Free Tools to Do A Competitor Blog Audit

Your content is one of the greatest tools you have at your disposal, from a marketing point of view. It gets your name out there, attracts attention, bring in regulars, markets your brand, builds your authority, connects you to other experts… you would be hard pressed to find a way it wouldn’t be helpful. Having a consistent, high quality blog can launch your entire career, and turn a hobby into a money making venture.

But how does it rank with the content of your competitors? Competitor blog audit involves gathering data that allows you to compare your work with someone else’s, or to get a feel for what your target audience is looking for in a successful blog. It is something that every blogger should be taking part in regularly; to make sure they are constantly evolving with the needs of their potential readers.

Step 1 – Determine Your Competition

While you may be able to get some idea of what people are reading by looking at the biggest industry blogs on a topic (such as TechCrunch or Gizmodo, for example), chances are that you are nowhere near their level of visibility. Maybe someday you will be, but for right now you should focusing on websites that are more direct competitors.

Put as few as three on this list, and as much as five. If after you have made this list you feel the need to put some big names on there, one or two could be added. Just keep in mind that these big names will be best case scenarios for the future, as a goal in mind. When comparing their data, it should be as part of a longer term strategy, with the bulk of your information coming from the direct competitors to start out with.

Helpful tool: Use BuzzSumo to find recently active and successful blogs on any topic!

BuzzSumo

Step 2 – Look At What Content They Provide

Not all blogs are all about text blog posts. Multiple media forms is just a part of an overall, well rounded content strategies on the web today. Look and see what your competitors are doing on a regular basis. Infographics? Podcasts? Videos? Slideshares? Mini clips, like Vines? Comics? Are they specializing in one or two, or have they branches out into every niche possible?

Helpful resource: Here’s an easy guide to understand blogging easier

List all content under each name, and see what sites have what media in common. You should be able to narrow down what is working and what isn’t based on who is trying what.

Step 3 – Figure Out What Is Popular In Each Media Type

It is pretty simple to get an idea of what is bringing in the most benefits for your competitors blogs. SEO ranking is part of this, but we will look at that in another step. Right now, you should be looking at their engagement.

Helpful resource: Give this tool any blog RSS feed and it will pull out recent articles and their social media numbers

Social media analytics

Comments, social media shares, and referral traffic present a clear picture of how people are reacting to those topics, the tone of the post, and the media style. Take a collection of links to the most engaging content on those sites, and include it in your spreadsheet.

Step 4 – Start Sorting Out The Most Popular Posts In Each Category

Take the links you are finding, and start sorting them into categories by media type, topic, or style. That will give you a look at what is working most for each site. Note any patterns that begin to emerge, where the sites have data in common. If three of your five competitor blogs are getting a lot of engagement on posts that include infographics, but not a lot on audio podcast downloads, that should tell you something.

Helpful tool: Our Social Media Tool will process lots of links for you and return helpful social media stats and author details:

Social Media tool

You can also start to compare these links to your own content, to see what it has in common (or doesn’t) with your own posts. This process is excellent for pointing out things you may have been doing wrong, or just not quite nailing down.

Step 5 – Look At Competitor’s SEO Tactics

Finally, you want to know how people are driving traffic through direct searches. That means taking a look at the keywords they are properly exploiting, and those they aren’t.

Tool: Website Crawler and XML Sitemap Generator

You may be able to find some keywords they aren’t targeting, and take advantage of those ones yourself. Or find some keywords that you should be pushing for, as pushing past their SEO rank is an easy way to start getting more traffic.

What To Do With The Data

Essentially, this is just a way to seeing what is working for others, and what isn’t. How you choose to use it is entirely up to you. You could either start to focus on the same topics and media types that they are, or you could go the alternative route and start to focus on the areas that they are lacking. Both have a chance of improving your content strategy, and so boosting the popularity of your site.

Personally, I prefer to use it more loosely. I will see what topics or content get the most mileage, but will try and find a way to incorporate that into my own interests and work. Never forget that while you are auditing your competitors to see how they are improving their own success, you don’t want to copy them. You have your own strengths, your own readers, and your own style. You want to be easy to distinguish from the rest of the crowd.

Conclusion

You should be conducting a competitor audit at least once every few months. It just lets you keep an eye on rival sites, as well as find opportunities to connect with others, or get warning when something on your own site needs to change. As you can see, the positives are endless.

Do you have any tips for conducting competitor blog audits? We would love to hear about them, so let us know in the comments!

Get Back to the Basics: How to Rank Your Article on the First Page of Google

Google’s First Page of Search Engine results is the only place worth being these days. If you don’t rank on a search engines first page you have maybe a 1-5 percent chance of being found, depending on the industry you are in.

That might seem like the competition is too hard and the whole optimization thing is a waste of time, but it’s not. The thing about Web Marketing is that it’s not really all that hard. I know, I know, people like to make it mysterious and full of incomprehensible graphs and data. But believe me, it ain’t.

