When it comes to establishing and growing a business, one of the most important things to consider is the competition. Depending on the market that you are entering or looking to grow within, there may be competitors that are more established which makes things difficult. In a competitive market it’s necessary to stand out in some way or another with a unique selling proposition. Maybe your product has better features or maybe you are able to sell the product at a lower cost. Whatever it is, it’s necessary to differentiate your business in some way in order to be successful.
The same concept holds true when it comes to developing an SEO campaign. Unfortunately one of the biggest success factors is completely out of your control, and that’s what the competition is doing online. When it comes to SEO, domain authority (or trust) is an important ranking factor. If you are a new business or just launched a new site, it will be difficult to compete with the competition that has had a website and been working at SEO for years.
When developing your own SEO strategy you’ll need to take a look at what the competition is doing in order to look for new opportunities. The first step is to decide what businesses are your SEO competition. If you are a small retailer, it may be true that you sell some of the same items as Macy’s, but Macy’s really isn’t a true SEO competitor. Due to the size and trust of the website and brand online, it’s nearly impossible to compete. True SEO competitors are the businesses that are relatively the same size and in the same market as your business. If you aren’t quite sure who your competitors are, conduct some searches for the keywords that you are looking to target, specifically long tail keywords, and see what sites come up.
Once you’ve decided on your top competitors, the first place to look is at their actual website. Spend some time looking at each page of the site to get a feel for how it is being used to market the business. What are the call to actions? Are they incorporating lead forms? Are the lead forms on every page? Take a look at the meta information for each page to see what keywords are being targeted. Do they have a blog? If so, what kind of content is included and how often is it updated?
The next item to analyze is the inbound link portfolio of the competitors. Using an SEO tool, pull a list of all of the inbound links that are pointing to a competitor site. This list can give you ideas of places that you might want to try and build your own links. However, you don’t want to merely copy all of the links that a competitor has for a few reasons. First, just because they have a link it doesn’t mean that it is a good link. When combing through the list, be aware of what kind of link is worthwhile and what is spammy. Second, if you only copy the links that they have there is nothing that sets you apart. The key is to find new link opportunities above and beyond what the competition has.
Another important competitor item to consider is their social media activity. Social media activity is now tied to SEO success since the search engines consider social signals. How are competitors using social media? What kinds of content/links are being shared? Are they using social media to promote or to engage in a two way dialogue? It could be possible that competitors aren’t using social media to its fullest potential so you can look for ways to stand out.
Image: Competition by Shutterstock