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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.

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!

Five 10-Minute Tasks to Jump Start Your Company's Peoria SEO Strategy

local seo peoria ilAre you somewhat familiar with SEO, but not sure where to begin? If so, then this blog post is for you.

Whether you're a self-employed professional or a marketing manager for a large firm here in central Illinois, SEO can offer immense marketing value to all types of organizations.

SEO is not as technical as it may seem. In fact, it's often more creative and right brained than it is technical and left brained.

There are some simple yet highly effective ways to ignite your company's Peoria SEO strategy; and many of these tasks take less than 10-minutes to complete. When executed correctly, these quick tasks can offer incredible value to your company's overall marketing efforts, in addition to SEO and higher keyword rankings.

1. Claim & Optimize Your Company's Google+ Local Page

Peoria Google Plus PINOne of the first things you should do for your company is claim and optimize its Google+ Local page. Aside from the website, the Google+ Local page is the secondary foundation of your company's web presence (and greatly impacts your local Peoria SEO strategy.)

Hop on over to plus.google.com and do a quick search for your company's name. If you see a page for your company, claim it so you can begin populating the page to it's fullest potential. For specific information on how to do this, check out this blog post that explains the simple process.

2. Make Your Primary Pages Keyword Relevant

An important step to "optimizing" your company's website is to ensure certain pages are keyword relevant (i.e. the homepage and select product/service pages.) This simple process centers on including your keywords in all the right places.

For example, lets say we're doing SEO for local computer repair shop in Peoria. We'll want to include the company's primary keyword targets in the homepage's page title, meta description, and page copy. As a general rule of thumb, we keep the page title concise and under 70 characters, and the meta description under 155. This is simply SEO best practices and ensures all of the text shows in Google's search results without being cut off.

For the page copy, there's no need to butcher the text with heavy keyword usage. By simply mentioning the keywords a few times throughout the page, we'll establish sufficient keyword relevancy.

Apply the latter techniques to all pages on your company's website with SEO value. The homepage happens to be the most important and should be optimized for your the golden (primary) keyword target of interest.

3. Ensure Your NAP (Citation) is Complete & Accurate

Also known as a citation, the NAP (Name, Address, and Phone Number) of your business is a critical element of local SEO that defines the tangible legitimacy of your company. It's important to ensure that your company's NAP is entirely accurate and complete.

Additionally, it's equally important that the NAP is mentioned in text-based form (not in an image) so that search engine spiders can crawl, index, and compare the NAP with other citations of your business mentioned throughout the web. A site-wide header or footer is a perfect place to put the NAP.

4. Create a HTML Sitemap (and Link to it Site-wide)

From a technical, non-user perspective, the HTML sitemap is often acclaimed the second most important page of a website (with the homepage being tops.) Unfortunately, many company's fail to create an HTML sitemap, and those who do often do not link to it properly. sitemap peoria seo tips

Building an HTML sitemap is pretty simply. It's essentially an index page that contains links to all pages of your website. You can create one manually if you have the right resources and direction, or you can use tools like XML-Sitemaps.com to generate one for you.

Once you have created a sufficient sitemap, it's important that you link to it on all pages of your website. Like the company's NAP, the perfect location for a sitemap link is in a header or footer.

5. Jump Start Link Generation & Create a Yext Account

citations local seo peoria

Aside from the first task of claiming and optimizing your company's Google+ Local page, most of the work we've done thus far is considered on-site SEO. However, a large majority of the SEO juice needed to rank highly in Google comes from off-site elements, primarily links pointing to your company's website.

Link generation is an ongoing process that's approached in many different ways. For local companies, directories are a great source of links (and citations). In a competitive marketspace, getting listed on directories is imperative to be a contender.

You can go out and build directory listings manually, or you can use services like Yext to do all of the work for you. We suggest you choose the latter and invest in a Yext account. That, or contact us and we can include your business on our "Agency" Yext account for a sweet deal.

