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Definitive Guide To SEO Competitor Analysis – How to do competitive research in SEO

by | Digital Marketing | 7 comments

Competitor analysis is a key part of any SEO strategy. By understanding what your competitors are doing, you can adjust your own SEO strategy to stay ahead of the curve.

There are a few different ways to approach competitor research. The first is to simply take a look at their website and see what keywords they are targeting. You can also use tools like Google AdWords Keyword Planner and MozKeyword Explorer to see what keywords your competitors are bidding on.

Another approach is to look at their backlink profile. This can give you an idea of which websites are linking to them and how strong those links are. You can use a tool like Majestic SEO or Moz Open Site Explorer to do this research.

Once you have a good understanding of your competitor’s SEO strategy, you can start to adjust your own strategy to try and beat them. This may involve targeting different keywords, building more backlinks, or creating better content. Whatever approach you take, competitor analysis is an essential part of any SEO campaign.

Video tutorials on SEO competitor research

How to find your competitors online

How to do competitor research in SEO

What Areas to Cover in Competitor Analysis

Competitor analysis service

Your competitors are not just there to make life difficult for you! You can derive important lessons about internet marketing from their strategies and also find out what works in your domain of business and what doesn’t  To draw up these lessons and to learn from the competition around you, you need to do a competitor analysis (analyze their methods and strategies). In this post, we have covered all those areas of internet marketing that you must be working on for your own website.

Website Content

Google and some other sources offer you information about a particular website, the number of visitors and various other statistics that are significant pointers to the success of a website’s content. Key in the website address of your competitor and check the statistics as part of your competitor analysis program. Find out which web pages have received more traffic and the keywords that they have used. In the same vein, check for web pages that have not hit the bull’s eye. You have to avoid making those same mistakes! Read the website’s content to find out their marketing messages, the catch phrases and the calls to action.

Social Engagement

This is another important matrix for your competitor analysis. There is a lot to learn from the social media strategies employed by your competitors. Follow them on Twitter and Facebook with some id that doesn’t give away your identity! Then closely observe what they are doing to engage their friends and followers. Your idea would be to understand how the users of social media are responding to the approach of your competitors. What are they doing right? Are they making crucial mistakes in the process? Ask yourself these questions while you observe their workings. Social media engagement is different for different domains. You need to learn the ground-rules for your domain.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is another area to focus while doing competitor analysis. If you are into email marketing as well, there is no better way to figure out the email marketing strategy of your competitor than by subscribing to their newsletter! Study their newsletter or any other form of correspondence at length. Pay careful attention to their time of delivery, their use of words and the email template as well. Study how they are steering clear of spam words and how they are getting the newsletter readers to click and visit their website! You can implement all these lessons when your draft the newsletter for your own website. 

If you want to have a competitor analysis report, you can visit our competitor analysis service

The Correct Way to Identify and Analyze Competitors in Digital Marketing

competitor-analysis

It is wrong to look at competition as something negative. In fact, if you can channelize your intentions and objectives correctly, your competitors can be your biggest motivators. By looking at the competition around you, you can quickly figure out where you stand in terms of brand presence, market value, strengths and weaknesses.

You conduct your business in a competitive arena, not in isolation. So, your competitors have a profound effect on the way you handle your business. If you shut your eyes to the competition and keep doing your own thing, irrespective of what the others around you are doing, you will soon find yourself isolated in a box.

Competitor analysis in digital marketing

Let us look at how you can identify your competitors correctly, which happens to be a crucial task. Otherwise, you will be pitting yourself against a weak or too strong an adversary.

For example, if you are a startup, your competitor isn’t the multi-national brand, even though they are the market leaders. You need to look at the competition that your company or brand faces from other companies and brands which are nearer to you in terms of market share, brand value and other factors, like financial backup. After all, a startup functioning on a shoe-string budget cannot be held up as a competitor with a brand that has very deep pockets.

Once you have identified competitors which stand more or less on an even keel with your company or brand in terms of brand presence and monetary value, it’s time to look at the technical aspects. In the field of digital marketing, there are two areas where you will be able to identify competitors correctly: on social media and on search engines. You can use various tools for competitor analysis such as ubersuggest, spyfu, semrush, seoptimer or Seven Boats Digital Marketing Tools

The number of followers and engagements that your competitors have on social media give away the identities of brands and companies that are in direct competition to you. Here too, you have to pick up competitors that are on a level field with you.

Being a digital marketing company with predominantly online presence, you cannot be a competitor with a brand that has a strong offline presence due to other factors. A strong brand offline usually translates into a commanding presence on social media networks.

