Writing by Nick Stamoulis in SEO
SEO is a three step program that involves research, on-site optimization, and link building. An important part of the research phase is checking out the market and seeing what your competitors are up to. Their strategies should never be copied; instead the information that you find can be used to ensure that you do things that much better than them! The first step is to understand who your competitors are in the online space, which is based on geographic and business size factors. For example, a local bakery is not competing with large chain grocery stores. It is competing with other local bakeries in the area. Once you know who your competitors are, it’s time to check in on them. Here’s how:
Check Meta Information
Go to your competitor’s website and click on “View” and then “Page Source”. This will show you the code that is used, including meta information if the site is optimized properly. Pay attention to the title, description, and keywords that they use. While this information isn’t weighed too heavily by the search engines, it’s still a clear indicator of their marketing direction. Are they using a mix of broad and niche keywords or going in one direction or the other?
Use Online Tools
There are many free and easy to use tools out there that you can use to gain intelligence about your competitors online. Compete and Website Grader provide broad data that can give you a better idea about the performance of the website. Link Diagnosis is a helpful tool that will provide you with a list of backlinks pointing to the competitor’s site when you conduct a link audit. This information is useful for when it’s time to develop your own link building strategy.
Watch Their Social Presence
What kind of social campaign are your competitors running? Are they even running one at all? What kind of content are they sharing in social media and how often do they post? Are they using social media as a communication tool or simply as another place to advertise? Brand pages should be public so you don’t need to actually “Follow” or “Like” their page in order to find out how they are using the medium.
Set up Alerts
Set up Google alerts for your competitor’s brand name so that you are emailed whenever there is a new mention of their brand name online.
The main reason for checking in on competitors is to find a few weaknesses in their strategy and capitalize on them. If they don’t have a blog, get started on one! If they are targeting all broad keywords, target some longtails that have search volume! If they aren’t using social media properly, become a social media marketing wiz! No matter what industry you are in, there are plenty of competitors online so it’s important to find every advantage that you can in order to succeed.