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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.

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+.

5 Simple SEO Tips a Marketing Manager Can Handle

SEO is not rocket science, folks. In fact, 90% of the on-site SEO process can be handled by anyone with basic website and computer knowledge (e.g. a marketing manager.)

In this blog post, I will share with five simple SEO tips that you (or virtually anyone on your marketing team) can handle. seo-tips

Before you get to optimizing your website, there's one thing that you'll want to confirm. That is, are you able to edit the content of your website?

If you have a content management system (or "CMS") like Wordpress, then you're good to go. If not, you'll need to touch base with your webmaster (or whoever created your website) in order to implement these SEO techniques.

SEO Tip #1: Make Your Website Keyword Relevant

This SEO tip is about as simple as it gets. It's important to ensure that your website is relevant for the keywords that you're targeting. To do this, you must include your keywords in the right places throughout the website.

The primary content elements that you'll want to include your keywords are:

  • Page URL - With the exception of the homepage, each page of your website will have a URL (e.g. www.YourDomain.com/keywords.html). Put only the primary keywords you're targeting in the URL (and dismiss words like "in," "the" or "for.") Also, separate each keyword with a dash (-) and not an underscore (_).
  • Page Title - This HTML tag defines what your page is about. The page title also appears in the search results as the main headline of your webpage listing (or the blue, click-able link in Google). For this reason, you'll want to include your keyword targets, but also be creative to compel search users to click your listing. Only about 70 characters of the page title will appear in the search results, so try to be concise.
  • Meta Description - This is the supplement statement to a page's title. Although it's debated as to whether or not the Meta description has SEO value (with respect to keyword inclusion,) the words a searcher uses will appear in bold. So regardless of SEO value, your page's search listing will appear more relevant based on user interaction. And like the page title, be creative and compelling with your words (and keep Meta descriptions under 160 characters so all is visible in the search results.)
  • Page Copy - It's ideal to mention your keywords in the page copy a handful of times, but avoid jamming your keywords. In short, include your keywords in a header and a few times throughout the copy. Keep your readers in primary focus (and not so much your keywords.) Keyword density is overrated, and too high of a density can actually be a risk.

SEO Tip #2: Create a Sitemap (and Link it Site-wide)

From a technical search engine perspective, the sitemap is known as the second most important page of any website (next to the homepage.) And unfortunately, many webmasters fail to include a sitemap on their website. sitemap seo tips

Creating a sitemap is pretty easy. It's basically an index page that contains links to all of the pages of your website.

Of course if you're optimizing an ecommerce website, there maybe thousands of pages to account for. This is when creating segmented sitemaps is a logical solution.

Once you have built a complete sitemap, you'll want to include a link to your sitemap on all pages of your website. An ideal location for this link is in a site-wide footer, or somewhere in the primary navigation.

SEO Tip #3: Implement Internal Linking

Another good way to establish keyword relevancy is to implement internal links (or "cross-links" between pages of a website). Keyword relevancy is established via the anchor text of the links (which are ideally included in the page copy.)

It's important for SEO to build internal links logically. That is, cross-link pages that are somewhat related to one another. This will naturally enable you to write keyword relevant anchor text that makes proper sense (and promotes optimal SEO value.)

SEO Tip #4: Integrate "Calls-to-Action"

Getting traffic to your website is half the battle. The other half is converting website visitors into leads. This practice is known as conversion rate optimization (or "CRO") and it takes the value of SEO one step further. call to action seo tips

A call-to-action is a simple way of saying "click here and give us your information." CTA’s are best in the form of obvious buttons or graphics (sometimes accompanied by a short form for visitors to fill out.) The trick to is to incentive visitors with something valuable, such as free consultation, audit, or eBook.

You can still manage to integrate CTA’s without designing graphics. A bold phrase in your page copy that says "click here to learn more" can often work just fine. Take some time to formulate a CRO strategy. It's an optimal supplement to your SEO strategy and making the most of your web traffic.

SEO Tip #5: Build a Google+ Page

So this SEO tip is a little of both, on-site and off-site optimization. Building a Google+ page will help generate greater search engine credibility and authority in your website.

It's super easy to do and can have a momentous affect on your SEO efforts. To get started, check out this past blog post about how to set-up a Google+ page.

The Takeaway

Keep in mind that these five SEO tips center on on-site optimization. Nowadays, on-site SEO only accounts for maybe 20-30% of most search engine algorithms. The remaining 70-80% of a solid SEO strategy focuses on off-site SEO, which is far more complex.

Here at OIC Group, we can help you with both on-site and off-site SEO. Contact us or sign up for a free web consultation (in the top left of this page.) We will personally review your website and provide free insights as to how you can improve your overall web presence.

Your Company's 2013 Website Optimization Checklist

Building a website optimization strategy for your company is paramount for its success online. It's key to create an actionable plan with realistic and well-defined goals.

This checklist is designed to help you and your company's marketing team tailor a results-oriented website optimization strategy. Whether for better website usability, visibility, or conversion potential, there are a number of elements that go into the website optimization process. Below we outline several ways in which your company can improve its website for better performance.

