SEO competitor analysis is one of the most mis-understood yet most critical aspect of successful SEO implementation. If you have been following my blogs, you know that keyword research forms the backbone for any SEO strategy. The better and more precise you are at it, the better will be your outcome. The article on advanced keyword research will help you dig deeper into keyword research strategy. But which keywords should you target?
Once you have analysed and created your first set of keywords, it is important to analyse whether it is “worth” trying to optimise for those keywords. What I mean by this is, whether a keyword has enough search volume and low competition for you to optimise. If it has very low search volume or high competition, then optimising for such a keyword will not yield enough leads/’sales/visitors to your website, which defeats the very reason you started optimising in the first place.
Most webmasters look at monthly search volume as the “only” parameter. However, what they fail to realise is, website ranking depends on 2 parameters:
- Number of competitors
- Strength of competition
The key to successful SEO is to find keywords for which the number and strength of competition is less. Your business does not exist in isolation. There will be multiple businesses trying to optimise for the same keyword as you are. They are your competitors. Your job is to find out how strong they are.
The analogy is the same as; you are planning to enter into a boxing competition. You have the option of joining either one of the 2 competitions. One has 50 competitors and the other has 20 competitors. Which one will you opt for?
Now let’s say, you are given the option of picking your opponent. One opponent is a trained heavyweight professional boxer, and the other is a rookie boxer who has never competed. Who do you think you want to fight?
The same holds true for SEO Competitor Analysis. In the war of SEO, the trick is to pick your battles which you can win.
Now, let us get down to actionable steps which you can implement to ensure that SEO works to your advantage and you reap a good ROI for your efforts.
SEO Competitor Analysis - 9 Steps to find low competition keywords
1. Take your First Keyword and search it on Google TLD of your choice. Let’s say, one of the keywords you have shortlisted is “TV Repair Bangalore”. You have done the required research from Keyword Planner to find out that this keyword has a reasonable search volume. Now you search this keyword in Google.co.in.
2. Check total results
For the keyword TV Repair Bangalore, Google is showing 20,00,000 results. This is your total competition.
Now let us take another Keyword Samsung TV Service Center Bangalore
This has 6,61,000 results.
This means keyword 2 has lesser competition than keyword 1, according to Google.
Does this mean, you should straight away jump into optimising for Keyword 2? No, hang on. Now comes the second part of the analysis, which is, analysing the strength of the competition.
3. Look at the top 10 search results. Ignore News Results, Google local results and Wikipedia articles. The rest are your competitors on Google. They have optimised for your target keyword and are now ranking on Google. Your job is to analyse the strength of each to understand if this keyword is worth going for.
4. Use SEO Quake to find PR, Domain Age and Page Indexed
One of the first things to do is install SEO Quake chrome extension. You can do so from Chrome webstore. Once you have installed the extension, search the keyword again in Google.
SEO Quake gives a wonderful snapshot of the strength of each competitor. It gives Page Rank, number of Indexed pages, Domain Age etc., which are powerful indicators of domain authority.
5. Check On-Page Content of Each Competitor
SEO Quake also gives on-page analysis of each link. This is how you can get the data. Open the competitor link. Click on the SEO Quake Icon on the toolbar.
Click on Page info…
Page info gives all on-page details of the URL. In this case, we chose the URL of Yellowpages which was ranking #1 for the chosen keyword.
You can drill down in this analysis page to check for keywords in title tags, meta tags as well as inside the content. If you see that the keyword or variations of the keyword exists, that is a strong signal that the competitor has optimised for this keyword.
6. Use MajesticSEO/Ahref/Moz to analyse domain strength
You need to have a paid subscription to either of these 3 products. These products have developed crawlers to simulate Google’s algorithm. They have defined their own ways to calculate Domain Strength, Page Strength and Backlink details.
As you can see from this Majestic screenshot, the URL has 0 external backlinks. The Trust Flow (TF) is 5 and Citation Flow (CF) is 10. (More on TF and CF here). As this is an inner page of the site, I also checked the details for the homepage
The root domain has 265 backlinks from 68 domains. TF is 8 and CF is 20. Any website which has a TF below 20 is a reasonable competitor for SEO. A good rule of thumb is to check the Backlink to Domain Ratio ~ 5:1. If you see ratio going as a high as 20:1, thats a sign that too many backlinks are coming from 1 domain (which adds little value to domain authority). Using Majestic can help you understand the backlink profile of your competitors and can help in your own backlinking strategy.
7. Analyse Backlinking
Once we have analysed the TF and CF for the website, it is now time to check for backlinks and their quality.
We found out that the domain has 265 backlinks. If one can strategically perform backlinks, 265 backlinks can be achieved in few months. But, the number 265 does not give us any information on the quality of those backlinks. Therefore we need to dig deeper. Always remember, it is the quality of backlinks that count and not the quantity.
We need to check the TF, CF of the backlinks. As we can see that most of the backlinks are coming from weak domains (TF< 10), this means that backlinks are not very powerful and are not of high quality. This is a good indication that this competitor which is ranking in 3 is a reasonably easy target for SEO.
Another metric to determine quality is the Tropical Trust Flow (TTF) of the Backlinks. If you see the TTF of the backlinks, then you will see that a bunch of backlinks are coming from websites in the niches of Computers/Internet, Reference/Education etc. As this is a home appliances repair company, the referring domains should be in the genre of Home Improvement. This will give a strong signal to Google that the domain is an authority domain as it is getting backlinks from other websites in the same niche.
When we analyse the Anchor text, we realise that this website has not targeted the same keyword for backlinking which we are targeting. They have not used variations of the keyword either. Anchor text is a good determinant factor for SEO. An exact match anchor text tells Google that the linking website thinks that this website is relevant for that keyword. (However, there are certain rules to anchor text, which if not followed properly can penalise the website)
8. Repeat Steps 3-7 for other competitors
This will help you make a good analysis of all the competitors who are coming in page 1 for your target keyword. If you see weak domains (as per our analysis) ranking, then you can safely include that keyword in your SEO strategy.
9. Repeat Steps 1-8 for all Keywords
You have listed out a bunch of keywords which are relevant for your business. Now you need to take 1 keyword at a time, run it through points 1-8 and eventually decide whether it qualifies or not.
Are there any other strategies to perform competitor analysis? Do share your thoughts below.
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