At what stage does ongoing active monitoring of competitors come into play in the grand scheme of an SEO campaign?
The digital world can be pretty cutthroat. It’s not enough to simply be aware of who your competitors are, you also need to be aware of what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. Not only will this help you to stay competitive, you can critically evaluate what works and what doesn’t – without needing to take a trial and error approach with your own content.
While the prospect of corporate espionage might sound like the obvious way to get the scoop, there are easier ways to find the information you need than stalking a rival SEO Manager.
The magpie approach – borrow your way to a better SEO strategy
SEO is a mixture of attracting customers and outdoing your competitors. It’s best to assume that your competitors are doing at least as much as you are when it comes to SEO strategy. Gaining an in-depth understanding of what your rivals are doing will help you work out why they’re doing it, why it’s working for them and how you’ll be able to emulate or improve their tactics.
It’s not about copying; it’s simply about seeing why customers are choosing a competitor’s products or services over your own. If you’ve ever wondered why you can’t get that critical lead on your rivals, then monitoring is an essential part of strengthening your SEO strategy.
Want to be on top?
Now you’ve decided to begin performing competitor analysis it’s time to learn the best tools in the trade. Not only will they make it easier for you to keep tabs on what’s going on in your industry, it’ll take the pain out of the process and make it easy to automate. Here are a few of most useful competitor benchmarking tools, as described by Accuranker.
Google alerts are there to monitor content. You can configure them to pick up on specific queries and alert you when new content appears. This is perfect for discovering when anyone publishes anything that is important to your competitors, from brand terms and sales activity to sponsored blog posts and PR activity.
You can choose to receive notifications in real time or as a daily or weekly roundup.
Link Research Tools
Backlinks, when done right, are an invaluable boost to your SEO rank and will generate new customer leads. Monitoring competitor backlinks can reveal new sites to outreach to. Link Research Tools’ Alerts can be configured to send a notification every time your competitor gains a new link.
Advanced Web Tracking
This handy tool will cut down the time you spend generating competitor reports by automatically generating ranking results. You can perform direct comparisons between your performance and your competitors, and see what’s working for you and what isn’t. It’s an easy way to finding out what your competitor’s top content and best performing pages are, and how you can use this to improve your own approach.
‘Less is more’ is often the best approach to take with keywords. Try and own the most important keywords for your brand and product and don’t worry about the hundreds (maybe thousands) of vaguely related keywords. AccuRanker can be set to monitor your competitor’s keywords, which will show you exactly how well they’re performing and illuminate what the strategy behind it is.
The phrase ‘content is king’ has been bouncing around the world of marketing for a while now, and while it’s becoming a cliché, it’s doesn’t detract from how true it is. Feedly allows you to set up blog RSS feeds on anything you want, meaning you’ll always see when your competitor publishes new content.
Being able to see a clear and concise display of your online visibility compared with up to three competitors is invaluable. SEMrush does exactly this. It will provide an indication of how your organic and paid visibility stacks up against your competitors.
It has a number of features such as SEMrush Competitive Intelligence and SEMrush Advertising Research, which will analyse what keywords your rivals are using and how they’re using them in ad copy, as well as scan domains for the most used keywords. In turn this will help you to uncover competitor strategy and inform how to strengthen your own strategy and/or counter theirs.
Social channels are a treasure trove of information about your competitors and potential audience. All of their content is out in the open, which makes it very easy to find it. The key is keeping track of it in an intelligent way. Creating lists on social channels should become an essential part of your routine.
As with any analysis, data for the sake of data doesn’t help anyone. Whenever you review a competitor’s social channel, make sure you keep track of stats and figures as well as a qualitative review. The quality of content is as important as following and engagement, but without establishing a benchmark it can be difficult to review it in context.
To begin with, try and keep track of the following:
- Social followers
- What content performs best
- Number of backlinks
You’ve now got a list of competitors, the tools to analyse them with and soon you’ll have more data than ever. Your SEO strategy is about to become super heroic!
Tom Clark is the director of the Brighton-based SEO & PPC agency, Convert Digital. His emphasis is put on technical SEO audits and outreach campaigns, complimented with PPC.