Do you ever sit in front of Google searching for your website listing under your favorite key terms? Do you feel a sense of anxiety when you notice your competitor ranked ahead of you on those key terms? You do? Great. Now STOP doing that!
SEO competitive analysis is important and beneficial to your business no doubt, but not when it’s done out of fear in panic mode. Make sure your conducting competitive SEO research in the right manner for the right reasons! Don’t let yourself be lured into futile SEO analysis. Arm yourself with the skills and resources you need to conduct profitable research and analysis that will actually benefit your small business.
Converting Your Site Traffic
I have encountered countless customers who create unending angst for themselves by conducting premature SEO competitive analysis searches. They run themselves into the ground, panicking that they’re missing out in search results and on valuable customers.
What most don’t realize is that they already have a large amount of qualified traffic coming to their site, but they do little to make sure it converts. Some of the reasons visitors “bounce” off pages on your site are:
- Not enough information to make a decision.
- No call to action. “How to Buy”
- Price or Shipping is not competitive.
- Content is not relevant to their search. (I want light bulbs not flower bulbs)
So before you start to worry that you’re not getting enough traffic or resulting sales from what keywords you already have, make sure you’re properly optimizing for them first. Once you do that, then read the rest of this article.
Competitive SEO Strategy
Competitive SEO research is an important part of any SEO marketing strategy. Knowing what your competitors are doing and what keywords they’re using will help you formulate a strong and effective keyword marketing strategy that will help your pages rank higher on SERPs.
There is nothing wrong with competitive SEO, but you need to make sure you’re carrying out your research the right way. The problem is the search “strategy” that results from the “competitive search” often doesn’t make sense.
I recently had a customer tell me that “key term X” was a term they needed to be found on because their competitor was on that page and that they knew, for a fact, that their customers search on this term. Although, both of these assertions might partially be true, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you should do something about it.
SEO research is much more than just Googling terms you think are relevant and deciding you want to be found under those terms because your competitors are.
Any good researcher knows in an experiment you need a variety of manipulatable variables and some static variables. When you’re doing research, you need to look at proven data and statistics before you implement a final plan.
How to Do SEO Competitive Analysis
Follow this SEO competitive analysis checklist to make sure your you’re conducting the right kind of keyword research.
To begin, there are several platforms and resources you can use to conduct your competitive and website performance research. But, it’s often a hassle for small business owners to weed through all the options to find the best fit for their purposes. To help with this, G2Crowd offers amazing resources where you can cross-compare different platforms and SEO tools at the same time! Once you’ve done that, check out this HubSpot article on the best SEO tools you can use to manage your website performance. Once you choose which platforms and tools to use, then you can actually get into the research portion!
Step 1: Correctly identifying your competitors. You need to know who you’re up against so you can create the most effective strategy.
SEO tools like SEMRush, let you research and track what your direct competitors are doing. You can see their most popular keywords, the amount they’re spending on AdWords campaigns, and even their traffic. If you track what “the other guys” are doing, you can see what strategies are effective in your industry and build those strengths into your own strategy.
Pro Tip: If you see a business spending a lot of money to advertise a specific keyword, you know it must be pretty important. If that keyword is applicable to you, spend time investing in that keyword in your site so you can rank from organic traffic, rather than spend money to rank for it.
Adversely, you’ll also be able to see what doesn’t work so you can avoid making the same mistakes.
SEMRush also let’s you see what keywords you and your competitors have in common through their “Keyword Gap” tool. With this tool, you can research several competitors or just one at a time. With Keyword Gap you can see which website (you or your competitors) ranks the best for a particular keyword. You can also search between organic, paid, or ad keywords that you and your competitors share and SEMRush give you the option to see the data graphically as well. So, if numbers aren’t your thing and you’re more of a visual person, no need to worry. You can also export your research results if you choose.
Step 2: Make sure you’re tracking your research and documenting it. While conducting this research, you need to store your information in a doc. An Excel or Google Sheets doc is best so you can keep a running list of new keywords and various other metrics.
Some points you may want to track are:
- How many of your competitors are using a certain keyword?
- How are your competitors ranking with that keyword?
- Where is the keyword traffic coming from? (paid vs organic)
Step 3: Once you have gathered all your research, you need to put a plan together and start to implement it.
There is no one way to implement a successful keyword marketing campaign. It really all depends on your business and your specific goals. Consider all the options before you and determine what methods will work best for your small business within your marketing budget. Maybe that means a limited AdWords campaign, Instagram advertising, or simply page optimization. Whatever it turns out to be for you personally, you’re now equipped with the numbers and data to make sure it’s successful!
Go with what you know, not what you think you know. What is the data telling you? SEO competitive analysis is only going to be useful if you’re conducting your research the right way. Be smart about where you want to rank in search engines, develop a plan to convert your existing traffic, then execute your plan!