In our earlier posts we discussed Keyword Research, Site Structure, Rival mapping, Content Optimization & Link Building. In this post I will be covering a few other basic but essential aspects of Competitor SEO analysis;
- Social Media
- PPC Competitor Analysis
- Own Website Stats Analysis
- Conversion Calculation / Optimization
- Cycle 1 to 9.
A few years back marketing was a lot easier, get a decent budget approved, hire a good agency and let them do the work. Of course wouldn’t it be heaven if it still was all that merry? Marketing your band online isn’t easy these days, every product and ever product manager is finding new innovative ways to reach out and spread all the good words about their product. You can spend weeks and months trying to cope with the changing marketing trends that your competitor is adopting.
Social Media is nearly the best and the cheapest method publicly available of finding what your competitors are up to. Following your competitors on Twitter, Liking their pages on Facebook and setting up your Google Alert account with their brand names and top keywords is the best method to gather competitor happenings.
But the best point to take away from Social Media Competitor Intelligence is not to get carried away with what they are doing and what you are not. I refer to Joanna’s blog post on SEOmoz about what should you be doing with that information.
Understanding what direction your competitors are headed & how that might intersect or parallel your own
- Knowing what products you are pushing out and how they match up or differ from your competitor’s
- Mapping out a list of key differentials and attributes for your biggest competitors and yourself
- Researching & monitoring a variety of platforms to better understand your competitors
I give almost 15 minutes a day to social media competitive analysis and the quality of that information gathered in that short time just amazes me. There are hundreds of conversations to follow, dozens of blogs posts to read and many interesting industry insights to ponder upon daily.
I hope that these pointers have set your social media spy raiders working. Please do share any points that you think I missed out for an in depth competitor mapping over social media.
Below are few of the best tools for you to get smart at monitoring your competitors.
Radian6’s software platform captures hundreds of millions of posts each day, including the full Twitter firehose, Facebook, blogs, news sites, discussion boards, video and image sharing sites.
Addictomatic searches the best live sites on the web for the latest news, blog posts, videos and images.
Receive free daily email alerts of your brand, company, marketing campaign, or on a developing news story, a competitor, or the latest on a celebrity.
Google Alerts are email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your choice of query or topic.
Twazzup will tell you every time your keywords are mentioned in a tweet. Categorise your results by link popularity, contributors tagging clouds and users.
Offers premium social media monitoring tools to help enterprises maximize the reach and efficiency of social media outreach and listening efforts.
BoardTracker is a forum search engine, message tracking and instant alerts system designed to provide relevant information.
BlogPulse is an automated trend discovery system for blogs.
Klout’s mission is to help every individual understand and leverage their influence.
Explore your Twitter network. Discover which people interact the most and what they’re talking about. It’s also a great way to find relevant people to follow.
SamePoint.com tracks millions of conversations, taking place across in blogs and social media sites.
- PageRank Lookup, PageRank Search, Webmaster Eyes, SEO-Links — to run bulk checks of PageRank scores, to analyze PageRank flow
- Neat-o — to review anchor text of inbound links
- Link Checker, — to check link popularity and review inbound links
- Alexa — to check Alexa Rank and review traffic trends on someone’s site
- What’s That Site Running — to determine what server software a site is running
- Check Server Headers — to see what type of redirect (301 or 302) is being used; to see if a 404 is being served when it’s supposed to be, etc.
- Keyword Ranking Tool — to track positions in the SERPs
- TweetDeck – to monitor and search twitter for your competitors activities.
Plus you get to pretend you are a spy which is just all sorts of fun (please note trench coat and night vision goggles are optional).
PPC Competitor Analysis;
PPC Marketing is probably the quickest & the easiest way to show up on the first page of SERPs and competitor analysis for PPC campaigns is as important as SEO analysis in winning the digital marketing game. The most common relation between these two very different marketing methods is the use of ‘keywords’. Keywords that are used for your SEO campaigns are very likely to be common with your PPC campaigns as well.
Every advertiser’s dream would be to know their competitors keyword landscape, their bids, the quality of their landing page and the ROI on their campaigns etc. etc., some of these factors are publicly available to analyse which we can take advantage of and set our competitive bench marks.
Keyword Research Benchmarking
This one is fairly similar to our Keyword Research for SEO. We can look into the Press Releases, Keywords used on their websites, Twitter feeds and SEO Descriptions and analyse our competitor’s keyword models. We can know their budget patterns based on those keywords and target those against them.
Use of [intitle:keyword], [inanchor:keyword] or allintitle:”keyword phrase” is a very powerful old practice to find out the keyword set your competitors are trying to use in their campaigns. Your competitors who are optimising for their campaigns would have the target keywords in their Title, anchor text, meta tags etc.
Ad Copy & Ad Text
Using those seed terms we can identify the main keyword groups used by our competitors in their PPC campaigns. Find the variations of those keywords that they could be running, monitor their ad position, the text used in them & their ad rotations. This will give us a basic understanding of the keywords, ad copies, text variations being used by our competitors.
The more time you spend and the deeper you go with your competitive intelligence development. It doesn’t take long before you can start to make predictions about your competitors’ behavior and how they are likely to respond to your own campaign adjustments.
These were the basic methods of data collection but if you really want to get dirty with your competitors my recommendation would be the use of an automated competitor analysis tool. Some of them are free and provide basic information others are a little expensive but their analysis and reports are very good to keep a tap on your competitors.
Website Stats Analysis
Assume we have used all the competitor SEO and PPC analysis techniques, it’s time we come back to our website and analyse how well our efforts have performed.
A simple start would be to go into your Google analytics tool and see the visitors overflow. This is what you would ideally want to see increase overtime. The visitors over flow will help you understand how have you optimised for your keywords and how well are your visitors reacting to your website.
Second step to a website analysis would be to find the referrers links to your website & the traffic they are sending, likewise search for your base group keywords you wanted to optimise and analyse their traffic against your website’s over all traffic. Last but not the least are the exit pages, this stat would always require improvements as there will always be an exit page for your website. Knowing which pages have highest exit rates will help you optimise those pages and reduce the bounce rate on them.
Conversion Calculation / Optimization
Conversation is the ability to retain your visitors and converting them into loyal customers.
I covered Conversation Calculation in our one of my earlier blog posts, it is a basic guide on what are the metrics you should be following to calculate your conversations and optimising for missing opportunities.
Cycle 1 to 9
One thing I can assure you is competitor analysis is a never ending process, you always have to be on your toes and your competitors will make sure you are. Set your goals in a time frame and revisit the steps form 1 – 9 again and again. The better you understand your competitors the clearer perspective you have on your industry and audience as a whole. Competitive intelligence enables you to better speak on your strengths, brainstorm ideas for quick gains, and make more data-driven decisions all around.