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Any good SEO campaign will begin with:-

  • Keyword research
  • On page analysis
  • Competitor analysis

Arguably the most overlooked element of these early SEO campaign stages is the competitor analysis.

What often surprises businesses when beginning a search engine optimisation campaign is this competitor analysis. For a start, it’s often the case that the companies you might traditionally consider your competition are not competing with you in SEO terms. The companies who are competing with you for search engine rankings could be completely different companies and some you have never even previously heard of. For the purposes of this, we’ll consider your competition to be the ten websites currently ranking top ten in Google for your main keyword(s).

But just what should you find out about your competitors before you begin?

Their Websites

Have a look at their websites. How are they using the keywords on which you will be competing with them? You should not be looking at this with a view to replicating, but to improving upon. You should also note the pagerank of their websites and any other key data.

Quantity of Links

You can use free tools such as Yahoo site explorer, or a number of premium tools available, to look at the number of links your competitors have from other sites. This can be a great indicator of how much and the quality of SEO work your competition is doing and should give you a good idea of what you will need to do to match and ultimately beat them in the search engine stakes.

Link Building Methods

Visit some of the sites linking to your competitors and have a look at the methods they are using to acquire these links. While you should look in the very least to match their links in terms of quality and quantity, you should also use this as an opportunity to identify things they are not doing that you can do to give you the upper hand.

Social Media

While you are analysing the competition, it’s worth taking a look at how they are using social media and how or if they are integrating this with their search engine optimisation campaigns. Again this could present an opportunity for you to identify something they are not doing.

It’s important to stress that competitor is less about finding ways to copy your competition and more about identifying potential strategies that could give you the upper hand. The information about their activity, both ongoing and previous, will be vital before you can really plan an effective SEO strategy.

Stacey CavanaghAbout the author:
This post is a contribution by Stacey Cavanagh of UK SEO and Digital Marketing Agency, Tecmark.

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