Nature has taught us to strive and learn from our environment and competitor analysis is no different. We have to benchmark our competitors, use their best techniques against them and get so good at it that they are lost in their own domain.
In my earlier posts about SEO competitor intelligence I discussed Keyword Search, Site Structure and general Rival Mapping and today I am going to point out a few other important aspects of Competitor Analysis.
Content optimisation in SEO dirty world is perhaps the most important factor that can make you win or lose the game forever. Best or at least good content optimisation will not only help you hold your grounds high but will also help you sustain it for years to come. If done correctly for once you would not have to worry about these Panda threats every now and then. (Which thanks to Google made us cry our eye balls out this year)
It’s not like earlier times (stone age in search can be claimed during early 2001 or around that time) where Google had a few very simple ranking factors. These algorithms and factors have grown very smart and are hierarchical in how search engine understands and rank’s your information.
A detailed post on all of these ranking factors can be found at SEOmoz’s website. I however will only be discussing the most important factors while you are on the quest of mapping your competitors.
1- Title and Heading Tags;
Special importance is given to the text written in Title and Heading tags as these snippets of codes help a search engine and a user identify if the page they are looking at is relevant and matches their keyword search. While you are looking at your competitors’ website, look for the set of keywords they have used in the title of their page and what headings they have emphasised on in the design. Keep those keywords and headings as your benchmark for how you should be structuring your campaigns and your website’s page.
2- Inline Text Links;
Inline text link is the link added to a keyword in your content refereeing to another page of your website or your content. For example in the paragraph above I used an inline text link in the word “of these ranking factors can be found” instead of using the keywords like “click here” or “more available here”. If we think like a search robot than any link written inside the content of a paragraph has more importance than any link written at the bottom of the page. Although some SEO marketers say that their importance should be decreased as this factor can be easily manipulated.
3- Keyword Density
Lastly in content optimisation its Keyword Density, for those of you who have not heard about this term, it’s the percentage of your total content that is made up of your targeted keywords or the percentage to which your key keywords have been targeted in the content of a page or your website.
The general census of this percentage is from 3% to 10% but the magic number always come after an in-depth analysis of each page of your competitor as well as the pages that rank at the top in your SERPs.
A word of advice; SEOs try all sorts of tactics to rank their page higher, it could either be hiding text in the page and making keywords readable only to search engines but mind you these can backlash very hard and get your website penalised by search engines. The long lasting effect always comes from hard work, identifying and working on all these factors that we have discussed in this version of SEO Competitive Analysis.
1- Internal and External
Internal linking of the website is equally important as external websites linking to your website. Though sometimes internal linking is neglected but to rank a website better in search engines and higher than your competitors it is essential that the linking structure is at par and well defined as your competitors.
Internal linking has many advantages; I will not go in detail of each of these benefits but will write in depth separate blog posts on each of these advantages. Internal linking helps in telling search robots on how to crawl your websites and helps them understand which pages rank higher than others.
While mapping your competitors look for linked keyword phrases and their relevance to the pages, also keep a strict watch to the relevance of these keyword phrases with the URL of linked page. Keep the structure in mind and benchmark your competitor’s techniques for best internal linking of your website.
After you have mapped each and every keyword phrase used for internal linking the next analysis that is deemed to get you higher ranking is how many external links are linking to your website.
2- External Link Building
In my opinion this is the hardest part among all because it’s slow, it takes a lot of effort and it is very personalised. You should start by discovering how many websites link back to your competitor’s website, than understanding the profile, authority and quality of that website. There are plenty of websites that provide junk /spam links to your website which is no good for us. After understanding these websites the next and last step would be to understand what anchor text is used to link back to the website. There are many free tools available that provide all these facilities. I will enlist some of them to analyse backlinks for your competitor’s website.
I hope that these pointers have set you working until my next blog post. Please do share any points that you think I missed out and can be beneficial for an in depth competitor mapping.