Killer Competitive Analysis Tips For Your Online Business Success
Blogging is a tough world out there and lots of newbie’s are jumping on the bandwagon to grab a pie of the online money making success. Besides setting up of the blogging platform (WordPress) which is one of the easiest to set up, maintain and run, the key factor to the blogging success is proper keyword research, competitor analysis and ultimately outranking the competitors on their own keywords – organically. There is another dimension that is increasingly becoming popular in online marketing domain – the social media. If you want to stay ahead in the game an exhaustive research has to be done on what your competitors are doing on social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus etc. and how to formulate a strategy to beat them. In this post we will tackle this problem in two ways first outranking the competitors on the Search engine optimization space and then we’ll take up the topic of how to gain an edge over your competitors in the Social media optimization space.
How to outrank the competitors on SEO parameters:
This might sound easy at first but do remember it takes a lot of research, analysis and proper strategy to take the place of competitors. Here are few steps that every blogger should incorporate in his/her blogging strategy so that he gets top ranked for his keywords, eventually gets business and success in his venture:
- Identify your competitors: The first step in this direction starts with identifying who are your real competitors. Make an excel or spreadsheet denominating the domains of the competitors.
- Add the domain age to the list: This can be easily done by using the whois data and finding out when the domain was registered. The older the domain (assuming all other factors are dealt with SEO acumen) the harder it will be to beat the competitor.
- Check the PageRank of the competitor and note it down: There are many PageRank Checkers which tell the data fairly accurately. By noting this data you are quantifying the parameters, which you require to beat the competitor.
- Check the Alexa Rank of the competitor and note it down: Though the Alexa Rank is not that good a parameter to judge a website’s authenticity or capability to rank, but it is still popular among the SEO community and a website with high Alexa rank commands greater respect than those with low alexa.
- Find out the number of pages indexed in search engines for that particular website: This will give you an idea of the size of the website you are dealing with. The bigger the site with authentic content the more effort it will require to outrank it.
- Extract the keywords of the competitors: This can be done in two ways either you mine the data from meta keywords tag or use the google adwords tool to find out the keywords for a a particular page or a website. Both ways you get a set of keywords for which the page or website is optimized.
- Find out the strength and weakness of your competitors: This can be a crucial point in competitor analysis. Not everyone of your competitor is expected to dominate the entire business domain. There will be some segments in which one of your competitor’s ranks higher than the other and vice-versa. Find out these domains and put them under each of the competitor’s domain name. This way you will be able to draw a competitive landscape which gives you a clear insight on which domain to focus initially to get the maximum leverage.
- Find good keywords to compete via KEI: KEI means Keyword Effective Index. This is a good indicator on which keywords to focus on initially in order to get organic rankings fast.
Suppose the number of searches for a keyword is 486 per month and Google displays 214,234 results for that keyword. Then the ratio between the popularity and competitiveness for that keyword is 486 divided by 214,234. In this case, the KEI 0.002. The higher the KEI, the more popular your keywords are, and the less competition they have. That means that you might have a better chance of getting to the top.The KEI compares the number of searches for a keyword with the number of search results to pinpoint which keywords are most effective for your campaign.
- Check the backlink profile of your competitors: Backlinks are the main factors in getting a page or a website ranked high on search engines. A good backlink profiling tool like MOZ or LinkAssistant will help you find out the sources of backlinks your competitors are getting from, the page ranks of pages from which backlinks are being generated, the nature of domain like .edu, .org, .com, .info, the age of the domain from which the backlinks are being generated and the anchor text of the backlinks. This is a really valuable data and gives you instant insight on where to target your backlinking efforts. For example if you have mined this data for a particular competitor you can follow his backlink profile and build a similar backlink profile for yourself over a period of time. So the learning curve is reduced. In the same way this data can provide you with intelligence on what kind of mistakes are your competitors making, so that you can avoid them and focus on quality backlinking efforts.
- Grading your competitors for on page SEO factors:There are many tools like MOZ which help you grade your online content and many WordPress plugins also help you to improve your on page content for search engines. The more optimized and usable your on page content is the better is its chances of getting ranked.
- Here is a list of On Page factors that shouldn’t be ignored. The factors are listed in the order of importance.
- Keyword Use Anywhere in the Title Tag
- Keyword Use as the First Word(s) of the Title Tag
- Keyword Use in the Root Domain Name (e.g. keyword.com)
- Keyword Use Anywhere in the H1 Headline Tag
- Keyword Use in Internal Link Anchor Text on the Page
- Keyword Use in External Link Anchor Text on the Page
- Keyword Use as the First Word(s) in the H1 Tag
- Keyword Use in the First 50-100 Words in HTML on the Page
- Keyword Use in the Subdomain Name (e.g. keyword.seomoz.org)
- Keyword Use in the Page Name URL
- Keyword Use in the Page Folder URL
- Keyword Use in other Headline Tags (h2 – h6)
- Keyword Use in Image Alt Text
- Keyword Use / Number of Repetitions in the HTML Text on the Page
- Keyword Use in Image Names (e.g. keyword.jpg)
- Keyword Use in b or strong Tags
- Keyword Density Formula (# of Keywords ÷ Total # of Terms)
- Keyword Use in List Items on the Page
- Keyword Use in the Page’s Query Parameters
- Keyword Use in i or em Tags
- Keyword Use in the Meta Description Tag
- Keyword Use in the Page’s File Extension
- Keyword Use in Comment Tags in the HTML
- Keyword Use in the Meta Keywords Tag
- Here is a list of On Page factors that shouldn’t be ignored. The factors are listed in the order of importance.
