One of the most significant practices for any SEO process is the initial competitive analysis. If executed properly, this activity gives you the opportunity to correctly detect your SEO targets and build your SEO strategy on bold data.
Of course, there is no unified rule that will help you perform this analysis. Its complexity depends on your industry, as well as the type and scope of your SEO efforts. Since it can sometimes become too complex, I’ve created this brief guide that will help you identify and analyze your major competitors’ SEO performance.
Target the Right Keywords
First, you need to make sure you’re targeting the right keywords. One of the most effective ways to organise your keywords around your business’ goals is to leverage the good old sales funnel. Focus on its first two stages, where both you and your competitors are planning on capturing new leads:
The awareness stage is the broadest stage of the sales funnel. This is where people get familiar with your brand and products. Here, you don’t aim to inspire them to make a purchase. On the contrary, you need to educate them about your brand. This is why the most common keywords used are the “how to” phrases.
The consideration phase. People in this stage are in their decision-making process. This is exactly when you need to spark their interest and your keywords should help you do so. For example, the keywords about your product or service should include its benefits, features, costs, location.
Identify your Major Competitors
Once you create a list of your major keywords, you can enter these terms into Google and simply write down the sites that show up in the top 10. The chances are you’ll bump into the same sites appearing again and again. Your aim here is to detect those sites ranking for most of your keywords and add them to the list of your competitors.
Do get the most of your competitor analysis, you can use SEMrush. Namely, all you need to do is enter your own domain name into the tool, find the “Organic Competitors” section, and hit “View Full Report.” What’s really important here is that you find the sites that are your actual competitors. For example, if you own a small furniture store, comparing it with large brands like Ikea won’t improve your SEO efforts.
Analyse Backlink Gaps
Now that you know who your major competitors are, you need to dive deep into their SEO practices. You can start by doing a backlink gap analysis. Namely, your aim is to see which websites link to your competitors, but not to you. This way, you can broaden your backlink portfolio and get the links from the sites that already link to your competitors.
Link building tools like Dibz have proven to be a great option for this kind of action. Namely, apart from helping you find prospects automatically, you can use its advanced search options to conduct competitor research, as well. Once you do a competitor analysis and extract a list of websites containing links to their sites, you can upload them into Dibz, analyze them, and choose only those link building opportunities that can drive some quality traffic to your site.
Crawl your Rivals’ Sites
You also need to examine your competitors’ sites carefully. By knowing how some key aspects of your rivals’ sites are optimized for SEO purposes, you will be able to understand what works for them and update your own site accordingly. Here are a few website elements you need to pay special attention to:
- How do they implement their major keywords within the titles and sub-headers?
- Figure out what form of content they use. How optimized are their blog posts? Do they use interactive content, such as videos, photos, or infographics? What about their landing pages, sales pages, and product pages?
- How is their content structured? Do they use long-form content or not? How do they make it more readable- by using bulleted lists, shorter paragraphs, adding photos and gifs, or leaving a lot of white space?
- How do they do internal linking? Are the ranked pages linked from their homepage or some other pages with the high PA?
Integrate Competitive Analysis with your Workflow
Competitive analysis is the holy grail of every successful SEO strategy. This is something that cannot be overlooked. It gives you an invaluable insight into your competitors’ performance online and helps you build your SEO campaigns strategically, based on actual data and market demand. Most importantly, it allows you to dive deeper into your industry and adjust your efforts based on what’s important to your business.
| About the Guest Author:
Nate Vickery – Executive Editor at http://bizzmarkblog.com/ Consultant & Author