It’s Halloween and things can get frightening even in the SEO world. Don’t be scared to find skeletons in your competitors’ closet. Surprisingly, your competitors can be your best friends when coming up with a great SEO strategy. These tips and tricks can help you stay on top so you’re not left at the ball with just one glass slipper.
1. Monitor Your Competitors’ Backlinks
This is the best way to find potential links when executing a new link-earning strategy. Monitoring your competitors’ backlinks will grant you that extraordinary knowledge about where they are getting their backlinks from, thus giving you a better idea of their marketing strategy.
As they say “knowledge is power.” Once you know where they’re acquiring their links, you can reach out to those same company sites, forums, etc. and ask them to try your product. As soon as they try your product, they may like it better and do a review on you. Better yet - they may become your customers and bring you more customers! Furthermore, they will pass on that precious, precious link juice.
How to do it: Positionly has recently partnered with Majestic to provide you easy-to-read backlink reports in a jiff. It tells you the quality score of the linking site, the anchor text, whether it is a follow or nofollow, and much more, so you are all set! How to get started? Sign up for Positionly and monitor your competitors’ backlinks, simply add it as a new website and begin tracking!
2. Watch individual Search Engine Result Page links
Always track how your keywords are doing compared to your competitors’ keywords. The best way to do this is not only by rankings, but also by the Search Engine Result Page (SERP) link the keyword is ranking to. By comparing the SERP links, you can monitor your competitor’s strategy by finding out what pages they care about, the content on the page, their title tag, and meta-description. Both their title tag and meta description can give you really subtle and minor clues on the phrases that they want to rank for and that they find valuable.
For instance, if I am ranking 3rd for the keyword “moon shirt new york city” and it’s linking to my homepage, but my competitor is ranking 1st for the same keyword but on an apparels page, I’d be curious about why that is happening. Once I check out their page, I can see they have incorporated the word “moon” in a direct way.
What is inside a site is extremely important for SEO and ranking factors. This helps the search engine crawlers understand what keywords you’ll want to rank for and allows you to appear in the SERPs for the desired keywords.
The indirect ranking factors, like the meta-description and title tag, can also play a role. They are ‘indirect’ because they account for the human element side of SEO, where searchers’ habits may have an impact on rankings. An example of this is the click-through-rate and bounce rate, which may be affected by title tags and meta descriptions. By monitoring, comparing, and contrasting your competitors’ title tags and meta-descriptions, you may get creepily inspired. Find a balance between making your title tags and meta descriptions keyword-rich and straightforward; enticing people to click is half the battle when it comes to gaining high-quality traffic.
How to do it: in Positionly, we make the process simple for you to keep on top of the SERP links of both you and your competitors. You can add competitors and we will automatically begin monitoring their positions, alongside the SERP link, for all of the keywords you are monitoring and rank for! You can compare them side-by-side or individually.
Protip: once you add them as a competitor in Positionly, you can also monitor their Alexa Rank! Alexa is one of the oldest tools out there and it is also one of the most trusted; it provides information on traffic data. Watch this and try to take over your competitors.
3. Constantly monitor, create, and repackage content
Instead of monitoring only the homepage in an SEO analytical tool, you can specifically monitor subpages. It’s great to know that your competitor’s homepage is ranking at the top for a certain keyword, but where is their blog ranking?
By monitoring the blog, or a different subpage specifically, you can come up with great content ideas and see where your competitor is missing out. Repackaging ideas with your own original content is a great way to begin ranking for similar keywords. There are loads of content marketing ideas out there — infographics, videos, articles, whitepapers, ebooks, etc.
Take a look at the most effective types of content:
Be careful though! Make sure the content is 100% original. You’re looking to fill in the gap that your competitor missed, not to copy their work.
How to begin with Positionly: add a subpage in the competitor section. You will see what they’re ranking for and how they’re ranking on that specific subpage.
4. Is their page properly optimized?
On-page optimization is a critical part of every website. You’ll want to make sure that your page is optimized for the keywords that are important to your bottom line… so do your competitors. It’s smart to run an on-page optimization check for both you and your competitors’ pages to see what they might be missing. Once you know what they’re missing, you can fill in that hole.
You should also see if your competitors’ sites are mobile friendly and if their page speed is considered to be optimal. Beating them on those ranking factors for all your pages could help push you up a few spots in a search engine.
How to: Positionly allows you to run unlimited on-page optimization checks on individual pages along with 5 of your main keywords. Therefore, you can test any of your pages and your competitors to overindulge (like a trick-or-treater with a fresh bag of candy). Positionly also has a great to-do’s section which gives you some more clues about optimizing your page for the better. Leverage the to-do’s against your competitors too.
5. Search Engine Optimization, not Google Optimization
Search engines are everywhere nowadays. They’re not just your conventional search engines; they are now important components built into sites like Yelp, Tripadvisor, Facebook, etc. Change your perspective! Your personal URL’s are no longer the king-size candy bars on Halloween night. It’s those little intricate fun-size treats like directories, social media and blog sites, that help fill out your candy bag. Do not try to compete with these powerhouses, instead, try use them to your advantage. Think of them as a big-brother supplement that could host the same or similar keywords as you and still drive traffic to your site or business! These will help you achieve maximum exposure for your audience.
You need to monitor these “other” search engines as competitors in Positionly to see which SERP link appears for them. Monitoring them can be especially helpful for local searches, where you tend to be competing in the citation realm. You want to own the first page of Google, Bing, etc. with your brand - not just your direct webpage. Those first three spots in a search engine are the most valuable places in search engine real estate.
These “other” search engines can uncover valuable information which can be really interesting for your long-tail keywords. I will use an example from a random coffee shop in Brentwood, CA, called Caffe Luxxe. It is not only a coffee shop, it also hosts art events. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume it would want to rank for the keyword, “coffee shop art cafe Brentwood.”
Take a look:
It is ranking 6th for that particular long-tail keyword, but Yelp is ranking 1st - and the SERP link is linking to a different cafe in Brentwood. It is recommended to check out that page which it is linking to and try to find out why. You can begin to optimize your Yelp page for particular types of keywords or phrases.
You can also monitor your own specific Yelp, Tripadvisor, or Facebook page in Positionly to see where and how your ranking. This could give you some valuable insights.
Also, your competitors’ blurbs and notes on social media can show up in the search engines as well. Take a look at the two examples below:
It’s best to monitor all of those public citation, social media, and listing sites to see what is coming up online by both your competitors and yourself. You might be surprised.
Most importantly, for any review site, you need reviews to rank higher! Therefore, it would be beneficial to ask customers to write reviews for you. In return, you can offer a coupon or a free drink! Also, make sure everything on your site profile is up-to-date and consistent with your location online.
PS - Don’t be scared of any negative reviews. Handle them like a champ by responding back to the person directly and in public. Once, I had a terrible experience at a restaurant - the manager reached out to me and apologized. Here’s his message to me:
What’s amazing is that this restaurant now has an overall rating of 4.5 stars and over 300 reviews. That is customer service at its finest.
Always Research the Competition
After all is said and done, your competitors in the search engines are not always your direct competitors. SEO is all about creating content and gathering backlinks, but today’s world is tough and you need to focus your efforts on optimizing your page and pages where you’re listed as well. Don’t be scared of a little competition (but you should be of that spider on your arm).
How do you monitor your competitors? What are you being for Halloween? Feel free to comment below or tweet me at @annekrieger.
Enjoy competitor hunting!