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BACK TO BASICS: SEO Competitive Research, Part 7: Site Strategy

BACK TO BASICS: SEO Competitive Research, Part 7: Site Strategy

by: Bradley Leese, July 2006

Part 1: Information Gathering

 

Introduction

In this Site Strategy article, we will discuss how to organize and execute a strategy to overtake a major competitor. The creation of a site strategy will build upon all the conclusions rendered from each preceding article where we identified specific competitor data. This article will clarify how to create an ongoing game plan to prioritize the steps through goal oriented achievement. Learn the steps that will be necessary to stabilize and dominate the competition, one competitor at a time.

Enemy Number One

The more specific your target the greater chance you have for ranking success. Tailor the site strategy to compete with one primary competitor to ensure the greatest level of success. In almost any field there is likely to be only one main rival. It is often not the same competitors that compete in other domains such as TV, radio or other types of internet marketing. Rather, organic search is unique and often unseen in common marketing arenas. Instead of trying to guess who your major competitor is, reference our prior articles on competitive research to confirm your answer. In Part 2: Identifying Competitors we discussed how to recognize your ranking rivals.

"Identify your website's true competitors by analyzing high conversion keyword phrases."

After tireless evaluation of your site and identifying the most relevant keyword phrases, go to each of the most relevant search engines and identify the top competitors for each phrase. Repeat this process for each of your high conversion and high activity phrases and then compare across keyword phrases. The site that rises to the top SERPs with the most consistency is the true competitor to beat. It is important to keep this data organized and at hand as it can help you in several different capacities.

Table from Part 5: Data Collection

 

Measurable Parameters

 

With a primary competitor in mind identifying the areas of variation are much more approachable. Remember, Google has identified more than 100 different parameters that play into how their algorithm ranks websites. In Part 3: Measurable Parameters we identified how to make the most sense out of which categories are likely to have the greatest impact. By studying the search engine SERPs it is possible to identify the areas where the competitors have the greatest advantage. By studying each of the top 10 competitors for all your keyword phrases you may identify these parameters with incredible clarity.

Data Collection

In Part 5: Data Collection we identified four elements that have a major impact on rankings: Site Architecture, Link Structure, Search Engine Optimization, and Content. Each category is critical to gaining high rankings within all major search engines. However, they are four factors among 96 additional major issues that your competitors might be successfully implementing. It is critical to account and collect all parameters and eliminate only those that have been researched exhaustively without result.

Part 2: An Actionable Plan

 

Introduction

 

Begin the site strategy in the broadest terms possible by identifying the site's most important goals. Specifically identify what you hope to accomplish by implementing a site strategy. Define how you will know you will have successfully researched your target. Clearly write out the goals that will confirm the success of a site strategy.

Site Goals:

  1. Increase Traffic from X to Y
  2. Increase Sales Conversion from 1% to 3%
  3. Increase Repeat Customer Retention

Clearly stated goals are powerful guides for everyone involved on the project. Capture each category identified during competitive research and prioritize which category will have the largest impact. Organize all categories so that the tasks will be completed in the order of their priority.

After major categories have been organized it is critical to divide each category into specific attainable category specific goals.

Category Goals

All category goals should begin with a clear plan in order to expect any measure of success. With the competitive research completed you now know exactly why your competitor is ranked. Prioritize the most important factors and write out clear attainable goals. Set a clear deadline for when you expect to have all these goals completed. Be realistic. Don't set deadlines that you will not complete on time. Don't write down a deadline if you don't intend to complete it. Review your goals on regular intervals and with each completed goal measure the ranking result. Remember to weigh all your increase in rankings as even minor changes can have huge site-wide results.

Refill the Well

Now that each goal has been completed and all prioritized categories have been define, how close did you come to meeting your goals? If you were successful then you should go back and address the number two competitor and begin again. However, if you were unsatisfied with the results there is still hope. Begin by returning to Part 3: Measurable Parameters and reevaluating the parameters. Could there be another category that was overlooked? Chances are that there is a another opportunity that has escaped your notice until now.

Hard work alone will not be enough to achieve high rankings, high conversion and high customer return rate. However, hard work combined with clear goals is a deadly combination. How effectively were you able to accomplish your goals? Did you choose attainable goals or was the bar set too high? Return to your site strategy and reprioritize. Make clear, bite-size goals with finite deadlines.

If you decide that you have exhausted your search for the holy grail of ranking categories then return next month for the final Competitive Research article Part: 8 Troubleshooting Techniques.

Next: Part Eight, Troubleshooting Techniques

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We will discuss the actions necessary to identity and eliminate the major evasive issues that often are overlooked in the competitive research discovery process.


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