So, What Are You Waiting For?!

Keep in mind that most of these tasks you can do yourself with the capability to edit the content of your website.

After you have completed these simple tasks, you can explore various resources to further empower your site's authority and SEO value. Many of these resources take place off from your actual website, but will further help increase the credibility (and traffic) to your website.

If you need help or want further direction, we offer free SEO assessments for qualified Peoria companies, in addition to ongoing SEO consulting and service programs.

About the Author:

Tyler Tafelsky is the SEO and Internet marketing manager here at OIC Group, Inc. and created of Yisoo internet marketing training programs. Tyler offers over 5 years of experience in the SEO profession and has handled a wide range of search marketing campaigns on both a global and local level. You can contact him directly via email at tyler (at) oicgroup.net or you can connect with Tyler on Google+.

D.I.Y Local SEO in About 10 Minutes or Less

local seo peoria ilLocal SEO is not rocket science, folks. Sure, there's the complex technical side of things, but for the most part, local SEO is a straightforward process that almost anyone can do with the right direction.

In this blog post, I am going to steer you in the right direction to lay the foundation for a well-optimized website that's geared for local SEO success.

These tips might sound elementary or unrelated to local SEO, but without implementing each step in the process, your website won't reach its fullest SEO potential.

Take Care of the On-site SEO Basics

The first step to optimizing your website is to ensure it's keyword relevant in all the right places. In our example, lets say we are optimizing a business' website that sells custom tank tops in Atlanta.

We'll want to include these keywords in the homepage's page title, meta description, and page copy. We keep the page title under 70 characters and the meta description under 155 (as a general rule of thumb for white hat SEO) so they don't get cut-off in the search results.

In addition to ensuring these elements are keyword relevant, we also tailor this content in such a way that entices search engine users to click the listing. 

As for page copy, we don't need to keyword stuff the text. Simply mentioning the keywords a couple times on the page is all you need (too much is actually a risk for over-optimization.) We'll attempt to get the keyword in a header and couple times in a paragraph, if it makes senses.

We can apply these simple techniques to all pages on the site with SEO value. Although the homepage is paramount, we may also have a page on "neon tank tops" in which we'll want to keyword optimization. As a last tip for on-site SEO, we'll want to ensure all page titles, meta descriptions, and page copy is entirely unique per page.

Ensure Your NAP is Complete

A complete NAP in a local SEO context is full, entirely accurate citation (or mentioning) of a business' name, address, and phone number on its website. To further ensure its completeness and purpose for local SEO, including the NAP on every page of the website is critical. The header and/or footer is a perfect place to put it.

Evaluate Your NAPs

Now that we've ensure the NAP is accurate and properly placed on the website, we will then want to evaluate our NAPs on other websites, particularly directories. Any inaccuracies and inconsistencies with the business' NAP on these directories will cause confusion with Google and discredit the legitimacy of our business. 

An easy and free way to do this is to hop on over to Yext and perform a scan. The scan will tell you which (of the top 50 or so) directories have any inaccuracies that need to be fixed. You can do this manually, invest in Yext to help you do more efficiently, or hit us up to fix them (or consult you on how to do it in the most SEO-friendly manner possible.)

In essence, this step in the local SEO process is called a citation audit ("citation" meaning a mention of a business' NAP.) Auditing and fixing any inaccurate citations is crucial to thrive in Google's local search results (the listings associated with the Google map and red push pins.)

Create a Content Strategy

In addition to keyword optimizing the content of the website (the on-site SEO stuff mentioned above,) we'll also put together a more long-term content strategy that focuses on consistently publications. The most popular means of executing a content strategy is via blogging. But we can take this one-step further by creating rich media content like graphics and video.

A content strategy fuels local SEO in couple different ways. By publishing content that relates to our core services in custom tank top services, we can further increase the keyword relevancy and authority of the site (e.g. creating an inspiring article about ideas around creative custom tank top designs.)

