How To Analyze Your Competitor’s SEO Performance
Are you tired of coming in second place? Then this article is for you! Learn how to analyze your competitor’s SEO performance!
In the real world, you have most likely witnessed how aggressive and competitive businesses can be – no matter the industry. When one starts a new marketing campaign, you can be sure that their competitors are stalking them like hawks just to make themselves ready to conceptualize a flashier campaign as a counter attack.
This “eat or be eaten” attitude is ten times more overwhelming in the online market scene. Competition becomes bigger, stronger, and more diverse.
Which is why you have all the right to gear yourself up just to stay on top of everything – even if it means you have to do a little stalking yourself.
Why Is It Necessary To Know More About Same Industry Competitors
Well, it’s not really a crime to observe something or someone if the information is made available publicly. Call it research, studying, or being engrossed with an object of interest – you’re simply trying to chart the waters. I’m pretty sure some of them are charting your website too so where’s the harm?
There are several reasons why you should do an in-depth investigation of your competitors’ websites but we can simplify them into three broad categories:
What They’re Doing Right
By researching your competitors’ websites you can see the strengths of their domain -why people have come to love visiting their website, which marketing tactics have positively impacted their business, and what makes them rank in the SERPs. All these things, which are undoubtedly essential in SEO, are only a few of the many things you get to observe while conducting an on-site audit on a competitor’s website.
What They’re Doing Wrong
Aside from the positives, of course, you’ll also come across the negatives. After all, no website is perfect. But through your efforts of studying how components of a website add value or devalue the overall performance of the online domain, you can learn from it – learn what to avoid and devise something better out of the information you have compiled.
What They’re Not Doing At All
Performing an on-site audit for another website allows you to find what they’re lacking. After a thorough evaluation, you might discover gray areas which you can take advantage of. For example, you find out that they blog but are not very engaging with client comments, suggestions, and opinions. In your website, you can make it a point to address every client’s need no matter how trivial they are. Or, you find out that they do not make use of video marketing yet. You can then take this as an opportunity to get ahead of the game.
Aside from the preceding reasons, your website can also merit from this activity because of the following perks:
Gauge Current Performance
We have a ton of SEO tools to keep us well-informed as to how our website is doing. Well, in terms of metrics at most. But numbers alone cannot tell us exactly how well we are faring against the majority – not unless we tap into their numbers as well. For example, even if you get 10,000 backlinks – a pretty decent performance for a local page – you’ll still be on the far end of the table if you’re competing against similar pages with 25,000. By doing a site audit on your competitor’s website, you can more or less gauge how far your website is ahead, or how far you still need to go.
To rank higher in search engine results, the competition would rely heavily on how well you play with numbers. Now that I think about, almost everything in SEO has something to do with numbers and how well you are able to predict them. Keyword density, inbound links, and content length are just some of the many qualifying factors Google considers when ranking websites – and they all have one thing in common – they answer the question “how much?” This is one of the many rare cases wherein the saying “less is more” doesn’t apply. Sometimes, more is just more.
Higher Content-Length = Higher Chance to Rank
Greater Keyword Density = Higher Chance to Rank
More Backlinks = Higher Chance to Rank
When you conduct site audits for best-ranking competitors you can come up with a grounded estimate of the numbers you have to match or better yet – exceed.
Address The Discrepancies
After you have thoroughly conducted your search in websites of your top competitors, and have done as much probing with your own, you can then identify your website’s strengths and weaknesses and consequently look for ways to use them to your advantage. Ideally, you’d want to fix your weaknesses without having to sacrifice the (further) development of your strengths.
Doing a site audit for at least 8-10 leading same industry competitors may feel like an overwhelming task – but one with significant returns. To guide you through the process, we pointed out some of the things you should really take notice of. We know it’s difficult to start a search without a definitive outline so we went ahead and made one for you!
