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How to perform a competitor Analysis and why it can get you ahead

July 30th, 2013 | Posted in Blog

It’s becoming clearer by the day that SEO isn’t for people who exist in a vacuum. You can’t hope to survive in an intensely challenging and constantly changing domain without knowing whether the strategies and methodologies you have identified for your SEO campaign will work or not. This is where competitor analysis enters the picture. Doing SEO without competitor analysis is like driving a car in a fog without the fog lights on. You don’t know where you are heading, so how do you know you will end up in the right place?

By performing a competitor analysis you get to know how your competitors have positioned their websites and will tell you what you need to do to place your website at the top of the search engine rankings and also occupy the top position in your target audience’s mind space. So let’s get started on competitor analysis and take a look at its important aspects.

Choose the right Tools

If you think of SEO as a battle that must be won at all costs, you need to choose the right weapons. You can’t perform a competitor analysis without picking the right tools of the trade. There are plenty of tools available on the market, some of them are free to use and you need to pay for others. The idea is to pick a tool that offers comprehensive insights into your competitor’s web presence and allows you to make sense of all the data that it throws at you. At the end of the day, you need to pick a tool that gives you the kind of information you want and which you think is essential to get you ahead of the pack. If you want to, you can use a collection of tools if you think a single tool won’t give you all the information you need.

Tools like Open Site Explorer, Site Comparison, KeywordSpy, and Majestic SEO are just some of the many tools that help you analyze your competition.

Competitors Analysis Process

The process of analyzing your competitors begins with recognizing your competitors and taking a look at their online presence through the prism of certain parameters. Take a look:

Identify your Competitors

Do you know who your competitors are? You will have to perform a niche analysis to come up with a list of competitors to know who they are and how strong they are in the niche. To perform a niche analysis, you could use your own custom methodology to identify niche players or you could take the help of niche tools like Niche Watch, Spyfu, and others. Also, most of the comprehensive competitive analysis tools help you find your real competitors.

Number of Incoming Links

Begin with the fundamentals. Find out where you stand vis-à-vis your competitors with respect to the number of links pointing to your site. If there is a substantial difference, its time you started building your backlinks. If there is no major difference in the number of backlinks to your site and that of your competitors, and their sites are ranking and yours isn’t, it’s a quality red flag. Maybe you are not doing enough to earn quality links to your site.

Comparing the Quality of your Incoming Links

The Penguin update wants you to build high quality links preferably from high authority sites relevant to your niche. Are your links coming good in this regard? If you find your competitors are linking to quality sites and your links are coming from low quality link sources, it’s time to arrest the slide. Find out where they are getting their links from, and try to follow their footsteps. Start taking steps to improve your link profile.

Anchor Text Distribution

Going through the anchor text distribution of your competitors will give you insights on how many of their links use generic keywords, branded keywords, long tail phrases, etc. You will realize that the top players in your niche are distributing their anchor text rather than over optimizing them with the same keywords. Insights into anchor text will help you identify the kind of anchor text that can deliver more value for your SEO efforts.

Indexed Pages

Are all your pages indexed by search engines? If truth be told, even some of the top ranked websites have pages that are not indexed, but as a website owner, you want as many pages of your websites to be indexed as possible. And this again is an important SEO metric that needs to be compared with your competitors. If you find that the top competitors for the keyword for which you want to rank, have more indexed pages, you will need to start creating more pages with quality and relevant content. These don’t necessarily have to be website pages, but can be blog posts, articles, resource lists and anything that your target visitors are looking for.

Don’t think of these pointers as steps; these are the important parameters on which your web presence needs to be analyzed with respect to its competitors. That in essence is what competitor analysis is all about. Identify your competitors and analyze their web presence, that’s it; how you go about doing it depends on the tools you use and the parameters that you think are important.

So this brings us to the question – Why is such an analysis necessary in the first place?

The answer lies within the process of competitive analysis itself. By taking your website through a process of comparative evaluation, you can chart a strong online marketing strategy based around earning natural links. You become aware of the pitfalls to avoid, the corrective measures to implement and strategies to follow. It will help you define a link building strategy that helps you go one up over your competition. It enables you to create and put in place an SEO campaign that is built using actionable intelligence received by going through your competitor’s website. It also helps you stay away from all those Google penalties that are just waiting for you to take the wrong step.

Competitive analysis makes sure that you stay ahead of the curve by creating a winning SEO campaign. This helps you get ahead and stay ahead of your competitors.


Author info: This post was written for Modern Dignity Consulting by John Siebert. John Siebert is a Marketing Guru and Web Professional as well as owner of , a Tampa Web Design business.



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