In this guide you will learn the importance of conducting efficient competitor analysis.
Introduction to Competitor Analysis
Before you begin any search engine optimisation campaign, it is paramount that you understand who your competitors are. In order to surpass your competitors in the search rankings you will need to know how and why they rank top.
You will need to study and outperform your competition in multiple areas. In order to achieve this you will need to undertake the required research using industry leading tools to understand how your competitors’ websites perform in comparison to yours.
Key areas are likely to include; external links, internal links, website structure, web page contents and website loading speed along many other factors.
Once you know what your competitors are doing right, you can then tweak and develop your website to outperform theirs. It’s almost guaranteed that the website ranking above yours has been optimised and is possibly undergoing regular optimisation.
In essence, your mission is to simply outperform your competitors’ websites. Whilst this may sound simple, in practice it can take a lot of time and effort to surpass your competitors. But once your website climbs the ranks you should see a rise in the number of enquiries you receive each month. Once your website ranks top you will then have a much better chance than your competition to win enquiries from motivated customers.
Search Engine Optimisation is a mixed blend of; contacts, research, hard work, dedication and belief. All of these qualities are required to enhance your ranking and obtain a top search engine position.
Key Tools to Analyse Your Competition
Before we dive into competitor analyses, you need to know what keywords you want to rank for, please refer to our keywords guide for further information on keyword selection. Alternatively if you wish to know what terms your competitors are targeting then use the following tool:
The Screaming Frog tool is regularly used amongst the world’s leading SEO professionals. The Screaming Frog spider enables you to scan and crawl any website that accepts the Google bot script. This enables you to identify key characteristics about your competitors such as:
- H1 & H2 Tags
- Page Titles
- Meta Descriptions
- Meta Keywords
This valuable information enables you to analyse how your competitors metadata is set up and what keywords each page of theirs is targeting.
Download the Screaming Frog Spider Tool to gain these insights.
Open Site Explorer
Moz – one of the world’s leading online marketing software companies are the creators of Open Site Explorer (OSE).
OSE has probably been used by every SEO professional at some point in their career. Whilst some SEOs go onto use other tools that they prefer the look and feel of, there is no doubt that the OSE tool is one of, if not the best link research tool that there is.
Using OSE you are able to gain real insights into your competitors’ link profiles. Since link building is still expected to account for around 40% of all SEO success, then there truly is not a more important tool to get to grips with.
Open Site Explorer enables you to pinpoint how many links a competitor has, what sites are linking to them, what anchor text is being used and much more. OSE also enables you to draw comparisons easily between your website and its competitors through its competitor comparison tool, which produces graphs and stats that enable you to clearly identify where your competitors trump your site.
Once you are aware of what your competitors have, it’s your mission to gain the same if not similar quality links and exceed the quantity that your competitors have.
Each month you can then go back to the Open Site Explorer tool to see how much closer you are to your competitors – remember that some links may take 1-6 months to index.
A lot of SEO professionals use the Firefox and Chrome extension MozBar. We use this simple tool on a daily basis. This tool alone provides you with an instant insight into how powerful a websites online presence is. The MozBar identifies key website characteristics without the need to delve deep into analytical tools. Essential statistics such as; Page Authority, Domain Authority and Links are all provided within a neat and clean meta data overlay within the Google search engine results pages. This is an example of how it looks:
Download it here: http://moz.com/tools/seo-toolbar
As Google looks to fine tune it’s already complex algorithm in order to provide an even better user experience, it has decided to look into key characteristics such as web page loading speed to identify and deliver the fastest search experience on the web.
Because of this, it’s important to compare your web page loading speed to your competitors. A prompt delivery time could edge you that bit closer to ranking above the competition.
Use the Google PageSpeed tool to assess your website PageSpeed and pinpoint what you need to do in order to increase your web page loading time.
key influencer upon search rankings, there is already evidence that social activity can impact a websites ranking and this influence is expected to only increase further.
Hootsuite is the social media management tool that we recommend for you to use. Hootsuite will enable you to manage up to 5 social media profiles for free before you need to pay to upgrade your account which will enable further social profile management and reporting tools.
How to Act Upon This Research
This guide provides you with all the information and tools that you need to measure and employ an effective SEO campaign. It’s down to you to react upon this information in order for your website to outrank the competition.
Remember that SEO takes time; it is not a quick fix solution to online success. There are various components of which a website is ranked and indexed. Some of the world’s leading SEO professionals expect there to be just over 200 characteristics that can affect a websites ranking. As online marketers / business owners / SEO professionals it is our mission to improve the user experience and overall ranking of our website within search engines so that we truly benefit from all the available search traffic online.