There’s an old expression that goes, “The enemy you know is better than the enemy you don’t know,” that’s just as applicable to modern SEO as it was to ancient warfare.

In a recent posting on SEOBook.com titled, Optimizing Against Competitors, writer Peter D., looked at some strategies SEO’s can use for deciding how you stack up against the competition.

Here are a few of his tips for utilizing competitive optimization techniques.

Take a Look in the Mirror

What has your competition got that you haven’t got? In the SEO world, the answer to that question usually involves a spreadsheet full of analytics like link counts and other quantifiable statistics.

While these numbers are definitely a factor worth considering, they’re just one piece in a much larger puzzle.

There are a lot of reasons why one site ranks better than another that have absolutely nothing to with analytics. PeterD suggests taking a long look in the mirror and asking why someone would prefer your competition’s content and offers over your own.

If you can’t objectively analyze your own site, you’ll never really be able to objectively analyze someone else’s site.

What is a Competitive Analysis?

A true competitive analysis involves what PeterD calls, “an ongoing, systematic analysis of our competition.” This is going to involve more than simply checking in them regularly and eyeballing their content.

What you really want to be looking for are the little things that your competition is doing, or not doing, that you could be doing better. To that end, PeterD offers up a set of four, core questions that are the foundation of any good competitive analysis which include:

  • What is the nature of competition? – On the web, the way to win against big competition is by being lean and mean. If you can adapt newer, more effective strategies while the big guys are still figuring it it out, you can compete.
  • Where does the competitor compete? – Are you and competitors going after the same customers in every market? If there’s a gap in their plan, you can slip in and take advantage.
  • Who does the competitor compete against? – Take a look at your enemy’s enemies and you might get an idea of how you can better compete.
  • How does the competitor compete? – Imitation is the highest form of flattery, especially on the web. If your competitor’s doing something better than you are, a little copycatting wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Competitive optimization doesn’t have to be a complicated, time consuming affair but if you’re not doing something, you’re missing out on everything.


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