Keyword research and competition research truly go hand-in-hand when developing your SEO strategy, especially for a new website. In networking, you have your Power Partners, or influential individuals who you can not only learn from, but mimic and aspire to. These Power Partners have done it all, they’ve figured out the strategies for success, and they are reaping the benefits. Researching your competition online for search marketing is no different.

Why Research The Competition?

When you really get into researching the competition by using tools like Compete.com, Alexa.com, iSpionage and Spyfu, you can get a great peek into the strategies behind their successful SEO campaigns. You can spy on where they’re spending their Pay-Per-Click money. When you can verify where they are spending most of their PPC marketing budget, you are guaranteed that those “money keywords” are high converting, high traffic words that you should be targeting as well.

What Competition Should I Research?

You should be researching your local competitors. As mentioned in SEO Success Step 3, you’ll use targeted keywords to determine who is outranking you locally and how they’re doing it. You’re goal is to jump ahead of them on the search engines at the local level, because that’s where your targeted traffic is.

For example, I am currently working on some foundation SEO for a local client who fabricates granite countertops and cabinetry. They are locally based, right here in Gilbert, and want only local, East Valley clientele. I use a targeted list of keywords that we’ve established to find out who the local competition is. I want to know what keywords that local competition is targeting, where they are getting their backlinks, where they’re spending their PPC marketing budget, and what their website demographic is.

The whole purpose; the key to this competition research is to determine how you will take your competition’s SEO strategy and expand on it to outrank them at the local level. Researching cabinetry manufacturers in another state or location…say Maryland…would be counterproductive simply because a Maryland cabinet maker would be targeting a completely different demographic. While they would be targeting “New England” style homes and kitchens, my Gilbert cabinet maker is targeting our Southwest home style.

 

What Should I Be Looking At?

When researching your competition, you want to look at their keywords, how much search volume those keywords are getting, what their Bounce Rate is for those keywords, and how well they’re ranking for those keywords. You also want to use sites like iSpionage to determine which keywords they are spending most of their PPC budget on. You’ll want to use Alexa to determine who their demographic is. And you’ll want to use Link Harvester to follow every website that links to your competition.

What Should I Do With The Research?

After you have gathered all of the competition research, you will compare the keywords to your own to establish the greater list of keywords that you will target over time. If your competition is spending a large amount of money on PPC for specific words, consider how you can outrank them organically (without using PPC). Use their demographic information to build your website, to target your blogs, to develop content, and to decide on the right graphics and promotions.

 Finally, use the information gathered from Link Harvester to build your own backlinks. Link Harvester is one of the best free tools out there for SEO, simply because it will give you a free list of every single site that links to your competition’s website. You can use this information to network with these sites as well and build links back to your own website.