Whatever the size of your business, you’re always going to have to deal with the competition. It’s a fact of life, but how do you deal with them? Should you ignore what they’re doing and stick to your plan regardless? With competitors, it’s time to put your ego aside and take a good look at what they’re doing – and how they’re doing. There are very few businesses that can’t learn anything from their competitors, and this is especially true when looking at SEO and content. Here are five great tips that will ensure you stay ahead of the pack.
1. Identify your keywords
Firstly, if you haven’t already done so, you need to identify the keywords most important to your business. To start with, you’ll be able to do this off the top of your head. Write down what you think the best ones are, using your knowledge of your business and industry. If location is important to you, such as ‘dry cleaners in Tamworth’, then this should always be included.
Your best friend for this process is Google’s keyword planning tool. It’s free – all you have to do is sign up for an AdWords account, and you don’t have to spend any money. Put in the keywords you’ve noted down, and make a shortlist that has the right balance of search volume and competitiveness. ‘Dry cleaning’ may have the highest search volume, but if it’s too competitive, you won’t have a hope of ranking well.
2. Choose your competitors
The next step may sound obvious, but choosing your main competitors is crucial. By doing some research you may find the businesses you shortlist surprise you. To find your online competitors, put your chosen keywords into Google and see what you get back. Look for companies that pop up more than once – they’re likely to be the ones you should look into further.
If you work in more than one sector, you may want to make different lists to keep things targeted. This is the first look you’ll get of some of your competitors’ websites, so keep an open mind and note down any sites or elements that particularly impress you, so you can come back to them later.
3. Do an SEO audit
To assess the quality of your competitors’ SEO activity, you should carry out a complete SEO audit of all their sites. Using suitable tools, look at aspects like:
- Domain authority
- Country and age of domain
- Search-engine performance (including Bing)
- All backlinks
- Ranking in Alexa
- Volume of traffic
- Social media statistics
Keep a record of all the stats in a spreadsheet to see where you need to concentrate your efforts, and whose results you should try to emulate. For example, if one site has a large number of backlinks, it’s worth looking where they’re from, so you can build relationships with similar sites.
4. Do a content audit
Next on your list is to do a complete content audit of the site. Look for the different content types they produce – case studies, white papers, ebooks, videos, podcasts and more – how many of each are on their site? This will give you a first look at what they’re producing and the size of your task. It will also indicate the resource you’ll need and whether you can do everything yourself or if you need to look at getting help from external copywriting services companies.
You’ll also need to analyse closely the topics they’re looking at. Try to categorise this so you can quantify it across competitors – this will help you identify areas other competitors are missing.
5. Evaluate quality, identify weaknesses and get going
You will now have a host of data and a solid idea of where your competitors are concentrating their efforts. You’ll also have a good idea of the standard they’ve set. This should be your baseline, and anything you produce must be better. Don’t worry about building on their success. If there’s content you think works then take it and improve it.
From a complete SEO and content audit you’ll be able to identify where your competitors aren’t doing as well as they could be. This low-hanging fruit is the best place to start to get results quickly.
What are you waiting for? Build out your SEO and content strategy and get going!
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