In this video I’m going to show you how to audit your website; internally and externally. Without pain.

It goes far deeper than some of the other video tutorials – for instance Google Search Console – SEO triage in three minutes and How to find unbelievably effective keywords, as sometimes a little more depth is required.

It’ll take you around 15 minutes to watch, but I recommend you take the time to do so. I’ll also be showing you some great tools that you can use without having to spend a penny, and I’m pretty certain that you’ll find some nice juicy SEO issues to sink your teeth into.

Good luck – and enjoy battling Google! It works!

I began managing AdWords accounts back in 2005, and over the years I’ve seen many accounts make many mistakes. These have cost advertisers hundreds of thousands, if not millions, in wasted AdWords spend.

The people managing the accounts were far from clueless. But the fact is that AdWords isn’t easy, and this type of waste is bound to happen if you don’t know what you’re doing. 

As cynical or paranoid as it may sound, Google benefit from AdWords being so complex.

Google would tell you that they go to great lengths to explain everything within their online help centre, but the fact is that almost every single aspect of AdWords is skewed heavily in Google’s favour. Aside from anything else, who reads the manual?

So here are three of the most common mistakes. Mistakes that will burn through your budgets without much to show for it.

Mistake #1 – one match to rule them all

Using only broad-match keywords or over using them is a really bad idea.

Google’s definition of broad match is as follows:

“A keyword setting that allows your ad to show when someone searches for that keyword or a variation of it. The broad match keyword “bicycle bell” can cause your ad to show if someone searches for variations like “bicycle bells,” “buy a bell for a bicycle,” and “bell reviews for bikes.”

That sounds nice, doesn’t it? Who wouldn’t want to use broad match?

The problem with broad match is the variations. You might think you’re bidding on “bicycle bell” but Google sneak in searches that have nothing to do with your original keyword.

Google make money from each click, and you waste money when the person who clicked on your ad isn’t interested in what you’re offering.

Broad match can be useful, but you should use it with caution. Try a few broad match terms and then track their performance.

If your account contains broad keywords and you’re not monitoring their performance, you’re definitely wasting money.

Mistake #2 – not enough negativity

Using too few or no negative keywords can be lethal.

If you’ve never heard of negative keywords or you’re not regularly trying to find them, you need to pay close attention to this.

Google’s definition of a negative keyword is as follows:

A type of keyword that prevents your ad from being triggered by a certain word or phrase. It tells Google not to show your ad to anyone who is searching for that phrase.

Imagine you’re selling downloadable photo editing software that only runs on a Windows computer.  When bidding on “photo editing software”, your ads could be displayed for the following searches as well: “free photo editing software”, “mac photo editing software” or “photo editing software for linux”.

Worst of all, you might receive clicks from people looking for something that you don’t offer. Why? Because people searching don’t pay close attention to their clicks. They’re not paying for them – you are.

You can stop this from happening by using negative keywords like –free, mac and linux.

By using negative keywords, you’ll reduce wasted ad spend but even more importantly, it will improve your ROI.

When you limit your ad’s display to only those who are truly interested in what you’re offering, you should see an improvement to your click through rate (CTR). Receiving a higher CTR can lead to a lower average cost per click (CPC) because CTR is an indicator for relevance. Google reward advertisers with lower CPCs when they’re more relevant.

Even if you only use exact match keywords, negative keywords are more important than ever. With exact and phrase match, Google is now allowing close variants the ability to trigger your ads. 

Mistake #3 – trust

You may be giving away too much control to Google, or perhaps just trusting them too much.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Google. I really do. But their agenda is rarely the same as yours or mine.

AdWords advertisers want to pay the lowest price for targeted clicks. Google want people to click on your ads or your competitors ads because this is how Google make money.

Sure, Google want people to find what they’re looking for. But never forget that AdWords is Google’s main source of revenue. It’s safe to assume Google won’t always have your interests at heart.

So it’s strange that so many advertisers allow Google to control where their ads are displayed, what triggers their ads and even how much they’re prepared to pay.

Some advertisers even go as far as allowing Google to set up their AdWords accounts. 

My recommendation is to always be sceptical of Google’s claims and suggestions. You need to question all of Google’s defaults within this massive, complex advertising system.

That’s the safest way to not waste your money on AdWords.

If you’re not making use of the Google Search Console, then you’re missing out on what amounts to free advice from Google on how to get more and better quality organic traffic.

The problem might be that you simply don’t have time, or perhaps you don’t know where to begin.

