Top SEO Competitive Analysis Techniques

  • AUTHOR: Amanda DiSilvestro
  • DATE: 03/13/2013

Most business owners will agree that analyzing your competition is an important part of the SEO process. Unfortunately, this is often one of those “all talk no action” type scenarios.

We all know that analyzing the competition is important, but actually making the time and doing so isn’t so easy. You can periodically check out your competitors’ websites and see the kinds of content they’re posting and comments they’re getting, but there are many more advanced ways to really dig deep and investigate your competitors’ data that will help you in producing better SEO results.

Giving yourself a variety of outlets to gather this data can help your company learn from others’ mistakes and successes, and hopefully bring you out on top in the search engines. This then begs the question: what is the absolute best way to analyze your competition online to benefit your SEO rankings?

Top Things to Look for When Analyzing Your Competition   

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It’s important to realize that you do not have to use every single tactic and method of analysis out there to get a good handle on your competition. You should first lay out what kind of information would benefit you the most, and then focus your efforts on that. In this way, your competitive analysis activities can be highly efficient and productive. If you strive to use too many methods, it just might take more time and resources than it’s worth.

A few things you could look for when analyzing your competition include:

PageRank

It’s true that PageRank isn’t a reliable indication of how well a website is doing, but it does give you a ballpark idea (and so I usually recommend checking this first). PageRank is all about how Google sees your site—how many backlinks point to your site, how easy is it to navigate, how much content is unique and optimized, etc.—which is usually a fairly good indication of how the site might be doing in terms of visitors. It’s not always completely accurate, but if your competition is two or three PageRank numbers ahead of you, it might be time to do some optimization work. Start by downloading the PageRank Status app.

Backlinks

Checking your competitors’ backlinks is an easy way to try and earn those same backlinks yourself. You can analyze whether the backlinks are natural or earned (through guest posting, press releases, etc.), and then determine how you can do the same. You can use tools such as Backlink Watch to confirm the specific backlinks of your competitors. Even if you are not going to approach the same sites as your competitors, this process will reveal the types of sites you may want to approach.

Social Engagement

All you need to do here is head over to your competitors’ social media sites and analyze the number of followers, posts, content, etc. This works a bit better than just heading over to a website because you can see everything you need to see. While you may not be able to see the changes in social media numbers, you can see trends very clearly. Pay attention, and you’ll be able to tell that their “Top 5 Ways” posts gets the most engagement.

If you want to go into greater depth of analysis, there are a variety of tools on the market to help you. Try Followerwonk for Twitter analysis, PageLever for Facebook analysis, or SEOmoz for both Twitter and Facebook analysis.

Online Reputation

See what is being said about your competitors across the web. If you find something negative, consider putting out a piece of content that explains how you do the opposite. Keep your content positive. You don’t need to make mention of your competitors (in fact, you definitely shouldn’t), but understand that your readers may make the connection on their own. 

A great way to keep tabs on the competition without having to
spend any money is through Google Alerts.
You simply type in your competitor’s company name or the keywords you
are targeting, and Google will send you an email every time that term or
phrase is spotted on the web.

Paid Search

You can learn about your competitors’ online strategies in greater depth by studying their paid search activities, as often this will reveal key insights into their SEO strategies as well. Go into Google and Bing and search on a variety of keywords that your target audience would be searching on.

Dig much deeper and gain a more holistic view of your competitors’ approaches by using a competitive analysis tool such as SEMRush. For those with a bigger budget, try AdGooroo.

It’s an Ongoing Process

Your competitors are continually evolving and changing over time. They will be adjusting
their approach and updating their campaigns in order to try to improve results.
Therefore, it’s critical that you see competitive analysis as an ongoing process. It’s not something that you can do once, and then forget about thereafter.

As
options are continually evolving, you should discuss and share tips
with business owners and marketers in non-competing industries, and
you’ll be sure to pick up additional effective techniques on an ongoing
basis. All of this can keep you one giant step ahead of the competition.

  ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Amanda DiSilvestro

Amanda DiSilvestro gives small businesses and entrepreneurs SEO advice ranging from keyword density to recovering from Panda and Penguin updates. She writes for the nationally recognized SEO Company, HigherVisibility.com, which offers online marketing services to a wide range of companies across the country.

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