When you own a business and are trying to get new customers, it can be daunting to think about the other companies that are like yours, that may be taking business away from you. You can get caught up in this, worrying about what they are doing that you are not, and perhaps why people go to them instead of you. But there is an old saying that rings true here; imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. When you delve deeper into what your competitors are doing, you might find that you like their concept and believe it would be a good fit for your own business. Or, you might discover something that you can do a lot better that will help drive more people your way. In the online world, where traffic to your website is crucial for business, there are steps you can take to discover what others are doing so that you can improve your website rankings. It is called an SEO Competitor Analysis and there are certain things you should include in it to help shape your own website and marketing campaigns.
Know Who The Competitors Are
Ok. You have your website set up and perhaps you have a marketing campaign happening. You have chosen keywords that relate to your business and will bring you the most targeted traffic. You currently rank on the third or fourth page of Google searches, and you have a few ads running on the side to bring immediate traffic. Have you asked yourself whyyou do not show up on the first or second page of search results? And have you looked to see who is?
Knowing who your competitors are is the first step in analysing them. If they are showing up on the first page of search results, for the same keywords that you need to use, then you need to understand why they are there, and you are not. Perhaps they are a large, multi-billion dollar, international company with a brand that is a household name. Maybe they are not. It doesn’t really matter. What does matter is why they are there, and whether or not you can imitate what they are doing, or perhaps do it better. Knowing who they are is the first step.
Once you have identified who your main competitors are, spend some time looking at their website. Discover what pages they have, if they have blogs, videos, social media feeds, etc. Understand if they are updated daily or weekly and read their content to know how they are using the keyword/phrase that you want to use.
Consistently updated blogs, with fresh and original content, can help a site rank highly. Google likes to see updated information; it shows that the website is active and deserves to be ranked highly. If the blogs also have links to other pages or websites, this will help too.
Maybe your competitor has their social media news feed on their website, too. This can help with rankings because everytime you post on social media your website will also be updated.
Consider a reviews section, too. And one in which people can leave their own comments, rather than ones where you have to upload it for them. Doing this creates new content from various sources, showing Google that your site is active and people want to see it.
Work out if your competitor is doing any of these, or maybe something else, that you are not. Then take the time to implement something similar. If you are already doing (or have done) some of these, decipher what it is that they are doing better which has resulted in their higher ranking. Even better, though, is if you can find something that you can do better than them!
High Ranking Keywords
Now that you know who your competitors are, and what their website looks like, you can discover the keywords for which they rank highly. Obviously, you know one (the one you used to search at the beginning), but what other ones are helping them build online credibility with Google?
There are many tools available to you to do this search (though many are not free). Being able to rank highly for multiple keywords and phrases helps your overall ranking for each of them, so it is a good idea to know what your competitor’s keywords are ranking for. Perhaps there are some you hadn’t even thought of, that could be useful in driving traffic to your website. Doing this research will help to inform you of the creative ways to think about keywords- maybe you could tweak one of their high ranking ones so that it is different but very similar, which will draw in the same type of traffic to you but not to them. You may also decide to stay away from some of them so that you do not waste time competing with big players, which some businesses do.
While you know that your competitors are getting traffic from Google, it is important to know where else they are getting website visitors from. The more traffic a site gets, the more links that are built and therefore the higher it ranks in searches. Use traffic source tools to determine where your competitors are getting traffic from; it may be social media, a blogger, review sites or it could even be directories (like Yellow Pages!).
If they are ranking highly there is sure to be a traffic source that you do not have, or have not even considered as yet. Maybe you will be inspired to do something similar or notice an area that you could do better. It will give you insight into the types of places to find your ideal customers, and show you where you need to be directing your advertising campaigns (maybe it is Facebook or Instagram).
Now it is time to delve deeper into exactly what your competitor’s site has that yours doesn’t, through analysing their website behind the scenes, including exploring the elements that assist in SEO and ranking highly.
Look at their titles (pages, blogs, etc.) and how well they use the keyword(s) in those. Are they part of the title? And how have they used them within the title so that it reads well?
Notice what types of pages they have around those keywords. You have already looked at what content the site has, but look deeper to see where they use the keywords. Maybe they have landing pages or product pages, that are tailored around the keyword(s).
Explore in-site linking; does each page link to another page within the website? Or do you have to use the navigation tool to move around the site? More links to pages equal higher SEO rankings.
Also, check the structure of the content. Is it short and to the point? Or do they have long, informative posts? Maybe they have both. Learn how they have used the keyword(s) in each of these ways.
What could you take away from this knowledge? Imitation could be best in this case, because clearly whatever they are doing is working well for them, and you want to enjoy similar success.
One critical component of SEO is backlinks; where other websites/blogs have linked to your website. Links are crucial in SEO, and when another site has linked to yours, it shows credibility and relevance to the keyword being searched. Google likes this.
As part of your SEO Competitor Analysis discover what backlinks your competitor has; what other sites are recommending or linking back to them and why. Maybe an influential blogger, with thousands of followers, writes posts that are relevant to your niche and they like your competitor, so they mention them often. Or maybe sites like Yelp! are helping; people are leaving reviews and linking back to the website. Again, there are tools that can help with this, and discovering what type of backlinks your high-ranking competitors are getting can increase your own learning; get creative and discover which other sites could be promoting yours. Remember, though, that it is a two-way street; you will need to be able to offer them something in return.
You might think that you know who your target audience is and who is most likely to purchase products from you or engage in your services. But, sometimes, this can be wrong. One way to see for sure is to do a demographic analysis of your high-ranking competitors. It may involve looking at their social media, too. You can, however, discover who the visitors to their website are; where they live, their age and gender and other interests that they have. These are all elements that you can use to help find them through keywords in search engines.
For example, let’s say you sell shoes. You discover through your competitor’s site that many of their customers live in Bondi, Australia, are men aged between 25 and 34, who also like running, surfing and the Sydney Swans. Using this data, you can create keywords, and ads, based on those five things. Your ad could read something like: “Men’s Shoes: Perfect For Running Around Bondi” (You will come up with something much more impressive, I’m sure!). But by doing this, you are more likely to pique their interest using keywords/phrases that your competitor is not, and therefore can rank higher in front of the audience that is most likely to buy from you.
There are many elements that you can consider when doing an SEO Competitor Analysis; it just depends on what it is you are looking for. But focusing on these seven areas will ensure that you get off to a head start in getting your own site ranked as high as (or higher than) your competition.