You can learn a lot from your competitors by studying what they are doing. While there are paid services to help you learn more about them, there are also several things you can do that cost absolutely nothing.
The first thing to do is figure out who your competitors are. They usually fall into one of three categories: direct, indirect, and perceived. The direct competitors are your priority. Identify the most successful as the place to start. Here are five ways you can improve your SEO by learning the tactics and strategies of your competitors.
Look at their website.
How does it measure up? Is it easy to navigate, does it load quickly, can you tell immediately what they are about? On a more technical level, is their content valuable, are they using header tags, do they have a good meta description, are there high-quality backlinks? You can use the free tool Website Grader to pinpoint what they excel at and where they might be lacking, and use the information to compare your own site and make improvements.
What keywords do they use?
Since each of your pages should have unique keywords or key phrases, it’s an ongoing challenge to come up with an appropriate variety that will be effective. It’s helpful to research what your competitors are using. With Google Keyword Planner you can enter a website URL and see information about popular keywords. Another tool is SEMrush.com, where you can get a great deal of information free. If you want more in-depth results or more searches, there is a paid plan available.
What are people saying? Are there comments on their articles?
If you read the comments you can see what people are saying, which is helpful because these are the same customers you are targeting. What questions do they have? Can you create content that addresses these concerns and increases your traffic? You can use Google Alerts to monitor conversations online.
What social media do they use and what is working best?
Figure out which social media your competitors use. Since they are targeting the same demographic you can see which channels are most effective for your audience and focus your efforts there.
What content is getting the most comments and shares?
Review the content on their website and social media. What is getting the most attention and interaction, and what is being shared? These are topics that your audience is interested in, and you can extend that interest to your business by joining the conversation and creating content that is targeted.
There is a wealth of information to be gained by reviewing your competitors and analyzing what they are doing and what’s working. These insights can be applied to your own website to improve your SEO, extend your reach, and improve your traffic.