This concludes our first part on how to outrank your competitors on SEO, on page, backlinks, pagerank and other vital parameters. A point here to mention is that never ever adopt spammy techniques like duplicate content, building links too fast, building links from irrelevant domains, building links from bad neigbourhoods, not maintaining anchor text diversity, buying links and submitting same entries to multiple article directories and link directories. These kind of practices are increasingly being penalized by Google. It will land you in a big trouble and in the worst case might get you totally banned from Google index. Getting ranked high for competitive keywords in main index of any search engine is an arduous task, but if done diligently and while following the webmaster guidelines carefully can take you places.
How To Beat The Competition In Social Media Domain:
As search engine optimization both paid and organic are important for a website to rank in search results, search engines are increasingly giving important to how good your website or page is popular among the social media circles. Accordingly they are changing their ranking algorithms to incorporate social media indicators in the search rankings.
According to Danny Sullivan:
Obviously, it’s important from an SEO perspective to understand if links carry any ranking weight, if “authority” matters on Twitter or Facebook, if Facebook “likes” help with ranking and so on and so forth.
The three main social networks out there which are influencing the ranking factors are Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus in that order. Facebook has the largest user base followed by Twitter and Google Plus is still a new entrant in the social media domain, but given the enormous number of Google accounts and the emphasis it is putting on social media it is catching up fast.
The main social media indicators are:
- How much Facebook Shares or likes does your post or website have.
- The authority of sharers, who is sharing your link, website and what is his social reputation. Needless to say the share of an influencer will matter more than 100 shares from newbies.
- The number of Tweets and Retweets your content gets.
- Again who is Tweeting your contnent and what is his social profile.
- The Agent Rank – How many circles in Google Plus do you as an author belong.
- How many Google Plus followers do your website have.
Profiling the social media of your competitor: This is the first step towards formulating a social media strategy towards your competitor. Get data on how much Facebook Likes they have, and from whom, similarly get their Twitter Data, how many authors of that blog or website are present in how many Google circles and what is the number of Google Plus for that website. This profiling will determine the challenge you have to overcome in order to compete with them in the social media domain.
- The social media strategy begins by having an active and effective presence on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus, more if you like.
- Design good landing pages for these sites so that it gives a professional impression and promotes your brand value with corporate identity.
- Integrate social sharing functionality into your website and place them on site and pages in such a way that they are easily visible to users who want to share something from your website.
- Show socia feeds from various social media platforms like Twitter on your website sidebar so that people know what is being talked about your brand or content you promoted.
- Share all the valuable content your website has to offer to on its social media platforms. These could be contents, infogrphics, excel worksheets, pdf files, slides, podcasts, videos.
- All the content have not to be generated in house in fact you can follow the influencers on the social media networks and share their content Retweet their content and even thank them for providing such valuable contribution to the community.
- Add Facebook like buttons to articles.
- Enable visitors to post article links on individual Facebook status.
- Enable share content functionality with unique messagin.
- Let visitors become a Facebook fan on the website
- Define a posting calendar and give ownership to a person in your organization so that the posting frequency is maintained. For example if you decide to post to Facebook Daily, Tweet twice a day, post a Youtube video once a week, Share an infographic once a month etc… once you have this calendar in place stick to it. In fact a good benchmark will be to compare this posting calendar with your competitors and try to outpace them with quality posting so that you get an edge on social media.
- Ask each of your resources from organization to contribute or at least come out with an idea for social media promotion. This will inculcate diversity into your posts and bring in new ideas which might go viral and give you an immense benefit.
- Respond to all likes, retweets and comments on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Use videos and photos to share stories.
- Engage in conversations, post relevant content, provide statistics and facts, provide perspective and support connections (through re-posts and returns tweets for example)
- Promote your social media links in emails, newsletters, portfolios, letter heads and whatever sensible means you can do. Spreading awareness about your social media presence will only boost it.
What to share on social media?
This is a common dilemma faced by many social media marketers, what to share, when to share, how to share etc. The latter two when and how to share have been dealt with above but what to share still remains a pressing question for SMO.
If you are unsure on this matter here are some pointers that could take you miles ahead of competition:
- Share your income reports
- Information about any new campaign launched, its collateral, videos and other distributables.
- Contests around your products or services
- Information about a particular product or service
- Customer service requests and troubleshooting tips on products.
- Customer reviews about your products
- Product manual, training videos, code of conduct and official announcement for staff
- Pictures about the celebrations of holidays, birthdays and other occassions on your campus
- Questions and their solutions about your products
These are some of the ideas, there is no limit to what you can share. The only thing is to be courteous and graceful while doing so particularly if you are endorsing a brand.
Bonus tips to outwit your competition:
- Don’t go for exact match domain names unless its is your brand or you are going to put some really great quality content on it.
- Provide features in your website design to facilitate accessibility. By this we mean that people with disabilities should be able to access your pages easily.
- Give a good thought on making your website more useful for users, navigation, breadcrumbs, alt tags, title tags etc. give due importance to them.
- Design your website user interface so that it reflects your corporate identity.
- If you want to maximize your SEO revenues and profits over the long-term, you should keep it clean.
SEO, PPC, SMO are some tools and techniques that most of the online marketers use to generate relevant traffic and be profitable online. The enormous amount of competition that has mushroomed in almost every domain poses a very difficult challenge to a newbie online entrepreneur. If you want to be one be sure to read this post and do comment on what more need to be done in order to come out with flying colors.