Now that you have a good idea of who your competitors are and how difficult it will be to compete against them, it’s time to perform a detailed analysis of how your site compares to theirs. You’ll likely want to run this analysis at both the page and site-wide level.
My favorite tool for getting a detailed comparison of up to four sites is QuickSprout. Another is Internet Marketing Ninja’s Side-by-Side Comparison Tool, which will give you data like page size, number of links, and words on a page, keyword density, meta data and linking structure of the page.
As social media becomes increasingly important for SEO (if not directly, definitely indirectly), it’s also important to compare how you fare against your competitors in this regard. Klout is a great tool for giving you a broad overview of how influential a particular individual or Twitter TWTR +1.65% user is. Analyzing more than 12 billion signals every day, Klout can provide a good general idea of how difficult it will be to compete with someone on social media.
Alexa is another great tool for comparing influence at the site-wide level. Plugging in your own URL as well as your competitors’ will give you data like estimated bounce rate, daily page views and demographics. Overall traffic rank is perhaps the most important piece of information at this point; comparing global rank will give you a good idea of how you stack up in terms of traffic levels.
SEO Book’s Rank Checker add-on for Firebox is another free tool you can use to gauge how your rankings compare to those of your competitors. What I love about this tool is that you can plug in URLs from multiple sites to see which keywords they’re ranking for, as well as their position in Google, Yahoo YHOO -0.12% and other search engines. You can also download the results to track changes over time.
Putting it all together
At this point, you should have a good idea of who you’re going up against, and how all parties rank in the search engines. You should also have an understanding of which competitors and keywords are worth targeting, and which are – simply put – out of your league. Finally, you should understand why your competitors are outranking you, and what steps you need to take in order to compete.
Keep in mind that pursuing long-tail keywords is increasingly becoming the way forward for businesses; so don’t neglect to investigate a wide variety of long-tail and natural language search terms. For more on this, see my article, How to Identify Long-Tail Keywords for Your SEO Campaign.
What are your favorite tools or strategies for competitive SEO intelligence?