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How to Use Competitive Analysis in SEO

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Online marketing starts with getting noticed, right? Getting noticed begins with SEO, but there’s more to good online marketing than the traditional SEO concept of keywords. Effective SEO is all about content, authority and a competitive strategy that sets your site apart from others out there.

Competitive analysis in the online world is relatively simple. You don’t need to get any more complex than a simple search using your main keywords. Before long you will notice a pattern in the results. The two or three sites you keep seeing, unless they happen to be yours, are your main online competition. If your page is consistently overshadowed by others in your industry or niche market, your SEO needs improvement.

Content is King

No matter how many powerful keywords you use on your site, SEO and page rank will suffer if your content is stale or low quality. The days of filling your site with powerful keywords and hoping for the best are over. Search engines are looking for fresh, informative and relevant content when they index and rank your page.

Why is content so important for SEO? Simply put, web crawlers love fresh content. The search engines are designed to search out recently updated page content to index in an effort to provide users with the most up to date and important information available. If you want to appear prominently on search engine results you must provide this kind of content for indexing.

Take a look at the sites of those two or three competitors you uncovered in your quick search. You can check out how your keywords rank in comparison to your competition using online rank check tools like iSpionage and SEO Centro.

Look at what kinds of content your competition offers? Remember, content is more than just the words on the page. Images, online videos, and info graphics are all considered content and increase page rank when used properly.

Do your competitors offer a blog? How often do they post? What types of topics are included in their posts? A blog post is by definition fresh content and it’s an excellent way to improve your SEO. The best blog content is interesting and engaging, giving readers a reason to share posts with friends and come back for more.

There is another, relatively subtle value to an engaging blog. Blog posts attract reader comments, especially when they are done well. Adding humor to a post encourages sharing on social media. Asking a question or making a controversial statement encourages comments, dialogue, and reader engagement.

Does your competitor’s blog attract attention and comments?

Authority Is Very Important to SEO

Nothing stays the same in the online world. Search engines are constantly changing their algorithms and procedures. Content alone is not enough to score the highest possible rank. Search engines are increasingly considering authority when judging content.

What does this mean for your website? Content is not enough to establish a high rank. Your content must be good, high quality content attracting backlinks, shares, and user feedback. In short, your organization must establish itself as an authority in your industry.

Take a careful look at the content on the competition sites. Is the content tweeted or shared?

Does your competitor have a large number of inbound links that indicate a high level of authority? Use Open Site Explorer or a similar tool to take a look.
Open-Site-Explorer

You can simply type in the URL of one of those competitive sites compare the domain and page authority of those sites.

The tool will list the total number of links to that site as well as the domain authority and page authority ranking. You can review this information to get an idea of how your competition is doing online.

Want to take your analysis a bit further? You can move to the “compare link metrics” tab and enter more than one URL.

What about author authority? The next thing on the horizon is page rank based on the authority or rank of the author. An author can build authority by posting high quality content in a number of different places online. Articles, guest blog posts, and regular posts on your site are a good strategy for building authority. The top online writers have a higher authority, and therefore a higher ranking as authors, than someone in your marketing department.

UPDATE: A new post covering Author Authority in more detail is now available.

Does this mean that authority is out of your reach? Nope. An author on your team may never achieve the level of one of the elite online writers, but the effort may help your company outpace your competition. Your competitive strategy should include developing authority for your organization and your team.

A Winning Strategy

SEO is not an exact science. Instead it’s a combination of actions and strategies designed to get your page noticed by your target audience. Regular review of your competitor’s sites helps you stay ahead of the game. Here are a few practical things you can do to use competitive analysis to increase your page rank:

    – Take careful notice of the type and quality of content the competition is offering. Make sure your content is more controversial, useful, or engaging than the competition.

    – Look at the keywords and phrases the competition is using. Does your site have room for improvement?

    – Build your author rank by implementing a strategy of guest posts, articles, and other quality content on pages other than your own.

Competitive analysis is a powerful tool for increasing your SEO. Check competitive sites regularly and make sure you’re always one step ahead!

Author

This article was provided by Ty Baisden and his marketing team at www.msimail.net. Ty is a SEO and marketing guru with more than 15 years of search engine optimization, web development and marketing experience. He has helped build MSI into a top SEO company.

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  • Ricardo

    Isn’t it possible for a web site that implements superior SEO techniques in every way – with the exception of one – compared to the higher ranked competitor’s sites, for that superior site to be ranked lower because it is newer? In other words, site longevity is also a vital SEO factor for ranking and there is nothing anybody can do to control that factor other than wait patiently for time to pass.

    • Too true Ricardo. There is a pretty well documented 6-9 month Google sandbox timeframe that does influence new site rankings. In those first couple of months, new sites do struggle to rank well for competitive keywords, even with great SEO practices.

  • Not quite clear on something. When you mention author posting on other sites, are you referring to Google Authorship? Or just branding of the author name (like a citation)?

    Otherwise, very helpful information. Much appreciated.

    • Both forms of authorship authority matter, but Google Authorship using Google+ profiles appears to be becoming the defacto standard for authority tracking and management when it comes to search results.

  • Over all every thing was on track but confused on author section.

    • Zahid. We’ve added a new post today that digs into the question of author authority with a bit more detail. I think it may help clarify a few things for you.

  • Pingback: How to Improve Results on Google in 2013 - Authorship, Google+, Local | Online Marketing Simplified()

  • Ranvijay Singh
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