Why leave your traffic, users and conversions to competition?
Here's the chance to outrun, outfly, outstrip any website messing up on your way to Google's top!
So, you've got an idea to finally beat your search competitors and get their traffic, users and conversions. Sounds good, but are you going to step into this hard SEO battle blind-folded?
Don't risk your time and effort — tap into the most important competitor's data with SEO PowerSuite software.
We have prepared a step-by-step competition research guide to help you get started on your way to the rankings you deserve.
First of all, if you are starting SEO from scratch, please don't go after such competitors as Sony or McDonalds, even if they pop up often for your keywords — these are the gorilla brands you'll find too hard to beat.
By the way, you might want to reconsider your keywords, as seeing the top brands in the search results all the time can mean you've picked the keywords that are too generic. You can learn more about choosing keywords from our exclusive guide.
Basically, to find your online competitors, you need to Google your top keywords and then copy-paste the found URLs to a spreadsheet. Simple, but takes some manual work.
Another option you'll probably prefer is to use Rank Tracker.
Download the tool, create a project, put in your site's domain and your top keywords. The tool will not only check where your site ranks for the chosen terms, but will also collect your top-10 competition in a clear table (click the Keyword difficulty tab to see it and press the "Update" button):
You'll get this chart for every keyword in your project.
Easy so far? We promise it won't get much more complicated — let's go further!
Now, your primary list of competitors is ready and we can start the validation process. If you put the data into a spreadsheet, create new columns:
And fill in the stats. To collect the data, you'll need to use multiple online tools, such as Alexa, SEOQuake toolbar, and others. After you've finished, take a look at your table and compare the stats with your site. If all of the competitors highly exceed your site in the mentioned factors, mark the keyword as "hard." Depending on the results of the comparison, you can get "hard," "moderate," and "easy" groups of keywords and URLs.
To save you time, Rank Tracker can do the same job on its own — check all the factors and calculate the score — that's the so-called difficulty score that ranges from zero (no competition) to 100 (absolute competition).
Now we'll need to get a little bit more technical and check what competitors are doing in terms of onpage and onsite optimization.
Get back to the list of the ranking URLs, open them in any browser and look through their source code. Things to look at include:
If you can spot keywords in these main on-page elements, it's very likely your competitors have tried to make their sites search-engine-friendly. Don't look at keyword usage only — analyze how catchy the titles and headings are — do they inspire users to click and convert?
Once you've analyzed your competitor's on-page optimization, update your spreadsheet with this data. You can also add notes on what can be done better for your future on-page steps.
But that is a very monotonous approach, which will take quite a lot of time. You can collect much more on-page and on-site data automatically using the Site Audit tool in WebSite Auditor:
The best thing about checking competitors in Site Audit is that you can quickly analyze all aspects of on-site optimization:
Why is this important? If you spot that your competitor's site has a poor structure with lots of technical issues, it can mean that this site is poorly managed. Make sure that your site has no such errors and you have a much better chance of getting some search engine love!
Now we've reached the most intriguing part — analyzing your competitors' link building strategy. As you know backlinks are a very effective tool in SEO, but with all the recent Google Penguin updates, webmasters have to be more careful with link acquisition — a couple of "wrong" links and you site can fall down drastically in a single day.
To start analyzing competitors' links, you should first get them. Open SEO SpyGlass, create a project for the competitor's URL and let the tool provide you with the comprehensive list. After that the link analysis process will start — the tool will collect all the stats, which will show you how powerful the competitor's backlink strategy is:
So, the links have been collected and analyzed — what should you look at in the first place?
Evaluating the types of links:
Evaluating link building techniques:
Okay, now you know how your competitors have received their precious backlinks. All you need is to:
Social media signals may not directly influence site's rankings, but they can drive lots of traffic to a site, so it is better not to skip this check.
First of all, see if your competitors are doing any social:
Search for their company name on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Yahoo Answers, etc.
In Rank Tracker, under the Keyword difficulty tab, you can check the overall number of social signals.
Additionally, you can make use of BuzzBundle — our social media management tool that lets you continually monitor the social mentions of any website — your own and your competitors:
If your competitors are not too active across social media platforms, it can mean
But if your competitors have well-managed informative social media accounts, they may be getting some profit from them — it can be traffic or brand recognition.
In addition to SEO, your competitors can be using PPC to drive traffic — especially for those "hard-ranking" keywords. So, why not to analyze this segment and get some more useful stats? You should be looking at:
Ad copy: check how your competitor tries to gain more clicks — pay attention to titles, keywords, figures, etc.
Landing page copy: look through the content and note its structure, focus on conversion paragraphs, unique selling points, CTA buttons and sign-up forms. Check what kind of visuals are used and what for.
Landing page source code: scan for codes and see what your competition is up to. For instance, you can see if your competitor has been using retargeting to convert more users:
Tracking your competition is a never-ending task. After completing the initial research steps, you'll need to keep an eye on the competitors' progress:
You can add competitors to your SEO PowerSuite projects to monitor their rankings and links. And using the handy Events module, you'll quickly spot how Google updates impact their sites. This is especially important if you decide to reverse-engineer the SEO strategy of a certain website.
Even if you see that you can't beat your online competition now, don't get upset. You will still learn a lot from them and it will help you get the desired rankings and traffic for in the longer run.
Here's the ultimate competition outranking software for you!
Steal your competitors rankings with SEO PowerSuite: