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How To Conduct an Intelligent Competitive Analysis for SEO Success

What’s the reason my competitor ranks high on Google than me? What’s missing in my SEO efforts?

These are few questions that linger when ranking high in organic SERPs is important for the health of your company.SEO analysis

In this post, we will provide you tips that will give you head start to find the answers to all these questions via a list of criteria that are vital when carrying out competitive SEO analysis. It’s the best approach for fresh, industry-specific, new strategies to boost your organic search rankings. You can also apply this criteria for development of your website to build a really strong foundation even before it is launched.

Now let’s have a close look at important competitive analysis SEO criteria:

Web Page Layout and Site Structure

Since Google released its page layout algorithm, it has affected four percent of search queries, and many websites now place high importance on page layout for SEO. For example, websites with good SERP position tend to have few above-the-fold ads. High ranked websites also use CSS grid systems and responsive design to enrich their user experience on the website on mobile devices.

Website structure is not limited to visual layout, but vital factors such as navigational structure, URL structure and internal linking structure. So list out all these page criteria and then compare your website to your competitor’s to find more on how well you’re doing.

Usability

Google gives higher ranking to websites that ensure rich user experience. If your competitor’s website has elements of usability that may affect their search rankings, this can be a good way to benchmark your website and somehow improve upon it.

You need to consider the following aspects of usability:

site nav

  • Cross browser compatibility
  • Page load time
  • Custom 404 pages
  • URL structure
  • Broken links
  • Trust elements on the site
  • Call-to-action characteristics
  • User-friendly navigation
  • Typography

Realizing some of these elements are missing your website can offer great opportunities for SEO. This may be as simple as fixing a few broken links, or more substantial, such as investing in mobile website design services in Peoria.

Test the Technology Used to Build the WebsiteWeb Design Code

Learn more about the CMS used or the web development platform your competitor’s website are built with. Many website platforms do a great job of optimizing most on-page SEO factors. Other technical elements, like hosting server, also have good effect on SEO to a certain extent. If website hosting server is unreliable, then user site experience is affected thus affecting overall Google SERP ranking as well.

Also, when web servers have quick access to a robust cloud infrastructure, website speed is increased, which also boosts SERP. Although this area of SEO is important, it's also highly-technical and requires proper training and expertise to execute effectively.

Check for Robots.Txt File and XML SitemapSEO sitemap

Check if your competitor has a robot.txt file and XML sitemap on their website. If there’s no sitemap this way you can have a close look at the robots.txt file. A well organized website will list their sitemap(s) in their robot.txt file as well.

These SEO elements help in efficient and fast indexing of a site. Though websites can be indexed even without them due to improved algorithms, but it’s best to provide information to the search engine bots. These elements are especially vital when doing SEO for ecommerce companies.

Keyword Consistency

Check how frequently and consistently keywords are used on your competitor’s site compared to your own. Are their target keywords placed on main on-page elements, such as title, headers, description, and image alt attributes. The keyword density tool from SEO Book is a nice resource for this part of the competitive analysis.

Backlink and Traffic Analysis

Your competitors may be building links at many places. So discovering niche sites from your competitor’s back linking profile can be helpful, as this can help you get higher search rankings. An advanced competitor’s review will show you list of authoritative links that point to your site. Our SEO team prefers Majestic as the go-to tool for backlinks analysis. This is a huge aspect of analyzing competitors, and it's a good way to determine who the best plastic surgery SEO companies are.

Content Analysis

There are many content based criteria that can help compare websites; the keyword density, the length of the content, grammar and language, images and videos, navigation, headings, whether the blog is associated with websites and how often it is updated, presence of promotional offers and social media connections.

Check number of ads displayed on the site, and also compare text-to-html ratio of their content as well. Also analyze the structure of the content used in metal descriptions and meta titles throughout the site. These are still vital aspects of today's SEO best practices.

Top-Ranking Keywords

Check keyword your competitor’s website ranks for. Research the:

  • Volume of searches for the keywords.
  • Top ranking keywords.
  • Number of short-tail and long-tail keywords.
  • SERP position for sets of ranking keywords.
  • Number of location-specific keywords.
  • Ad positioning on major search engines for top-ranking keywords.