Users who are familiar with the brand through other forms of advertising like TV or newspapers will surely seek out the brand on social media and engage with them. As a brand with little or zero access to these offline forms of advertising and media publicity, you don’t stand a chance and can’t beat yourself up over the fact that your social media presence is a lot weaker.

The same goes for search engines. Brands that have worked on SEO and PPC for years obviously hold a strong edge over your brand, especially if you have just entered the fray. These brands will not make space for you to get into the higher SERPs because they already have a successful SEO and PPC plan in place. Their optimization and online advertising is almost running on auto-pilot! These brands cannot be your competitors, either.

Identify and pick your competitors correctly so that you make appropriate strategies for your own brand. Or, you will be bitter and keep barking up the wrong tree.   

Simple Steps to Outdo Your Competitors on Google

Google is one big world that can often put a newbie in the world of web masters in trouble. The winding ways of optimization on Google is often not very predictable and indeed very inconsistent. The competitive platform is often quit ruthless to the rookies trying to find out some space on the web amongst the larger part occupied by all the big names who have already made their mark in the SEO world.

Competition Edge  

No big market can assure your business a win without a fight. Competition can be unexpectedly stiff when the fight is on with some big businesses. There is no pointing grudging or complaining about it. If you want to be seen in the web world for a long time, just get inside the ring and box your way to success. Measuring your competitors should be the first step of the battle. If you enjoy the competitiveness between the two of you, it is fine. Else, you should change your strategy.

Undisclosed Advantage 

Not all the advantages of your competitors will be very predictable. There can be some hidden reasons that will give them the edge over you. For example, suppose you find ‘X’ company to have links from ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’ companies. That does not always assure you the same success when you follow the same path.

Competitive Analysis 

Can you ever start a fight without knowing every corner of the battleground? You should not even try to, because that will only alienate you from your goal. Competitive analysis is required for measuring the amount of ammunition your competitor has in his armor.  It is important for making the optimizing process heading towards a believable target. Such an analysis requires you to answer a number of questions like, Does the competitor know the market better? What different strategies have they taken? What are their pricing structures? etc.

If none of the extensive methodologies work out, the best thing will be to try out something new. It is always a wise decision to have your unique strategy to outdo your competitors. It is not always something huge that can help you inching closer to success. Just take the tiny step that can impress a large part of the market. You need to win the market to win over your competitors.

3 Quick Steps to Compare Competing Websites

Competitive-Analysis

There is truth in the saying that the true wind beneath your sails is usually what you generate yourself. Every website has a different journey and trajectory. You cannot possibly compare yours with others, but at the same time, you cannot dissociate yourself from the competition altogether. Unless you keep up with what the others in your domain of business are doing, you will be like the proverbial emu which buries its head in the sand!

There are valuable lessons to be learnt from the competing websites in your arena. For example, you can pick up something new that they are trying but a weapon which is missing from your quiver. Secondly, you are more aware of what you are doing wrong.

Usually, you are so caught up in your own game that you can barely spot glaring mistakes and missed opportunities on your own website. Your competitors wake you up to the task. Thirdly, you are conscious of other trends that you have to do something about if you don’t want the competitors to run away with the domain’s entire business.

Keeping these in mind, there are three areas where you should focus while checking up a competitor’s website: backlinks, content and technology. Let us take them up one at a time.

Backlinks

Before Penguin update of Google in the April of 2012, SEO executives would scour the internet for backlinks, picking up almost everything in their wake. They would glean the competitor’s backlinks to find out what value each of them is giving to the competing websites. Immediately, they would work to neutralize the positives of these links, adding several junk links in the process.

These links, which had zero value then, suddenly began attracting a negative value post the Penguin update. Websites could no longer hold on to these links. Today, you look at competing websites for link ideas and sources that you have not tapped yet. You can check up the origin of their links and think how valuable these sources may be for your own website.   

Content

Just as you would spend hours and even days poring over Google Analytics and other keyword research tools to develop your own content, your competitors are doing so as well! There is no harm in dipping into their research a little to pick up keyword ideas! You can be sure that they are doing so from your website, if you are a serious player in the game. Pick up keyword ideas from their website and use them to populate your content pages.

The same goes for other content ideas, like the use of videos or infographics. In some genres of websites, videos may be more useful than the written word. You may have missed out on them because you felt that publishing written posts were more effective. You visit the competitor’s website and find their videos shooting through the roof in terms of web traffic. Cue for you to join the game!

Technology

This is the bulwark of the website, the very foundation on which the online business runs. The backend coding and programming make all the difference to a website. There is no doubt that you have a robust frame but what about your competitors? What are they doing about improving customer experience?

