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.
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.
What do you do about SEO if the site you built doesn’t seem to have SEO features built in? First, you need to know there is more than one aspect to SEO. There are actually at least four:
- Meta fields
- On page SEO
- Incoming links
- Page load time and caching
No matter what type of site you have, you can learn to improve your on page SEO and your incoming links. Whether you can configure the meta fields easily depends on what your site is built on.
Website Builder SEO
If you used a website builder, it may or may not have some accessible SEO meta fields. For example, IM Creator provides the ability to create meta title, description and keywords for the entire site – but not for individual pages.
Other website builders may not provide any meta fields at all. Ideally, it is best to be able to set different meta fields for each page on a site. If your site doesn’t support meta fields, focus on optimizing your on page SEO and building incoming links.
Sites built on WordPress have many more options. Originally, WordPress users installed SEO plugins. The most popular are:
- Platinum SEO
- SEO by Yoast
Today, advanced WordPress theme platforms including Thesis and Genesis have SEO fields built in. They are customizable for each page and post individually.
Some WP users install an advanced SEO plugin even if their theme has SEO fields in order to take advantage of additional features. For example, Yoast rates how well your page or post is optimized and also supports Twitter cards to pull your images into Twitter whenever one of your posts gets tweeted.
If you expect your ecommerce store to show up in searches, having and using the SEO fields is essential. Major ecommerce platforms typically provide meta fields for product and category pages, but many of their users haven’t bothered to fill them out.
The Google Panda update seriously penalized ecommerce sites that did not have enough text in their descriptions and on their category pages. If you haven’t filled in these fields and optimized all of your pages for SEO you should.
You also need to find a way to increase incoming links to your pages. Many ecommerce sites fail to rank because they haven’t attracted sufficient incoming links. Some used article marketing heavily for this and were later penalized by the Penguin update and had to remove those links.
Find out more by reading Improve Google Indexing on Your Ecommerce Website.
Image Size, Page Load Time and Caching
Many site owners make the serious mistake of using high resolution images or just images that are so large they take a long time to load. Keep in mind that not all internet users have high speed access or new computers with tons of memory.
Online images don’t need to be any higher than 72 dpi. Except for complex infographics you should be able to keep them under 160 kb and under 60 kb would be even better.
WordPress users can Enable Gzip Encoding and Caching to speed up their sites. All site owners should work to reduce page load time as much as possible. Discussions in the forum suggest that under 10 seconds is essential and ideally average page load times of under 3 seconds would be better.
The Google Page Speed Score add-on for FireFox can assist you in analyzing how your pages are loading.
Google Webmaster Accounts
Creating a webmaster account on Google and Bing are recommended to make your site easier for them to index. Google Webmaster Tools has an SEO FAQ to answer many common questions.
Image: SEO basics