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BACK TO BASICS: SEO Competitive Research, Part 6: Data Analysis

BACK TO BASICS: SEO Competitive Research, Part 6: Data Analysis

by: Bradley Leese, June 2006

Introduction

In the Part 5: Data Collection, we discussed how to collect and organize data for ongoing reference and analysis. This article will confront the very critical process of data analysis: what it is and how to create reports for the most effective competition research. The goal is to clarify how to approach the most valuable categories and examine the most critical reports.

Data Analysis Categories

As you may remember, in Part: 5 Data Collection the outline of the four main categories to consider are Link Popularity, Search Engine Optimization, Site Architecture and Content,. This article will further explain why certain data categories are vitally important and how to analyze each information source to better understand both your own site and that of your competition.

Link Popularity

Link Popularity is becoming an increasingly complicated formality as search engines attempt to combat spam. Not only should the number of inbound links be tracked, but so should the quality and context of the incoming links. It is vital to track the changing link popularity landscape by reading all search engine webmaster guidelines for insight and significant algorithm updates. What may be considered good SEO one month, may reverse into forbidden spam the next.

Search Engine Optimization

All Search Engine Optimization begins and ends with keyword density. Consider each element, whether it is traditional Meta tags or overall keyword/content balance. Record and track every element you suspect is critical and track these changes for all competitors. Careful monitoring will help to highlight which elements are valued and which have a small priority. Site Architecture

How your competitors choose to organize information (directories/folders) on their site will have a major impact on keyword relevance. This is another way of saying that the actual physical location and grouping of content has great significance to how a search engine will evaluate keyword relevance. Analyze each of your competitors' sites and record each unique calibration. Create a report that evaluates which site's organization is seen as "most relevant" based on who is rewarded the highest rankings and receives the most consistent site indexation.

Site Architecture

How your competitors choose to organize information (directories/folders) on their site will have a major impact on keyword relevance. This is another way of saying that the actual physical location and grouping of content has great significance to how a search engine will evaluate keyword relevance. Analyze each of your competitors' sites and record each unique calibration. Create a report that evaluates which site's organization is seen as "most relevant" based on who is rewarded the highest rankings and receives the most consistent site indexation.

Content

Content must be evaluated on several levels, quality, quantity and originality. Each will require meticulous tracking and analysis both as separate parts and as the compound whole. Content quantity is presently considered the only important issue and truthfully does have huge implications by comparison to how much content competitors maintain. The content quality, however is often overlooked and is rarely considered with sufficient scrutiny and also plays a vital role in content grade or merit that contribute to high keyword rankings. Finally, the amount of internal or external duplicate content is perhaps the least tracked and least scrutinized of data sources that directly cause devastating effects on site indexing and SERPs.

Automated Reports

The SEOToolSet®, combined with LinkMaps™, offers unprecedented access to reports and project-length report tracking for the majority of data analysis categories. In some rare cases, manual reports have their purpose but tend to curtail reporting ease.

Link Popularity

LinkMaps™ has a set of powerful tools that go far beyond what most of our clients and subscribers have had an opportunity to explore. These detailed reports go further by analyzing who is linking to you and scrutinizing every factor that weighs into the algorithm of link popularity and PageRank.

Link Analysis

The Link Analysis report, not to be confused with the LinkMapsT Pages, identifies who is linking to your site with the URL, PageRank, and Search Engine Index Status. This report can easily be saved as an Excel spreadsheet for easy reference and long-term tracking.

Link Analysis Report


LinkMaps™ Reports

There is a wide spectrum of additional reports within the LinkMapsT tool. The first is the LinkMapsT Report, which provides the link URL, Title tag and anchor text from the incoming link. In addition, it provides the number of links coming to the site at large, a list of individual inbound links and a summary of each instance of anchor text that is used from incoming URL links.

LinkMaps Report


Characteristics Reports

The Characteristics Report provides even greater evaluation and analysis of the inbound links coming into the site. The report provides IP Analysis, B-Block IP Analysis, PageRank Analysis, Whois Analysis and Anchor Analysis. Each report gives a unique look at the nature of link popularity and insight into how to improve overall rankings by paying close attention to these details on an ongoing basis.

Characteristics Reports


Search Engine Optimization

The SEOToolSet® includes a huge range of reports to analyze each category going into the search engine algorithms. There are multiple of ways this data can assist you; the first being to save each individual KDA for each of your major competitors. Another option is to copy the most valuable details and enter them in to a spreadsheet for manual analysis. Use whichever format you feel will be the easiest to reference over the long term.

Single Page Keyword Density Analyzer

The Single Page KDA imitates how search engines spider and categorize your page, noting each major element and then analyzing keyword density, frequency and distribution. Pay close attention to each major element, as it provides critical insight into what search engines value. This also includes how content quality is interpreted through the Kincaid Grade Level, distribution, frequency and density.

Single Page Keyword Density Analyzer


Multiple Page Keyword Density Analyzer

The Multiple Page KDA can compare your pages to your competitors in order to evaluate which the engines prefer and why. Again, saving these reports in their HTML source format or within a spreadsheet both provides different advantages. We recommend using whichever format will be simpler for you in the long term.

Multiple Page Keyword Density Analyzer


Competition Ranking Report

One of the most valuable reports within the SEOToolSet® is the Competition Ranking Reports. It provides a clear breakdown of how you measure up to your competitors across all major search engines. Saving these reports will be a major advantage when reflecting on shifting of search engine rankings.

Competition Ranking Report


Manual Reports

We have already discussed instances where extracting detail from large, dense reports is beneficial. An additional benefit to storing data within word processors, spreadsheets and Web applications is when those applications provide a better fit based on the report requirements. Manual reports are especially useful for managing content.

Spreadsheet Reports

Spreadsheets allow for easy comparison of large quantities of data and offer the ability to create several reports within the same file. An added benefit is that the SEOToolSetT is designed to be compatible with a grid spreadsheet format, so copying and pasting data into cells is simple.

Spreadsheet Reports


Word Processor Reports

Word processor reports are a perfect fit for storing code changes or content updates. The Merge and Comparison tools found in Microsoft Word and Word Perfect provide clear documentation for ongoing changes.

Word Processor Reports


Web Application Reports

There are a number of online applications that do a good job of rendering reports related to duplicate content and specific link structure analysis. In the example below is a free tool that analyzes the percentage of similarity between two competitor pages.

Web Application Reports


Next: Part Seven, Site Strategy

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You have analyzed the strengths and weaknesses of major competitors, now it is time to make short and long term goals to dominate your competitors.


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