So how about a video showing you how to carry out SEO triage in literally three minutes?

Everyone, no matter how busy they are, can spare three minutes a week. And the number of visitors that Google send to your website is critical to your success.

So sit back, enjoy, and reap those benefits!

If you don’t yet have a Google Search Console account, it’s incredibly simple to setup. Don’t add this to your to-do list – just do it.


It goes without saying that from an AdWords point of view, having a great product, the best keywords, and fine-tuned landing pages is all pointless without good ads.

Poor ads can cost you enormously in the long run. For example, poor ads might receive impressions that have few clicks or even no clicks at all. When this occurs your click-through rate (CTR) will be low if not zero.

Having a low CTR sends Google a signal that your ads aren’t very good and may even be irrelevant. Remember, Google don’t only want to make money off each click, they also want people to find what they’re looking for. If they’re seeing what they want when your ads are displayed, Google will put your competitor’s ads above yours, or may not even show your ads at all.

Poor ads mean that Google will charge you more per click than other advertisers.

Alternatively, if your ads are relevant, it’s more likely that people will click on them. This will in turn produce a higher CTR which will lower how much you pay per click, which is why it’s vital to constantly to write more effective ads.

Begin with a review of your keywords

Think about the person who’s clicking on your ad. How did they get there?

Someone either performed a search using a keyword or they were on a page that was related to one of your keywords.

To effectively communicate what you’re offering, it’s a good idea to separate keywords into distinct themes. Each keyword theme would then become its own ad group. Once you’ve created these ad groups, you’ll be able to make a better connection between the keyword and ad copy.

For example, imagine you’re selling fruit online; apples, oranges, bananas and so on. Potential customers searching for bananas will be more inclined to click on an ad that mentioned “order bananas online” instead of one that mentioned “order fruit online”.

It can also be a good idea to use some of your keywords within your ads. People are more likely to click on your ads if they see the word or phrases that they just searched for.

But before you begin to stuff your ads with keywords, have a look at your competition to see what they are saying within their ads. Remember, each time your ad is displayed, you’re trying to entice the searcher to click on your ad instead of those of your competition.

So your ad needs to stand out.

If most of your competition pack in too many details, try making your ads short and to the point.  If all your competitors are using the keyword in the headline, try a different related keyword instead.

And don’t forget to use a call to action. While you can’t use “click here” within your ads, you can use things like learn more, try for free, download now, buy now and so on.

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket

Personally I like to experiment with four ads per ad group that are significantly different from one another, so that I can get a better idea as to what works and doesn’t.

I would also recommend setting the ads to “rotate indefinitely” instead of Google’s options of “optimize for clicks”, “optimize for conversions”, or “rotate evenly.

adwords ad rotation settings

You can safely ignore Google’s warnings because you’ll want to determine for yourself which ads work and which ones don’t. I always like to be in control instead of giving it up to Google.

While a high CTR will produce a lower cost per click, CTRs should not be your sole metric. You need to also consider what happens after the click.

For example, if you were to have an ad that said “Free HDTVs”, it’s safe to assume that you would receive a large number of clicks resulting in a high CTR. The only problem is that you’re most likely not giving away free HDTVs.

Striking the right balance between ads that produce high CTRs and good results after people land on your website is a good idea.

Creating effective ads is not easy and can be time consuming. If you’ve created one ad and then copied it to all of your ad groups, it’s unlikely to produce your desired results. 

Creating multiple ads is vital, and the only way to see what works best. Once you have found a winner, delete what doesn’t work and expand on what does.

Keep on experimenting.

Whether you monitor your keywords by searching for them on Google, using Google Webmaster Tools or a tool like Moz, most of us keep an eye on our website’s rankings in Google’s results.

Who does Dave Collins think he is?

Whether we should do so is another matter. Why? Because there are too many ways to get it wrong.

It’s pointless to monitor the wrong keywords. And it’s mistaken to assume that what you see is representative. On top of that, I’m starting to think that keywords are no longer particularly relevant to SEO.

It’s also almost impossible to look at your rankings without trying to understand why your competition is above you. We look at the many different factors that may contribute to their elevated position, ultimately with a view of reverse-engineering their success.

It’s time consuming and highly ineffective.

There’s good news though. I believe that all of this is about to change. Google’s end goal in all of their updates is to change the heart of their algorithm to one that accurately recognises quality. And to do so in a way that will be almost impossible to trick.

