BACK TO BASICS: SEO Competitive Research, Part 6: Data Analysis
by Bradley Leese, June 2006
Previously, 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
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, 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 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
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 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.
The SEOToolSet® 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.
The Link Analysis report 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
You have analyzed the strengths and weaknesses of major competitors,
now it is time to make short and long term goals to dominate your