 101% in Japan. Image source: AdRoll’s “Facebook by the Numbers 2015”

Key Takeaway: The newness of retargeting on Facebooks mobile app gave results a boost. The channel isn’t crowded yet, so for now, the ratio of consumers to ads works in your favor. If you’re a local business that wants to stand out on mobile, you should consider retargeting soon.

#4: Most Consumers Don’t See Retargeting as Intrusive

Over the summer of 2015, Adroit Digital polled 669 U.S. consumers who own both a desktop and a mobile device about their attitudes on being retargeted by companies. Some experts considered retargeting as a form of stalking, and got to the heart of the matter by asking the consumer.

The chart below reveals that only 15% of consumers would feel negative or very negative about seeing an ad for a product they researched three weeks beforehand.

toluna and adroit study stats

Of consumers surveyed, 85% felt very positive, positive or neutral about seeing an ad for a product they had looked at online three weeks prior. Image source: Toluna & Adroit Digital’s “How Consumers Perceive Remarketing 2015”

When asked about their reactions after seeing an ad three months after visiting a product website, 19% replied they would be negative or very negative; 81% reported they would feel neutral, positive or very positive; and 17% positive and 8% very positive.

It’s interesting to note that 84% of those who bought the product or service reported that they would feel neutral, positive or very positive seeing an ad for the product, with 25% reporting positive and 11% very positive.

Key Takeaway: Retargeting doesn’t seem to faze the majority of consumers. When ads are targeted specifically enough, they can be regarded as helpful rather than intrusive.


Follow-up and repetition are critical to sales and marketing success. A common sales maxim states that only 2% of sales close on the first contact. Similarly, advertising research indicates that consumers don’t internalize a print ad until they’ve been exposed to it nine times. Ads on television and radio repeat continuously because it takes multiple exposures to finally connect with viewers or listeners in a meaningful way.

With Facebook retargeting, you have a chance to boost your return on investment. The robust studies mentioned here report higher returns and lower costs per action or click. Some marketers conclude that since the website acts as the always-available digital salesperson, why not give it the freedom to make the follow-up calls that get a prospect to become a client? Look for Facebook retargeting to appear in more studies in 2016.

What do you think? Will your customers convert better with repeated exposure to your offer? Have you had any success or disappointment with Facebook retargeting yet? Please leave your comments and questions below.

research on facebook retargeting spending

Trends in spending on Facebook retargeting.

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