Spy vs. Spy: Competitive Analysis

Welcome to our continued coverage of SES San Francisco. My fingers are a little rusty since being off the conference liveblog circuit for the better part of this year, but I’ve had my double shot of espresso and I’m ready to go!

Who doesn’t want and need to learn more about their competition online? In this session, Jim Yu (@JimYu) of BrightEdge and Justin Fried (@Justin_Fried) of TPG are going to share tips and tools for competitive analysis.

First up is Justin Fried. He starts with: What if I told you your competitors are not very smart? There is so much information easily available to you. You just need a couple tips and tools on how to find it.

Look at view source if you have the time to do that. BUT, it can take a long time and truthfully, you can probably use your resources better. Ghostery is a great tool that you can use to find out which pixels fire when you reach a page. You can find out quickly:

  • What software your competitors are using.
  • Who your partners are advertising with.
  • What your competitors consider a conversion.Presentation Slide

Another tool is Copernic:

  • Keep an eye on competitor’s home page
  • Anchor text alterations
  • Changes to HTML tags
  • Landing page changes

Other tools for paid search is Spyfu and SEMrush. Here are some features he likes within:

  • Spyfu: The Combat tool shows you what keywords your competitors are using. Where are there missed opportunities? Another feature in Spyfu is ad text analysis. Shows you when they changed the ad text.
  • SEMrush: Shows you how much your competitors are spending and what it will take to competitive. Also, who else is ranking for your targeted terms? There are also features to show you the common keywords between paid and organic.

SEO and SEM is about money, not rankings. Know what your competitors are doing successfully and you will be more successful. This presentation will be up on the SES website and Justin’s Slideshare.

Next up is Jim Yu. He says people are spending more and more money and time on SEO. SEO is primarily a “winner take  most” channel. Look at a framework to systematically dissect the competition int his channel.

  1. Discover the competition
  2. Analyze competition
  3. Improve share of the voice

1. The competition varies by keyword set. Know the direct competitors versus search competitors. Define competition by share of voice — who has authority? Who are the top 10 results? The keywords will reveal the companies that have a share of voice.

How do you calculate share of voice?

Presentation Slide

2. Look at the types of keywords your competitors are using and their strengths and weaknesses. How are they leveraging their site to go after a keyword footprint? Look at the blended search results to find out how they are succeeding across channels.

Social is the new SEO frontier. Right now, the algorithms are going through a fundamental shift in signals for authority. This is a huge opportunity to build up an early advantage and leverage it. Measure your competition’s social over time.

3. Understand competitive strategies — What pages are ranking for which keywords? Are these KWs relevant to your business? Are you tracking these KWs? If not, track and optimize for them!

Understand the link profile and link quality of your competitors. Drill down by looking at keyword segments, page-by-page levels. Look at the different pages that are ranking well and the types of inbound links. Don’t forget about looking at on-page optimization techniques as well.

Then, take a holistic view of everything and measure the value of SEO.

Jessica Lee is the founder and chief creative for bizbuzzcontent Inc., a marketing boutique that focuses on digital content strategy and professional writing services for businesses.

See Jessica's author page for links to connect on social media.

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