5 Competitive Research Tools To Boost Your SEO Performance
By Jon Rognerud (c) 2008
An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning
into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage. –
Many people may believe that obtaining top rankings in Google
is nearly impossible. The competition for page 1 is fierce and
it seems daily there is yet one more marketing must have that
you must learn and apply to achieve top positions.
This is partly true. There are general markets that are hotly
competitive, such as real estate, health and beauty, weight loss
or general medical supplies. Niche markets present an easier
opportunity to predict and/or manage the outcome of specific
Far from being an exercise in futility, top listings drive
traffic and can lead to tremendous success online. You may be
surprised to learn your competition can help you get there
faster. Do not overlook the value of competitive intelligence in
Search Engine Marketing.
When performing competitive research, the goals are to
- What methods and channels your competition is using, i.e. are
they using social media such as video or social bookmarks?
- How entrenched a competitor is and how hard it is to unseat
- Link prospects, so you can trade links, host articles and do
Competitive research should be an integral part of your SEO
strategy. While it is sometimes painful to review and compare
yourself to your competitors, it will always result in you
improving your business and strategies.
There are several things that you can do to uncover competitive
information and here we’ll cover:
1. Who is Top “Dugg”?
Social book marking sites can yield a wealth of information
about your competitors and target market. What are the top
stories in your niche area? This can help you to shape content
that will draw your target audience. Check your competitors to
see if they have any diggs and if so for what type of content.
There are many social bookmarking sites such as Mixx, Reddit and
StumbleUpon. Digg has a large content base which makes it a good
site for assessment.
2. Determine Link Popularity.
Using tier 1 keywords, do a Google search. Pick the top three
ranked Google sites. Take this information and check the link
popularity using marketleap.com (http://www.marketleap.com/
Take note of the number of incoming links. You want to review
sites with the lowest number of incoming links and highest
Google rankings. Do not limit your review to Google but check
Yahoo and MSN results as well.
3. Perform Keyword Research.
Use the search term suggestion tool at inventory.overture.com,
and look for keywords and their permutations with a good search
volume. Continue looking at the tier 1-type terms until you spot
an opportunity to build on. Use other tools like Google keyword
(free) and keyworddiscovery.com [http://www.keyworddiscovery.com/]
(paid). Use the keywords you select in this step by adding pages
to your site, a common and ‘must-do’ SEO practice.
4. Find Sites to Target.
Go to Google and enter “allinanchor: tier 1 keyword” If your
tier 1 keyword is weight loss you will type “allinanchor: weight
loss.” This will restrict the results depending on the number of
links coming into a site based on that key word phrase. You are
using this to determine sites from which you will target links.
You can combine this with “allintitle: ” as well – showing
keywords used in tag of your pages(s).
5. Read Their Content.
Read and keep competitive marketing messages you receive in
email or traditional mail. Review the messages, call to action
statements, and special offers. What are they doing to engage
customers and encourage them to buy? How does this compare to
your marketing messages? Visit their website and compare it to
your own. Is the site easy to navigate? Does the content
encourage conversion? Do they emphasize call-to-action
statements like “download a white paper,” “sign up for this
newsletter” or “buy this product now”? Are they using long tail
keywords, such as “weight loss products for women in South
Beach?” If they are using this method, you should consider
employing it in your efforts.
Competitive research is an integral part of any marketing
Competitive intelligence provides valuable information about
your market, trends and your position. Include online and
offline channels in your research to get a comprehensive view of
your competition. Use tools like UrlTrends to track your
progress and SpyFu to look at advertising costs, giving you an
indicator of your competition’ s activity, spending and strategy.
The hard work is worth it as someone once famously remarked,
“competition breeds excellence” and that excellence can result
in a dramatic upside to your bottom line.
Jon Rognerud is a recognized authority on the subject of SEO
(Search Engine Optimization) , and has spent over 15 years
developing online solutions at companies like Overture and Yahoo.
His business, http://www.chaosmap.com, provides informative
articles and resources about search marketing.