Factors like page speed and website architecture, including the navigability of the website, on your competitor’s website can add a new leaf to your own site. You can work towards making your site more useful for the visitors, a factor that Google greatly appreciates.

The digital marketing has moved several rungs up the ladder towards sophistication, especially in the methods and means used to bring web traffic. Still, the pillars of the old-world SEO, content and links, continue to hold much importance. What’s more, they are in strong correlation with other players in your business arena. You don’t function alone or decide the rules of the game. You play with your best hand and that includes picking up lessons from other players.

Use the competing websites as guide books. Don’t imitate them. Just pick up their thought process and figure out how you can use them to improve your own site and digital marketing blueprint.

Optimizing for Competitors’ Branded Keywords

Branded-Keywords

SEO was never a blinkers-on approach. You have to keep your options open and on the table at all times. Plus, you have to be ready to change tracks and try something different each time your Plan A doesn’t work.

It is only natural for an SEO executive to think, at one point or another, about going after competitors’ keywords! It is commonplace to think that your competitors are walking away with the business and the traffic because of their stranglehold on keywords, many of which they have branded for themselves. By branded keywords, I mean those keywords and phrases which have the name of the brand or the sub-brand attached to the keyword.

It is not wrong to think that optimizing for your competitors’ keywords is unethical. You can do that by staying within the rules of the game. What you need to know is how you can optimize them properly so that you derive some benefit out of it. Otherwise, it is much ado about nothing!

Evaluate potency of the branded keywords

To start off this process, you need to evaluate the potency of these branded keywords that you want to target. Are they as efficient as you think? Previously you looked upon them with a tinge of envy, but not anymore! Now you need to cast a critical eye and find out their performance on search engines and their dominance of the market in your domain of business. If you find that the numbers are worth going after, move on to the next step.

The next logical step in this process is to conduct opinion surveys among potential buyers. The question to ask is obvious: why are they buying from the brand you are targeting as opposed to buying from a brand like yours? There are various ways of conducting these polls and we are not going into those details in this post.

Once the reasons are in and you compile them together, the flowchart moves to the next step: can you draw away some of those customers? In this step, you can ask your own brand about the same questions that you put up for customers of your competitors. That will give you an idea of where your brand stands in the perception of buyers. If the two results tally enough for you to say for sure that you can go after the branded keywords and draw away people to your side, you should start the core optimizing part of the operation.

Self Hosted Content

There are two ways in which you can strike out on the content required for optimization. One is the self-hosted kind and the other is the third-party hosted variety. Let us examine each one separately so you know what to do with each of them.

To develop content for self-hosted platforms, you need to identify the right keywords and phrases. Not all branded keywords of your competitors will qualify for your needs. Since you have the volume against keyword chart on your side, you know the keywords that are out of your reach. Don’t get too ambitious!

While you write content for self-hosted web pages, you need to focus deeply on the user experience. Remember that you are targeting customers of another brand. It will take more than the customary effort to wean them away.

Third Party Hosted variety

Moving on the third-party content dissemination, you should follow the usual route of using guest blog posts, especially from influencers and opinion makers in your line of work. You can ask them politely to give their two cents or even get an external reviewer, paid of course, to write some reviews about your products and services. Opting for sponsored content is also something that you can use.

Amplification

Finally, when the content pages of both types are filled up, it is time to amplify and promote them across the board. Here, too, influencers play a large role in getting your content the kind of exposure it sorely needs. Of course, you need to get your own group of loyal customers on your side. Their bit in plugging your content is always an added impetus. Social networks are quite valuable in this regard.

Legal Precautions

A note of caution: Before you embark on this plank, get in a word with legal experts about copyright issues on branded keywords and the like. You don’t want legal hassles and I’m no legal eagle to guide you here!

Debajyoti Banerjee is the Founder, Director & CEO of Seven Boats - A leading digital marketing agency & digital marketing training institute in India since 2011. He is a Google & LinkedIn Certified Digital Marketer & Trainer, Brand Strategist, Consultant & Entrepreneur. Debajyoti has 17+ years of domain expertise & successful track records in Digital Marketing & emerging technologies. Learn more Schedule an appointment with Debajyoti Banerjee

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7 Comments

  1. Rajendra Gope

    Nice blog. very informative. Thank you.

    Reply
  2. Riya Kumari

    You are one of the best internet marketing experts.

    Reply
  3. Debosmita Mandal

    This article is very informative. Thank you

    Reply
  4. Varsha Agarwal

    This was very insightful. Thank you.

    Reply
  5. Sahil Manmode

    Thank you so much for sharing such an informative article.

    Reply
  6. Sikander Kumar

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    Reply
  7. Yash Kumar Shaw

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    Reply

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