Competitive research is an absolutely essential part of the overall SEO process. It entails analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of websites which are ranked highly for your targeted keywords and phrases. It also allows the identification of successful tactics and means of diversification which may be employed during your SEO campaign.
Our goal with this post is to help you understand the thought process and opportunities available when you’re starting out with competitor research for SEO purposes.
Finding Out Who You’re Competing Against
It is worth pointing out that you may be competing against different businesses in the online and offline worlds. You might discover that specialist online retailers are ranking well for the keywords that you are targeting. Informational websites such as Wikipedia may also be impeding your route to the top. Such findings are essential if you are to fully understand the challenges that you will have to work around or overcome during an SEO campaign. After conducting such analysis you will be in a better position to set short and medium term goals, which is possible by estimating the work involved in bridging the gap between your ranking and that of your competitor.
It is possible to draw similarities between competitive boxing and SEO. The nimble lightweight boxer doesn’t line up their first fight against the heavyweight champion of the world. They take the time to build their skills and win bouts against rivals of a similar level. This is the approach that you should take when attempting to climb the SEO ladder. Take small steps to overtake the sites directly above yours. Analyse their chosen marketing methods then come up with your own set of improved strategies.
These strategies could include:
- Improving the depth or quality of the content on the page. For example, if you have a couple of paragraphs of content about your keyword compared with your competitor who has a video, FAQ, diagrams and whitepapers available to download, it does not take an SEO Genius to work out why you’re not ranked as high.
- Comparing website or page authority with your competitors, which might include looking at the age of the site, how many other websites reference (link back) to that piece of content etc
- Looking at onpage factors such as meta description, meta titles, keyword density, image optimisation, including videos etc
- Loking at the offpage optimisation factors, which usually involves a strategy for speeding up the sharing of your content or other sites linking back to you… What was always known as link-building.
Implementing Specific Research Techniques
If you’re really keen to build an understanding of the competitive landscape then until recently you could have used tools such as the Google Keyword Planner, unfortunately this is no longer available, so a list of alternatives has been provided at the bottom of this article. Find out which sites have optimised heavily for the words and phrases that your potential customers will use. Consider the short and long term feasibility of ranking for these terms. If you don’t stand a chance of competing on the textual front then perhaps you can optimise for video or image searches. And don’t forget the importance of analysing data from alternative search engines such as Bing or Yahoo. Although, if you’re doing this then it suggests you’re in a very competitive niche and should be looking at other ways to find traffic in the short-term.
After the-all important keyword research phase it will be necessary to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the back-links acquired by your rivals. This will give you the opportunity to find opportunities for building links to your own site. You may discover blogs that are encouraging the submission of guest pieces. You might also find free web directories and social media platforms which could be used to market your brand. It will even be possible to ascertain the various forms of content that interests and engages your target market.
Establishing A Unique Online Presence
You may well discover that your rivals are enjoying a fair amount of SEO success. They may be creating high quality blogs or infographics . They may also be running Facebook competitions and building meaningful customer relationships via Twitter. It may be tempting to adopt the same strategies in the hope of boosting your rankings. However, if you do attempt to hang on the coat-tails of the competition then your brand may be recognised as unoriginal and uninspiring. It would be far more sensible to use your research and come up with ideas for diversification.
You might notice that your competitors are producing regular blogs about the hottest topics in your industry. Instead of spinning or rewriting these pieces you are urged to think up brand new angles and identify information that has been omitted. And look for alternative keywords and phrases which the haven’t been repeatedly deployed by your rivals. Optimise for the long tail and make the most of brand new marketing opportunities.
Realising The Value Of Competitor Data
By using the right tools and analytical methods you will be able to gain a vastly improved understanding of your competitors. However, the information will only prove valuable if you use it in the development and deployment of marketing plans and strategies. This may mean expanding the range of content on your website or implementing specific keywords and phrases. If such actions are taken then there will be an chance of achieving improved search engine rankings.
So now you understand the significance of competitive research. However, you are concerned about the amount of time and technical knowledge required to carry out this process. Thankfully Generate UK are here to help. We have access to the latest technology and experience of carrying out comprehensive SEO campaigns. We can research keywords, build links and ensure that you stay ahead of the competition. You can learn more by giving our friendly team a call on 01635 887711 today!
Other keywords tools:
Ubersuggest – http://ubersuggest.org/
SEO Book – http://tools.seobook.com/keyword-tools/seobook/
Wordtracker – http://www.wordtracker.com/
Bing Keyword Tool – http://www.bing.com/toolbox/keywords
Adwords – http://www.bing.com/toolbox/keywords (Requires Google Account)