New Year’s Welcome Tip: Check your Competitors, eh!
Okay, Xmas and New Year’s are done…and it’s back to work and for my “2012 hello there” message, I wanted to point out an obvious foundation to your business intelligence strategy. The simple thought that if your competitors are doing well, i.e. their rankings are better than your own or your clients, it might pay to do an SEO Audit of their own sites. Makes sense, right? Well, in my world, it’s a solid part of any new client intake, and let me explain why.
A large part of any new client and their own channel – is trying to figure out who the competition actually “is!” Ask the client, and then sit back and listen to how they position their own firm and it’s offer of services or products and where they think their competitors are in that channel – and more importantly, listen to their rationale on who those competitors are.
That’s what we’ve found is the real “rub” of the issue. Too many SMBs and clients believe that they are in competition with other firms that to be totally honest are not even in the same arena. So listen, and then add your own list of competitors based on your own judgement, would be my first caution here….as too too often you overlook your competitors because in my mind, it’s the “forest for the trees” type of error…i.e. you are too close to seeing the bigger picture! So make sure that you pick the right competitors, eh!
Once you actually have that list tho…once you’ve vetted them by going to look at every single website for these clients…once you’ve validated same, in other words, it’s time to look at those competitors and their own SEO Campaigns via an audit of those sites. So…the next point would be – how do you “do” an audit?
Ah….that’s a great question, and for us, it’s been a real learning experience for same. There are of course, many online “free” apps that you can use for a “grading” of the site itself like we’ve reviewed here and here again. But a caution too, for those sites….you must always remember that they use their own proprietary formula to come up with a ranking number % that may – or may not – be accurate. Think about it for a second….you are using someone else’s math to come up with a value that you wish to improve on – sorta like that time in grade three when you looked over at another kid’s math test and saw an answer….and copied it down blindly without remembering that the person you’re copying from always does poorly. Not so smart. And not so ethical either…but that’s not appropos to this post. What I mean is that you need to think hard and long about those freebie website grading percentages and how they can or can not be of value. Run sites thru, that you KNOW are solid….SEO wise and see how they are scored. Then run sites thru that you know have little SEO optimization and see the results again…to try to gauge how valuable those rankings are in your world and your client’s channel. That’s the only way that these freebie audit sites will hold any kind of value to you, eh!
So, now you’ve got some numbers to look at. You’ve validated those scores based on your own gauge of the freebie sites themselves and you think that you know much about that list of competitors, right? …sigh… Wrong. You need now to really dig-in and discover as much more about those competitor sites as you can….
What those freebie audit sites gave you were simple formulas based on what they found in an on-page optimization scrutiny. What about off-page items, like say IBLs (in bound links) and social media, blog postings and comments and online reputation and local search reviews/citations etc etc etc. What about them….and as you suddenly realize that for each of those competitor listings you’ve just added days of work as you’ll need to check them all for all of those items to begin with…you need to dig deep…drill down on each of those items and try to determine just where the competitors are for each. Not an easy task. One that if often laden with issues – but one that if done right, can show your competitors stripped down to their undies! And that’s the real winner here….you get to see exactly what they’re up to…and by doing so, how you can defeat their own SEO Campaigns by using similar but better strategies and tactics to climb above them for your serp rankings!
Thought too, on this topic that I’d post a few links to others who’ve commented on this too….so here’s a quick look at how other SEO practitioners have approached the same topic, eh!
- Chad Pollit of Kuno Creative speaks directly on this topic here…
- Nick Stamoulis of Brick Marketing here…
- Analytics SEO of the UK here….
- ClickWorxMedia here…