Oct 1, 2014 113 reads by Navneet Kaushal

How is your competitor managing to get top rankings for some of your primary keywords in search results? The session by savvy SEOs uncovers the technique of how to analyze & understand competition strategies and using the knowledge to improve your efforts to attain better visibility & reach.


Marshall Simmonds, Founder and CEO, Define Media Group, Inc. (@mdsimmonds)

Q&A Coordinator:

Rhea Drysdale, CEO, Outspoken Media (@Rhea)


Dennis Hart, President, Analytics SEO (@click2dennis)

Casie Gillette, Director of Online Marketing, KoMarketing (@casieg)

Paxton Gray, Lead Digital Marketer, 97th Floor (@paxtonmgray)

Dennis Hart started the session with an insightful presentation on "Leap Frog your Competitors' SEO strategies".

"Everyone wants to overtake their competitors, right?" is what Hart said.

Basically, Hart shared 5 tips to help businesses overtake their competitors, which include:

  1. Competitive landscape
  2. Competitive audit
  3. Competitive rankings
  4. Universal search
  5. Finding competitive linking opportunities

Competitive Landscape

Further talking about how to find the true competitors online, Hart recommended performing a search for your top keywords and you will come across data telling who is ahead of you and is now your target.

Hart recommends using big data to determine:

  • How many sites are competing?
  • How many organic ranking keywords?
  • The market search volume?
  • Is the market growing or declining? Is this seasonal?
  • The keywords that are trending up/down and which of these are seasonal?

Sharing example of MeetingZone.com, Hart said that it outranks Match.com for some queries but we will never be able to think of MeetingZone.com as competitor to Match.com, unless we have the data.

Competitive Audit

Hart says that once you understand true online competitors, you will have to assess their strengths and weakness on different SEO metrics. He shared some of the readily available site metrics including site maps, robots.txt, page load speed, custom 404, domain age, inbound links, and referring domains etc.

Competitive Rankings

To get competitive rankings, Hart suggests that you find your keyword competitor and compare your competitor's rankings with your rankings.

Universal Search

Hart says that search is no longer about being one of those 10 blue links. It's important to have ubiquity, which is attained by:

  • Setting up "Google Places" account
  • Adding description, category, and images etc.
  • Or being on Google local, images, shopping and video etc.

Finding Competitive Linking Opportunities

The very first step to take according to Hart is – Finding the keywords that are already generating universal search results and optimizing them. Remember that even if you have equal number of links as your competitors, not all the links are equal. So, you should target the competitors with the highest number of links.

  • Trust Flow, Citation Flow
  • Domain Authority, Page Authority
  • Domain Rank

Hart concluded by saying that when you have all the data available, you will be able to implement technical best practices, create better content, and share it in more relevant neighborhoods – thus, overtake the competitors.

Next was Casie Gillette on "How to Analyze your Competitors: Spaceballs Edition"

Search Engine Optimization is no longer just about one specific tactic. Casie says you should comb the desert. You have to find as much information as you can about your competitors' practices and sites, as possible by looking at the source code and see if they are using:

  • SEO plugins
  • A/B testing codes
  • Schema markup
  • Open graph tags
  • AdWords
  • Analytics

To track competitors' content, you should use tools such as Racked content and change detection.

Understanding Links

MajesticSEO, Open Site Explorer, and Research Central are some of the best tools Casey recommends for link analysis.

Content Analysis

It is vital for you to understand the art of wisely spending your budget. Casie recommends using Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool for finding out what kind of content your competitors are creating. Since, some sites block screaming frog, it is recommended that you change the user agent to Google.

Social Analysis

Casie ended the session by recommending BuzzSumo, a tool to get analytics on audience, shared assets, top influencers and top content.

"Cashing in With Deliberate Research" was the topic Paxton Gray covered in his presentation.

Stressing on the importance of competitive research, Gray shared the story of Noah Phelps, a Revolutionary War soldier who infiltrated the British army by dressing up as merchant and wandered into Fort Ticonderoga for gathering information about man power and gun powder enemy had. It was because of his research that American army could take the Fort. The moral of the story was – For every hour that you spend on competitive research, you will save an hour on execution.

Paxton shared 5 steps for killer keyword research:

  1. Keyword research
  2. Gather metrics
  3. Identify on-page wins
  4. Link Gap Score
  5. Link building battle plan

Keyword Research

Here's a simple calculation that Paxton suggested:

Search volume X sug. bid = Opportunity

Opportunity÷MOZ diff score = KOB Score

Gather Metrics

Paxton says that each SERP is different so your strategy for each SERP should be different too. Gather analytical data of competitors for each SERP and visualize it for extra quick insights. He recommends DataHero for doing so.

Identify On-page Wins

According to Paxton, you should look for opportunities to improve PLP keyword optimization, content depth, internal linking, and several other related factors.

Link Gap Score

Another interesting calculation shared was:

Our Links X Ave. DA = Our Link Strength

Comp Ave. Links X Ave. DA = Comp Link Strength

Comp Link Strength – Our Link Strength = Gap

KOB ÷ Gap = Priority Score

And higher the priority score, higher will be the priority in the battle plan.

Link Building Battle Plan

Paxton shared the data of one of the projects that he worked upon to fight and win the link building battle plan. He discussed how adjusting the internal linking structure resulted in up to 74% increase in the organic traffic in 60 days. Paxton shared a few more interesting techniques and numbers about the campaigns in the session to make it all the way more interesting and information rich.

Competitive Research for SEO: #SMX New York 2014, Day 1!, 5.0 out of 5 based on 3 ratings
Navneet Kaushal
Navneet Kaushal is the Editor-in-Chief of PageTraffic Buzz. A leading search strategist, Navneet helps clients maintain an edge in search engines and the online media. Navneet's expertise has established PageTraffic Buzz as one of the well know digital marketing blog.
Navneet Kaushal
Navneet Kaushal
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