How to Use Your Competitors to Rank Up in SEO

By February 8, 2018blog, SEO
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Before, the word ‘competitor’ is considered a displeasing word. Enter SEO (search engine optimization). Now, competitors are regarded as one of the biggest allies of any company or organization who wants to dominate the search engines. Although it’s rather difficult to admit that your competitors are doing great (greater than what you are currently doing), you can always steal their momentum. Here’s how.

Taking advantage of competitor’s SEO

Gauge the technical SEO

Other than keywords, SEO is also about several on-page factors—from HTML meta tags to speed. These are the factors that help the search engines to understand your website better and decide whether to rank it or not.

You can do this manually or by using a tool like SEOSiteCheckup. Manually, you may go to your competitor’s website and view source (Ctrl + U). The page will display how the site is coded. From there, you may easily see if your site is code heavy compared to yours. Next, click Ctrl + F to look for specific elements such as title, description, h1, h2, h3, h4, and other meta tags. In using the tool, you simply need to input your rival’s domain in the provided field. The tool will generate an analysis of the site.

Recommendations are often provided at the bottom. You can do this for your site and that of your competitors for a clearer overview of how your website structure SEO-wise differs.

Evaluate the content strategy

Undoubtedly, it’s difficult to come up with content ideas on a consistent basis especially when you think you’ve everything about your niche. (Or have you really?) It’s extra challenging if the niche or industry you belong to is not specifically fast-changing, which means you are stuck with limited topics to discuss and relate to your audience.

Your first stop is—yup, you guessed it right—your competitor’s blog. However, you won’t just select articles you want to rewrite and publish on your own blog. That’s not the way things should be. Instead, study the content strategy from the ground up. Which topics have the most shares? What tags are commonly used? How frequent it publishes an article? These are the things you should look at.

Copying is not your goal, but to draw inspiration from your competitor’s content marketing strategy. For instance, you may put new twists and insights on topics that your rival has already covered. Or, of course, you can always write about things that it hasn’t covered yet.

Assess the UX strategy

Matt Cutts often say that white hat SEO is also about improving the overall usability of the site for the search engines and more so for the users. A highly functional website has become the epitome of user experience (UX). And again, speed, which is now considered a ranking factor, is just one factor.

Another factor that significantly affects UX is the mobile-friendliness of the site. Not only should the website be viewable on mobile devices, but it should also render appropriately, with the right tap targets and legible fonts. Definitely, the images must be optimized as well.

When it comes to content, it should be readable enough, on both desktop and mobile. If your content is too long and if it uses words that are not easy for your target audience to understand, it may not show on the results pages. Google favors sites that score high in terms of UX analysis.

Mirror the link strategy

Manual link building is tough, but building valuable links is critical in SEO. So what you should do especially that Google and other search engines are relying on backlinks as one of the ranking factors? Check and mirror the link building strategy of your competitor.

You will need tools for this task such as Moz’s Open Site Explorer (OSE) and aHrefs. Also, you’ll need the domain of your competitors so you can input it on OSE and aHrefs. You can do this one by one or through a multiple competitors analysis. From here, you may analyze the backlink profile of your rivals. These are the sites and pages that link to their sites.

You may approach this method in two ways. First, you may mimic the strategy, and second, you may adjust your own link building strategy to make it more unique, capitalizing on the list of backlinks of sites that appear on search engine results pages (SERPs) other than yours.

Analyze the keyword strategy

Although the use of meta keywords tag is no longer recommended, there is still value in utilizing keywords in your copy. It is the primary anchor of relevance particularly long tail keywords, which Google takes seriously when it comes to positioning websites and pages in SERPs.

Search visibility is, in fact, measured through the use of keywords that a site is trying to rank for as well as the volume of the targeted keywords in the main content. This means you need to understand what keywords your competition is ranking for and how they integrate those keywords into their content. They are using them most organically. Devise a strategy based on your analysis.

What you want to do is to determine if you have the same list of targeted keywords. You can look for opportunities to utilize low-competition keywords especially if your rivals are already dominating the high-competition ones. There are also tools you can use like SEMrush to determine the traffic percentage of the organic keywords of your competitors. The higher the percentage, the higher the volume of traffic and thus, ranking it delivers.

Replicate the social strategy

If there is one strategy that you can directly copy from your competitors, that would be their social media marketing strategy. One aspect you can explore is the social following of your rivals.

On Facebook and Twitter, this is pretty straightforward. You simply need to go to their pages on Facebook and profiles on Twitter. Study the demographics of their followers, and you can connect with them too on an individual level. On Twitter, you may also look at the list of the individuals, groups, and companies that follow your competitors. Follow them too.

Another aspect to explore is the delivery and presentation of content. How frequently do your rivals publish an update? What types of content are they sharing? What are the optimal times? Look at their posts with the most engagement (likes, shares, comments, retweet, etc.) to have an idea of their social content strategy. Duplicate what works for your rivals.

Once you’ve looked at these sources, it will be easier to devise your own unique SEO strategy. There is value in doing all these things.

1) Differentiating your brand

If you have a clear grasp of your target audience, target niches, and target platforms, it will be easier for you to make your brand stand out in the digital arena. You must grab all your competitors’ missed opportunities and turn them into valuable and inimitable on-page and off-page strategies. This is perhaps the biggest challenge of an ever-changing industry.

2) Improving your weaknesses

Your strengths are your competitors’ weaknesses and vice versa. As already mentioned above, you have to admit that your competitors have strong points digitally and SEO-wise, and you have your own shortcomings. Knowing how your website performs against the competition, you can now improve on these flaws and work your way up the ranking results.

3) Avoiding some strategies

It’s your brand we are talking about here, and most certainly, you have a reputation to protect—a reputation that perhaps took you years to build. Don’t ruin it with poor SEO tactics. Now that you know what works for your website and that of others, you can take the good strategies and discard the bad ones. Start at a lower level though like discovering types of content and keywords that perform best for your competitors.

SEO is a very competitive world. Everyone knows that. That’s why firms are relying on the services of an SEO company in the Philippines or anywhere else for that matter. Indeed, your competitors are the main reason why you are optimizing your website, working so hard to build search visibility and capture the audience and traffic that your rivals currently enjoy.

The premise is that if a rival ranks higher—even by just one position—more likely, it will have a greater volume of traffic share. And traffic and ranking are cyclical. Rake in more traffic, you’ll website rank higher. Rank higher on the search engine, you’ll site will receive more traffic. That’s reality, and that’s the reality that we need digest and work upon if we want to topple the competition.

A competitor analysis is another SEO reality. Although it may seem crazy to bank on competition, the thing is you can always learn a thing or two from your rivals—things that you may not be even aware of up to this day. Outline above are some of these things from technical SEO to social strategy. Your goal is not to copy, but to draw inspiration and adjust your own SEO strategy to make your competitors’ strategy work for you.

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