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Assessing Your SEO Competitors

Assessing Your SEO Competitors

Written by enCOMPASS Agency

Every business owner wants their website to rank high atop the Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP), commanding plenty of attention among targeted search engine users. But of course, search rankings never happen in a vacuum. Even as you try to optimize your online visibility, you have countless competitors who are doing the very same thing. So, as you seek higher rankings, it’s critical to pay attention to what those competitors are doing, ensuring your own SEO efforts retain an advantage.

Assessing SEO competitors is a multi-step process. In this post, we’ll share a few basic tips to get you started.

How to Assess Your SEO Competitors

Start With a Self-Inventory

When you size up the competition, you’re ultimately comparing their SEO positioning to your own. As such, it can be helpful to have a good understanding of your own assets and advantages. Here are a few guidelines for your own self-inventory.

  • Create a list of the SEO keywords you’re using; plus, the ones you’re planning to use.
  • Take note of your current Google search position.
  • Gather data and analytics about your search traffic; how much you’re getting, and where it’s coming from.
  • Be sure you have a clearly defined niche and target audience.

Being able to accurately describe your own SEO situation is a good first step toward understanding your competition.

Identify Your Competitors

The next step is creating a good, working list of your top competitors. Having a list of 10 or 12 competitors is usually more than sufficient.

So, who qualifies as a competitor? For our purposes, competitors are seeking the same target audience as you, and are ranking for the same set of keywords. If you run a brick-and-mortar business, your competitors should also be local.

Once you begin to identify some potential competitors, check to see if their websites outrank yours for relevant search queries. This can help you to assess whether you’re the top dog or the underdog in your field.

Review Your Competitors’ Content

Once you’ve identified who your primary competitors are, the next step is to spend a little time reviewing their content. Look for weak spots that you might be able to exploit (e.g., content gaps that you could fill), but also for strengths that you could emulate.

Some specific tips:

  • Be mindful of the kinds of content your competitors are making. Are they focusing on blog posts, or are they more invested in videos, podcasts, etc.?
  • Take note of competitor pages that seem to consistently rank well in the SERP. There’s no shame in trying to imitate these pages, so long as you don’t plagiarize or copy verbatim.
  • Also take note of any pages that don’t seem like they’re ranking well. There may be obvious reasons for these poor rankings, such as outdated content. Such pages may prove easy for you to outrank!

Pay Attention to Keywords

It may be pretty obvious which keywords your competitors are using, especially if you notice the same words or phrases routinely showing up in headings, subheadings, and metadata. Additionally, you can take note of any long-tail, conversational, or Q&A-style formatting, which can be indicative of a particular keyword focus.

Beyond just simple observation, there are plenty of digital tools that will allow you to take stock of competitor keywords. WebCEO’s Competitor Keyword Spy program is just one example.

Analyzing competitor keywords can be a great way to determine some terms and phrases you could be incorporating into your own site. Additionally, this type of keyword research can point you toward some new directions for content development.

Monitor Regularly

We often emphasize the importance of data and analytics, noting how the right metrics can help you keep tabs on how your marketing and SEO efforts are progressing. In addition to monitoring your own metrics, you’ll also want to keep an eye on what your competition is doing. In other words, this isn’t just a one-time thing, but something that should be a regular part of your digital strategy.

In addition to regularly checking the rankings for your target search terms, you might even want to set up automatic alerts for some of your top competitors, letting you know when they generate new content that needs to be reviewed and assessed.

Gain a Competitive Edge in Your SEO

Search engine optimization is never a one-and-done kind of thing. On the contrary, it requires constant vigilance. And part of that vigilance is being aware of what your competitors are doing.

As you consider different strategies for boosting your online visibility, we welcome you to contact the enCOMPASS team. We’d love to chat more about local SEO strategies, and to speak more broadly about how to improve your digital approach. Reach out to our team whenever you're ready to start the conversation.