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What is SEO Competition Research?

... and how can SEO competitor research help your website?

Often, SEO companies will talk about your "competitors". But, who are they? And, why do they matter so much? When we carry out SEO Strategies, we always look at a company's closest competitors; this isn't necessarily the competitors they have in the real world (though often the two correlate) it is the competitors that they have online.

You might see the same websites and the same companies popping up time and time again for searches you want to be found for. This is where SEO competitor research comes in.

Keywords

It's always a good idea to choose your keywords early on, not only to know what kind of content you want on your site, but also to find your SEO competitors. This is an extremely important first step and will set you up to monitor closely who's beating you for what keywords. There's no point in going in ham-fisted without knowing what you need to target and knowing who your SEO competitors are for each keyword will give you a strong indication of who your competitors are overall.

Is one company in particular showing up for multiple keywords you want to target? Take a look at their site. What are they doing that you're not? How are they succeeding? Is it their content, their navigation, their use of off-site SEO?

Niche

There are different kinds of SEO competitors that you need to look out for. The first is ones that carry out similar services to you. This may be a bathroom company that also installs wet rooms, while you supply wet room products, for example. They will show up for the keyword 'wet rooms' just as much as you will (depending on the amount 'wet room' is on their website).

The second is those companies that both offer the same services as you and are in the same industry; this also includes websites with similar URLs (i.e. they also have "garage doors" or "bathroom" in their name). They are more likely to be showing up when searching for your keyword terms as they're probably using the same, or very similar, keywords to you.

What does this mean for your SEO?

When you (or your SEO manager) have discovered your closest competitors the next step is to work out how you're going to surpass them. This is perhaps easier said than done, especially if your competitors have very large sites or are e-commerce sites with items being put up regularly.

If you are doing regular SEO on your website, or have an SEO company like the Smart Domain Group carrying it out for you, then you have a much better chance of standing shoulder to shoulder, or even out ranking, your competitors. How can this be done? Here are some common ways that you can improve your website in lieu of your competitors:

Filling in the gaps

There are going to be plenty of websites that are targeting the same keywords as you; it's inevitable. Unless you have a very niche business, you'll like be sharing generic keywords and perhaps some specific ones with your SEO competitors. 

What are your current keywords? You or your SEO manager should have a plan of attack when it comes to what keywords you're using. Usually, your SEO manager will look at your SEO competitors' keywords to see what will be useful to target and what won't be. But, what can be very interesting to look into is what your competitors aren't targeting. See if there are any holes in their strategy and exploit them; you'll have less SEO competitors if they aren't targeting the same keywords as you. Of course, there's no point in targeting keywords that have no traffic (an easy way to check this is with Google Trends), so make sure any alternate keywords are still searched and have the potential to get your website noticed.

Checking competitors' backlinks

You (or your SEO manager) should be looking into getting your website backlinks, but many of your SEO competitors may be at the top of Google because they have such good backlinks. If your website is new then this is going to take a little while to accumulate; if you're not new, then you may already have some good backlinks, or you may need to go out there and get some more.

What are backlinks? you might ask. Essentially, backlinks are links from other sites to yourself (not including Google). For example, you might be on a directory such as Yell or Thomson Local; we would consider these backlinks. Some companies might try to buy backlinks which is a bad idea - you want your backlinks to come from a reputable source that adds something to your site, and visa versa.

Sadly, to see your competitors' backlinks you'll need to use specific tools, which SEO experts like the Smart Domain Group have to hand. This is a key element to ensuring you're ahead of the game, so when it comes to your SEO competitors, sometimes leaving it to the experts is the best idea.

So, where should you start?

Keeping a constant and close eye on your SEO competitors is a good thing to do whatever your interest in SEO. Your SEO manager will be keeping an eye on this as well and usually has the necessary tools to track it further than you can on your own; it's always a good idea to check out your SEO competitors when drawing up a strategy, but it's never too late!

Get in touch with the experts here at Smart Domain Group and discuss how to move forward with your SEO. The best thing you can do for your website is to watch what your SEO competitors are doing and work your strategy around it. Why not start today?

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