What You Should Be Looking For/At:
This is the most obvious thing visitors see upon accessing a certain website. Sometimes, it even becomes a deciding factor whether users will stick around. If your competitors are running websites that are cluttered, obsolete, or something that looks like it’s fresh from the 90’s (mostly true for local sites – no offense intended), you can place a good bet that by simply enhancing your website superficially, you can get an increase in traffic. Make it so that your website is easy on the eyes -modern, readable, and interesting.
Websites exist for users and Google appreciates it when website owners go the extra mile just to give them a good surfing experience. What Google loves, Google ranks – simple logic. And there are a number of ways a website can keep users satisfied, ways that your competitors might be using already. During your search, you should ask yourself the following questions:
Is the website mobile friendly?
Does it allow user engagement?
How is the Website speed?
Is the Website prone to 404 errors?
Is the Website cluttered with too much ad links?
Ponder these questions, and you can come up with more of your own. Simply evaluate it based on your perspective as a user. Find strong points you can mirror, and note weak points to avoid.
Keyword & Keyword Density
Our primary objective in doing this search is to come up with a better SEO strategy than those of our competitors. And call it stereotyping, generalizing, or whatever but we simply cannot deny the reality that when we think of SEO, we also think of keywords and keyword density.
Same industries are likely to have similar long tail and short tail keywords and of course, the goal is always to populate the website with as many keywords as possible without having it sound too forced or SEO-y. Mainly because:
1. It’ll sound annoyingly redundant.
2. Google might accuse you of keyword manipulation.
You can run a competitor’s website through some handy keyword counter tool, like this one here, so that you can get a general estimate of how dense your website keywords should be.
Do they have a well-defined site architectural design?
Maybe you can distinguish a pattern of some sort. You might even uncover effective strategies to drive traffic to your cash pages.
What Is Their Internal Linking Strategy?
Check how many internal links, on average, they use on their web pages and blog pages. Also, check where the links connect to.
Are they making use of the silos structure?
If you know little to nothing about silos, you can read more about it through some of our previous blog posts.
Check Their Backlink Profile!
More backlinks mean that specific pages on your website are being cited in other websites. This allows authority to flow from an external website to your linked pages therefore increasing their PA (Page Authority) – a metric that significantly impacts your relationship with Google.
Are They Linking Out To Other Websites?
External linking may not directly benefit the internal equity of your website but it does improve user experience – especially when you’re linking out to relevant and useful resources in good faith.
What About Deep Links?
You can also check how well your competitor’s website is getting high-quality links to deeper inner pages. Aside from the homepage, deep page linking gives proof that your website keeps people interested enough to stay and explore content in deeper pages of your website – and they find them helpful enough to even link to them!
All these questions should be included in your evaluation of your competitors’ websites. Link profiles are telltale signs of whether a site is being received well by users and may also embody a site’s reliability and trustworthiness. Links, at times, also reveal whether a website is ranking because of black hat (underhanded) methods.
When people like a website, they tend to visit the website often and their time surfing the website lengthens. Google interprets this as “trust.” And they can objectively measure this by numbers – the DA (Domain Authority) and PA (Page Authority), to be exact.
People love to speak their minds and participate in discussions. In other words, they like being involved. And not just “being informed and updated” kind of involved – they like it when they can interact directly with site administrators and fellow users.
When you visit your competitor’s website, notice the kind of features they have to facilitate communication with users. If you think they’re doing poorly, then that becomes your opportunity. If they’re doing good, then that becomes your opportunity to do better. And you can do this by:
1. Opening Forum Discussions
2. Having a Blog Comment Section
3. Making Customer Service and Technical Support Readily Available
4. Setting Up Opinion Polls
5. Having a Business Review Section
To Mirror Or Not To Mirror – The Real Question To Ask
Over time ou will come across all sorts of marketing strategies, some of them are effective while some are not. But not all effective strategies are liable – or even legal – so you have to be careful which ones to mirror.
