In our keyword research guide we went into a lot of detail on how you can analyze your competition. However, many times people just don’t have the time to spend hoursanalyzing their competition on every keyword. Want a better and quicker way that still gets results? Today we are going to go over how we at Rank Jane analyze competition quickly when we need to, especially when we have clients who are targeting many keywords. This strategy works, and it works well, if you want to speed up your competition research process than this is definitely the strategy for you.
- Don’t worry about backlinks –
This is something that always seems backwards to most SEO guys. However, if we want to quickly analyze our competition we don’t really need to worry too much about backlinks. Why is that? Well take a look at the number of backlinks for the top 5 sites of any keyword. You’ll notice that some sites will have thousands of backlinks, while others will only have 20. Why is this? It’s because there are other ranking factors that affect websites much more than backlinks.
Backlinks are important to look at if you are doing in depth research. They can tell you a lot about a website, and certainly the power of a high quality backlink can do wonders. However, we have found that if you truly want to understand a websites power there are many other things you can look for. Usually if a website is powerful in these other aspects that we will go over, it lets us know that they have a strong backlink profile anyway.
So we know it may sound strange, but ignore backlinks for now, you don’t need to worry about those. Instead put a higher emphasis on these other traits that we are going to go over today. You will quickly find that your analysis is easier than you expected, and that it will go much quicker than before, yielding the exact same results.
- Social Shares –
A huge factor of SEO competition comes down to social shares. The larger websites that are more powerful these days all have a lot of social shares. In fact, it is almost impossible to find a website that ranks well for keywords that doesn’t have a lot of social shares.
So which websites should you be paying attention to? There are five main ones that you should always look at.
The first one you should always look at is Facebook, Facebook is the biggest social media site on the internet, and is a good indicator to your website power, and your competitor’s website power. Take a look and see if they have a presence on there, do they have a fan page? How many likes does it have? Most web pages these days have a button that allows you to share their articles on Facebook, do they have one? How many shares does their page usually have? This gives you a good idea of how many you will probably need to have in the future to beat them.
Next take a look at Twitter, Twitter has been huge for years, and is certainly better in certain niches than others. Look and see how often their articles usually get tweeted, do they have a lot of followers? This should give you a good idea of the Twitter presence that you will need in order to compete with your competitor.
The next one to look at is LinkedIn, LinkedIn is more often than not used for business purposes, but it is still important for websites. Research on it like you would research a Facebook, take a good look at the number of shares and how many people are commenting on each share, this will give you an idea of the power of your competition.
I also then like to check Pinterest, some websites don’t use Pinterest at all, and unfortunately they are missing out on a lot of traffic. Pinterest is a great way to build a quick following, and if your competitor isn’t using it take note, that means that you have an area that you could easily beat them in. Google does take notice of these things.
The last and of course most important one to take a look at is Google+. Google+ is owned by Google, and seems to make a huge difference in SEO. How many times is the average article shared on Google+? Does your competitor have a big following on Google+? Are their articles shared their often? This will tell you how strong the website is according to Google, and it will show you a lot of the true competition.
The goal in your research is to take note of how powerful your competitors are. Then you will want to make a list of your research and decide how strong your social profile will need to be to beat them. I always do my best to try to compete and beat the strongest sites, so I shoot to get more social shares than the site that has the most. The key is to set up a good social media campaign and to start sharing as much as possible. You will watch as your traffic will quickly grow and your rankings will pass your competitors.
I would highly recommend ahrefs to track social signals to any web urls. See below image for information
- Indexed Pages –
This is a big factor; look at how many pages your competitor has indexed. I would recommend that you use this software to do so. The more indexed pages your opponent has the stronger they are in Google. I have read that some people hypothesize that the number of indexed pages doesn’t matter, and may actually weaken your website.
According to our experience and research at Rank Jane this just isn’t true. We have noticed that the more indexed pages our client’s webpages get, the higher they rank. We have also noticed that web pages that have more indexed content tend to be more powerful, and harder to beat.
From our research we have gathered that some people don’t get effects from indexed pages because they don’t have unique content on their website. Unique content is key if you want to get results, and if you want to rank highly. Don’t set up an auto blog or copy someone else’s content and expect to rank, it is definitely well worth using unique content.
- Site Speed –
The speed of a webpage is extremely important in Google. You will want to do your best to try to beat the speed of your opponent’s web page. This is one that is often overlooked by web owners, and something that you can usually beat your competition in.
We like to use this pingdom in order to check the speed on webpages. Check your own website speed as well. You can usually improve your own website speed through plug-ins or by paying for better web hosting.
- Optimization –
This is of course key another key towards evaluating your competition. Are your competitors optimized for the keyword that you want to rank for? Do they have the keyword in the heading? Is it mentioned on the web page at all? These are things that you will want to look for. If all top 5 websites are optimized for the keyword, it will be harder to rank there. Likewise if they are not optimized, it will be much easier as they probably are not paying much attention to the keyword.
Optimization is a key aspect of keyword research. If your competitor has thousands of link shares and is optimized for your keyword you may want to go and check out a different one. If they aren’t optimized it is probably a keyword that you will want to go for, as basic on-page optimization can make a huge difference in Google.
SEO research isn’t too hard once you start to realize what really helps a site rank well. Using the above tools that we have mentioned, and just following those 5 steps, you will quickly be able to evaluate your competition in comparison to your own website.
The key is to pick keywords that are easier, and easier for you to rank on. Once you do rank for these keywords you will start to see a trickle of traffic, you can then start to aim for harder and harder keywords as your website grows, and as it grows in the eyes of Google. Don’t go for the harder keywords at first, they usually have the most searches, but it is extremely difficult if your website doesn’t already have a good base. Instead get a good backing behind your website and you should end up being fine.
Researching your competitions power in the search engines is the most important aspect of SEO. Make sure you go through and follow these steps, by skipping this part of your SEO you will just end up with poor results and a lot of wasted time and money. If you have any comments or questions feel free to leave them below.
Keyur gives small business and entrepreneurs SEO advice ranging from keyword density to recovering from Panda and Penguin updates.Who blogs frequently on RankJane. He’s also a technical SEO fanatic and a WordPress enthusiast.