Measure Social Media Reach

This is an important criteria that will provide you deeper insight into why your competition ranks higher than you in SERPs. Social signals contribute to any website ranking, especially when it comes to Google+ and Google local 3-pack SEO So check social media sites of your competition, their number of followers/fans, their level of engagement and number of times they interact with their followers.

These are the main criteria that you need to consider for competitive SEO analysis of your website. Once you get hold of comparative study data, determine all factors that are missing or can be improved, and then start implementing changes based on what might have most impact. This can lay a strong foundation for building a long-lasting and fantastic website structure.

A Quick Primer On "The New SEO"

While there are several ways to increase a website's search engine exposure, few SEO programs yield consistent and sustainable results. This is often because the focus of the program is too narrow (i.e. comprised of only on-site SEO or only link building,) or the SEO program is aimless and overreaching (i.e. expecting to rank #1 for a very competitive keyword like “luxury cruises.”) New SEO

The best SEO programs are data-driven and cohesive in that they target attainable keywords and leverage a combination of web marketing and branding strategies. In addition to basic on-site SEO implementations, a comprehensive program would include strategies involving: social media marketing and advertising, content development, public relations and guest blogging, link building, and conversion rate optimization (CRO).

What Defines a Solid SEO Program

Good SEO programs go far beyond optimizing pages for keyword relevancy. In fact, a solid SEO program is more comprehensive in that it includes a number of elements.

  • Optimizing Pages - Includes directly modifying or providing suggestions for new page titles, Meta descriptions, page copy, and other SEO-related components of a page.
  • Technical SEO - Focuses on coding the site for fluid crawling and indexing; website optimization for faster load speeds; URL naming, rewrites, and 301 redirects; usage of HTML/XML sitemaps and internal linking; image optimization; Schema markup when applicable.
  • Content Marketing - Developing a content strategy and working with clients to produce new optimized pages, blog posts/articles, press releases, and other forms of content that can be optimized for SEO and shared/distributed across many platforms, particularly social media.
  • Link Building - Generating link popularity using ethical, natural link building strategies. This takes a very mindful approach that should first include a thorough backlink SEO audit before starting.
  • Conversion Rate Optimization - Directly implementing or providing suggestions for conversion funneling, calls-to-action, and helping improve the website's traffic potential to generate leads.
  • Social media - Providing services in social media management, marketing consulting, and advertising (to boost and publicize optimized content for greater SEO potential.)
  • Reporting and tracking - Define specific metrics and variable (i.e. keyword rankings, monthly traffic, conversions, etc.)

Blended SEO Is Winning SEO

There are a number of benefits to leveraging a cohesive SEO strategy that blends social media, content marketing, and SEO. Blended SEO

  • The potential to generate highly-targeted inbound traffic to All-Travel.com directly from social platforms.
  • Pages that earn social signals (i.e. Likes, Tweets, Pins, +1's, etc.) have significantly higher ranking potential for SEO (and links from those pages have greater SEO value to other pages of the website.)
  • Creating and publishing content on a regular basis helps accelerate the crawling and indexing rate of the website (bonus for SEO).
  • Quality content can earn links naturally, in addition influencing domain authority and other SEO-related performance metrics.
  • Leverage SEO-friendly web design services and ensure your site is well-optimized for search.
  • Bolster online brand building efforts.

An overwhelming number of SEO providers will focus their services on generating traffic to your website. But if that traffic does not translate to conversions, then what's the point? And how relevant or meaningful is that traffic?

Embracing the new form of SEO is ultimately the best way to build a prominent web presence and sustainable search engine rankings that yields meaningful results.

Google Local SEO Strategies for Medical Professionals

Search Engine Optimization is one of the most effective and fruitful strategies to attract more traffic to your website and generate more leads. Most marketing-proactive medical professionals have realized the significance of Google local SEO. However, when it comes to ever-changing practice of search engine optimization, there are always new techniques, resources, and strategies made available.

