One of the first things we do when we bring on a new client is to analyze what their competition is doing as far as search engine optimization, or SEO. Competitor analysis is a huge part of SEO. If you want to be the number one listing for a keyword phrase, you have to be able to bump the current listing off that ranking.
We research the resulting web pages that show up in search results for keyword phrases that are relevant for the client’s niche. If our client owns a bar in Sydney, then we’ll go to Google and type in Sydney bar to see who pops-up on the organic listings. The organic listings are those down the middle of the page, not on the right side or very top of the results page. Then we’ll note some important facts about the top 5 listings. Here are things that are worth noting:
Is the page listed the top-level domain name or is it an inner page. If you look at the term Sydney bar and you find that the first listing is for www.sydneycafes.com.au/bars.html, then you know that one of this website’s internal pages is ranking as # 1. If the page listed is the very top level domain, i.e., www.sydneycafes.com.au, then the top level of the domain is ranking for #1.
It’s important to know that for a few reasons. It’s quicker to basically jump other listings and get page one results if you can grab the keyword specific domain. So if you’re looking for ranking on Sydney bar and if SydneyBar.com or .org or .net is available, you may get to the top of the search results simply by buying that domain and putting up well crafted web pages optimized for the search engines. This gives you a very strong likelihood of ranking for that term very quickly.
This is often one of the hardest things for a business owner to accept. They’d much rather have the domain named for the bar. Of course, that is often the path we have to accept. We won’t argue with a strong brand name. If they already own RockpoolBar.com with strong brand recognition, then we’ll just improve on the current website while maintaining the domain name. [However, we might must go ahead and purchase Sydneybar dot com if it is available. That is premium Web real estate.]
More mature websites are harder to compete with than websites that are new or under a year old. The concept here is that an established website is one that is more likely to be around in the future. If you are buying a domain, you may want to pay extra for an aged domain. The price can go up astronomically with age, so do some serious thought as to the value of that domain to your brand image or web strategies. New domains can still compete for top ranking when the website design is sound and content writer uses smart SEO strategies. If you are registering a new domain, consider spending the extra $10 to register it for 2 years instead of for one.
Google Page Rank
One other thing to take note of when you’re doing competitor analysis is the Google Page Rank. Page Rank is a calculation, based on incoming links, of Google’s estimation of the importance of a page. It is expressed on a scale of 0-10 in the toolbar, with ten being more important.
On Page SEO
Take a look at your competitor’s on page SEO. On page SEO includes things like meta tags, url relationship to keywords, header tags (H1, H2, H3…) and the keyword density. Take note of their weaknesses and make them your strengths.
Evaluate In-bound Links
You can use the Yahoo Site Explorer to see what links are pointing to the competitor’s high ranking page. Avoid attracting links from unrelated websites, or worse, links from adult-type websites (unless, you have an adult-type website.)
The best way to get quality in-bound links is not to pay for links. The best way is to create unique, compelling content that attracts links. This is a win/win because not only will great content attract links pointing to your website, but also visitors.
You can offer articles to website owners. Contact the owner and ask if they would be open to posting a unique article that includes a link back to your top-level domain or internal page. Usually, a website owner is open to posting quality, unique material. All you need to do is make it available to them.