Search engine optimization is still recognized as the number one way to be seen by search engines such as Google despite claims that SEO is moribund. If SEO is in fact a waste of time and effort, no one has told the millions of companies that use it and the major search engines that still count SEO as a huge part of their ranking criteria. As you should know by now, 70-75% of Internet search engine users don’t go past page one when searching.
It is essential for your company to not only focus on what it is doing right in terms of SEO, but also what it is doing incorrectly. There is no better way to figure out both elements than by analyzing your SEO competitors. Performing this research lets you know what your rivals are doing well and what they are doing badly. You should also be aware that merely checking out the keywords they use is barely scratching the surface in this analysis.
Know Your Enemy
This is a saying taken from Sun Tzu’s The Art of War which is a text that is several thousand years old. Yet this is a timeless piece of advice. First of all, a competitor in this instance is not a company that is similar to yours but one that is ranked on page one in major search engines for the same keywords you are interested in using. Decide on your own target keywords and check out the top ranked sites on Google for each one.
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The first thing to look at is the age of the pages and domains of these sites. The older the pages, the better they will perform as search engines reward older sites in the belief that they are more trustworthy. Look at the keyword density used by these sites and their page rank. Look at the amount of backlinks, both internal and external, while also discovering whether or not they used their keywords as link anchors. Go through the site with a fine tooth comb looking at the amount of video, text and images used while also seeing how user-friendly these sites are.
While you can initially go through the site manually, it is best to use an analysis tool such as Screaming Frog which can give you accurate data. Naturally, you cannot rely on tools for everything as you have to gauge the usefulness and user experience provided by the site yourself.
Clever usage of keywords alone will not provide you with SEO success. Backlinking plays an extremely important role so yet again, you have to look at how your competitors approach this. Things to be aware of include the number of links and the anchor text used. Additionally, you have to find out where these links are coming from. Clearly, links from high ranking sites are weighted quite heavily in the search engine rankings. Admittedly, this kind of research can be time consuming and dull but once again there are a host of tools ready to help you out. Once you have all the data you need, use Google Webmaster Tool to analyze your own website and see how it compares to those of your rivals.
If you don’t realize how important social media is to your SEO efforts, now is the time to figure it out! As well as being great for attracting high levels of traffic, social media sites lead to more links being shared which is great news for your SEO efforts. Look for your rivals on popular social media networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook. It is important for you to look at how they present their content as well as analyzing what they actually post. This will benefit you in two ways: As well as learning more about how to improve your SEO campaign, you also get a free insight into social media marketing!
One of the simplest ways to learn more about your rivals on social media is to create an account that is not affiliated with your company in any way. Pose as a regular user and you can learn a great deal about them without drawing any attention. It is a mistake to follow them or ‘like’ them using your company’s profile as they will know you are checking them out and will be on their guard.
These are just some of the ways in which you can analyze your SEO competitors. Merely discovering the keywords they use and the density really isn’t enough as it ignores various aspects of a great SEO campaign. When you find out more about the inner workings of your competitors, you can learn how to emulate their successes and avoid their failures. Once you know what the top dogs are doing, you can begin plotting your own road to the top of the search engine rankings.