If I’m correct then we’re heading towards a future that considers links, page titles, cblocks and social media signals of far less significance.

I believe that the guiding principle will be “if it can be tricked or manipulated, it can be ignored“.

So does that mean that SEO is dead? Yes. And no.

The SEO of yesterday is dying. If you in any way depend on tactics that seek to manipulate Google or their rankings, now might be a good time to rethink your strategies. And while the time-scale for the effectiveness of those techniques may be limited, their potential for incurring penalties will last far longer.

The SEO of 2015 and beyond, what I call RealSEO, is thriving and well. RealSEO is about guiding Google, about helping them to understand the content of pages on your website. It’s about connecting the dots between your ideas, intent and the words that you use. That sort of SEO isn’t going anywhere any time soon.

Real SEO is more effective than the old way and it’s also easier to achieve. More of that in future posts.

SEO is dead. Long live SEO.

If you sell haemorrhoid treatments, you have a number of problems.

Problem 1: Despite haemorrhoids being incredibly common, no-one likes to admit that they have them. Even to themselves.

Problem 2: Haemorrhoids really aren’t amusing, yet they’re somehow funny to talk about

Problem 3: Haemorrhoids are associated with a very intimate part of the body, whose main function is to emit poo.

Problem 4: Haemorrhoids are often associated with old people. And unless you correctly fall into the senior age category, most people don’t want to be associated with age.

I couldn’t help but wonder: how do you market a product whose users don’t want to think about or be associated with?

So I went searching for ads and websites.

Unsurprisingly, none of the websites that I found showed so much as a hint of grey hair and old age.

This was typical:

With piles but curiously happy

You could argue that these surprisingly happy people are demonstrating the results of the treatment, but I have my doubts. Marketing-hype aside, there are limits to how happy you can be from either inserting a suppository or rubbing some lotion into that area.

Another company chose what I thought was quite a clever approach. Instead of showing fake relief, they chose instead to demonstrate the perceived benefits of their solution. I genuinely thought this was quite cunning. Aside from the obvious question of where the driver has gone:

Imagine your piles on padded seats...

The overall themes were simple. Youth. Reassurance. “This is what people with hemorrhoids look like.”

Piles belong to the yoof

In fact only one company showed an image that was in any way accurately representative of the reality of hemorrhoids. 

The reality of piles

So to go back to the original question: how do you sell something embarrassing to people who wish they didn’t have to buy it.

It appears that the most effective way is to completely ignore the discomfort, the embarrassment and image issues. And instead focus on providing well presented options in time honoured tradition.

well-presented options for piles

I find this interesting, as many examples of medical marketing focus primarily on the emotions and “pains”, while the product itself is little more than an afterthought of a solution.

Most pain medication advertising, for example, focuses almost entirely on the pain, with the product (the pill) a springboard to being able to continue your day dancing and jumping around without your migraine getting in the way.

Preparation H, on the other hand, chooses instead to give factual and clear solutions. There’s no hint of pain or embarrassment, just lots of information and options.

In a bizarrely similar target audience demographic, expensive cars aren’t usually marketed as solutions to ego problems and/or mid-life crises.

Yet some of these companies have similar problems when representing their customers. The classic 55 year old thinking about buying a convertible sports car doesn’t want to think of himself as 55. So the grey-haired clean-cut guy with reading glasses, a hearing aid and a sweater draped over his shoulders may put him off.

But he also doesn’t want enough of a reality-slap from a stubble-glazed 25 year old driver shattering his self image.

He’s not buying a car; he’s buying an image he has of himself.

And Preparation H aren’t selling soothing ointments and suppositories; they’re selling a life without discomfort.

Who knew that haemorrhoids and expensive cars had so much in common?

When it comes to your own product or service, what are you selling, and how does this compare with what your customers are actually buying?

Don’t skim this post. It may affect you – if not today or tomorrow, then at some point.

If you sell desktop software through AdWords, you need to be aware of Google’s new stance against your business.

Google recently unveiled a new AdWords policy on desktop software, “Unsupported content: free desktop software”.  

“The AdWords policy on unsupported content will change in April 2015. The policy is changing to prohibit the promotion of free desktop software unless the ad names the specific software being promoted and leads to the site designated as the primary online distribution source. After the new policy goes into effect, the policy description will be updated to reflect this change.”

Companies selling software may think that this doesn’t apply to them, as they don’t offer free software.

They should think again.

Companies who don’t sell software may think that this doesn’t apply to them at all.

