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Competitor Research

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Digital Marketing - Study Notes:

Competitor research tools

There are going to be a range of reasons why your competitors are doing well.

And we’ve got different tools that you can check out:

  • BuiltWith gives you an idea of how a page is constructed from a technology perspective. It will give you an idea of what content management system they’re using, maybe what email provider they’re using, quite a lot of details like that, but you might want to check out.
  • SimilarWeb is a website that gives you an idea of an estimation of how much traffic a website gets, and where that traffic comes from before going to a website, and where it then goes to. SEMrush is great for keyword research and competitive research.
  • Buzzsumo is a good content marketing competitive research tool.
  • SEOmonitor is really good at working out how you’re doing compared to competitors from a market share perspective. And then the bottom three, they’re good backlink analysis tools.

Using SEMrush

When it comes to competitive research, you probably won’t find a better tool than SEMrush.

In this case, I’ve entered in a URL, I’ve selected the country that I want to research that URL, and SEMrush will come back with all the keywords that it knows about for that particular landing page. It will include where that landing PageRanks for the country that you’ve selected, and it will also tell you what the search volume is, and how difficult that keyword is according to SEMrush.

There’s lots more to SEMrush than what you’re seeing right now. It has a free and a paid version. So, definitely check that out and consider using it for competitive keyword research.

Missing important keywords

What can happen when you miss important keywords and that your competitors are targeting? You might lose momentum and your competitors might gain momentum.

And you’ll have content gaps, so there will be gaps in terms of content that you should really be fulfilling if you want to attract as many customers as possible.

Using SEOmonitor

We’re now going to have a look at SEOmonitor. It neatly integrates into Google Search Console, and it does a lot of data with Google Search Console. From a competitive research perspective, it will give you an idea of how you’re doing for a top, for a definitive list of keywords in terms of market share. So, it may well be that your visibility score is 34%, and your top competitor’s visibility score might be 74%. So, you’ll be able to gauge how you’re progressing hopefully and catching up competitors.

The role of social media

In terms of remaining competitive and having content that’s shared on social media, this is quite important. So, social media like Facebook and Twitter don’t have a direct impact on ranking. So, if you’ve got a page that had 1,000 likes on Twitter or on Facebook, or maybe at 2,000 retweets on Twitter, there’s no evidence to show that that helps your SEO.

But the indirect benefit is that more people will see your content and it may well be that some of those people are journalists, some are bloggers, and some are key influencers. Then they may decide to link to your site through a backlink and that will help directly with your SEO rankings.

Use Buzzsumo

So, with that in mind, it’s good if you can research how your competitors are doing in terms of their top performing social content, and that’s where this really nice cool tool called Buzzsumo comes into play.

So, in this case I have entered the phrase “RankBrain” and it’s shown me the top pages that were shared socially for that particular phrase. I’ve got it selected for the last year, but you can change the date. And that’s quite useful, if I’m interested in “RankBrain” and I want to rank for that phrase, then I’ll want to see who’s being shared socially the most. Now, a lot of these sites that are doing well they probably have quite big social media followers anyway, so that might be one reason for it.

And the other thing that you can bear in mind is, I actually use this tool as a way of staying up to date with SEO. So, if I’ve had quite a busy week, on a Friday I might type in “SEO” into Buzzsumo, put it for the last week, and I’ll see what are the most popular articles that have been written. So, it can be good for that as well. Rather than put a keyword into Buzzsumo, you can put a domain, and what this is showing me, for moz.com, I can see that in the last year that the most shared content over the last 12 months is “Free and usual hacks to drop dramatically up your LinkedIn game”. It had over 17,000 shares on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and some of the other big social media sites. So, from a constant marketing perspective, this is a great tool. But because we know that more social share has an indirect benefit of more backlinks, then this can be quite good for SEO as well.

Researching competitors’ backlinks

We’re now looking at how you actually see where your competitors are getting their backlinks from.

Now, bearing in mind backlinks is the number one ranking factor for SEO, this is quite important. So, I have entered in a URL, and what the tool is doing it is listing all the websites that have linked to the URL that I’ve entered. So in this case I think I had entered in moz.com, and I can see their top backlinks. And they’re ordered by page authority, so I’m getting the most authoritative pages listing first. And by default the target is set to this page, which means the URL that you have actually entered, but you might want to change that to the root domain which will actually give you backlinks for the whole domain. That’s a really good tool, and just speaking to some agencies I would maybe say, a better guess, but maybe 20% of backlinks that an agency doing SEO would get would come from using backlink analysis tools.

Now, in some cases, they might just replicate a particular backlink, it’s something they can recreate, or they may just learn the strategies. Maybe they’ve observed that Moz are very good in the blogosphere, or maybe for another website they’re very good with PR, particularly with newspaper websites. So there are ready sites that you can really use to help with your SEO strategy.

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Joe Williams

Managing Director and SEO Trainer at Zen Optimise

  • Founder and SEO Trainer at Zen Optimise with 10 years’ experience in Search Engine Optimization
  • Zen Optimise is a London-based digital marketing training company
  • SEO consultant and trainer for hundreds of small, medium, and blue chip companies including Qantas Airlines, Sky, Eurostar, EasyCruise, and Anti-Slavery

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