SEO Competitor Analysis
Understanding what your competitors are doing online through our competitor analysis is a must and absolute priority when you are launching a new website that is entering a competitive industry, or when your established website is entering a new phase of SEO. By knowing what your rivals are doing in their Search engine optimisation and social media space, not only will you have a better knowledge of their online marketing strategy, but we can also emulate what is working for them, and generate internal ideas to stay proactive.
Furthermore, by understanding what your competition is doing in terms of on-site SEO, link building, social media marketing, developing third party properties (sattelite sites etc) and other SEO tactics, you can also identify potential new threats in the search results (new websites, or competitors who are boosting their own SEO efforts) and also unearth tactics which are working from them (or not working for them), that you can improve upon, and thrive from in your overall SEO strategy.
Identifying the Competition using Competitor Analysis
The first step in identifying your online competition is checking out the search results for your most popular keywords. We do not look only at keywords which drive the most traffic, but also your longtail keyterms and also the keyphrases which convert the most sales, leads or phone calls. What we are looking at here with your competitor analysis is not necessarily taking 90% of the visitors for your industry, but we do want to be taking a large proportion of the SALES within your market sector.
Once we have identified the sites we need to monitor as part of your competitor analysis, we now start looking into the on-site factors which help them rank in the search engines. You may find not only what they are doing right, but what you are doing wrong. When performing competitor analysis, we always include your own site in the report to give you direct side by side comparison. Our SEO experts will then provide a summary of the differences between you and the other sites uncovered in your competitor analysis so we can then develop and SEO strategy to leverage this knowledge to the best effect.
- Site URL Structure : By tracking the URL structure and file naming structure of competitors, you can determine the best route to gain a competitive advantage over other companies. Often the website structure will also reveal target keywords within your industry which you may not currently be targetting
- Site Development and Coding Structure : Which language is the site being coded in. Are there any conflicts in programming language or separate IP’s? This information is vital to competitor analysis, as if you are competing with a very poorly coded site that performs very well and your own website has excellent onsite SEO, then the amount of work required to overhaul their position will not be equal to a competitor whose website incorporates string SEO design.
- Use of Analytics : Is the competitor tracking user behavior and referrals via Google Analytics, Hitbot, Omniture? Looking into their analytics systems help give an idea of how much information they are capturing from their visitors and how advanced their internal tracking is – which may define how advanced their SEO team is and give us a clue as to what their own SEO team are likely to be doing concurrently with your own SEO project
- Page Title and META Title Review: Page titles are one of the most influential HTML elements used in an SEO campaign. Since the optimisation of this variable is connected to rankings and actual links in the Search Engine Results Pages (or “SERPs”), our competitor analysis investigates which sites use a preferred title structure and which just use repetition of their company name.
- META Tag Review (Description / Keywords): META tags have limited relevance to rankings, but do play a part in that search results often feature the META Description tag. Knowing this, an optimised description that instigates action from the searcher is preferred. Further, integrating the targeted keywords allows for them to be bold or otherwise emphasized in the listings – which helps to convert more clicks in the SERPs through to the optimised site. Quite often a lower ranked site can deliver more visitors purely because of a well optimised description, and our competitor analysis will take this factor into account
- Navigational System Review: Search engines spider, or seek out new content based on the links they find to resources on a page. Navigation systems are the most consistent manner for building internal link popularity, so our competitor analysis evaluates the overall strength of these systems used. For example, a Flash based navigational system is horrible for SEO, whereas consistent keyword driven links with keywords integrated are optimal.
- Broken Links : If a site has broken links, broken files or lists non-existant pages, then Google will lower the ranking of that site because the engine believes that the site is under construction. We run a link check to see if your competition is overlooking such linking and internal navigation issues.
- HTML Code Validity: Using the W3C Validation tools, we analyse your competitors websites. Each site is run through our validation tool, and we report back the number of errors noted.
- Design & SEO Integration: Similar to the internal navigational structure, the use of some HTML elements are preferred over others for SEO purposes. Our research and analysis of competing site designs will be provided in the in-depth competitor analysis report.
Offsite Competitor Analysis
Not only do onsite tactics assist with the ranking of a website, but sometimes more importantly offsite tactics can benefit the competitive advantage to boost a site from the bottom of the front page on Google, to the top three traffic driving positions.
By monitoring offsite SEO tactics, and social media tactics, we can get a rounded feel for the link building strategies your competitors are using, their participation in blogs, sites they may own which are harnessing social media equity and directing to their main website, and how they perform in vertically targeted social networks. All of these factors have a direct influence on search engine rankings and you will not only learn what your competition is doing, but what they are not. And by identifying these holes, oversights or even ingenious ideas we can then determine which ones to apply to your SEO strategy, to allow the quickest possible return on your investment for your SEO project.
- Local Listings : We determine the local SEO listings that your competition has made on Yahoo Local, Citypages, BOTW Local, MSN Live and other local search engines or local profiles. These differ from the results shown in organic web search sometimes and can be an indicator of local seo techniques used or overlooked by your competition.
- Number of Inbound Links: we report on the number of inbound links to each of the analysed web sites. As a rule, the more links and the more relevancy – the better. Search Engines like Google use inbound links to help shape the overall level of authority of a web site, and our competitor analysis will indicate to you how easy or difficult it is likely to be to overhaul competitors positions
- Link baiting or Viral Marketing : How are these competitors building links? Are they running link baiting programs and actively having articles submitted to Digg & StumbleUpon? Are they using any Viral Marketing techniques like videos, widgets or badges which link back to them and assist with their rankings. We dig into their SEO campaigns to find out what they are using, and monitor the social networks to identify future social linking campaigns.
- Social Media : Do they actively use social media to market their business? Does their company have a Wikipedia page? How do they rank for their own brand name and are social profiles served in these results? Have they even secured their brand across social networks? Do they distribute online video? This research will help determine a social media plan and also identify competitive advantages that you can use to your benefit. Please note we DO NOT condone brand hijacking and would never recommend you registering a social profile in a competitors name
- Blogging : Do these companies blog and who is doing their blogging? Are the blogs on a subdomain, a whole other website or in an internal directory file. How often do they post? How many subscribers will they have? This information will assist you when you are constructing your own blogging strategy and possibly unearth some ideas.
- Site visits and Traffic : Using a mix of data from from web traffic estimation tools, we estimate the traffic of the competitors in terms of visitors, time spent on site, top referrals and other information driven by third party tools. This information from your competitor analysis will also help you determine what the total size of your market is which will help us to establish your market share
- Page Rank and other Metrics : We compile a list of competitive metrics which will indicate the way in which the competitors website is viewed by search engines, and also give an overview of their SEO campaigns effectiveness
- Competitive Rankings : Last but not least, we run a ranking check for targeted SEO keyterms (found using our keyword analysis report) via your competitive analysis. We check the rankings for these sites and terms in Google, Yahoo, Ask.com, Bing and other engines which are used specifically by your industry.
This may sound like a lot of information to monitor, but in the long run by documenting this information now, and revisiting it throughout your SEO campaign, we will have a pinpoint idea of the tactics your search rivals are using, what they are not, and even what they are picking up. We can then take the best tactics used within your own industry and apply these within your own SEO strategy.
If you would like us to undertake a comprehensive competitor analysis of your website, please get in touch with us to request a report. Competitor analysis is normally conducted at the start of any SEO project and on an ongoing basis throughout the SEO process.