One of the most frustrating experiences is typing into Google the perfect description of your business or product and seeing your competitors show up before you. Or even worse, seeing your competitors show up, but your site is nowhere to be found.
If seeing your competitor get these FREE impressions and clicks isn’t enough to kick your competitive spirit into high gear, here are some stats that will:
- 61% of internet users do research on a product online before making a purchase (Source)
- There are more than 3.5 billion searches on Google per day (Source)
- 30% of people click on the first result on Google and 75% don’t go beyond the first page (Source)
- 57% of B2B marketers stated that SEO generates more leads than any other marketing initiative (Source)
- 76% of people who conduct a local search on their smartphone visit a business within 24 hours and 28% of those searches result in a purchase (Source)
Now that you’ve made SEO a priority, the next step can seem daunting. With more than 200 SEO ranking factors, what should your business focus on that will make the greatest impact?
While there are general SEO best practices that apply to every website, the SEO strategy for websites can vary significantly based on what industry your business is in, what your business goals and priorities are, and the focus of this piece: what your competitors are doing.
Conducting an SEO competitor analysis is one of the best ways to identify what gaps your website has and how to close them. Here are the top 3 reasons your SEO competition is outranking you:
1. Your Competitor Has Better Content Than You
“Content is king.” If you’re in the marketing world, you’ve probably heard Bill Gates’ famous prediction of what will control the Internet more than once. And when it comes to SEO, Mr. Gates isn’t far off.
In a rare peek into Google’s algorithm, a Google representative said content and links are the two most important SEO ranking factors. We’ll get to links next, but first it’s important to understand what quality content means in the SEO world and how to determine how your content stacks up against competitors.
What does Google see as high quality content?
When search engines determine the quality of any given page’s content they look at a variety of signals that indicate if users would find the content helpful for each given query. These signals include:
- Uniqueness of the content
- Keyword and related keyword mentions
- Content length
- Spelling and grammar
- Readability of the content
- CTR of the page
- Shares of the content
How should I analyze my competitor’s content?
While it is still important to look at the metrics listed above, often the best way to compare content is to ask the simple question: which site’s content better answers the questions users are asking about this topic?
Often times this simple question opens up a stream of ideas on how you can improve the quality of your own site’s content, whether it be adding new copy to existing pages, restructuring your content, or creating new content altogether.
2. More Sites Link to Your Competitor
Another reason your competitors are outranking you may be due to the number of other websites they have linking to theirs. Links have been an important part of Google’s algorithm from the very beginning.
The idea of making links a ranking factor was founded on the principles of academic research papers. The more citations a research paper has, the more authoritative it is in the field. The founders of Google applied this same concept to the search engine methodology: the more links from other sites a site has, the more authoritative it is to Google. (Source)
Moz’s Link Explorer is a great tool for quickly comparing your site’s authority to your competitors. If your site is significantly lagging behind, growing your backlink profile needs to be part of your SEO strategy.
Growing your backlink profile can be achieved in a number of ways, but one that we have found as especially effective is influencer marketing.
3. Their Site is More Search Engine Friendly
Your site could have the best content in the world, but if Google can’t read your content then you may as well not have a site at all in Google’s eyes.
Ensuring that the content you want to show up in search results is fully crawlable and indexable is essential. Optimizing your robots.txt file, XML sitemap and auditing status codes are all part of this.
Just making sure search engines can read your content though is half the search engine friendly battle. As Google’s algorithm has matured over time there are a number of additional factors that go into how technically sound your site is.
Below are some of the most important technical SEO ranking factors:
- If your site is mobile-friendly
- Use of HTTPS
- User experience of your site
- How fast your site loads
- Use of AMP
- Use of structured data
Comparing your site to your competitors’ sites on all of these technical factors can help your team determine where your gaps are and how to overcome them.
Define Your SEO Strategy and Implement It
Analyzing your strengths and gaps compared to competitors is a great way to start forming your SEO strategy. Taking the time to do research ahead of implementing a strategy will help you set expectations with your stakeholders and ensure you are putting the time and resources into the changes that are going to make the largest impact.
If you don’t have the expertise or resources in-house, it may make sense to look into a SEO management company comprised of SEO experts along with content, development, design and analytics experts that can tap in when it makes sense. Either way, making SEO an ongoing priority will ensure your site stays ahead of Google’s always-changing algorithm.
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