There are things that almost any blogger or small business website can be doing to bring themselves up to the first page, which is why I wrote my cheeky article: “Google’s 1st Page, and How I got this Article There”.

Bit embarrassing after that title if  I don’t actually make it to the top of the search engine, eh?

Here are the 5 of the 10 steps I use on each page to get me heading in the right direction. Try them on your own site if you haven’t tried them yet.

1. Domain

Your domain name should be short and sweet. It also helps if you can keep your product, post or service URL short also.

2. Title Tag

The title tag tells Google in a few words what your page is about. If you don’t tell Google, it will guess. Therefore, use your Title Tag.

3. Keywords

Every page on your site should be optimized using a major keyword or phrase. Use this keyword suggestion tool to find good option.

4. Image Attributes

Alt tags (Image Attributes) are similar to title tags and description tags. They help Google to understand your pictures. Use them on every image and make them all different. Google loves to read this stuff.

5. Outbound Links

Put yourself in Good Company. Although it may seem strange, Google is believed to act positively toward the external links that point to authoritative sites in an article. Pick your sites carefully. Use sparingly.

While ranking in Google is challenging, it is not impossible. Ranking on the first page of any search engine is all about common sense, a bit of sweat and diligence.

The key to SEO is good, relevant, and up to date content. Everything else is just infrastructure, which is to say, helping the content to be easily found and understandable by the search engines.

The beauty in all this is that the better your site’s content, the higher your rankings in Google. The higher your rankings, the better your click through rate. The better your click through rate, the more relevant your content must be. The more relevant your content, the more likely you are to make sales.

Go for it and be sure to take in all 10 of these search optimization tips and apply them to your site.

Infographic source: 1st Page of Google – How I Got this Article There

Responsive Email Tips to Improve CTR and SEO

With mobile responsiveness becoming a major new search factor in 2015, it is important to ensure both your site and your emails are mobile responsive. The better you configure your email template to make it easy to get to your site, the more traffic it will drive.

Pages you link from your email need to be optimized for mobile devices. The more compelling the page and the easier it is to navigate from any device, the longer the time on page will be. Bounce rates can also be decreased.

Responsive Email Tips:

Put some serious thought into how you create your email template. Your most important call to action button should be easy to reach with a thumb on a SmartPhone.

Fortunately, email providers have made it easier to immediately see what changes to your template will look like on other devices. Watch the video here on how a mobile responsive email template builder works.

When designing your template, your call to action button is most important. Position it first. Decide whether your social sharing buttons are more important to you than your social network links and place them accordingly. (Ask yourself whether getting your readers to share your content more important than getting them to visit your social network account?)

How to Increase Time on Site

One of the easiest ways to increase time on site is to provide compelling videos, SlideShares or complex infographics. All of these will keep a reader engaged and on the page.

Choose your videos carefully. They need to grab the users attention immediately and keep it. The best bloggers will watch sometimes dozens of videos looking for the video that starts with a bang. If you produce your own videos, here are some tips:

  • Do not use a long introduction
  • Don’t start as a commercial for your business – your business info belongs at the end – not the beginning

If you don’t get their attention within the first few seconds you never will.

Similar tips apply to SlideShares. The best SlideShare will have a cover image that encourages interaction. Each slide should be visually appealing. Images are better than too much text. Stats compiled into colorful graphs work well.

Too often there are SlideShares with excellent information we don’t use because they aren’t easy to read or just too plain. If you want your information seen it must be attractive to your audience!

Reducing Bounce Rates

The key to keeping visitors from leaving your site after only viewing one page is to ensure they are presented with additional related content. This can be done manually within a page, but it is easier done automatically. 

Major sites use various services to present images that pull visitors to additional content. I’m sure you’ve seen images and link bait headlines meant to get that next click. The more curiosity you can create the more clicks you can generate.

Depending upon the solution chosen and how they’re configured, this concept may be keeping people on a site or used to generate income by selling space to advertisers.

Sites of any size can use TrenDemon to identify their top converting content and most visited content and automatically suggest additional pages for visitors to view.

Focus on High Traffic Pages

Put more thought into what images and links you offer from your emails. Optimize the landing pages to lead visitors to your best converting pages. Identify those pages using analytics.

Even if you use an automated method of encouraging visitors to visit additional pages, consider manually optimizing your top traffic pages and your best converting pages.

Update top traffic pages to keep them fresh. Ensure they include at least one image that will grab attention on social media. Push that image out periodically to each social network.

Use the tips in How to Build More Targeted Traffic to Your Blog to push even more traffic to your already highest traffic pages.

Learn From Your Results

How long visitors stay and where they travel within your site is largely under your control. Start noticing which images get the most interaction (likes, shares, retweets, and comments) online. What do they have in common?

Study your email open rates as well as your social media interactions and online stats. All of them can teach you what to avoid and what to do more often.

Continual improvement in everything you do makes a huge difference. Don’t just throw up that content and send out an email. Learn to hone your craft or be left behind by those who do.