— May 9, 2018
Ovid, the Roman poet, once said – ‘A horse never goes so quick as when he has other horses to reach and overtake.’
It is now truer than ever as the competition is at its peaks online. To take the right action for fair and better competition against your rivals, you must carry out a competitive analysis as part of your SEO strategy. By carrying out this analysis, you will know the route to follow by identifying your past, current position, and where you want to be. This will happen when you improve on your weaknesses and employ strategic tools and ideas to beat your competition. You must, however, know what an SEO competitive analysis is in the first place before you employ it.
What is Competitive Analysis?
In simple terms, this is a process of analyzing other websites that have better rankings in the search engines. These sites should be offering products and services like yours. With this knowledge you then take the SEO strengths you find and use them to optimize your site. You will also include strategies they lack to gain better visibility.
The competition you are analyzing can be familiar or completely unknown but are contributing to subjects in your niche.
You should be aware of the difference between an SEO and business competition. A business competitor is one who sells similar products as you do and targets a similar audience as yours. On the flip side, an SEO competition targets keywords that you are ranking for. With these keywords, the competitor might be offering solutions in your niche or a different one. Your businesses might be having different values and customers but the keywords you are ranking for make them appear before you when information is keyed in the SERPs.
If they are good at SEO and are located in your area, then they might be receiving all the valuable leads that might have otherwise been yours. Keywords make all the difference, and this is where you need to focus your energy without slacking.
The Procedures Involved in Competitive Analysis
There are key aspects that must be observed closely if you want to get the best from Competitive SEO analysis. Some of these factors include keywords, backlinks, rankings, and niche authority.
Find the Best Ranking Site for Your Keywords
For you to reach the top spot, you must find keywords that relate to your industry. By finding them, you will then find all those who are before you in the search engine results. The question then arises on how to go about it and how to know which keywords will benefit your business.
There is no secret to this because there are readily available tools for this purpose. And one of them is the Google Keyword Planner. It is simple to use. The easiest way is through keying in words that you think you will be ranking for. After you do, this Google will list some related keywords. You look at the list and compare looking for keywords that will be more effective and yet lack stiff competition.
Other tools are useful in this process including Moz, SEMrush, Raven tools and Spyfu. If you master using one of these tools, then you will be in a good position to analyze these facts. You will know how much traffic your competitors are accumulating with a given keyword and come up with a conclusive counter attack to benefit ultimately.
Make an Analysis of Websites You are Competing Against
This stage requires that you know who your competitors are and the keywords you all are targeting. Go to their sites and begin the learning process. Look at what is helping them succeed and dragging them back.
Use Mozbar to help you know their domain authority and Spfyu to trace their current progress with the intention of grouping the competition in three categories as below:
- The established competition with strong and significant domain presence
- The same level competitors within your category but are ranked better than you
- The fastest growing in the SERPs but at the same domain authority level as you
After listing these categories, you will notice what is working and what isn’t to stand a better chance implementing the right ideas.
How is the Competition Ranking?
In this case, you go a level higher by analyzing the number of pages their site has, how frequent they publish content (if they have any), backlinking quality, social media strategies and the number of shares to their domain as discussed below:
After analyzing this, you can then go ahead and generate a list of ideas you think are working for them. Though amorphous you will be headed in the right direction.
Determine the Channels You can Use to Extract Crucial Data: You can go the data mining way by using excel to accommodate huge amounts of data and see the trends that are used by your competition for a better conclusion.
Analyze Both On-page and Off-page Trends: You should be keen on this by examining the tools they use, the social media they use to reach visitors and how they do it, the quality of the content on their pages and the backlinks they use.
What are the Strategies they Employ: Here, you will focus on their past and notice the improvements that came from their efforts. You can then find the most fertile strategies that brought significant progress in their SEO efforts.
Tools to Apply in Your SEO Analysis Efforts
Some tools are available to help you do a successful SEO analysis. You know your needs, and so you should pick the tool that fills the gaps in your SEO journey.
There is a more advanced underlying analysis of the tools we are going to mention. If it was easy just like keying in keywords and finding our competitor we could do the same with Google search. These tools include Spyfu, Mozbar, Raven and Ahrefs Tools.
Raven tools incorporate multiple features more than the rest. It has intensely deep analytics for rankings, building links, and traffic flow.
The best part is that this tool is free and it gives you ways to know the D.A scores. Any time you visit a site, you can get data easily at a look. Usually located at the top of the site ready to show you the data you need.
Spyfu will avail the past information, the keywords, rankings and clicks of your competitor.
Ahrefs will help you to go through a backlinking process of profiles. At first, it can be overwhelming because it presents you a lot, but once you master it, you will like what it offers.
There are guides to help you crack any hard parts of these tools on official websites and other sites.
How Do You Become a Standard of Reference?
Implementing is the main challenge when it comes to competition analysis. Usually, pointing out mistakes and errors in your strategies is an easy thing until it reaches a point where you need to take the actions. To achieve success in your SEO journey, you need to invest time and effort and be patient. If the strategy does not work after a reasonable wait, then you need to go back to the drawing board.
By using the tools mentioned above, half the work will be done. They will help you compare your site and your competitors’ sites to identify which one is leading and why.
Spyfu will show you the keywords a given site is ranking for compared to yours.
You can otherwise take a different approach altogether as explained previously. Take a spreadsheet and include the metrics including keywords, backlinks and the rest.
Also, you can do independent research to delve deeper into your competitor’s strategies. But this is unnecessary if your data is well recorded (in the right format) and you have the best tools to show you how to do it.
These are just initial procedures for SEO building, and by having the right foundation, you will be better placed to enter into more complex details.
In the above image, Spyfu tool is showing you how many keywords that are directly used by the site to rank for.
The Advantages of SEO Competitive Analysis
Carrying out a competitive analysis continuously and with in-depth procedures will place you at an advantage when it comes to competing for your rivals. It will not only give you a foothold in your SEO campaign but will increase your profits in your business since you will be converting more following the heavy traffic on your site. Some of the advantages are as follows:
When you do the regular competitive analysis, you will be in a position to decide on the keywords that help you rank and utilize them for your content strategically to defeat them. All this will be done using your competitor’s previous efforts.
You Learn of New Opportunities
Carrying out a competitive analysis is opening a new window to learn. You will notice new stuff you never knew about. Learning details of your competitors’ marketing strategies enable you to create a plan for countering their strategies.
Opens Your Mind to More You Need to Offer
Through analyzing your competitors, you will realize products that you have not been offering and start including them in your product list. Besides, you can decide to merge with other businesses to offer your visitors a range of products.
You Will Notice Gaps in the Market
There are gaps in the market that waits to be filled. By analyzing your competitors, you might notice an opportunity that has not been utilized and then takes a step to fill it for your benefit.
Learn From Others Mistakes
This is an important aspect since you will not be making as many mistakes as those who are before you. You will know what failed them and through that avoid a similar mistake. You will optimize your website using the new data to get improved results.
To succeed in online marketing, you must carry out a competitive analysis to know what you can do to improve your ranking in the search engines. By knowing what business rivals and SEO competitors are doing, you will be better placed to take the best action.
Most importantly don’t take analysis and just sit on it.
Decide to practice the best strategies you find and apply new ideas and tools to benefit your business. Above all, do not exclusively center your strategies around competition, pay attention to value creation as well and your business will thrive.