As much as it can be a chore sometimes, when it comes to marketing, competitor analysis really is the first place you should start. That doesn’t just go for the web – if you’re launching a new product or service, or exhibiting at an event, it’s important to evaluate your competitors to ensure that you have the edge (and if you don’t – figure out how to get it).
Of course, the same goes for online marketing and there are many different aspects of your online presence that you should benchmark. You should be analysing your competitors’ website functionality, their social media presence, and their PPC campaign. What’s important to remember is that your SEO competitor analysis is just one piece in this puzzle. Let’s take a look at what you should be evaluating…
Competitor Keyword Analysis
Before we go any further, you should note that there are a lot of useful competitor analysis tools out there that can help you with what we’ll cover in this article. The first thing that they can help you understand is what keywords your competitors are targeting and ranking for. This is important because it gives you an idea of what keywords are important to your industry and what you should be targeting. However, even more vital is identifying the keywords that your competitors are not ranking on – the low hanging fruit that your business can easily start picking.
Let’s pretend you manufacture bungee cords, but your competitors already have the top three spots in Google for ‘bungee cords’ – you should of course consider competing on this keyword but bear in mind that it may require a lot of effort. Perhaps your competitors have neglected the keywords ‘bungee cord suppliers’ or ‘bungee cords online’.
This is where you can swoop in and fill that gap, easily ranking on those keywords and generating qualified traffic. When it comes to your ‘bungee cords’ keyword, you will need to break the analysis down even further. Analyse your competitors’ websites. How relevant is their content to this keyword? How strong is their keyword optimisation? This will give you some idea of exactly what it will take to compete on this keyword.
Competitor Ranking Analysis
This ties in with the previous point but should be more of a long-term concern. Once you have identified your target keywords, you need to keep an eye on how you and your competitors are ranking on each of them. There are a multitude of tools that can help you monitor this – www.whatsmyserp.com is a useful free tool, but if you’re looking for something a little more sophisticated then Rank Tracker, Raven, and Sheer SEO all offer more in-depth functionality.
These tools will help to inform your online marketing campaign. If you notice a ranking drop on a particular keyword then you can consider creating some fresh content to address the keyword. Or perhaps you notice that a competitor is consistently out-ranking you, even though you consider your content and keyword optimisation to be much stronger. This is where the next part of your SEO competitor analysis comes in.
Analysing Competitor Backlinks
A significant factor in Google’s ranking algorithm is backlinks – links to your site from other sites on the Web. Google likes sites that have a lot of high quality, relevant backlinks. Analysing your competitors’ linking profile gives you an idea of how well respected they are online, and what kind of effort you will need to put in in order to compete with them. You can also use the information to build your own linking profile.
First, by doing a competition analysis on backlinks, you can identify sites that would also be potentially willing to link to you. Write to them and ask for links, market your content towards them, or maybe even write a guest post for them. Majestic SEO is by far the best tool for this and gives you a comprehensive, back-dated overview of any site’s linking profile.
Another, slightly more aggressive, tactic you can use is to identify ‘dead links’ (links that once pointed towards a site or page similar to yours but are now broken for whatever reason) and asking the relevant webmaster to replace these links with links to your website.
Following the above steps will form the basis of your SEO campaign and allow you to plan your content. This should not be a one-off activity, but something that you repeat on a regular basis in order to benchmark your progress and success. A social media competitor analysis will also tie in with this, as social media is becoming a more significant factor in SEO as we move forward. Identify which channels your competitors are operating on, the frequency of their posts, and the type of content they’re posting.
This can all be a bit daunting and certainly takes some practice, especially if you’re just getting started in SEO. If you need assistance with your SEO competitor analysis, don’t hesitate to contact us for help putting the puzzle together.
Tom McSherry is the founder and chief strategist of Premium SEO NZ. Tom has been in the digital marketing industry for 8 years providing digital copywriting and optimisation services to businesses in New Zealand and around the world. Connect with him on LinkedIn here.
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