The foundation of any successful business is knowing the market. As well as understanding your customers, you’ve got to be across your competitors – finding ways to better their offering and increase your market share.
If you’re successful, make no mistake, your competitors won’t just sit around hoping those customers change their mind – they’ll actively try and get them back.
That’s business. It can be cutthroat. The businesses winning the war for customers are those that put the strategy, processes and evaluation into each battle. And one of the biggest business battles is the fight for online attention.
A serious SEO strategy
Winning that particular battle requires a serious SEO strategy. But many businesses are not taking SEO seriously enough. In a recent survey, 57% of small and medium firms said they don’t currently have an SEO strategy in place.
But with every piece of content that you produce, you want it to play into SEO and carry your business up the search engine results pages (SERPs).
“Of the three types of SEO tactics, technical and off-page SEO remain influential but on-page SEO tactics are emerging as powerful drivers for improving search engine performance,” explains SEO experts UpCity.
Start with your competitors
Bringing things full circle, your SEO strategy should start with an analysis of what your competitors are doing. An SEO competitor analysis will provide you with data about which SEO tactics are working for those rivals. As you operate in the same market, it’s likely that those tactics could also work for you.
Now, we’re not advocating just ripping off your competitors’ SEO strategies – moral issues aside, that will only see you draw level with them at best, when the goal is to usurp them in the search engine ranking pages (SERPs).
So, as well as looking at what your competitors do well from an SEO point of view, your analysis should find areas of weakness in your rivals – capitalising on them can give you a competitive edge and take your website above theirs in the SERPs.
Elements of an SEO competitor analysis
Before you get into the SEO competitor analysis, you need to identify the rival businesses which you consider direct competition.
You probably have a good idea of who this is without having to look into it – but remember we’re talking about your SEO competitors here, i.e., all the websites you’re competing with on target keywords.
That means you might not just be competing against firms in your market, but any site or page ranking for a keyword which you’re also targeting.
· Keyword research – The first thing you need to do, then, is to generate target keywords. Obviously, the keywords that you want to rank for should align with what your customers are searching for. There are entire guides written on keyword research and it’s worth digging into them. But tools like WordStream, which is supported by Google, are a great place to start.
· Competitor keyword analysis – With a list of your target keywords in hand, it’s time to look at which ones your competitors have a grip on, plus which ones have been overlooked. Depending on your budget and goals (and your patience for that matter!), you can then work out which keywords to go after.
· Backlink analysis – There’s more to SEO than keywords, however, and as part of your competitor analysis, you need to assess your rivals’ backlink profile i.e., where they’re getting their links from. You simply can’t do this manually, so you’ll need to utilise tools such as Link Explorer from Moz, which will give you the domain’s inbound links, top pages and linking domains amongst other things. How do the backlink profiles of high-ranking domains compare to yours?
· Content analysis – This is the slightly subjective part of the competitor analysis process, as it requires you to sit down and study rivals’ content and consider how relevant, readable and thorough it is. Google likes content which provides real answers to real questions. So, if you’re looking to bolster your site’s rankings, the key is to go long.
· User experience analysis – Google also prioritises sites which are easier to navigate than others, so when doing your content analysis, consider load time, usability on mobile devices, and the general flow of the website. Marginal gains can make a difference so look at the way you can cut corners for your customers, to help them get to where they want to be.
It’s also a good idea to take a look at your competitors’ social media profiles. Although the link between SEO and social media is a bit murky, it’s still a good idea to understand how successful they are at generating likes, comments, shares and click-throughs.
It’s all part of building a picture of your competitors and identifying those areas where they have a door open for you to potentially exploit.
The importance of SEO cannot be understated. If you have ambitions to grow your business, you’re going to need it to rank well for target keywords and phrases. Starting with your competitors ensures you spend your budget as effectively as possible.
Ready to take a closer look at your competitors? Q Content can do some (or all) of the hard graft, then work with you to develop a content-led SEO strategy which produces real results. Email us today on firstname.lastname@example.org and we’d be happy to set up a meeting to talk through next steps.