Market Analysis forms a big part of our business activities as we all know. We undertake these activities when we are planning and starting up our businesses and then we keep an eye on what’s happening in our industry on a day to day basis (ideally). Well, keeping and eye on our online environment is now just as important, if not more so, because things change so much faster online. In the context of our SEO activities, it is essential that we have an understanding of what the environment for our industry, products and services in the Google search results is. Let’s review the environment for your valuable search terms in the Google search results. Go ahead and run a few searches using some “top of mind” phrases and let’s see what’s happening. Take notes and keep an action list of things to remember and consider, moving forward. Run searches on your desired keyphrases, products or services and look at the result page in front of you.
Here are some of the more important things to look at and note down about the search results pages (SERPs):
Composition of results
How do the type of results listed vary and what do they consist of? Are your competitors’ right there in the top 10 search results? What types of web pages are listed? Are they business websites, directories or government-related sites etc? If the first page of results is dominated by a number of powerful business directories or government websites, then it will be difficult to dislodge them and get above them for that particular phrase, especially if the search phrase is very generic or competitive. AS you’re doing your own SEO, it might be more prudent to focus on other more achievable phrases, or even a more targeted variation of that competitive phrase. It might also be easier and more cost effective to list your business in those directories rather than to try and out-seo them on page 1. It is possible to optimise your business listings in many directories so that your actual business listing ranks well in the Google search results. So when planning which keyphrases to target for your business you can include targeted business directory optimisation into your mix.
Note down anything important that you see in the results.
Google Adwords usage
Have a look and see who is using Google Adwords advertising (those paid ads on the right and top of the search results). Are your competitors there? If so you might want to think about running an Adwords campaign yourself for some of your valuable keyphrases, while you undertake the SEO for the Organic results. You can then reduce your Adwords campaign down as you see your website climb onto page 1 of the results.
Make notes about who is running Adwords Ads for each phrase you analyse.
Google Places usage
Check out the use of Google Places for location-related searches. That’s when you search on your phrase of interest and add a location into the search phrase. Do Places Page results appear? These are the listings in the results with the pins and map on the right. If your competitors are there and you are not, then you need to be (provided you do have a physical presence/address of course). If there is no or few businesses with Places pages there at all, then that is an opportunity! Google Places now dominate location-based searches, so having one is pretty important.
Make a note to create a Google Places page if you do not already have one. Start here: http://www.google.com/places/ . Later in the programme we’ll look at how to tune them.
Click the link at the top of the Google results pages for “Images”. This will switch the results from the universal search (“Everything”) results, to results with images only. Make notes:
- Are any of the images from your own website there? If not you should optimise your images, which we’ll look at later.
- Are any competitors’ images listed there?
- Is there any branding in the results? What I mean is, are there any logos of relevant businesses displaying prominently in the image search results? If not get your logo optimised and in there!
Make notes as required.
Click the link on the left of the Google results pages for “Videos”. This will switch the results to those with videos only.
- Are any of the videos from your own website there? If not you should create and optimise a business video (we’ll look at how to do that later).
- Are any competitors’ videos listed there?
Video on the Net is the next big thing (even if you thought it was already big, this is nothing compared to what it will be). Get in early with some well made and optimised videos.
Make notes as required.
News and Blogs
Click the link on the left of the Google results pages for “Blogs”. This will switch the results to show blog posts only. It can be a good idea here to also use the “more search tools” down toward the bottom of the navigation links on the left, to sort on date and look at recent results. These results are worth keeping an eye on for the good of your business, irrespective of SEO efforts – you get lots of information related to your industry and products from these latest blog posts.
Make notes on who is blogging, especially if they are your competitors. Are you blogging and getting results in this search? Blogs and content distribution are a really useful tool when it comes to SEO work.
Do the same for a search under “News”.
The Google search results give a pretty clear idea about what Google values when it assigns web pages to a position in the search results. Think about it: it puts importance on images, video, blog posts and news. It allows you to sort on recency of the information, indicating that it puts stock in websites that are up to date and fresh. Local search is important: it gives you local results in any search and provides you with a map showing nearby businesses of relevance. It even bolds the search terms used, which tells you where you need to place them on your web page. Once again Google shows that it values what people value, so optimise for your target market and step into their shoes as we go through this optimisation process.
Send to me your web address, target country and your one main keyphrase and I’ll take a look and send back some comments.
By Ashley Bryan