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Crush Your Online Competition in 4 Easy Steps
Written by Gabriella Sannino
Tuesday, 11 January 2011 13:51

As much as I’d love to use link bait to get readers to my site, all it does is leave a bad taste in their mouths – so, this isn’t link bait. Personally, I love link bait if it has a bite, but that’s just me. So, I’m going to do something a little different; I’m going to use a link bait title (viola!) and then put my title where my mouth is. Let’s see if I can give you those four things so you can see results from your efforts.

First, let’s be clear. Crushing your competition in laymen terms and in a perfect world would work something like this. You Google a certain keyword or phrase and voila, you’re on page 1 of Google with all sorts of pretty pictures and videos showing up right alongside your URL.

Crush the competition

What would it take to get there? If you’re a regular reader, you know about strategy and building a campaign around specific goals. However, I won’t get into all of that here today; there are plenty of links and great reading on our blog. All you have to do is search; but, before you do, read on…


The Four Steps in One - Research

Assuming you know who your competition is, there’s nothing wrong with looking at their keywords and links; nothing says you can’t do some preliminary research. I don’t want to hear about how you have no competition because you’re unique. If you didn’t have competition, you wouldn’t be trying to read up on SEO, because you’d be ranking for any term you could think of – i.e. it’s rare that an online business has no competition.

Let’s move on.

Step 1: Keyword Analysis

If you don’t know how to do the research, here are some simple actions you can take, either manually or via some tools.

To find their keywords, you can use SEOQuake (a free browser extension for Mozilla FireFox and Google Chrome), look at their source tags or use some other site-skimming tool. More often than not, your competitors will have a keyword tag and/or a description tag. Look at it. Study it.

  • Does it read well?
  • Are they using action words?
  • What keywords are they targeting?
  • Are those keywords more relevant to your targeted search than yours are?

With SEOQuake (among other tools), you can also see their keyword density. Now, it’s a somewhat meaningless number, but it can be helpful with a competitor’s website. Seeing which words have more density can help your SEO campaign, by giving you more keyword phrases to focus on. You may not have thought of these particular phrases in your own campaign.

The Keyword Density of Non-Sense has some great information on keyword density and is well worth the read. The author, DR. E. Garcia, writes,

Given the fact that there are so many KD theories flying around, my good friend Mike Grehan approached me after the Jupitermedia’s 2005 Search Engine Strategies Conference held in New York and invited me to do something about it. I felt the "something" should be a balanced article mixed with a bit of IR, semantics and math elements but with no conclusion so readers could draw their own. So, here we go.

Although it was written back in 2005, it’s still helpful and informative.

Step 2: Link Analysis

You also want to look at their inbound links. What sites are linking to theirs? They could very well be outranking you because they have a large link building campaign. In order to find out how many sites are linking to them without having to buy a tool, you can get an idea by doing this manually. Link:www.competitionsite.com in Google will give you a list of results. Using the “link” attribute without the www can bring different results sometimes, so check both.

Look at relevance, PageRank… you might even want to see how many links are going to those sites. Each link from a site counts as a vote; the more links, the more votes. So, it all goes into what the site ranks for and how high it ranks.

Step 3: Videos

Have you noticed when you do a search, images and videos are readily available in the SERPs? Visit your competitors as if you were a regular user. Find out if they have a video account on YouTube. If they do, look at the videos and follow the same research as you did for their site.

Does the video have an optimized title and description? Have they used relevant, tightly focused keyword tags?

Step 4: Blogging

Do they have a blog? Are their articles getting traffic? You may not be able to see directly how much traffic an article gets, but if they have social media and commenting available, you should at least be able to see how much an article is shared or commented in. This is a somewhat sketchy metric point, but it at least gives you an idea.

Bonus Step: Social Media

If you notice a Twitter account, you can visit their Twitter feed to see what they’ve been doing. As well, check their Twitter name with places like Klout or PeerIndex, to see what kind of social media reach their getting. This is an additional way to see how much traffic they get on their articles (by viewing the tweets about their articles), how much of a following they have, and how well known their brand is.

Putting It All Together

So you have all this information about your competitor, what do you do with it? It’s important to note that you’d better already have all this information about your own website. If you don’t know where you already stand, you’ll have to do the research on your own online presence so you can compare it to the competition. Then you take the information and put it all together to create a campaign that blows your competition out of the water.

With Keywords

You have your keywords and you have your competitor’s keywords. You have a sampling of page titles and Meta descriptions. How do yours compare? Although Meta data doesn’t help with ranking, it does help the SEs decide whether your page is relevant to a search. If you’re not ranking for a target term, but your competitor is, relevance may be the issue.

Again, compare, compare, compare. Look at the statistics for their keywords (you can use Google Adwords Keyword Tool if you don’t have a tool of your own to get an idea). Which ones are getting a lot of searches? Which ones have lower competition? Choose carefully which terms you’re going to target to outrank your competitors.


With Links

If you have 120 sites linking to yours, but your competitor’s link profile is up in the thousands, you may be in trouble. Consider the value of the links. Are they high PR? Do they get a lot of traffic? Are they talked about on the Web? If possible, grab a link from those sites as well. If not, it’s time to start your own link-building campaign.

