Consumers are often made aware of brand websites and social media through searches of their products and services, which in turn makes search result rankings vital for brands.
Lead acquisition in this regard requires organic presence and content optimization for the coveted search result rankings. Unsurprisingly then, search engine optimization (SEO) is the primary focus for many brands – and it is no easy task. Competition is naturally fierce, which makes such strategies as competitor analysis both viable and beneficial; what works for one brand can certainly work for another. Being able to reverse-engineer a competitor’s SEO success can provide all the insight you may need to outrank them.
With that in mind, let’s analyze how exactly you may do so – and how competitive SEO analysis can benefit your brand.
What is SEO analysis and why it matters?
An SEO analysis determines your website’s SEO “score”; how well it will perform in search rankings. A myriad of factors go into this score – more than 200, in fact – but the primary ones include;
- Web page content quality and length
- The presence of optimized images
- Web page loading speed
- Website security (i.e. HTTPS or HTTP)
- Website mobile-friendliness
- The presence of quality backlinks and social signals
Your competitors naturally have an SEO score themselves; if they’re outranking you, it is likely higher due to such factors.
That is not to say, of course, that a higher SEO score by itself immediately translates to higher revenue or business growth. Search results should equal more lead acquisition, and those leads should equal more sales – such equations do begin with high search visibility, but they need to be followed by your website’s conversion rate optimization and a cohesive marketing strategy. SEO is not where your sales funnel ends, but it is still the vital first step because that’s where your funnel begins.
This is by no means hyperbole either; 55% of clicks go to the top 3 search engine results, leaving just 45% to be shared among all the rest. Search engines do not determine such rankings based on offline performance and revenue but on online factors such as the ones outlined above. That is where SEO analysis comes in – you need your webpage to be ranked higher, being more authoritative and relevant than your competitors’. Competitive SEO analysis can lay out all the elements and factors that compose your competitors’ success, and allow you to make those same steps to outrank them.
Step 1: Identify your keywords and competitors
SEO can only begin with keywords. You will thus need to identify your ideal ROI keywords and look up your ranking competitors for them. In this regard, it is important to make two distinctions; generic, broad keywords may not be realistically targetable, and keyword competitors are not necessarily local and/or industry competitors.
There are more online users on mobile devices than ever before, so mobile-friendliness is a crucial SEO factor.
Broad keywords often are your brand’s products and services themselves. However, few brands have the potential to compete with existing pioneers and heavyweights that rank high for those words – say, Zara, McDonald’s, or Tiffany’s, in their respective fields. It is thus better to look for long-winded keywords that are relevant to your brand, with high search volume but low competition.
On the latter, your competitors – especially for broad keywords – are not necessarily local competitors, or even ones in your field. A keyword competitor may well be a directory site, for example, and not an actual competing brand – but in SEO terms they are your competitor nonetheless, especially if their URL includes such keywords. Movers Development, for example, includes "movers" in its URL, making it a potential SEO competitor for moving companies that may very well not be local to it.
Taking those necessary steps will indeed benefit your SEO campaign, giving you valuable insight on where exactly your brand should stand and who your search engine competitors are.
Step 2: Analyze your competitors
Having identified your competitors, you may now analyze their websites. As with business-focused software, various SEO analysis methods and tools exist – which ones you use is entirely up to you, but a good SEO “score checker” should be a great start.
Basic web page factors that should be examined include:
- Keyword density
- Domain age
- Service area
Furthermore, there are specific SEO factors and metrics that should be analyzed, including:
- Local search optimization
- Domain authority
- Image optimization
- Keyword density across pages
- Word counts across pages
- URL keywords
- Blog frequency and quality
- Engagement rate
Running such analyses on your top 3-5 competitors should yield enough data to extract safe conclusions. Cross-comparing those and other metrics will soon construct a clear picture, with patterns from which inspiration can be drawn.
Of course, it bears repeating that competitive SEO analysis will benefit your brand’s SEO campaigns, but it will only generate organic growth if you follow it with a cohesive and efficient marketing strategy. Visibility and traffic are the first steps towards lead acquisition, but success also hinges on effectively converting visitors to leads and sales.
Step 3: Act on your findings
All the black and white data you have acquired will then need to be acted upon. Long-term business cannot be built on attempting to “trick” search engines alone; you will need to organically earn your rankings and maintain them. You will thus need to lay the foundation and do the work to ascend to a trusted authority in your field and industry after your SEO campaigns yield results.
“Authority” is not used sparingly in this context; prominent competitors most often establish and promote themselves as authoritative entities in their industries. High rankings are thus maintained by both consistent quality products and services and marketing strategies, which serve to drive consistent engagement and better meet SEO criteria. Furthermore, on the front of SEO, it is vital to note that next to no such competitors treat SEO analyses and campaigns as one-time endeavors. Rather, they most likely treat SEO as an on-going process and SEO optimization as a constant goal worth pursuing – and for good reason. Should they be outranked, they will also engage in competitive SEO analyses to reclaim their top spots. It is thus vital that you do too, and adopting this mindset can only benefit your brand in its pursuit of growth.