Companies naturally have a shared interest in watching over the competition. Whether in manufacturing, automotive, computer, web, and other industries, you need to be able to benchmark your current brand’s position so you consistently make progress one step at a time.
The same concept also stands true for companies that compete for the first page in search engine results pages. And while search engine crawlers monitor a known set of factors and metrics, every website has unique SEO secrets that make them stand out from others.
It’s commonly known that the advent of online search and the internet provides you with more opportunities and factors to look at when spying on your competition. Aside from that, widely available digital marketing tools can help track your website metrics and give you a bird’s eye view on your niche.
In other words, you can utilise marketing tools to monitor your web performance and gather relevant data on your competition, so you can uncover the most vital SEO secrets that your competitors are hiding.
Competition has always been a vital element in a thriving niche or industry. Furthermore, competition helps in:
- Preventing leniency and over-confidence
- Motivates development and innovation
- Imposes better performance across all corners of your business — from R&D to marketing, to consumer satisfaction, and customer service
On the other hand, learning about your competitors’ search and marketing strategy will help determine how you can outplay them in terms of search ranking and organic traffic.
Now to help you outsmart your competitors, we’ll discuss the best practices that will help you identify your top competitors and learn how you can outrank them using relevant and useful methods.
Determining Your Top SEO Rivals
Chances are you can already name the giants in your industry, but not your direct SEO rivals. Most of the time, the most prominent brands are not necessarily your direct competitors in SEO.
What’s more, is that you may have several SEO competitors that are outside your niche and would also need to beat them in search engine results pages (SERPs).
In that case, you need to implement cutting-edge SEO strategies to rank within the top 10 in specific searches — since you’ll deal with a broader search competition. This is always the case, regardless of your niche and industry.
It is important to note that your top competitors for SEO, are websites that likely rank within the first search results page of your target keywords. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the same industry or not. What counts is that their website will always appear first when someone searches your target keywords, they are occupying where you want to be — so you’ll have to outrank them.
On the other hand, determining your competitors is as simple as typing in your target keywords into Google and listing down all domains that appear on the top spots of search results. You can also utilise your competitor analysis tool by plugging in your keywords and letting the tool do all the work.
Regardless with or without an analysis tool, you still need to keep a close eye on the SERP landscape that you’re competing into. If videos and interactive contents dominate the top pages, then you probably need to craft similar content to compete.
SEO Hacks to Analyse a Competitor Website
A word to the wise: before you dig into analysing your competitor, it will be best to figure out what you want to learn from them first. Otherwise, visiting your competitors’ sites may end up wasting your time.
Thus, begin your competitor analysis and research with specific goals in mind. Are you looking to:
- Increase your organic traffic?
- Compare your strengths from the competition?
- Improve your search engine ranking in your target keywords?
- Learn where your competitors advertise?
- Enhance your social media strategy?
Knowing your key objectives will help you utilise your time effectively and avoid wasting resources that could be useful in developing your own SEO strategy. With that, here are some practical techniques you can follow to analyse a competitor website and reveal their SEO secrets.
1. Implement an Effective Content Gap Analysis
No content marketing strategy is perfect — and in most cases, you’ll need to find out which keywords your competition is ranking for that you aren’t.
Content gaps are lists of page content and keywords that top-ranking competitors have that lacks in your site. Leaving content gaps unchecked will decrease your chances for a better ranking. Thus, you have to fill in the gaps in your content marketing strategy by carrying out a hyper-effective content gap strategy.
But how do you actually do it?
Using site explorer tools that have content gap analysis can help you identify which keywords your competitors are ranking in which your website isn’t competing for the top 100 Google search results.
To do that, you have to identify your top competitors first and plug in their domain in your content gap analysis tool to identify keyword opportunities that you can leverage to level your websites with the competition.
2. Use Sitemaps to Gain Insight on Competition
Aside from spying on content gaps and learning which keywords you should work on, sitemaps are another critical element that you can look upon to gain insight into the competition. Moreover, you can view your competitors’ sitemaps to find out how often they update specific pages on their site.
Put simply, sitemaps are HTML or XML documents that list down all pages in a website. Websites have been using sitemaps before to help visitors understand their pages. But now, sitemaps offer more benefits for search engine crawlers and are not typically “a click away” to most visitors.
While most website sitemaps have gone incognito, you can still find them easily. Sitemaps are usually located in the website’s root directory so that crawlers can quickly find them. In fact, most CMS platforms automate the XML creation process and save it at the same location.
With that information, you can almost always find your competitors’ sitemaps at ‘websitename.com/sitemap_index.xml’ or ‘websitename.com/sitemap.xml’.
However, if you still end up empty-handed, you can create a version of their sitemaps for yourself. Just open an XML Sitemap Generator tool and plugin your competitors’ URL. The tool uses a website’s index pages and sub-index folders to generate a sitemap which you can then save and compare to your own.
Now that you have what you need, it’s time to open your own sitemap and paste the URLs in a blank spreadsheet. Utilise one column for every competitor and one for your site to figure out why their website is winning and yours may not.
- Do their sites have more pages than yours?
- Is their content better structured than yours?
- Do they have particular pages and keywords they are ranking for?
- Do they have pages that you lack?
- Are their blog posts optimised for a lot of keywords?
- How often are they making updates to their pages?
By asking yourself these questions, you can benchmark your website from the activities of the competition and identify the areas which you can improve upon.
3. Monitor Competitor Blogs and SEO pages Using Nibbler
A large majority of competitive websites have invested time and resources into placing specific search terms onto the pages of their site. As a result, the competing website will have therefore completed all the keyword research you need to incorporate onto your site to try to compete for the desired results.
Nibbler provides information regarding how dense the websites pages are in terms of content, displays the incoming links to the website, and most importantly provides to you an insight on what specific search terms are used inside each heading tag onto the site, in a nice visual way. Successful competitors will utilise heading tags with relevant content as it is good for search engine optimisation, and helps visitors without a visual browser gain access their content.
Can I Uncover SEO Secrets from Competitors Without Any Tools?
Technically, you can — but the planning and preparation phase will eat up significant amounts of time and resources. On the other hand, with only a few goals in mind, these out-of-the-box tools and SEO hacks can help you analyse a competitor website in a few clicks.
It is important to note however, that gathering data from competitors is half the battle. What awaits is how you’ll analyse it and gather insights to accurately benchmark your website and develop a strategy to level-out the competition.
Along those lines, you will need to seek advice from SEO experts to implement a data-driven and time-tested SEO strategy that’s tailor-fit from your current search ranking and niche.
Keeping an eye on your competition is essential in achieving and maintaining the sweet spot in search engine results pages. And unlike the early days, you now have a handle on competitive analysis to monitor and analyse your competitors. All it takes is to do your research, know your competitors, and compare your data to gain insights and benchmark your webpage.
What’s left for you to do is keep at it by making small but necessary improvements, keeping tabs on your competitors, and tracking your search rankings among target keywords. At Red Search, we help you develop a bespoke search engine optimisation strategy to secure your spot on the first page of SERPs and outrank the competition.
Reach out to our SEO experts at 1300 101 712 or drop your message in our contact form.