What is SEO competitor research? - What you need to know

What is SEO competitor research? – What you need to know

By Luke on December 21, 2011

What is SEO competitor research? - What you need to know

SEO Competitor Research – How is it different to regular competitor research?

A lot of people have recently been asking the question “what is SEO competitor research”?  This is something that should be done by your SEO company before they are able to give you a quote for a campaign, without it, how can they possibly know how much work is involved to compete effectively in the rankings for your chosen keywords?

SEO competitor analysis is very different from your normal competitor analysis. For example, if you have a furniture shop, you may think of some of your main competitors as DFS or Homebase etc.  However, if you are specifically targeting a single area such as Greater Manchester or targeting some more niche keywords, your online competitors could be very different.

Online competitors

Online competitors are the websites that currently rank for the keywords you would like to be ranked for.  To get an idea of the level of competition, you first need to analyse the performance of your own website in comparison to say the top 10 competitors in Google for your keyword such as “bedroom furniture”.

What SEO factors are we looking at?

Rather than looking at normal competitor research factors such as the size of the company, we’re focusing primarily on the SEO performance factors of the website.  These include factors such as:

How old is the domain?

  • Domain age can attribute to the level of trust and authority the site has, as viewed by the search engines. New sites are often seen as suspicious or less trustworthy as they have a higher chance of being spam.

How big is the website?

  • The size of the website can be a big contributing factor. A website that has 10,000 pages will have more authority than a website that has 5 pages, plus it has a greater scope for things like internal linking as well as naturally achieved links to its inner pages, which will increase overall strength.

What is their PageRank / MozRank?

  • Although not really an important factor anymore, the PageRank and MozRank scores are used as an indicator to the quantity and quality of links to the site. If you have a PageRank of 1, but your competitor has a PageRank of 5, there could be a lot of work to do to achieve the results you are after.

How often is the site updated?

  • Google likes content; especially fresh, unique, good quality content. How regularly is the site updated? What is the quality of the content like?

How well optimised is the site?

  • Is the website well optimised, or is it simply doing well because over time it has achieved some good quality links?  Do they have a clear on page strategy being employed? Is there anything you can learn from analysing their website.

How many links do they have?

  • Assess how many links the site has.  Look at not only the quantity but the quality of the links, as well as the link diversity. Many websites may have 1,000’s of links but they all come from a single domain or network.  Are there any good quality links that you can also obtain (low hanging fruit)?

What is their internal linking like?

  • This is referring back to their onpage strategy, but a well thought out internal linking strategy can be very powerful, especially as the site builds in size over time.

In summary

Detailed SEO competitor analysis can take time, and can be a long process.  However, it is critical to the success of your campaign.  As a result of the analysis you may discover that your initial keywords were perhaps too competitive without requiring significant investment, and there are other options available that can get quicker results.  Long tail keywords variations are often easier to rank for, and while they have fewer searches per month, they can have a much higher conversion rate.

If you ever get a blind quote from an SEO company, ask them how they came to get that cost. If no SEO research has been carried out, how did they calculate the amount of work that needs to be done? It’s always good to use SEO specialists, as some website design agencies might offer SEO as a service, but this is really focused on onpage changes as opposed to an overall SEO campaign.

To find out more about SEO competitor research, contact us!