In this post, we discuss a few unique SEO strategies, elements, and resources that will help set course for successful Google local SEO strategy for your medical practice.

Google SEO surgeons

Clean-up Citations

Conducting a citation audit is extremely important for your medical website. You need to focus on ensuring your business' citation profile (mentions of contact details on other websites) is completely accurate and consistent. The name, address, and phone number (NAP, or "citation") of your business, on all listings throughout the web (Yelp, Facebook, Yahoo, etc.) must be aligned.

This a Google ranking signal for the local listings associated with Google Maps. So if you're a plastic surgeon in San Francisco, you'll want to ensure your citations are clean and plentiful. An easy way to check is to scan your business at Yext.com. If find the services of Yext to be of value, here at OIC Group we are a Yext reseller and can offer you an affordable monthly subscription, so hit us up!

Invest in Local Directories 

When it comes to local SEO for surgeons and medical practices, getting listed on local directories is one of the most important steps you can take to jump start your efforts. While you could use Yext, you can also go out and find opportunities to build trusted directory listings on the web. A great place to start is the Moz Local tool.

In addition to getting a citation from local directory listings, you business also often times gets a backlink to your website. If you don't already know, backlinks are vital to determining

a site's authority, keyword relevancy, and overall ranking potential. Although most local directories provide a NoFollow backlink (which is less powerful than a DoFollow,) having a number of NoFollow backlinks helps to naturalize your backlink profile (particularly if you're engaged in more aggressive link building strategies.)

Also scout for health and medical directories for high quality listings. Sometimes paying for a listing or membership (which gets you a great listing) is well worth it, especially if the site is closely aligned with your practice (i.e. plastic surgery or chiropractic). Generating citations and backlinks from more trusted and exclusive directories will work magic for you local SEO program.

Produce Long-form Content

Medical Practice SEO Google ListingsTo truly position your medical practice as an authority brand in the surgical services it offers, producing completely original content that's valuable to your target patients. Informative, educational, evergreen content (particularly long-from copy) defines your credibility and expertise, all while serving as a powerful marketing tool for both SEO and social media.

Choose topics or think of common questions that patients ask you about certain surgical procedures. Perhaps if specialize in breast surgery, you could share your opinion about some of the better types of breast implants that are available. Likewise, a rhinoplasty surgeon could educate curious readers on the entire surgical procedure and how to properly prepare.

There's a lot that goes into a successful SEO program, especially if you're a medical practitioner located in a competitive metro market. Certainly there are more things you can invest in, such as link building, but these are few strategies that your competitors may or may not be employing. For surgery specialists, be sure to check out our exclusive solutions in Google local SEO for plastic surgeons at the website OptimizedSurgeons.com.

Will Backlinks Soon Lose Their SEO Value?

When it comes to Google's search engine algorithm, it's not uncommon for certain ranking factors to lose their value over the years. With respect to the practice of crafty SEO companies, Google must consistently refurbish is ranking mechanism to provide optimal quality results.

Yes, you know what we're talking about here. Links.

There's no question that links (aka "backlinks" or "inbound links") are a huge ranking factor in Google. But with new variables (e.g. social signals,) over time, it's anticipated that links may lose their SEO value?

Well, will they? Matt Cutts explains how Google plans to interpret and value links when ranking websites in the search results.

In his vague response, links will most definitely retain their value for quite some time. However, as many SEO professionals are well aware, the nature of (and natural appearance) a site's backlink portfolio will ultimately determine its SEO success and ranking sustainability.

So, my friends, how does your site's backlink portfolio look? Are you scared?

Let's run a quick backlink audit on your site and let you know. It's free. So do it. Hit us up!

What a Professional SEO Audit Should Include

SEO audits can reveal a wealth of information regarding a website's SEO potential and current standing in the results.

In many cases that call for SEO auditing, website owners invest in SEO services, however fail to see desirable rankings and ROI. In other situations, insights are needed to advance an SEO campaign, or simply do a check-up on how things are progressing. SEO Audits

Regardless of the core reason or purpose, the SEO audit process should reveal certain data and information that provides actionable insights. Below we highlight what you should expect from a professional SEO audit.

