If you’re a marketer and you’re currently tied up with other initiatives (campaigns, new site launch, etc.), or a search professional bogged down with doing keyword research, a technical audit, or staying up with the latest trends, remember to come up for air every now and then (at least once a month if not more) to take a look at what your competition is doing. Here’s some tips on how to effectively go about this.
To start, take a look at your existing keyword landscape and identify your “Top 10” Keywords. These are terms that you have deemed business critical to have a top ranking position for. Odds are, you will probably not have a #1 ranking for each term. In the cases where you don’t, take a look at what sites are outranking yours and determine why.
You can do this in a variety of ways. You could manually look at each site, review the content, look at links, etc., but that tends to take too much time. There’s a simple way to go about this that you can use within your existing monthly production cycle.
Install a tool like SEOQuake. Once the tool is installed and turned on (via your browser), perform a search on one of your important Keywords. For each ranking site, you will be able to see important ranking factors. For example, look at the following elements:
- How many links are pointing to the competitor’s ranking page?
- How many of these links are using the target keyword?
- How many of these links are owned by the competitor’s brand (such as family domains or links from the same site)?
- When did the page originate (you can determine this by using the WayBack Machine)?
- How many Delicious or DIGG listings does the competitor site have?
- Does the competitor site have a DMOZ listing?
- OnPage Factors – does the competitor site have well optimized content (Title, URL, body content, etc.)?
- You can then determine which of these ranking factors are giving your competition the benefit by doing a side-by-side comparison against your site. Create a Matrix and list out 4-5 competitor sites for each of your important keywords. You’d be surprised how useful this can be in determining your strategy and next steps. For example:
- Modify your content if needed to be better optimized for the target keyword
- Create a PR or Social Media campaign aimed at generating awareness (and thus, links) to your content using important keywords.
Doing this on a monthly basis will ensure that you (and your stakeholders) have a clear roadmap for success with those business critical keywords.
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