Have you ever had the feeling that no
matter what you do, you are not successful with search engines? While
it is quite possible that you are doing things wrong, one other
possible reason for your poor SEO performance is that your
competition is really tough. If you are in a very competitive niche,
then your competition can be really smashing and you just can't
afford not to keep an eye on them.
Well, even if your niche isn't that
competitive, you will only win if you know how to monitor your
competitors' success and failure. Here are some steps you can do to
analyze your SEO competition.
1 Find Who Your SEO Competitors Are
You can't analyze your competitors, if
you don't know who they are. In some cases identifying your
competitors is very easy ‐ for instance, if you have an offline
business and you know your competitors there, just check their sites
and you are done.
However, in other cases, identifying
your competition isn't that easy. Your competitors could be sites in
your niche, sites that rank well for your major keywords, or direct
competitors for your long tail keywords, etc. The list of your
competitors might be a pretty long one and obviously you can't
monitor all of them. Perform a search with Google about your target
keywords and make a list of the sites/companies that pop high in the
search results. You can consider these to be your main competitors.
2 Visit Your Competitors' Sites and Analyze Them
After you have a list of your
competitors ‐ or at least the major ones ‐ the next step is to
visit their sites and analyze them. You should be watching if their
sites are designed professionally, if they have much content, what
the quality of their content is, whether they use static or dynamic
URLs, etc. This basic site inspection can give you a lot of
information about how professional your competition's Web presence
is, hence how likely or unlikely it is search engines to love them.
3 Analyze The Keywords Your Competitors Use
Keywords have always been the most
important factor for SEO success. This is why you can expect that if
your competitors are using keywords properly, their site will rank
well in search engines. You might have some difficulty identifying
the keywords your competition uses because what you think to be top
keywords for your niche, might not be on their list at all. If you
don't know which keywords they use, try checking if they use your
keywords ‐ this is more than nothing.
Alternatively, you can use the Website
Keyword Suggestion tool to check which keywords are supposed to
do well for their site. While doing the check, you might find many
useful keywords you have skipped and start optimizing your site for
You should also check the keyword
density of your competitors' keywords. The Keyword
Desnity Cloud tool will help you get an idea. Also, don't forget
to check the location of the keywords ‐ i.e. are there keywords in
the headings, metatags, image tags, the URLs, etc.
4 Check the Competition's Backlinks
Backlinks are the other backbone of
good SEO rankings. This is why you need to thoroughly examine the
backlinks of the competition. Look for their number and origin,
anchor text, etc. and you will get a clue how your competition is
doing on this front. Very often you might get some backlink ideas for
you ‐ i.e. if you see that your competitors have backlinks from
popular sites you didn't know about, contact the webmaster of the
popular site to see if you can get backlinks from them, too. The
tools you can use are free and some of the best are: Backlink
Anchor Text Analysis and Backlink
5 Check Other SEO Factors
Keywords and backlinks are important
but they aren't everything. In order to get a thorough idea of how
your competition is ranking, you need also to check your competitors'
Page Ranks in Google and how they perform in Yahoo and Bing. You
should also look at the number of indexed pages the sites of your
competitors have with search engines.
6 Evaluate Your Competition's Presence on Social
Social media tend to drive lots of
traffic to a site. This is why you can't skip a check how your
competitors are doing on social media. Unfortunately, this check is
harder to perform. Social
bookmarking sites are one of the types of social media and you
can start your research from them. Have a look at some of the major
social bookmarking sites to see if your competitors have posts there
and how popular these posts are.
are two other huge sources of traffic. You can browse to see if your
major competitors have profiles at these sites but unless you make
friends with them, you will never know what exactly they post. Still,
if their profiles have publicly available sections, this gives an
idea of what they do on Twitter and Facebook.
7 Analyze How Your Competitors Are Using PPC Ads
Many businesses have figured out that
using PPC to drive quality traffic is cheaper and more efficient than
optimizing to rank well in natural search results. Google
Adwords is the preferred choice for PPC but there are also other
networks many webmasters will use. One of the best tools, though it
is limited to Google Adwords only, is the Analyze
Competition tool by Google. It allows to compare how your PPC is
doing in comparison to your competitors' campaigns.
Monitoring your competition is a never
ending task. All the activities listed in this article are quite time
consuming but if you don't want to be left clueless about the world
around you, you do need to take the time and perform the analysis.
Even if you see you can't beat the competition, you will certainly
learn from them and this will help you be more efficient in your own