They should also think again. See I’m not a software company, I don’t care below.

While it’s still early days for Google enforcing this policy, they appear to be disapproving ads that offer demo/free trial software, and not only ads that are offering free software.

All hope is not lost.

You can still advertise free desktop software through AdWords, you just need to do the following:

  • Your ads must point directly to landing pages on a site designated as the software’s primary distribution source.
  • Your ads must include the promoted software’s name. (Yes, you did just read that correctly.)

In the fine print of this new policy, there’s a form that needs to be filled out in order to set that primary distribution source. It’s the “Application to advertise free desktop software as an authoritative distribution site” form.

Anyone that’s been hit by this new policy will need to fill out that form.  

My main issue is with the second part of the policy: the requirement to name the promoted software within the ad. As advertisers, we have a limited amount of space within our AdWords ads. Being forced to wedge in the name of your software will be at best limiting, at worst disastrous.

You may be thinking: “I’m not a software company, I don’t care.”

Although this recent change only affects software companies, it’s a worrying trend for everybody.

Google’s sudden policy changes are having a dramatic impact on many businesses. They’re not doing anything wrong, they’re not trying to trick the system, and they’re not in any way deceiving the people clicking their ads. Yet they may come into work one morning to find their accounts frozen.

Google are moving the goal posts, changing the rules and redefining legitimacy – both for AdWords and their organic listings. You might well be next. And when it happens, it hurts.

adwords - drops like a stone

Each month, your credit card is charged by Google for all the AdWords clicks you’ve received.

Each month, you question yourself whether it’s worthwhile, yet there’s a good chance that you’re never able to come to a satisfying conclusion.

Google provide some tools for measuring success, such as conversion tracking. But realistically you know that it’s little more than an inaccurate indicator.

In an ideal world, you would be able to see that out of all the people who clicked on your ads, X purchased your product or service.

The problem is that conversion tracking doesn’t paint a complete picture. You don’t know if you are looking at 90% or 5% of tracked conversions. This can render conversion tracking more or less useless.

So how can you tell if you’re wasting money on AdWords?

Start by making sure the right people are clicking on your ads.

It’s pretty obvious that if the wrong people are clicking, you’ll be paying for traffic that isn’t interested in what you’re offering.

I would therefore recommend that you review the following areas within your AdWords account. These are often overlooked and can easily result in irrelevant traffic.

Review the location targeting

Begin with reviewing your location targeting to see where visitors are clicking from. When you setup your campaigns, you picked a location or a group of locations that you wanted to target. The problem is that you might be receiving clicks from locations that you never wanted. This means you might be wasting money.

If you’re interested in the detailed explanation as to why Google are showing your ads to people that you didn’t want to target, please read more about it here. I would recommend you monitor this closely, because even if the clicks appear to be coming from your targeted locations this may change over time.

Review device targeting

In the early days of AdWords, Google allowed advertisers the ability to control the types of devices they wished to target. This meant that an advertiser could turn on or off tablet or mobile according to their needs.

Nowadays you can disable mobile devices, but you can’t disable tablet devices from seeing your ads.

If your website is not mobile or tablet friendly, and you weren’t aware of the device settings, you’re probably presenting a poor experience to your AdWords visitors. This may waste money on clicks that can’t even view your website properly.

Review your keywords

Next, you’ll want to analyze your keywords and ask yourself how targeted they are.

For example, let’s say you’re selling laptop computers. Someone that searches for “low cost laptops”, “buy laptops” or “laptop deals” is probably looking to purchase one. It’s therefore a good idea to have your ads displayed on these types of searches.

If you were to bid on more general terms like “laptops” or “windows laptop”, you’ll probably receive some clicks from those who are interested in buying, but you’ll probably also receive clicks from people with other agendas. In this case it might not be a good idea to have your ads displayed.

Finding the right keywords is far from easy. If you’re too targeted, you tend to see less traffic. And if you’re too broad, you tend to see traffic that’s more off target.

This will be an ongoing struggle which brings me onto my next question: are you using negative keywords? If not, start doing so immediately. Negative keywords tell Google not to show your ads if someone searches with those keywords.

For example, if you’re selling laptops and you’re receiving clicks on searches such as “low cost laptop repair”, it might be a good idea to exclude the term “repair” since you are not offering a laptop repair service.

Negative keywords don’t only save you money, they also improve your performance by reducing your ad impressions. This will increase your CTR which will in turn lower costs.