Because there are numerous factors that are taken into consideration, such factors are typically best organized as on-page SEO and off-page SEO factors.

Auditing On-Page SEO Factors

Although performing on-page SEO functions are both cumbersome and critical for success, on-page variables only account for about 30% of Google's ranking algorithm.

When conducting on-page SEO audits, the following elements should be taken into consideration.

  • Keyword usage - Having a proper balance of keyword inclusion is important to establish relevancy. It's crucial to understand that overly keyword dense content can actually be at risk of penalization, whereas in most cases, not enough keyword relevancy is established in the proper places.
  • Technical SEO - This includes a wide range of elements, such as: HTML coding structure of pages; site health and prevalence of warnings and errors; proper use of a HTML and XML sitemaps; site load speed; use of internal linking.
  • Website structure, navigation, & usability - It's critical to assess how a website is structured, not only for SEO, but also Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO). In short, search traffic is useless if it's not converting.

Auditing Off-Page SEO Factors

Off-page factors carry the greatest weight in determining keyword search rankings. For this reason, a successful SEO program will should place ongoing emphasis on the following components.

  • Integrating Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools - Although integrating these tools may not directly impact SEO, they are critical to conduct SEO analyses and measure success. Any good SEO auditor will request access to these programs to analyze key metrics and data. If they are not integrated, a first step is to get this done ASAP.
  • Building a natural backlink portfolio - The overall number and quality a site's backlinks is perhaps the most important contributor to SEO success. Google ranks sites that have natural backlink portfolios (a natural, non-overly optimized blend of link anchor text) that stem from relevant, authoritative sources.
  • Having a strong presence in social media - Social media is starting to have a massive affect on search. This mostly centers on "social signals" (e.g. Google +1's, Tweets, Facebook Likes, Shares, etc.) The more social signals a page has can equate to better rankings. So greater social authority can correlate to greater search authority as well. Although social media doesn't seem relevant to SEO, it should be included in any good SEO audit.

Although there is more that goes into a complete SEO audit, the latter outline entails the bulk of the overall process.

Here at OIC Group, we have experience providing a wide range SEO services for many business models. Spanning from ecommerce SEO audits and consulting services to local search marketing program that combine SEO and PPC, we offer a spectrum of capabilities that are individually-tailored.

Why Articles Are Still Righteous for SEO

For those who think articles are big waste of time for SEO, it's time to get real. An online article, just like any webpage, can have authority. Also like any good webpage, a good article is typically filled with valuable content.

As a result of that valuable content, people link to the article and it earns PageRank (or "PR" - the primary measure of webpage authority.) In the SEO profession, we call this "link bait." We all know that backlinks are sources of higher keyword rankings.

Authoritative, contextually relevant articles are a great addition to any website's backlink portfolio. What exactly do I mean by that? It's really quite simple.

Value & Relevancy are Key

To offer value in your content you have inform or educate your readers. In doing so, you must very specific in how you communicate your ideas. That is, focus on a narrow topic and reveal all goods that you can (or find appropriate.) Focusing on a very specific topic correlates to being very relevant.

Contextual relevancy is simply content that highlights a similar theme with that of what a business is offering. So if your business provides ecommerce software (and your SEO keyword targets center on 'ecommerce software,') then the most contextually relevant articles will be about ecommerce software. This concept is significant to ensure the backlinks in your articles offer the most value. To reiterate, the main idea is offer something of value about a narrow topic or niche.

When you produce superb content that offers a specific audience valuable takeaways, your articles can offer many advantages beyond SEO. This is why the articles you see ranking highly in the search results are about "tips" and "strategies." In a sense, the more you give, the more you gain.

Organize Your Ideas

Before you get to writing, take some time to organize your ideas. If you're a lawyer, you probably already plan to produce articles about your legal practice and areas of specialty. Think about your approach from the reader's point of view.

If you specialize in criminal defense law, what types of articles are going to hit home with your audience? Perhaps map out a few potential articles about 'how to fight a DUI' or 'steps to take when faced with drug charges.'

