Determining Your SEO competitors
The world wide web is an enormous playing field with a large number of websites, varied SEO options, numerous SEO competitors, huge number choices of keywords and phrases, a changing SEO landscape, plus a multitude of options to leverage the search engine marketing (SEM) and SEO of your competitors.
Unlike the offline world where bricks and mortar companies in the same industry vertical generally compete with each other, in the online field two SEO competitors maybe from very different industries and even geographies. Generally your main SEO competitors are the websites that appear in the top 5 positions in search engine page rankings of the keywords that you are targeting. Once you have narrowed down on the SEO competition, you need to regularly track their SEO strategy and the reasons for their top rankings. Top search engine page rankings are a result of numerous SEO tactics working well for your competitors and you should consistently keep track all of them.
After all search engine optimisation is all about out ranking competition so if you are working in a vacuum you will find it difficult to achieve online success. Regular research on your SEO competitor’s web strategy and online marketing activities is essential to stay ahead.
Fortunately for all businesses with a web presence, the search engines themselves provide many simple ways to do this. Of the many SEO tactics, the two main factors that build search engine rankings are content (keywords and phrases) and link-popularity. Usually, the more optimised content a website has on its web pages targeting the most popular keywords the more likely it is to be regarded as relevant to search queries by search engines for that keyword /phrase.
Similarly, the more quality inbound links that a website has, the better will be its search engine page ranking. Search engines regard inbound links to be a ‘vote’ of popularity; the more votes there are, higher is the relevance and thus page ranking of that webpage.
Analysing your competitors SEO Strategy
So how does one go about carrying out the competitions’ SEO strategy analysis? The search engines are really helpful for this important activity. Both Google and Yahoo! provide valuable information that is needed for high level SEO benchmarking of your competition.
We suggest to start by analysing the keywords and phrases that you want to use and is being used by the competition with great results. Simply type your keywords in Google and gather the list of the top 5 websites. Checkout the following details of theses top 5 websites:
1. Number of web pages on the website that use all the words from your phrase.
2. Number of web pages on the website that use the exact keyword phrase.
3. Number of web pages on the website that use all the words from the phrase in the page- title.
4. Number of web pages on the website that use the exact keyword phrase in the page Title.
5. Number of all inbound links to the website’s home page, excluding the internal links.
6. Number of inbound links to relevant landing pages on the website for the keyword phrase. Note down all the internal and external inbound links that lead to the concerned landing page.
For the above mentioned points 1-4 here’s how you get relevant data from Google:
a. site:www.sitename.com sample keyword phrase
b. site:www.sitename.com “sample keyword phrase”
c. site:www.sitename.com in title: sample keyword phrase
d. site:www.sitename.com in title: “sample keyword phrase”
For analysing the inbound link data use the Yahoo Site Explorer. For your own website the link data can be obtained from Google Webmaster tools. The Yahoo site explorer can be found on this URL: http://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com/.
This will give you the number of inbound links from external sites to the home page (minus the internal links) according to Yahoo! Site Explorer. You can even find the number of inbound links for a particular landing page also by typing in the URL of that webpage in the Yahoo Site Explorer’s search box.
Some additional data checkpoints
For a comprehensive competitive SEO analysis you need to also check the strategy of competing websites on the images used and their ranking gains from blogs and social networking sites:
1. Visit Technorati and key in the site name in the search box. This will show you how popular the competitor is in blogosphere.
2. Switch to Google image search and type the site name. This shows you all the optimised images as currently the universal search is generally the norm.
3. Finally visit popular social networking sites like YouTube and type in the site’s URL. This will tell you how the web site of competitors are optimising for video search. This is another popular universal search
If this all sounds too technical, difficult and time consuming we invite you to talk to the team at roi.com.au. We have made a significant investment in our SEO benchmarking capabilities and we are well placed to help your business implement a strategy which provides your business with a competitive advantage.