The point of a competitor analysis is NOT to copy moves or strategies. Rather, it’s to FIND OUT what your rivals are good at to come up with better techniques.
There are hundreds of tools out there for competitor analysis. Some are free, most are not. One of our favorite tools is SPYFU; which we have been using since 2013 for our keyword research needs. They recently released a new version that lets digital marketers do more than keyword research.
Whether you’re new to SEO or are already an expert, use this tool for competitor research. Here’s how to perform competitor analysis on the three core elements of search engine marketing using the updated SPYFU.
Employ Clever Keyword Research
Don’t remove keywords from your campaign just yet. While modern SEO does not focus on them as much as we used to, they are still important for search queries and ranking. And when it comes to keywords, no one does it better than SPYFU. Faster, smarter, and more streamlined: you can quickly see which of your competitor’s keywords are ranking.
Go as far back as six years’ worth of data if you wish. Their new layout makes it easy to view how many terms gained in ranking, and which ones are losing. Plus, compare up to three competitors with their KOMBAT feature.
There are three things you want to look for when using this tool: keyword gainers (those that are ranking), exclusive keywords (terms you rank for, but NOT your competitors), and shared keywords (terms your competitors are ranking for, but YOU don’t).
Your goal is to keep your keyword gainers on the first page of search engines, like Google. Next, work on your exclusive keywords so they rank on the first page (if they haven’t yet). Remember: these terms are unique to YOU – so leverage them properly. Then, look at the shared keywords from two of your biggest competitors. Use the EXPORT function to save this list for further study.
Beat Them with Backlinks
What’s great about the new SPYFU is that it allows you to analyze the other factors of SEO, such as BACKLINKS. This makes it a one-stop tool for all your online marketing needs.
Now that you have a list of Shared Keywords, choose 5 – 10 phrases that you want to focus on, and then check on their backlinks. Use filters to refine your results. What type of backlinks are they? Why are your rivals ranking for them, but not you? Are they worth pursuing? How can you penetrate them?
Your goal is to know WHERE they are putting these keywords, so that you can utilize this to your benefit. For instance: upon studying the keyword ‘seo companies los angeles’, we found that one of the backlinks points to an article from a high-ranking website. This means that our competitors are using informative posts to gain quality links using the given keyword.
With this knowledge, you have two options: one is to post on the same website; second, is to gather similar sites and publish there. This gives you a chance to rank HIGHER for those shared keywords. Either way, now you know your competitor’s secret.
Less Stress – More Productivity
A smart competitor analysis eliminates the stress of creating new strategies and having to test them. Instead, know what has worked for the most successful brands, and experiment around those. Tweak existing tactics to suit YOUR business needs. There are limitless resources out there that a lot of companies are using all the time. All one has to do is to spot them.
Recently I put together an article about press release sites taking a huge hit in search rankings, presumably due to the “payday loan” algorithm which is supposed to target highly spammed keywords and sites using spammy techniques.
I spoke to an employee of a press release distribution company (who both will remain nameless) and they told me that the initial punishment occurred over the keyword “garcinia cambogia”, a keyword that gets more than 800,000 searches per month according to Semrush.
As I continued to write I decided to do a search for that keyword and see who the new results were. To my surprise I found a short YouTube video ranking near the bottom of page 1. After doing some research on the video I examined its backlink profile and came to the conclusion that the site was ranking purely on the strength of pure spam.
This discovery got me thinking that perhaps YouTube, a Google owned property might be “protected” from such actions. After all the more traffic their videos receive, the more revenue they can generate through ads.
I decided to check out some other keywords to see if my theory held true in another niche. After some consideration I decided to focus on a local seo keyword, such as “city name seo”. I wanted a term that would have value and a term that would have some good search volume.
The keyword I settled on has roughly 500 searches per month for its city name “seo” and could potentially generate a few hundred more visits by ranking for other variations of this same keyword.
Lo and behold I was able to find a YouTube video ranking in the 6th position for this keyword.
Well, if it is ranking in the top 10 and Google is attacking spammy backlinks, then this must be a squeaky clean white hat video correct?
The video has 65 views yet it has 1700 backlinks from almost 300 domains. How does that happen? How can only 65 people viewed the video yet 1700 links been created for said video? Perhaps the links are quality, so let’s take a peek!
After checking the backlink profile on Majectic SEO most of the links are coming via blog comments. Wait a minute, blog comments can be white hat right?
Of course they can but when the anchor text is either exact match or some variation of the main keyword then it screams spam. Don’t take my word for it, take a look yourself!
Notice that this page has been spammed to death and has some unsavory keywords on the same page as the “seo” keyword. I have marked out most information since I just want to point out the facts but do not want to “out” the video in question.
I think it is pretty clear that the site is simply using YouTube as a “host” to spam and rank.
In light of how Google has handled some news sites and the press release distribution sites I find it rather interesting that they are punishing these domains in the name of “search quality” yet their very own property can be used to rank for some of these keywords using the shadiest of tactics with no ill effects?
What are your thoughts?
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