Competitive intelligence is a critical component for anyone managing an SEO campaign.
But how often do you need to monitor competitors? And to what extent?
A keen eye upon your competition can help you glean insights on digital opportunities you may want to mimic. You’ll also discover areas where you’re falling short and need to step up your SEO game.
A full-blown SEO competitive analysis isn’t necessarily warranted each month. But you should be watching a handful of important competitive SEO metrics to consistently gauge whether you’re remaining competitive.
Who You Should Be Watching
While your online competition might seem pretty straightforward, I often come across what I call the “CVS/Walgreens complex” when I hear “well, they do what we do and they are located across the street.”
Notice how I stated “online competition”? It’s because your brick-and-mortar competition isn’t necessarily your online competition.
A very quick way to understand your organic competition is to review the Main Organic Competitors graph in SEMrush.(You will see that I use this tool a lot for online competitive intelligence)
(Note: you can also review the same data as it relates to PPC competition)
This is a great tool because it shows your organic competition based on the amount of exposure and the amount of similar organic coverage. Finding competition in this manner is appropriate compared to just looking at search results for top keywords and who is ranking on the first page of results.
A website may hold first page exposure for coveted words but may not have similar coverage for a wide range of relevant terms that you’re targeting.
What You Should Be Watching
What you should be watching in your competitor monitoring should fit into the areas of visibility, indexation, links, and attention.
Through original competitive analysis, you should review the full breadth of your competition’s organic visibility in order to assess the keywords and types of pages that they are ranking for. Understanding the gap that exists should provide insight on what site sections and pages you need to create on your site.
For your weekly review, again, look to SEMrush and review your competitor’s keyword rankings and specifically the Position Changes section.
Look at what has fallen (yay!) and what has improved for them (boo!). To keep your head on straight and make your review quick, filter for new or improved rankings that are better than 21st place.
Additionally, since we should all be omni-channel-minded, remove your SEO blinders temporarily and look at the Search section of SimilarWeb. This will help you find out how much share of traffic is arriving via organic or through paid search.
You may need to tap on some shoulders in the paid search department for them to start doing quick competitive monitoring just like you’re doing on the SEO side of things if you see that paid search is garnering a sizable amount of search share.
I often enjoy taking a look at what site sections may be emerging in competitor rankings. Simply looking at ranking changes may not help you understand what competitor site sections are “popping.”
You know that great feeling when you revamp a site section on your site and you start seeing many more rankings appearing for you? Your competitors likely feel this warm fuzzy feeling, too.
Look at their organic keyword presence. Export the list so that you can sort by landing page.
Keep a running tally of content section visibility to understand if they might be revising site areas and seeing success from these sections.
Want to take it a step further? Sort to only view those terms ranking for Instant Answers and Featured Snippets to understand if your competitor’s content is good enough for Google to feature them in emerging page 1 search result rich elements.
We all know that links make the SEO world go around. Some of the easiest link attainment opportunities can be through competitive link monitoring. Your competition is relevant to you; therefore, you are probably also relevant to the site that just linked to your competitor.
Keep an eye on your competition’s new links in the New backlinks section of Majestic to assess recent link wins for the competition.
How much attention are your competitors getting? Keeping tab of when their brand is mentioned helps you to understand that they are making news of some sort if they are being mentioned online.
This doesn’t necessarily mean linked mentions but it helps to know if their PR team is awake and thriving. Mentions can lead to links, more social citations, etc. Ultimately, an overall propulsion of their brand. There are a few different routes for keeping tracking of competitor brand mentions. You can use tools like Google Alerts, Ahref Alerts, and SEMrush Brand Monitoring.
Why You Should Be Watching
The need for continual competitive monitoring isn’t necessarily just to make you feel good if you are killing it with your SEO campaign. It is meant to show you how you can be a better, more visible marketer.
Relevance is key here. If another site is a true competitor, mostly anything they do will be applicable so make a move in the same manner.
If a competitor’s content ranks well, you can create a similar content approach. If they are attaining great links, even the playing field by attaining the same type of links. If they are getting mentioned like crazy online, you likely can gain attention for creating industry/company news within the same genre.
Ongoing competitive monitoring is a great way to help make your life easier without draining yourself of time!
Featured Image: Created by Josh McCoy via Canva, September 2017.
In-post Photos: Screenshots taken by Josh McCoy, September 2017.