SEO Competitor Analysis

July 8, 2008 // Search Engines

Understanding where your client sits in an industry landscape is just as important as the SEO that is implemented. It’s this kind of analysis that shows how achievable it can be for a new websites to achieve success and by what measures. Clients have repeatedly asked me how long will it take to achieve good rankings? Well you could use a selection of research tools to look at the landscape, the search volumes, the competitor activity without looking at competitors individually but looking at this data won’t give you specifics.

Now from the clients brief you should understand what your client does, what products or services they sell and their USP. From this information you should be able to establish your core list of keywords, these keywords are usually the top performing keywords (the hard ones!), use the search engines to benchmark the top 5 competitors in Google, Yahoo and MSN – depending on your client you may need to look at foreign or international search engines to produce an accurate list.

So you will have a list containing he “big guns” as you will. Next you need to find out what your “clever competitors” are doing. Use keyword suggestion tools to find any highly searched keywords that could be used by your client (in website copy) and find the top 5 competitors of those terms.

You will see a lot of correlation in competitors but this is to be expected, now to get a more precise understanding of who’s doing what! I always use the following metrics and suggest you do the same:

  1. URL
  2. Title Tag
  3. Meta Description
  4. Meta Keywords
  5. Homepage header tags
  6. Total backlinks
  7. Domain age
  8. IP address
  9. IP location
  10. Registration details
  11. Page rank
  12. External links from homepage
  13. Key backlinks
  14. Most used anchor texts in links
  15. Page rank distribution
  16. Percentage of link types

Using this data from 20 or so competitors will give you a clear understanding as to what works in your clients industry online. You will see how many links and the kind of quality you will need to match, you will find additional keywords that may have slipped the net, plus more competitor insights! When deciding on keywords it much more than simply looking at what is “Googled” a lot and targeting that keyword.

Matt Ridout

About the author

My name is Matt Ridout, I've been working in digital marketing for 9 years; worked for agencies and currently Head of SEO at fashion startup called Farfetch. Try to test my own theories.