Optimize the Website's Navigation

A critical component of having a well-optimized website is its navigation. Navigation focuses on the structure and organization of pages, as well as how pages are linked together throughout the website.

Optimizing the navigation of your company's website addresses both SEO and CRO (conversion rate optimization.) In many respects, the emphasis is similar to structuring a textbook. Think of each primary category of the website as a main chapter, and the site's sub-categories (or individual pages) as sections that support each chapter.

From an on-site SEO perspective (and to strengthen a website's "domain authority") having more sub-categories and individual pages supporting a chapter will help bolster keyword relevancy and overall domain-level authority. A cohesive and logically-structured navigation can also help to ensure visitors can efficiently make their way around the website.

Optimize the Website's "Focal Pages"

Keyword optimization is a primary aspect of the SEO process. In order for your company's website to attain its fullest SEO potential, the "focal pages" of the website must include keywords in the proper places. Focal pages are core pages of your website that will bolster SEO value, such as the product and service pages.

Whether your website has 2 or 200 focal pages, the process is the same per page. The actual "optimization" of these pages consists of mentioning targeted keywords in the right places. These include:

  • the URL (e.g. www.domain.com/keyword-target/)
  • the page title (or "Meta title")
  • the Meta description
  • the page copy

It's important to note that a high keyword density is not the way to go. In fact, keyword stuffing is a risk that can get your website penalized (with respect to Google Panda.) Based on the best practices of on-page SEO, the optimal keyword density is about 2-3%.

Lastly, focal pages should only be optimized for 1 or 2 closely related keyword targets. Attempting to optimize a page for 3 or more keywords is inefficient and wasted effort. Instead try to create dedicated pages whenever possible.

Optimize the Website's Internal Linking

In short, optimized internal linking is the art and practice of linking one relevant page of your website with another. The art comes in how you balance the anchor text of internal links for keyword relevancy.

The primary purpose of internal linking is for better usability. For this reason, it's best to approach this practice with a logical and user-focused mindset.

However, optimized internal linking can also aid SEO. Similar to an inbound (or "external") link, the anchor text used for the link can help a search engine spider determine its keyword relevancy. So in addition to usability, you can implement internal linking with keyword-optimized anchor text.

You’ll want to be careful not to go over-board in using keyword-optimized (exact phrase match) anchor text. In light of Google's algorithm updates ("Penguin") that penalizes sites that overuse keyword-targeted anchor text (both internally and externally,) keep your linking as natural as possible, and only use keyword-relevant anchor text when it makes logical sense.

Optimize the Website's CTA's

An important component of your company's website optimization efforts is the use of calls-to-action, or "CTA’s." By testing the appearance and placement of CTA’s, you can maximize the conversion potential of your company's website traffic.

The CTA’s of your company’s website should be well aligned with its online conversion goals. If your optimizing an ecommerce website, the goal of your CTA’s will center on immediate purchases and newsletter sign-ups. As a result, you'll want to leverage sales promotions and customer incentives to get people to register on your site, or buy a product.

To determine the most effective call-to-action, testing multiple variations is key. Whether it’s the copy, graphic design, or the placement of the CTA, you’ll want to try-out and keep track of split-tests to ensure you know what's working effectively.

Optimize the Website's Back-end

The load speed of your website can directly correlate to its back-end, or HTML code structure. If you’re company is using a content management system (CMS) that generates a back-end structure of nestled tables and other robust coding structures, the load speed of the website may be hindered.

The coding structure of your company's website can indicate of how efficiently it gets crawled and indexed by search engine spiders. In short, a website takes several seconds to load (using a high-speed connection) may not be reaching its full SEO potential. To determine the approximate load speed of your company's website, try using this handy tool. If it takes several seconds for the website to load, you may need to optimize the HTML, or flip your company's website to a different, more SEO-friendly CMS.

Optimize the Website's Sitemaps

Next to the homepage, the sitemap of your company's website is one of the most important pages. The sitemap should withhold the entire navigation of the site, containing links to all primary pages.

In essence, the sitemap brings everything together like an index and it serves as a roadmap for search engine spiders. For deep websites with hundreds and thousands of pages, creating segmented sitemaps is a great website optimization technique.

Segmented sitemaps are essentially as the name implies. You simply break-down and segment a lengthy sitemap into relevant groupings for their own dedicated sitemap. For instance, if your company has a blog that publishes posts weekly or every other day, you can create segmented blog sitemap to contain links to all of you blog posts.

After you've created a sitemap, or segmented sitemaps, you can then generate XML versions of each sitemap. XML sitemaps are submit individually to your website’s Google Webmaster Tools account. This tells Google the pages of your website that are ready to be crawled and indexed.

About the Author:

Tyler Tafelsky is a SEO and Internet marketing specialist at the Web Presence Group, a professional website optimization company and branch of OIC Group.

Tyler offers over 5 years of experience in the SEO profession and has handled a spectrum of campaigns on both a global and local level. You can contact him directly via email at tyler@webpresencegroup.net or you can connect with Tyler on Google+.

 

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

Mailing Address:
PO Box 1111
Peoria, IL 61653