October 30, 1974. Undefeated world champion George Foreman is about to take on Muhammad Ali in Rumble in the Jungle – quite possibly the most historic fight in boxing history.
But before the first punch is even thrown, Ali has ALREADY sized up his competition. Despite his opponent being younger and heavier, his strategy involved purposely placing himself in a losing position before obliterating his competitor. Against the odds, Ali eventually toppled Foreman in the eighth round.
How Does This Apply To SEO?
Well, understanding your competition, the TACTICS they are using, and what moves they might make can give you a BIGGER piece of the market.
Search competitive analysis provides you with the information you need to re-strategize and knockout your competitors. Even if you’re a small company punching above your weight, competitive analysis can lead to HIGHER conversions and more cold hard cash.
What Are The Benefits Of Competitive Analysis?
A little bit of well-researched analysis can provide you with all kinds of wonderful information. For example:
+ You can compare how competitor’s websites have set-out their pages. And more importantly, how search crawlers give greater/lesser importance to these companies because of the way their sites are structured.
+ You can see if your competitors have backlinks in places you don’t. Remember when we talked about how important backlinks are when a search engine recognizes the quality of your site? Here’s your chance to see if you’re doing it right – especially when compared to other sites in your niche.
+ You’ll see just how your competitors engage with their audience, and how their content keeps their customers coming back for more. Do 1000-word articles pay off in the long run? What about lists? Articles full of memes? You can test all those SEO techniques, and compare them to real-life examples.
But Does It Work?!
So does competitive analysis lead to improved SEO performance? According to a study by Conductor, it does. In fact, 44% of those who used competitive analysis experienced heavy search growth after doing so. Competitive analysis also influenced their search strategy going forward, according to the research.
These results suggest only one thing – those who haven’t incorporated competitive analysis into their strategy should start doing so immediately.
How Do I Compare The Competition?
A good place to start is to use competitive analysis to compare websites similar to yours. The heavy hitters with a similar amount of content and a closely-related niche.
+ Search using your keyword target list and see who ranks best for different terms. You might find that online stores may be prevalent on the SERP for certain keywords when compared with traditional brick-and-mortar stores, and vice-versa for other keywords.
+ Review five rival sites that appear the most on the SERP and compare the way they use title tags, meta descriptions and domain names. Ask yourself – are they using these in the most effective way according to the keywords you are searching for?
+ SEMRush is a tool that helps you compare the keywords your rivals use to drive traffic to their sites. You might find that these are already on your keyword research list. However, there are probably loads that are not.
+ Do these same sites have a VISIBILITY on all sections of the search engine? For example in news, images and places? Use your imagination and think of all the possible places on SERPs where your rivals could be advertising their services. After all, Ali once said: “The man who has no imagination has no wings.”
+ Use DIFFERENT search engines – Bing or Yahoo! Search may bring up different results than Google.
+ Have a look at your rivals’ social media pages. How are they incorporating website content onto these platforms? Are they engaging with their customer base well?
Are Your Competitors More Authoritative Than You?
If your competition has plenty of content on their pages, that’s all well and good. But is it content that generates shares and links?
+ Open Site Explorer from Moz is your ringside seat when reviewing your competitors based on authority and trust. You’ll be able to compare their domain authority, page authority, and the number of links that direct to the site.
+ Find out WHERE their content is being shared. Are posts more likely to be shared on Twitter than Google+ or Facebook? If so, why?
+ Use Competitive Link Finder from Moz to find WHERE your competitors are getting high-quality links from. You’ll be able to compare up to five rival sites in one go – essential info for any content marketer.
Here are some extra bonus tips to make the most out of competitive analysis:
+ Become a super sleuth – set up Google Alerts for your competitors, and see which sites get the most love from Google. You may find that the Big G is noticing some sites more than others.
+ Competitive intelligence tools such as HubSpot will enable you to spot trends when comparing an unlimited number of different websites.
+ Compare how your competitors post content and structure their pages. Find out if they use plenty of video, images, or even GIFs, and see what type of content resonates the most with their audience.
According to a study carried out by Conductor, 74% of content marketers agreed that competitive analysis was important, however only 40% admitted to integrating it into their marketing strategy. Talk about throwing in the towel early.
Many marketers are simply not capitalizing on what is potentially as useful a strategy as keyword research, conversion optimization and content promotion.
If you’re part of the 60% who has yet to integrate it into your marketing strategy, it’s time to pull your head out of the sand – you’ll soon see its value.
Start off slow, get to know your competitors a little better, and adapt your pages to reflect this new-found information. Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee…
And remember: SEO isn’t an overnight thing – it takes time and practice, so pay close attention to the tips above and you soon could become the SEO champion of the world!