What kind of information is your target market (or a potential client) seeking? Being an educator will not only up the value of your articles (authority,) but will position you or your brand as knowledgeable, trustworthy resource. Instilling such advocacy can result in quality leads (especially if you articles rank in the search results.)

Write On!

So who's to say solid articles are no good for SEO?

Like blogging and other forms of content marketing, awesome articles can:

  • gain authority, which passes along to any backlinks in your articles.
  • rank in the search engine results, maximizing your marketing exposure.
  • inbound traffic to your website and position your business are reputable and trustworthy.

And lastly, (with respect to changes in Google's search that target overly-optimized websites) article backlinks can help to make your off-page SEO efforts appear more natural. Having a diverse backlink portfolio is key in today's SEO best practices, and articles are great contribution to achieve just that.

 

This article written by Tyler Tafelsky, one of SEO Specialists here at OIC Group, Inc. Visit Tyler on Google+

Google's Penguin

Late last month, Google unveiled a massive algorithm change that effected the search engine rankings of many different sites. The change known as "Penguin" targeted sites that were 'over-optimized,' many of these plummeted as a result. In essence, Google has 'reset the deck' in a effort to clean-up its search engine results.

After facing a lot outsider criticism due to the poorness of its search results, the Google set out to do something about it. The primary reason for Google's results being so bad was mostly attributed to relentless SEO practices. Search engine optimizers worked hard to increase the rankings of sites that offered little to no value to Google users, and many of them were successful at getting these sites to ranking highly on competitive search terms.

In short, frustrated search engine users were quick to bounce when they came upon crummy microsite or SEO "doorway page," and their faith in Google's results diminished.

'Over-Optimized' = Unnatural Backlinks

Google's Matt Cutts and his posse of search engine gurus set out to determine why such terrible sites were appearing at the top of the search results. They pinpointed backlinks, namely 'over-optimized' backlinks, to be the culprit.

So what does having 'over-optimized' backlinks mean?

For the past few years, building backlinks to a site was the best way to increase its authority and search engine rankings. In order to attain a high ranking on a certain keyword phrase, the anchor text of its links needed to include the specific keyword target in which the webpage was set to rank for. So for a webpage optimized for "hair loss treatment," the best links for SEO would be those with the anchor text 'hair loss treatment."

Pretty simple concept that worked like a charm. "Penguin" changed all that by taking an in-depth look at the backlink portfolio of websites. Those websites that had an overwhelming amount of backlinks with exact phrase match anchor text (or anchor text that included the entire keyword target for its respective page) were consider "over-optimized." As a result, those websites fell in Google's search results and the rest is history.

How to Pinpoint 'Over-Optimization' and What to do About It

Over-optimization through Penguin's eyes is an evaluation of site's backlink ratio. That ratio looks at the anchor text of each link pointing to a site and weighs which links are keyword optimized and which appear to be natural. Optimized anchor text will include the exact phrase match of a page's keyword targets, where more natural backlinks will simply be the site's name or the URL of the page (such as "www.hairlosswebsite.com" or "Regrow Your Hair" - the name of the site).

To effectively pinpoint just how over-optimized a website is, one must run a backlink scan using a spidering tool such as SEO SpyGlass. Based on report from that scan, the anchor text of the site's backlinks will need to be thoroughly investigated. If it appears that too much over-optimization is presence, one must 'balance the ratio' with more natural backlinks.

So instead of building links with nothing but exact phrase match anchor text, ethical SEO's must diversify their backlink portfolios. Some strategies for backlink diversification include using:

  • variations of anchor text to include only some keywords, rather than always using exact phrase match (also known as "partial linking" in the ecommerce SEO world)
  • a blend of do-follow backlinks and no-follow backlinks (80:20 is a good ration here). Such no-follow backlinks include forum and blog comment links, which are rather easy to build
  • the domain name or URL of the page being linked to * relevant link sources that have similar content that reflects the backlink and its anchor text

Have you been effected by Penguin? Feed us your thoughts in comments section below.

 

This article written by Tyler Tafelsky, one of our Internet marketing specialists here at OIC Group, Inc.

Visit Tyler on Google+

 

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