Identifying your real SEO competitors

SEO competitors
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Effective SEO is all about getting as close to the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs) as possible. A key component of that optimization effort is researching the companies that compete with you, and a recent post from SEO experts MOZ points out two ways to assess competition for keywords, audiences and solving consumer needs.

  • In a recent Whiteboard Friday video, senior SEO Manager at Lidia Infante says knowing who you are up against is key to an effective search optimization strategy. In the video she introduces two ways to home in on your real SEO competitors.
  • For Infante, a real SEO competitor has to meet three criteria:
    • They are targeting the same keywords
    • They are speaking to the same audience
    • They are solving the same consumer need

Infante explains bluntly that, if your target audience finds your SEO competitor first, they will have no more need for you.

Top-down SEO analysis

In her video, Infante highlights two approaches to identifying your real SEO competitors. The first is ‘Top Down’ relying on instincts as much as insights.

  • The first step is to ask colleagues across your company – from sales and marketing, to customer support and editorial – who they believe your competitors to be.
  • The final step in the top-down approach to identifying your real SEO competitors is simply to spot the overlap between the publishers that your staff have identified and those that the external analysis highlights.

Infante says this method helps get buy-in as staff see their analysis included in outcomes. She also says that, although this may not be the most accurate competitor research methodology, it is fast. She says:

If your site has been online for a while and you’re ranking for a few of your target keywords, this is going to work really well for you.

Bottom-up SEO analysis

For new sites, or for publishers that want to do a deeper dive into who their competitors are, Infante recommends a bottom-up approach to SEO analysis.

  • The first step is to list your target keywords and organize them into topic ‘clusters’ using a tool like Spiny’s Publisher Intelligence Platform. It can automate your SEO with title, tag, metadata optimizations and recommendations and optimize keyphrase frequency, word count and content production volume.
  • Spiny’s Editorial Insights feature will also examine Twitter and Google News trends quickly with its own topic aggregator and to identify which keywords and topics are resonating best with your audience.
  • For each keyword, Infante suggests downloading the top-10 and first page SERPs results from services like Ahrefs or Semrush, and looking for competitors in each topic area. Infante explains that, if a company shows up in 100% of your keywords for a topic, you know they are a real SEO competitor. With this insight it is possible to drill down to identify the even SERP features that work best for each topic.

Although the bottom-up approach takes longer, it is very accurate. Infante says that with the data, you can find out what your top three competitors are doing in each category and do it better:

Just dig in a little deeper and you’ll find out if you are best to attack these results with infographics, articles, video and any other format.

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