To Build an SEO Plan, Analyze a Competitor for SEO Strategy
An SEO Plan is essential to any startup looking to compete with the competition. A startup is like David and the competition like Goliath. David needs a plan before walking out on the battlefield. The startup David cannot expect to write an SEO plan off the cuff, or think it up on the fly. A competitive plan requires some methodical research at the very beginning. A pre-existing website will allow the small David access to some great data mining for putting an SEO Plan together. But, the David needs to understand how the competition’s website is built in comparison to his own. If David does not have an existing website, he can still mine valuable data for an SEO Plan. He can analyze a Goliath competitor for an SEO strategy! So before building an SEO Plan, build the plan about how to analyze SEO competition, and continue to modify that plan as the company finds competitor SEO weaknesses.
Analyzing the competition is not something new; it has been around for centuries across all types of industries. Many organizations have written about this topic, including Forbes, which has written about how to analyze competition for SEO strategy. After analyzing the competition, David will understand how his competitor’s product/services, but specifically how to better compete. Granted, an established competitor may feel like a David vs. Goliath, but that story itself shows that an SEO niche or an SEO weakness can be found. The company may not need to take down Goliath completely, but gaining a foothold can spell a great fortune.
Suggested Steps on How to Start the SEO Competitor Research
1 – First Understand the SEO Competition Website before Building SEO Plan
Start by just browsing the competitor website. Take notes on what is done well, what is done poorly. Not only will analyzing the competition yield helpful notes for the company website, but the company will learn SEO strategies to avoid as well. Things to note may be the appearance ease of navigation ease of checkout (if applicable), colors, content, pictures, URLs, and especially links. While this does not have a lot of data, understanding this feel of a website will help when the data mining starts.
2 – Analyze the Competition for SEO Weaknesses and Strengths
Time for competitor SEO analysis. Many sites exist for such analysis, but Majestic is a great SEO tool. Other tools to beat the SEO competition include SEMRush, SEOQuake, and Spyfu among many others. These tools will give insights on the number of backlinks, keyword densities, what appears to be the keywords or target words, images details, how many pages are on the site, etc. The tools will even point out SEO weaknesses such as a bad Meta descriptions, lack of HTML Headings, images without the ALT references, and more. Glean as much as possible from this SEO analysis. Some weaknesses may be glaring, or they may be harder to find. With these weaknesses in mind, the small startup David is starting to fill his sling with rocks. Those rocks include understanding the type of links the needed to compete, keywords, URL names, heading tags, image ALT descriptions, etc.
3 – Based on the Data from the Analysis, Identify Keyword Niches Not Used by the Competition
Next, use the data from the competitor research to begin optimizing the company’s SEO Plan. The established competition will most likely dominate simple keyword searches: the single-, two-, and three-word phrases for the industry; the startup needs to exploit the weaknesses in some long-tail search phrases. Based upon the keywords from the competitors, write out 10 or 15 possible search terms that the competitors are not currently using or are under utilizing.
Now feed these into SEO tools such as Google AdWords, or KeywordDiscovery. These sites will help in several ways: 1) provide additional search terms/phrases not previously considered, 2) show if competition is already high for the search terms (i.e. how hard will it be to rank with that phrase), 3) possible click-through-rate for the search term, and much more. The company can hone in on the SEO niche that will allow the company to raise to the top of the search engine.
With targeted keywords in mind, the company can build a beautiful website that will rank for long-tail searches that puts the company closer to users that want to purchase something. Remember, general search terms could just be informational, but as someone creates longer phrases such as “How to Analyze Competition for SEO Strategy”, that person is very interested in that topic and may be very close to pulling the trigger on spending money and funneling those funds to the company! Search volume may not be as high as the competition, but the quality of the clicks may be much higher.
4 – Using Data from the Competitor Research, Build an SEO Plan to Beat the Competition
Armed with knowledge about the competition, the company can now begin developing an SEO Plan based on competition. The company SEO Plan can exploit weaknesses, build on competitor excellence, and provide additional direction on the type of content to include on the site. The company needs include the following in the plan based on the research:
SEO Strategy in URL with Keywords
Create a map for the URLs and how to connect multiple pages. Decide on keyword rich URL names that capitalize on the keyword strategy previously researched.
Don’t Replicate Competitor SEO Weaknesses
A small startup must be smart and ensure the simple stuff that the SEO competition missed will not be replicated: images have keyword rich ALT tags, HTML headings are prevalent, Meta tag descriptions are keyword rich and meet the appropriate character length, robot.txt file is correctly implemented, any page redirects are appropriately handled, etc.
Build an SEO Plan Based on the SEO Strategy from the Competitor Analysis
Most importantly when building an SEO Plan to beat the competition, build the content. Content must keep users on the site and matche the SEO strategy determined through the competitor analysis. If the identified keywords are not properly included on the website, search rankings will suffer. A competitor may have left an SEO niche in their armor. Any David needs to exploit the niche by throwing the stones through it. Build good content, compelling content, based on the keyword phrases. The company has to include the single, two-, and three-word phrases, but the long-tail is where the small David can exploit the Goliath SEO weaknesses in the market place.
Building an SEO Plan is not Easy, but it is Necessary to Succeed
Building an SEO Plan is hard work. The analysis of competitors can be tedious and long, but it will yield great fruit. The steps above may seem too simplistic and easy. But the deeper any company mines the data, the better the chance that company has at identifying weaknesses in the competition and creating a competitive SEO strategy.
Sarting with competitor SEO analysis will help young startup David’s without a lot of knowledge on SEO. Such SEO analysis will decrease the SEO learning curve, increase the understanding of how to compete in SEO, and help build the bones of an SEO Plan. There is no sense in starting this journey without identifying a starting point or an idea of the competition . Even seasoned SEO professionals should start developing an SEO Plan based on the competition. Knowledge is power. The little startup David understands that knowing where and how to start the battle against Goliath is essential for victory.