SEO Competitive Analysis Services
A properly strategized SEO campaign cannot be created in a vacuum. Researching competitors is extremely important: What they are doing, and how effectively they are doing it, have enormous impact on a company's keyword selection, required budget and plan of attack. Following are the four basic aspects of competitor research.
1. Identify the Primary Competitors
Primary competitors are websites targeting the same keywords you intend to target. It is important to note an SEO competitor may not be a competitor in the usual sense of the word. For instance, a health care services provider may be competing against a government agency or online medical information website.
2. Evaluate Competitor Keyword Strategies
Understanding what the competitor is trying to do, and how well it is succeeding, is the next step. Evaluating competitive strategy involves:
- Identifying the primary target keywords for the home page and all service/product pages
- Determining the current Google ranking position of those keywords
- Determining the average monthly search volume on Google for those keywords
- Using the Moz Difficulty Tool to determine the difficulty (competitiveness) of ranking for those keywords
This information helps a company identify competitor strengths and weaknesses — and thereby get a clearer picture of where it can succeed quickly, where more time will be needed, and how much it will cost to get the desired results.
Being in a highly specialized niche, we didn’t think SEO would help us generate leads, and we are happy to report that Straight North proved us wrong!
3. Conduct On-site Research
If competitive websites are poorly optimized, your SEO campaign will gain traction more quickly. Key SEO attributes to assess include:
- Website page hierarchy: Clear or confusing?
- Title tags: Properly optimized or flawed?
- Description tags: Optimized for conversion, inconsistent, or non-existent?
- Content: Adequate word counts with proper keyword optimization, or flawed?
- Internal link structure: Do high-value pages have the most internal links?
- Blog analysis: Is the company blog properly optimized for keywords and social sharing?
Often, a competitor's weakness can become your strength. For instance, if major competitors have no blog on their websites, you can ratchet yours up and gain significant ground with Google.
4. Conduct Off-site Research
The final piece of competitive research involves looking at a number of off-site factors that affect the SEO performance of competitors:
- Page authority — From Moz, a measure of strength of individual competitor pages
- Domain authority — From Moz, a measure of strength of a competitor domain
- Number of pages indexed — From Google, a measure of a competitor's possible page / keyword breadth
- Type of search result — What types of content show as search results in Google for your competitors
- Number of results shown — From Google, a measure of a competitor's overall organic visibility
- Backlink profile — An assessment of a competitor's backlink profile quality, based primarily on the quality of links, number of links, links from unique domains, and anchor text usage
- Social media research and analysis — A review of a competitor's effectiveness in obtaining social media shares of and engagement around its on-site and off-site content
Going into a SEO campaign with eyes wide open is important. If a company naively embarks on a simplistic campaign with a small budget, and is going up against competitors with strength in the areas we just reviewed, it will be unable to make a dent in its organic rankings.
On the other hand, when companies understand the competitive landscape, they can make appropriate strategic and tactical decisions to maximize their comparative SEO strengths and minimize weaknesses. This results in faster progress in lead generation and establishing campaign ROI.