Keeping your eye on your competitors is a vital strategy for helping your business grow. By watching what they're doing and looking at their successes and failures, you'll be able to keep a leg up and a competitive edge. That being said, we're going to look a little more in-depth into why you need to be incorporating competitive research into your SEO and digital marketing strategy, some metrics you should be looking at, and actionable results that you can look at to know that this works—and you don't have to take our word for it.
Increasing the rankings of your keywords is a focal point of any SEO strategy, no matter the industry your business is in. There are a lot of different ways to increase your keyword rankings; it's a good idea to do link-building on-page optimization, and even spend some time working on your social media presence, but really there is no one-size-fits-all strategy when it comes to increasing keyword rankings.
Know your SERPs. All search engine results pages are different. By really understanding your SERPs at more than just a superficial level, you'll better know what different strategies to use to boost different keywords. Every keyword's competition is going to be a little different, so individual keywords will call for perhaps dissimilar methods. To be able to make informed decisions, you'll need to conduct in-depth competitive research. It may seem that it is a huge investment of time and effort up front, but the investment is worth it.
When doing competitive research, there are a lot of different metrics to measure. It's a good idea to at least look at the following:
Just glancing at this list may be overwhelming, but the data you'll get from doing this research will be invaluable. And if looking at charts full of numbers isn't your thing, use a data dashboard tool like DataHero to get a more easily understandable—and more esthetically pleasing—look at your data. After researching and compiling all the data, you'll be able to analyze it and determine which factors are guiding your competitors to rank higher. You'll be able to find which metrics need to be improved upon, and you'll be able to plan a strategic attack.
Let's take a look at some of the hard and fast results, beginning with a company we'll call “Business A.” This business decided to do some competitive research, specifically looking at internal linking. The business looked at a certain keyword and then looked at the top 5 competitors that showed up in the SERPs. What Business A found is that while they had only 3 internal links pointing to this keyword's page, the average among Business A's 5 top competitors was 20 internal links. Their top competitor had 32 internal links.
By getting this insight, Business A was able to build up their internal linking strategy. Here's a look at how their organic traffic was going leading up to when they adjusted their strategy:
And here's a look at their organic traffic for a couple months after implementing their strategy:
In just 60 days after adjusting their internal linking structure, Business A's organic traffic went up 74%.
Next, we'll look at “Business B.” This business decided to do competitive analysis looking into social media. At the time, their social media presence was non-existent. In doing competitive research, Business B found out a little about their top competitors in the SERPs and what their social presence was looking like.
At this point, Business B entered into the social media game. Here's what their revenue looked like leading up to when they changed their social media strategy:
And here's a look at Business B's increase in organic revenue after implementing a social media strategy:
After becoming involved in social media, Business B's organic revenue went up 17% in 60 days.
Finally, we'll look at “Business C.” Business C did competitive research looking at external links. They found that they had links coming from 7 different domains with a ratio of domains to links of just 16%, meaning a majority of their links were coming from very few domains. By contrast, they found that their top competitors from the SERP had links coming from an average of 17 domains with a ratio of domains to links of 75%.
Business C decided to start getting links from a variety of domains of varying authority, and here's a look at what happened in the couple weeks after getting 5 links from good domains:
And then here's what happened in the 60 days after getting those 5 links from the right domains:
In just 60 days, organic revenue went up 207%, or $116,878.
Competitive research works. Get to know your SERPs and dig down into looking at what your competition is doing. Invest some time, look at the right metrics, and you'll be able to make more informed decisions that will improve your rankings—and your results will show it.