When it comes to search marketing, we’re sure you’ve asked yourself these questions before:
- How does my website stack up against competitors?
- Is there an easy and cheap way of accessing and interpreting this information?
- How can I make actionable decisions based on this data?
Today’s your lucky day — we have the answers.
But before we start …
The tool we’re about to show you is most impactful when armed with an initial keyword list and competitive landscape. Though not entirely necessary, it’s helpful to have an idea of what keywords you want to target and who’s currently ranked for those queries.
Keyword research can help you identify and analyze search terms consumers use to search for your brand, products and service offerings. This research forms the foundation of the organic search strategy.
Once you’ve analyzed and evaluated your keywords, a competitive landscape can help you identify (a) who is currently ranked on the first page of Google for those keywords and (b) how many times they appear on average.
The Quick & Dirty Competitor Landscape
Armed with your keyword analysis, take your top ten keywords and plug them in to the Top Sites tab of our simplified landscape assessment tool. (If you’re a legit human, we will give you access.)
Now, open Google Chrome’s incognito window. This will (partly) ensure you’re not getting personalized results when you start searching for competitors in the results. Follow this process:
- In your incognito window, search for your first keyword.
- Inspect the results for competitors, taking note of the three (at most) that are ranked in the highest positions.
- It’s helpful to note the domain of the competitor and their rank for each keyword.
- Repeat steps 1-3 for each keyword.
Say you were looking for “best tennis shoes” as your keyword. After doing a search in Google, plug your data into the table like this:
Lastly, inspect what you’ve found. You’re looking to answer these questions:
- What competitors show up the most?
- What competitors have the lowest average rank?
You can use the landscape assessment tool to help you with those questions. After you’ve plugged your data into the “Top Sites” tab, go to the “Avg. Rank & Instances” tab and sort by either instances or average rank.
Armed with the list of competitors you identified, you’re ready to use the tool and see how you stack up to your competitors.
Behold … Moz’s Open Site Explorer
My long-time buddy — Open Site Explorer — has been there for me like a piece of gum on the bottom of my oldest pair of sneakers. When it comes to intelligence on organic search competitors, nothing comes close to beating this tool. Plus, it’s free for the first couple of searches.
Open Site Explorer enables you to:
- Identify content and link building opportunities
- Research and compare competitor backlinks
- Identify the most authoritative pages on websites
- View social activity data
Go ahead and venture to the homepage by clicking the link above. Want to find out where you sit in organic search compared to your competitors? This is the place to find out.
Enter your homepage URL in the search box and click Search. Click Compare Link Metrics in the left page navigation. In the table generated, click Add URL. You can add up to four competitor domains to compare link metrics.
Scroll down to the Root Domain Metrics section of the report. You’ll notice the domain with the highest values will have green check marks next to it. The green check marks are the numbers to beat, so if it’s not you, then it’s time to start optimizing.
But what are the most impactful metrics to look at here?
- Domain authority predicts the domain’s ranking potential in search engines based on an algorithmic combination of all link metrics.
- External linking domains are the number of inbound links you have coming into your website from external domains. Inbound links are believed to make up over 70 percent of Google’s ranking algorithm. The more high-authority links you have pointed to your site, the higher you’ll rank and the more traffic you’ll get.
We’re sure you’re asking yourself: How can I make actionable decisions based on this data?
Six Pillars To Beating Your Competitors in SEO
In 2015, success in SEO is dependent upon weaving together a robust strategy that brings together an understanding of the technical underpinnings of a website, great content that resonates with your audience across channels and the public relations chops to leverage relationships with those interested in the content you produce. Oh, and don’t forget mobile. Piece of cake, right?
The reality is SEO today requires skills that cross marketing disciplines:
- Web development: You need a technical understanding of the website.
- Content development: From copywriting to video development, great content is the cornerstone of modern SEO.
- Social media: Social media is playing an increasingly important role in how sites are ranked. We anticipate this trend accelerating in the future.
- Public relations: Relationships with media and online influencers are critical to promoting your website, your content and your (real) news.
- User-experience: A holistic SEO strategy should not simply end with the click. Rather, it should look at what happens post-click, helping to optimize your conversion rates.
- Mobile: Mobile-optimized sites are increasingly important as the growth of mobile search accelerates and as Google’s mobile search results are increasingly focused on mobile-optimized sites.
There you have it — find out how your site stacks up against your competitors by using the landscape assessment tool and plugging the site’s identified into Open Site Explorer. It’s the cheapest and easiest way to assess the organic search landscape while identifying what drives the authority of your competitors. Then, you can make actionable decisions based on the content your competitors are producing and how they’re getting their links.
Have questions? Drop us a line in the comments below.