Competitive analysis is a step you should take in the very beginning of your SEO efforts. It should
be right at the top of your to-do list, along with keyword analysis and tagging your web site. In fact,
you should probably do a competitive analysis even before you begin tagging your site.
But did you know that your competitive analysis doesn’t end there? Like analyzing your web statis-
tics, conversions, and other elements of your web site, your competitive analysis should be ongoing.
Your competitors will change. They’ll learn how to reach a search engine better. They may even
change their customer approach just enough to always stay ahead of you. They’ll keep you guessing,
and the only way to figure out what they’re doing that you’re not is to spend the time it takes to ana-
lyze what they’re doing.
As you’re going through this analysis process, the first thing to keep in mind is that you’re not
checking out only your direct competitors. You need to look at those competitors who are ahead
of you in search rankings, even if their offerings are different from yours.
Plan to spend a few hours a week on this analysis. You should look at all the sites that are ahead of
you, but specifically those sites that rank in the top five to ten position in the SERPs.
You already know what you should be looking for. Look for the same indications that you examined
during your original competitive analysis. These include:
Where in the SERPs is the site ranked? Make note, especially, of the top
three to five sites.
How many of the competition’s pages are indexed? Not every page on a
site will be indexed, but if your competition has more or fewer pages ranked, there may
be a factor you haven’t taken into consideration about how to include or exclude your
Are page titles consistent? And what keywords do they contain, if any at all?
How your competition uses titles can give you an indication of what you’re doing right or
wrong with your own.
What meta data is your competition including? How is it worded? And how
does it differ from your own? Remember that you can access the source code of a web site
menu of your web browser.
How is the competition’s web site designed? Site architecture and the tech-
nology that is used to design and present the site are factors in how your site ranks. Learn
what the competition is doing and how that differs from what you’re doing.
A robots.txt file:
The robots.txt file is accessible to you, and looking at it could give you
some valuable insight to how your competition values and works with search engines.
Content quality and quantity:
How much quality is included on your competitor’s site
and is it all original, or is it re-used from some other forum? If a site is ahead of you in
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