Who Are You Up Against? Sizing Up the Competition
While Bing-Yahoo! and Google battle it out to win the hearts of searchers around the world, businesses everywhere are locked in a similar struggle for your attention and dollars. But before you dedicate resources to beating the competition, it’s important to be sure of whom your competition is. With an environment like the World Wide Web, your SEO competition can be anyone and everyone, and can change daily. It helps to know simple tasks that can be performed about once a month if you’re in a very competitive space. So, when tackling the question of who your worthy opponents are, the process may go a little something like this.
1. Identifying the Usual Suspects
Start with the SERPs. With your targeted keywords close by, find out who’s leading the pack in terms of SEO efforts. Search for terms you want to rank for to see what sites are being granted rankings, and for terms you do rank for to monitor the shifting space. Use tools like comScore, Compete and Hitwise, which offer statistics about Internet traffic to websites and collect usage data. They also provide info on how much a site is bidding for certain keywords, which gives you a good idea about the value of that keyword to their business.
2. Playing to Your Strengths
With the goal of being the least imperfect, analyze ranking sites for what they’re doing that attracts the favor of searchers and search engines. And also evaluate where their weaknesses lie and how you might outperform them in areas. Do they lack engagement objects? Do they have a blog? Do they have product reviews? Are they listed in local search if they’re a brick and mortar? Think of all the angles where you can get ahead of the current leaders. Think of user intent when searching for your offerings, and deliver content that matches that intent through a variety of ways.
3. Keeping Sight of Conversions
Achieving rankings is little advantage if traffic doesn’t convert. If you’ve reached a level of ranking success for a targeted keyword and you find it isn’t converting, evaluate if the problem is with the keyword or with the landing page. If the keyword isn’t well aligned with your conversion goals, it isn’t worth your time and effort to manage and optimize it. However, if you think the keyword is bringing qualified traffic, it’s probably time for some conversion rate optimization, especially on key landing pages. Perform competitor research regularly to be sure you’re aiming at the right target and staying nimble in the battle for rankings, traffic, and ultimately, conversions.