As you are setting up search engine optimization for your blog or website, it can be helpful to keep an eye on your SEO competitors. As you surely already know, when you keep an eye on what they are doing, taking note of what they do right and wrong, you are able to get a lot of benefit. This analysis can show you not only what kind of competition you are up against, but it can illuminate for you what you need to do to get ahead of them in the search results.
You know that this is beneficial, but in order to get the most benefit, you really need to know how to analyze your SEO competitors like a pro. You probably already know that you are looking to check out their keywords, but real, thorough analysis is much more than that. These following tips are designed to help you take scoping out the competition to a whole new level.
Know the competition.
Usually you think of competition as being a website or blog that is similarly matched, but in this case, it isn’t so. It doesn’t matter if you are buried 50 pages back in search results, the competition happens to be the folks in the top ten. Examine what they are doing to learn strategies that can propel you to the same place.
To figure out who your real competition is, you want to look at all of your target keywords and make a list of them. Then, one by one, Google them, and compile lists for all the top sites for your keywords. As you go on to analyze, these are the pages you will be looking at. You should probably create a spreadsheet for each keyword, populating the data as you look at the other areas for analysis listed below. Also, many of the tools listed in these other tips will generate reports for you, helping you get more research done in much less time.
Cover the basics.
As you analyze your SEO competitors, you should be sure you cover all the bases. Look first at the age of their domain and their pages, as the older the pages, the better they are likely to do. As mentioned keywords should be taken into consideration, particularly the keyword density they used. Look at their page rank. Checkout the amount of internal and external links they have, and look at whether or not they use keywords as link anchors. While you’re at it, examine the page layout for design and how user friendly it is (or isn’t), and look at the content, keeping an eye to how diversified it is with text, videos, images, and the like, thinking about how the content would or would not appeal to visitors.
Most of these basic things can be examined on your own with a visual examination of the site. Other elements, however, are best done with tools. Have a Page Rank extension or tool bar on your browser to give you this valuable bit of information quickly and easily for every site. There are also other more comprehensive apps, like Screaming Frog, that you can utilize to get this information and some of the other points of analysis listed here. Remember, however, that tools aren’t everything; you can only gauge the actual user experience and other elements by actually looking at the site, something that even SEO professionals sometime forget to do.
Be big on backlinks.
As you surely know SEO rankings are supported strongly by quality backlinks. Instead of just focusing on your own backlinking efforts, you want to pay close attention to what the competition does. Check out the number of backlinks they have, the anchor text they are attached to, where they are coming from, and any other information you can get. Hopefully, this will give you some ideas, and maybe you can contact these same webmasters to get links to your pages placed there too.
This research is essentially something to tedious, time consuming, and tough for most to carry out on their own, but there are automatic tools available to help you out. Many like Backlinks Watch. Another popular option is Market Samurai’s SEO competition tool.
Once you are done checking the competition, you can use another tool or go to Google Webmaster Tools, something you probably are using already anyway. In all of the data held there about your site, there is information on your backlinks, something you can use to see how you really measure up to the completion. In your GWT account, click on “Your Site On The Web” and select “Links To Your Site.” Go to the “Who links the most” area and go to the “More” link; on the bottom of the page there, you should opt to “Download all links” to get a .csv file that can be opened and examined in Excel.
Stalk them on social media.
As you already know, social media is a big way to attract traffic to your pages, but it is more than that. Social media can also give you an SEO boost as more and more links get shared. You should find your top SEO competitors on popular social sites like Facebook and Twitter. Take a look at how they are presenting their content and how they do social media marketing on their pages. By analyzing your SEO competitors here, not only are you learning about how to tweak your SEO efforts, but you are also figuring out a thing or two about the social media marketing strategies that might work for you too!
This is easy enough to do; you simply need to point your browser to their social profiles and check them out. For extra discretion, you may want to log in and check them out through an account that isn’t associated with your business; an errant click leading to an accidental like or follow will let them know you are checking them out, and this may lead to unwanted attention.
These are just a few tips on how to analyze your SEO Competitors. Beyond simply seeing what keywords they use, you can look for so much more that can help you learn how to better optimize your site. By following the example of the competition at the top of the search results, you will get great hints on how you can take your SEO efforts to a whole new level.