Review your ads

Take a step back and perform a critical review of your ads, but within the context of your keywords and ad groups. This is something that is often overlooked.

Your ads need to make a direct connection with your keywords. Ad groups allow you to group keywords within common themes, so you can craft ads connected to their keywords.

If your ad groups each contain many different keywords and many different keyword themes, it will be difficult to write ads that communicate to the multitude of keywords and keyword themes.

Most importantly, people are less likely to click on your ads.

After you’ve reviewed your AdWords account for potential leaks or problems with your targeting, you then need to review what happens after the click.

Now make sure that your website is working

If your potential customer just clicked on one of your AdWords ads, do they immediately go back to Google to click on the next? If this is how most of your AdWords visitors behave, you’re almost certainly wasting money.

Now you’ve confirmed that only the right people are clicking on your ads, visitors to your website should be finding what they’re looking for. In other words most should be doing exactly what you wanted them to do after they arrived. That could include filling out a form, downloading your software or purchasing your product.

If they’re not doing what you wanted, there may be a problem with your website, product or service.

Solving these types of issues can be difficult. It can also require a great deal of effort as well as experimentation. I would recommend beginning the process by looking at your website through the eyes of your AdWords visitors.

Remember that when someone arrives on your website from an ad, it should have a clear connection to the page they landed on. You only have a few seconds to capture their attention.

Now you can make sure that your costs are reasonable and not out of control

You’ve just confirmed that the right people are clicking on your ads and they’re doing what you wanted them to do once they arrived on your website. You now need to consider your costs.

Are you paying more than you should, and are you wasting money?

This is one of those questions that’s difficult to answer and will depend on your particular business needs.

To try and answer it, I would recommend that you perform some experiments.

What happens when you decrease your bids or budgets? Do you receive more for less? Did it have a negative or a positive impact on performance?

What about the opposite? What happens when you increase your bids or budgets? Do you receive more targeted traffic that produces the results you were looking for?

These types of experiments will help you make more informed decisions.

Always remember that you’ll never have a complete picture of exactly how many sales AdWords produced. You might see that some sales are attributed to AdWords, but you’ll never be able to tell how representative that data is. Tracking the true ROI will always be problematic and may even be impossible.

In the end, it’s best to focus on what you know and not be bogged down by the unknown. Make sure you’re paying for the right people to click on your ads, that your website is producing the results you want, and experiment with the price you pay for AdWords.

Taking these steps will help produce better results.

Google have recently made mobile more important for SEO. Here’s what to do about it. Note: I’ve tried to keep this as brief as possible, but I recommend that you read the whole thing. Skimming may result in a less-than-optimal experience!

STEP 1: Don’t panic.

You may think that you have the only website that isn’t ready for mobile, but you’re wrong.

More importantly, Google’s announcements should never constitute an emergency.

For example we saw too many businesses drop everything and frantically apply HTTPS to their websites when Google announced the importance of this in August 2014. I don’t know of anyone who’s benefited from this so far – including our own company.

I’m not saying that you should ignore the issue of mobile, but there’s nothing to panic about.

STEP 2: Understand what Google actually said. (Not what people said Google said.)

Here’s a direct quote from Google’s announcement:

More mobile-friendly websites in search results

Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.

Google pick their words carefully, and there are a few semantic choices that the masses are missing.

When Google say “This change will affect mobile searches” they don’t necessarily mean searches on all devices.

Here’s the good part; the part that most panic-merchants are missing:

John Mueller from Google was recently asked whether the update would have any effect on desktop search, and his answer was “as far as I know – no“. You can see the Google Hangout here.

While I’m not disputing the impact that the update may have on mobile search results, Google’s use of “will have a significant impact in our search results” is deliberately vague. It’s also worth noting Google’s terrible history when predicting the impact of other updates in the past.

STEP 3: Understand what “mobile ready” means. 

A website isn’t mobile-ready if it merely loads onto your iphone.

If you have to zoom in and out, it isn’t mobile ready. And if you need a magnifying glass it definitely isn’t mobile ready.

Gary Illyes, another Google employee, defines mobile friendly as having three characteristics:

– available
– legible
– usable

I’m not going to dig any deeper into this, as I think all the information we need is right there. From a mobile perspective, if the pages on your website can tick all three boxes, then (broadly speaking) you’re good to go.

STEP 4: Understand whether you need to fix your whole website or just specific pages.

Eventually we’re all going to have to make sure that all of our website content works on all devices. But not today.

