Just as part of our everyday marketing activities includes looking at what our competitors do, so it is that we should analyse our competitors’ websites as part of our preparation for SEO.
Now, the competitors we are talking about here are your competitors in the Google search results, which may or may not be your real-world business competitors. If they rank above you in the Google search results then those pages in the results been assigned a higher value by Google, than your own page(s). So we need to look at and make notes about what may be enabling them to beat us.
Let’s take a look at the list of competitors that you noted down in the last lesson, and we’ll head on over to this fantastic site which will do a comparative analysis of your website against your competitors:
So, put your own web address in the main box there and click the “compare pages” link underneath that to open more boxes where you can insert your competitors’ web addresses. The data that this produces will really help assist you to determine where you need to improve your website’s SEO in order to compete with those websites above you in the search results. Even if some or all of the data is confusing to you right now, just look at the key points:
Internal Links. This is where your own website pages link through to the page you are analysing (probably your home page right now). These can be links via the navigation buttons in your website, or through links placed in the body of your pages. The higher this number, generally the better.
External links. This is a measure of the number of links into your website from other websites. Generally the higher this number is, the better. Quality of the links also comes into play but at this stage let’s just look at numbers.
Social shares. The sharing of your website content through Social Media websites such as Facebook, Twitter and now Google Plus is a factor in determining the rankings of websites. The more social shares the better.
The more of these things (links and social sharing) we have going on with our website, the better for our Google rankings. Links to a web page can be considered votes for that web page, and social shares help build trust. Look at the data in the tables in SEOMoz for your website compared with your competitors. The competitors’ websites that are above you in the Google search results will probably have some of the metrics stand out in this comparison table. If you also put into the table the website at the #1 spot for that search, then you’ll likely see some really obvious differences in the data.
It’s also a good idea to actually look through your competitors’ websites and note down your observations such as:
- What content do they have that you don’t but should have?
- Content structure. Do they separate out their products and services into separate, targeted pages (eg each specific service on its own page)? This is a good idea and you should do it. Pages that target one or two topics are easier to optimise for than a page that has many topics.
- Placement of keywords and phrases within the content. Do they seem to have good keyphrases in page headings, bolded, in bulleted lists? This is what we want to do too.
- Use of video and other media. Video is currently valued by Google and so can appear in search results.
- Use of Social Media. Do they have links to their Twitter and Facebook accounts? Participating or sharing through Social networking sites is also valued by Google and can contribute to success in the search results. You should do this too.
As far as specific SEO related things go, check their title tags on each page to see what keyphrases are being targetted. To do this check the page source, and find the title tags which will appear as <title>…keywords here…</title>, or look at the very top bar or tabs in your browser. If your competitor has made an SEO effort then you’ll clearly see that keywords are inserted in these places, and you should note down these keywords for use later.
Finally just another point on the SEOMoz system. Pro members have access to a wide range of superb tools which will assist you with SEO, so I encourage you to look into that here http://mz.cm/H7LX3q for free for 30 days.
By: Ashley Bryan