Use Competitive Analysis to Rank Higher in Search Results
Competitive analysis is often overlooked in digital marketing strategies, as search marketers instead focus on keywords and backlinks. Without successful competitor intelligence, however, it will be a challenge to really succeed in the SERPs. For your brand to have a strong digital presence, ranking well on the SERPs is nonnegotiable.
BrightEdge research has shown that as much as 51% of your traffic arrives through organic search. Customers today are online. They have taken control of the early stages of the purchase process, as they have become the ones who go looking for answers, rather than waiting for salespeople to come to them. This explains why 81% of customers and 94% of B2B buyers will perform searches before making a purchase.
While many brands set out to employ some of the latest SEO strategies to capture this traffic, they neglect a key part of the puzzle. SEO is a zero-sum game. For you to rise in the rankings, someone else must move down. You cannot just try your best to optimize your material without also taking into account what others do in their own online strategies. To really succeed online, you must be able to outsmart competitors and uncover new opportunities to improve rankings. You can use competitive analysis and competitor intelligence to find new aspects of a strong digital strategy that you might have otherwise overlooked.
Types of Competitive Intelligence to Employ
There are two main types of competitive intelligence that you will want to use as you build your digital strategy. The first type of competitive intelligence is done on a large scale. It comprises uncovering your online competitor brands and looking at their keyword targets, rankings, and content strategies. You will look at data that might even help uncover competitors you did not know existed, such as an exclusively online seller that does not compete with you at all in the brick-and-mortar sector. With SEO it’s important to think of a competitor as any entity that ranks higher than you for your essential keywords, whether or not it is an organization you traditionally consider a competitor.
The second type of competitive analysis will be more granular. As you develop content and optimize it for particular keywords, you will want to look at the pages that already rank highly on the SERPs. With the right insights, you will be able to see what makes this content stand out and rank highly, such as the backlinks going to the content and how often they use the keyword in question. You can then use these insights as you write and optimize your own material, looking for weaknesses in the other content that you can capitalize on to drive your own material higher up on the SERP.
Both types of competitor intelligence are important in the creation of a successful online strategy. Understanding where competitors are, and how they pursue their SEO strategies, must be considered every step of the way. For more guidance, download the BrightEdge eBook, 4 Proven Steps to Competitive Analysis.
Putting Keyword Gap Analysis to Work
Perform large-scale competitive analysis against some of your known competitors. Look at their overall success online. Through the BrightEdge platform, you can obtain this information in the Data Cube score.
You can then perform keyword gap analysis to see if there are keywords for which they rank well that you do not. Use this information to enhance your tracked keyword groups and get new ideas for your content teams. Take baseline metrics to see how well you rank compared to others on your main keyword groups. Perform high-level analysis to see how well you rank on the keywords that matter the most to your organization.
On the BrightEdge platform, you can easily use the Share of Voice feature, which allows you to see how much of the digital space you occupy for groups of keywords, as well as how well other websites perform. Look at individual keyword rankings and the securing of rich snippet space, such as Quick Answers. The clearer the picture you can obtain, the better your understanding of your progress will be. Look at the overall strategies of your biggest competitors.
You want to focus on your online competitors, which means that if you found any new ones while looking at the Share of Voice metrics, make sure they also have a place in your analysis. Look at their content strategies, such as their Quick Answer placements, local 3-pack rankings, and image search placement. This will help you gain a firmer understanding of the strengths and weaknesses in their digital efforts, so you can find your own areas to improve. On BrightEdge, this can all be done through the Data Cube.
Look at the top ten pages ranking for your targeted keywords. Once you have outlined your competitive analysis and you understand the keywords you will target, begin by looking at the top ten pages that rank for these keywords. Look at information such as the backlinks pointing at the pages, where and when the keyword appears, and the quality of the content. Look for gaps that you can use to advance the ranking of your own material.
Put Competitive Intelligence to Work
Start by building off the competitive gap analysis. Create high-quality content that fills in the gaps left by competitors. Target your content towards your audience. Remember that competitive intelligence can help you create a superior strategy, but the basic principles of SEO still hold true: your content must be created primarily for those who will consume it. Engagement and traffic will impact how well your content brings in customers, and therefore revenue.
When you are creating content, your primary goal should be to create interesting and useful content that aligns with the consumer’s search intent. Incorporate essential keywords in a natural and relevant way and be sure on-page SEO – the structural elements of the page are up to snuff. Here is an on-page optimization checklist for additional guidance. Finally, before you publish content it’s important to audit those pages to ensure that they are properly optimized and provide the best performance for the end user. With Google now ranking against technical measures such as page speed and core web vitals, the right content can still perform poorly in the SERP if the page’s technical performance is poor.
From a competitive standpoint, you will want to ensure that the content and landing pages that you are publishing load faster and provide a better user experience than your competitors. Focusing on technical elements and UX elements of your landing pages, and how they compare to competition, will help your website get a leg up in organic SERPs.
Use a hybrid approach with your paid search team to boost your visibility in challenging keyword groups. If your keyword gap analysis uncovered keywords that have a high level of importance for your competitors, but the top ten ranking sites have high levels of optimization and you struggle to gain SERP placement against them, incorporate your PPC strategy to maximize your presence.
Using your PPC and organic channels together in a complementary way will help you get tangible results on a larger, more competitive list of keywords. Like any SEO effort, track your results as you progress with your competitive efforts. Look for improvements in your rankings and traffic, increase your Share of Voice for important keywords and see how this correlates with site revenue. Track spaces where you have overtaken your competitors outside of just rankings as well, such as rich snippets.
As you create a lasting digital marketing strategy, you must remember that there is more to succeeding in the SERPs than following only standard SEO best practices. You must also consider what your competitors are doing and how you can out-maneuver them. In the competitive space of digital marketing, your success will be limited if you don’t incorporate competitive analysis.