As confirmed by Google, the mobile-friendly test works on a page-by-page basis.

So the boost that you may get from having mobile-friendly content will be applied to individual pages that are being searched for from mobile devices.

And non-optimised pages?

John Mueller has made it clear that non-optimised content will not be removed from the search results; just that content that accommodates mobile users would be given an additional boost.

Most interesting is the fact that in the previously mentioned Hangout, John actually pointed out that websites that don’t offer a strong mobile experience could still rank highly on mobile devices if the content was deemed to be relevant enough.

Is this sounding a little familiar?

STEP 5: Taking a step back from the brink of madness.

Mobile matters. We know that.

On our own website we’re seeing around 14% of our visitors using a mobile device. That figure will only rise over time.

And for the record, we’re not set up for mobile either. We’re working on it, but it’s not ready just yet.

My prediction is that over the coming years we’re going to see the lines between different device types blur, and I think that Google realise that too.

So yes, mobile matters. And yes we all need to make sure our websites are mobile-friendly. But I recommend against emergency-meetings, knee-jerk responses or frantic emails to website designers.

STEP 6: All of this has happened before, and all of this will happen again.

Good SEO strategies involve putting the human visitor first. Always.

If you’re creating mobile-friendly content so that your visitors have a better experience on their mobile devices, then this is healthy. Doing so primarily for Google isn’t.

I suspect that within a few years “mobile friendly” will more or less become the norm, and therefore offer no real SEO advantage. The tail-chasing SEOs will move onto the next thing, and so the cycle continues.

The ramifications of a poorly thought-out or sloppily-executed mobile solution could be far more damaging than a slow and careful response. Work out the best solution for your website, and then how you’re going to apply it to your content.

If you’re interested in digging a little deeper:

Google Guide to Mobile Friendly Sites

Google’s Mobile Friendly Test

Google Webmaster Tools Mobile Usability Report

Be careful; be smart.

Why do Google keep updating Analytics on an ongoing basis?

It’s not just about keeping up with new technology, and it certainly goes a lot further than cosmetic changes.

So why do they invest an immense number of developer hours into something that is not only free, but has almost no competition?

It’s all about tiers.

Every market has different levels of competition, ranging from the “King of all they survey” all the way down to the “Why do they bother” at the bottom of the barrel.

Tier 1 – basic competition

In some markets this may be the most crowded level. Lots of products all jostling for space. To all intents and purposes they don’t really compete, they just exist.

Tier 2 – better

These are the products that compete with the others on one main factor. For example they may be cheaper, faster, smarter, lighter than the masses below them.

Tier 3 – better than most

The products that are better than their closest rivals on more than one level. They may, for example, be cheaper and easier to use, or lighter and stronger than the lower tier.

Tier 4 – significantly better than most

Products that are significantly better than almost all of their competition at almost everything. Products in this category may be cheaper, faster, better quality, more reliable and more desirable than their competitors.

Tier 5 – the best

This product (or occasionally products) will usually be much better than all of their competition in almost every way. In a sense they have no real competition.

Any products or services you can think of will fit this model – foods, text editors, power tools, electronic hardware, phones, accountants, paint, paper, wine, batteries and more. All of them have their earned and just place in their market.

To some extent, there is movement between the tiers, but the higher the tier, the more difficult it is to ascend. So jumping from the first to the second tier could be as simple as being cheaper, or more efficient for example. The other side of the coin is that there may be one single differentiator means that the tier two product could quickly find themselves sliding back down.

Make the transition from tier one to three, however, and not only will the product face less competition, but their place will be more secure.

It only really starts to get interesting at the highest levels. Many markets will see one single product or company in the top tier, and the chance of a tier 4 product taking their place is incredibly slim. Not impossible, but unlikely.

Yet in order to maintain their position at the top, the tier 5 company only needs to keep the gap between them and tier 4 wide enough so that no-one can cross it, and no more. In other words the company at the very top needs to make sure that they are massively better than any of their real competition. But there’s nothing to gain beyond a certain point. Far enough that they can’t make the leap is far enough.

Going back to Google Analytics, there are of course many alternatives, but how many of them are free, easy to use, scalable, reliable, require no expertise to install, work on all platforms and can be used by almost anyone anywhere?

So what would it take to compete with all of the above? More than any company can justify investing; for now.

As long as Google keep the gap between Analytics and their competition long and deep enough, and maintain it so that it just works, nothing will change anytime soon either.