Because Google is focusing so much on local, I’d suggest local links, first. Make sure you have a Places page. Any chance you get, fill out as much of your profile as possible on every linking site. Build that link profile! (Just… you know, don’t buy them to do it)

With Videos

If your competitors don’t have videos up, here’s a chance to “one up” them. Start a YouTube account (it’s the most popular) and start publishing videos. Optimize them so they’ll show up high in YouTube searches.

1) Give them strong, relevant titles and descriptions. Much like any page on your site, the titles/descriptions should describe what the video is about, but include targeted keywords /phrases. Include a URL at the beginning of the description; the whole description may be cut off, but people will still be able to see the link.

2) Make sure you include relevant keywords for your tags. This helps make your video visible in the “related” fields when someone views a different video. This way, you can get additional views.

BONUS Tip: Respond to popular videos. This can give you some of the best traffic for any new video you put up.

With Blogs

If your competition doesn’t have a blog, here’s another chance to jump ahead of them. If they do and you don’t, here’s your chance to catch up to them. I can appreciate people either don’t have the time or don’t have the “juice” to write blogs regularly. That’s a great argument, but here are my thoughts on the matter.

You have to spend money to make money. Rather than trying to make magic out of nothing, hire someone if you have to. If you can’t afford to hire someone or don’t want to, you can use things like Google Alerts, newsletters, email marketing – anything and everything that can give you a voice and ideas to write something fresh.

Remember, you may be no one today, but eventually your voice (brand) and opinions will resonate with many readers. It takes time, no doubt. Stay away from the latest news. Eventually a “latest news” post will die a natural death and you can’t afford to have one painstakingly written blog post go dormant because your news is old news. Keep your posts fresh without locking yourself into a date.

BONUS Tip: If you can, guest blog at a popular, high traffic site. Make the sacrifice of sending them at least two blogs per month. Try it for three months, and make sure you keep an eye on your traffic via Google Analytics. See if they’re actually sending you traffic. If not, trade them out with another site. It takes time, work and dedication, but this will pay off.

 

With Social Media

I can fill a whole article on how to use social media to bring traffic to your site. I know, because I have on several occasions when the muse moved me. However, for shortness sake (too late), it takes time and, yes, a plan. If you’re trying to build a community, you have to be patient and understand who your target market is going to be.

Do some research on Twitter, Facebook, Quora or other social media platform. Make sure you integrate your chosen platforms into one goal. Don’t go all over the place; keep a solid theme going and, for goodness’ sake, DO NOT TRY TO SELL YOUR PRODUCT to them until you have been around for at least six months.

There’s nothing worse than meeting someone and the next line out of their proverbial mouths is “Hey, I have a great tool” or “Hey, I have an awesome product”. I mean, seriously folks, do you do that at a cocktail party? No – and if you did, you’d quickly become the pariah, standing alone at the party because people know the only thing you have in mind is getting into their pants… where their wallet is.

BONUS Tip: Follow me, know me, trust me, buy from me – keep this in mind and keep it in order, because this is how you build a loyal following. At the end of the social media buying process, it works like this:

You, the consumer, know me, the business/brand. You know you like me. You trust me to deliver informative/engaging/interesting information through our social connection. You want to buy me, the product, so you buy with certainty – because the trust and relationship are there.

 

Now, was this link bait? Maybe – there aren’t just four steps, and it’s not going to be as “easy” as the title makes it sound. However, do yourself a favor and try the ideas in this article. Put it to the test. Try me out and see if these tips don’t help you crush your online competition… as long as they don’t read this article, too.

Gabriella Sannino -

Gabriella Sannino is the owner/operator of Level343, a copywriting & SEO company. She specializes in depth analysis, hard data, strong copy and tested SEO techniques to bring traffic and conversions to business websites. Her passions in brand building through social media, marketing techniques and writing strong copy that converts are all part of the strategy.

You can also hook up via

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 January 2011 13:56
 

Comments  

 
+1 #1 Doc Sheldon 2011-01-11 17:04
Good stuff, Gabs. All common sense, of course, but we all know that being common sense doesn't necessarily mean it's all that common...

"Follow me, know me, trust me, buy from me" especially this. It amazes me how many people can't seem to get that sequence right. ;)
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0 #2 JamestheJust on Elan 2011-01-14 00:06
Great ideas - and all white hat. :lol:

Solid information, I found you off SERPd and couldn't help but notice your title - can't say I disagree one bit.

Do you use link building in your SEO? What you're describing is more brand building rather than rankings (obliquely you covered rankings)...

So curious what else you would recommend for SERP position.
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0 #3 Ana Hoffman 2011-01-14 17:57
Studying your competition is also a great and lazy way to do keyword research.

Why bother if you can get someone else to do it and just "borrow" their results? :)

Great post. Ended up in SERPd weekly roundup as one of the most popular ones.

Here's the link:
http://blog.serpd.com/weekly-roundup-1-14-11.html

Ana Hoffman
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