Selecting Your SEO Competition : Thinking Young

SMS Text

Last week I wrote my first post here on SEO competitive research and promised to follow up on exploring your competitor’s most effective techniques. But before that let me first share my thoughts on defining who actually to compete with. Finding your direct competitors is one thing but deciding whose strategies to research and learn from is yet another topic often overlooked and misunderstood. There are two factors you should bare in mind while analyzing someone else’s strategies:

  1. You never know which of your competitor’s techniques actually worked. I often see people evaluating competition simply by counting his (linkdomain) backlinks. You never know which of these links actually influenced Google’s opinion unless you take time, effort and imagination to look deeper.
  2. You cannot compete with time. Age and well-established history is crucial for gaining authority. You cannot outdo it by the intense link growth or on-site optimization.

Determining who to compete with

Both of the above factors brought me to one effective technique: find and learn from your young and already successful competitors at the first stage. If you are a startup, there is no point in trying to beat the sites that have been on top of Google for the last 3 years: fight in your own weight category.

There are several advantages of this approach:

  1. It is much easier to explore younger sites’ link building techniques, simply because they have fewer backlinks than the ones that are 3+ years old;
  2. With new sites you will see techniques that really work now (not 2 years ago);
  3. New sites are most likely to use new techniques, so that’s great for educative purposes.

To find those new sites with great potential I search Google and analyze the results using SEOquake FireFox plugin. This tool lets me see all necessary information within Google results page and what is more I can sort results by any of the set parameters:

This plugin allows you to quickly evaluate your competitor’s age, traffic, both linkdomain and page backlink numbers, Google index and PR data, even Yahoo and Dmoz directories and social media mentions. This provides exhaustive information necessary to make the decision if this site is worth further analysing. It also saves time immensely by showing you all the information on one page in a readable and sortable way.

So now having completed the first two parts of the competition research, we are pretty ready to move to the actual competitor’s techniques analysis. And that is yet another story I am going to describe in the third post of the competitive research series at SEJ.

Ann Smarty
Ann Smarty is the blogger and community manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas. Ann's expertise in blogging and tools serve as a base for her writing, tutorials and her guest blogging project,
Ann Smarty
Get the latest news from Search Engine Journal!
We value your privacy! See our policy here.
  • Johan Krost

    Thank you Ana Smarty for your nice article

  • SeoMexFan

    Hola Ann,

    Excellent post.

    I´ve using SeoQuake for a month now, and it really saves me time, and puts me the right info on my Google Serp´s screen.

    However, waht I would like to know is what you do with this info you get by using SeoQuake. I mean, how do you asses what further actions you should take to `fight` this new competition sites.

    Really looking forward for the third part of this post.


  • shawn smith

    I used SeoQuake for a while and it seemed to really slow down my browsing. I recently switched to Aaron Wall’s SEO for Firefox add-on. Have you tried using this? It really cuts down on the lag time in search results loading, and it can load all the data SeoQuake provides.

  • Ann Smarty

    @SeoMexFan: my post on exploring competitors’ techniques will be up shortly. There I am describing how to use SEOQuake and other tools.

    @Shawn: I keep SEOQuake deactivated most of the time for daily browsing. Another solution is to edit preferences so that it did not show the info by default (only once you request for them) or that it gave you all minimum info required (like to provide you only with age data for example). These can speed up the process. As for Aaron’s tool, it is also great and it is the matter what you are more used to. I am not sure if it can sort the search results by any of parameters (can it?) – the feature I really like in SEOQuake.

  • Paul Burani, Clicksharp Marketing

    Well done Ann. I particularly like the idea of focusing on sites with fewer backlinks — we often forget that with frequent search engine updates, it’s very likely that those newer pages (if they’ve been SEOd by smart people who are current with the times) will have more link juice per inbound link than the older ones… and thus ripe for modeling.

  • straightalk

    You know what, I think I’m starting to love you!

    Your post are so full of important and crucial info.. don’t know how this page doesn’t have a high page rank..

    let me promote it some more.. thumbs up at StumbleUpon..