Speaking of mirroring, in case you are unfamiliar with this SEO term, it refers to the act of replicating or using a similar strategy practiced by a positively performing website. Of course, by replicating, we don’t mean copy everything but only to use the successful website as a reference to better your own. So before you jump the gun and start mirroring every good strategy you observe, we’ve listed some practices you should be wary of – for your own good.
Practices You’re Better Off Not Mirroring:
These are backlinks you get from websites that have your site link in a blogroll or used as a header or footer. By doing this, your website link becomes available in every page of the host website increasing the chances of user engagement. While this adds to your website’s CTR, it is best not to have them. So when you check your website’s backlinks and find one that is abnormally high, your reaction shouldn’t be “Yay! I’ve got a ton of backlinks!” It should be “Uh-oh. Google’s gonna get me for this.”
Avoid using spam links no matter how high your website ranks with it. These links endanger users as in the case of malware infestation (viruses, worms, Trojans), and your reputation as an online business and brand.
Linking is very important in SEO but they should be used in moderation. Don’t blind visitors with all those flashy hyperlinks. Three to five links per page or blog article should suffice. What matters most is the quality of those links. They should be targeted at user’s potential concerns and interests and not just some randomly picked-up URLs. Throw in external links in the mix too, people will appreciate your website for giving them helpful resources.
Keyword-Rich Anchor Texts
Avoid placing hyperlinks in the same words the page linked to is optimized with. I don’t know if that explains it clear enough so let me give you an example. For instance, I’m linking to an internal page about dog training. If I use the words “dog training” as anchor text, which is exactly the same with the optimized keyword I have on the target page, search engines might interpret this as link manipulation – and we don’t want that for our websites.
Are All Sitewide Links Considered Unnatural?
Sitewide links, in essence, are not bad. After all, it’s not your fault your website is so freaking awesome other people just can’t help but feature it on every page of their website. But strategies like these are prone to be abused by people who act like plagues in cyberspace. As you might have imagined, an issue about the misuse of sitewide links has broken out before wherein businesses would pay off decent websites to have their links featured on every page of the said website. In the present time, Google and other search engines are making extra precautions (e.g. manual checks) to prevent shady websites from ranking. So if you know for a fact that your website has a history of participating in this sitewide link issue, it is best to stay low-key and earn your rank the hard way.
After All This “Researching,” What Should I Do Next?
Simple – you should do what benefits your website best. Let me give you a few hints:
1. Apply Effective Strategies – After putting all that work just to observe competitors’ websites, it’s time you apply what you have learned. Mirror practices that are effective and fair. Use your observations to come up with even better strategies.
2. Avoid Practices That May Cause Your Website More Harm Than Good – As previously stated above, avoid underhanded methods that may grant you temporary success in exchange for long-term distress. You certainly don’t deserve that – especially with all the hard work you’ve invested.
3. Link Deeper – This is just an extra tip when you send e-mail invites, forum link suggestions, or any other activity that gives you an opportunity to invite an audience to your site, don’t simply link to your homepage. Instead, link to deeper pages that you know will provide relevant material to the community concerned. For example, if you’ve recently joined a forum about the best restaurant recommendations for tourists, leave a comment that directly addresses the concern of the majority. Link to an article about food or local cuisine on your website instead of simply linking to your homepage. More often than not, people appreciate your website better if you have something relevant to offer. It helps decrease bounce rates too!
4. Get ahead – If you feel like all the websites on Google are lacking something, make the effort to find out how you can differentiate your own website. Remember that the greatest advantage you can get out of your efforts of evaluating your competitors’ websites is going a step beyond the competition. Put it to good use by planning out strategies that will help you and your website get ahead.
And that’s it. This brings us to conclude this article. There are many other ways you can make use of your competitors’ profiles to plan out your own website’s strategies. And the first step always relies on how well you can analyze your competitor’s SEO performance.
If you wish to learn more about SEO, click this link! which will allow you to review our entire list of digital marketing services that we provide here at the Tayloright company.