The other way in which a content strategy can help with SEO is via social media. Producing content internally gives us something meaningful to share on Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterst, and any other social media platform we want to include.

Make Time to Be More Social

Whether for enterprise-level ecommerce SEO or simply local SEO, having an active social media presence is a big deal for any SEO strategy. The keyword here is active. Too many businesses create a social media account but just leave it hanging assuming it serves its purpose as it stands.

We'll dedicate a portion of our time and energy being socially active in sharing content, engaging with people, and building relationships. Not only does this layer of social credibility influence our search engine ranking potential, but we can establish meaningful connections that result in future customers as well as link opportunities.

Generate Links to Your Website

The last component to doing local SEO on your own is finding ways to generate links to your website. Performing the Yext scan above and help you pinpoint some good local directories worth getting your business listed. Most directories will provide a link back to your website (in addition to a citation.)

Other good resources for local SEO links are chamber of commerce websites (which typically require a membership, but offer an authoritative and locally-relevant link,) local newspaper sites, press release sites, and blogs. Doing some guest blogging is often effective, but under some scrutiny in the SEO profession as this practice is being relentlessly exploited by spammers.

Generating links to your site takes some time and efforts. In our example situation, we'll want to scout for sites related our local area of Atlanta, as well as topics around clothing, custom designing, screen printing, and various relevant topics. The trick is to find creative ways to reach out to site owners and webmasters in such a way that gives them a reason to link to your site. Whether you can offer some content or perhaps a link exchange, link generation is an ongoing effort that will significantly fuel your local SEO efforts.

Want to go deeper with your local SEO practice? We're happy to further educate you on applying the best practices of SEO on your website. Just contact the OIC Group's SEO department to learn more.

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.

The Driving Force Behind Google Local SEO is Citations

When it comes to off-page SEO (which makes up a majority of Google's ranking algorithm,) it's all about building and earning links to a webpage.

However, what most businesses fail to realize about off-page SEO is that citations are essential to uplift rankings in the Google Local Search results.

Although links might be more influential in Google’s organic search algorithm, citations are the bee's knees to rank higher in the local results (the listings accompanied by the Google map with little red pins.)

A citation is simply a mention or reference of your business's name or contact information somewhere on the web. A few examples of where you can find quality citations include:

  • social listings, such as LinkedIn or Google+ Local
  • Yellow Pages directory listings
  • review site listings, such as Yelp or Manta
  • local chamber of commerce
  • other web directory listings, such as Superpages

Citations can have a momentous impact on a business's local SEO rankings. Even when there's no link included with a citation, Google still recognizes the mention of your business and factors-in the search engine value as a result.

Why Citations are Critical for Local SEO

Local companies that rack-up tons of citations on other websites can spike their Google local search ranking. Some of the primary reasons why Google values quality citation are:

  • Community Value – Citations show that your business is a part of community on the web. In a sense, you're establishing legitimacy with Google by proving your business is real and engaged on various other websites.
  • Validity & Legitimacy – Citations are sign of validity, which is arguably the main reason why Google’s local search algorithm factors-in citations.
  • Niche Industries & Professions – Citations are ideal for businesses in a smaller industries or professions. Google recognizes the source of your business's citations. So if you're chiropractic business has listings on chiropractor directory sites, the value only increases.

Discovering opportunities to build citations is now always easy, and going about building them can seem like a monotonous task. Fortunately we've compiled a nice list of resources for you to use. Dedicate a block of time in your day to build 1 or 2 citations of these websites. In time, you can see your Google Local Search ranking increase for the keywords that drive quality traffic to your website.

Before you start building citations, you should ensure that you have properly set-up a Google Plus Local page for you business. This is the foundation and will help magnify the impact of your citation building efforts.

 

Peoria Web Design Company Offices:
OIC Group, Inc.
Phone: (309) 680-5600

Mailing Address:
PO Box 1111
Peoria, IL 61653