SES Live: SEO Competitive Analysis

Aug 17, 2011 - 5:55 pm 1 by

Below is live coverage of the SEO Competitive Analysis panel from the SES San Francisco 2011 conference. This coverage is provided by Ben Pfeiffer at RankSmart.

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Ben Pfeiffer: 2:01:05 pm
SEO Competitive Analysis
Competitive Analysis is one of the most important and informative components of an SEO strategy. Your competitors are a wealth of free information. From determining which links are providing your competitors with the most value, to deciphering what their most profitable keywords are, with the right systems in place you'll be able to capitalize on their mistakes and learn from their successes.

This session will cover:

On-site competitive analysis: Analyzing the structure of your competitors websites, the keywords they are targeting and how they are optimizing their content.
Off-site competitive analysis: Analyzing how they are participating in key social networks, what their link building strategy is and which content has performed the best/worst for them.
Competitor monitoring: What types of trends should you be on the lookout for? What tools are best for keeping track of what your competitors are doing?

Chris Boggs, Director, SEO, Rosetta
Michael Hayward, CEO, ROI Labs
Taylor Pratt, VP of Product Marketing, Raven Internet Marketing Tools
Richard Zwicky, Independent Consultant,
Ben Pfeiffer: 2:01:52 pm

Chris Boggs opens the session welcoming everyone.

Ben Pfeiffer: 2:02:38 pm
He says its important to understand the SEO competitive landscape.
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Michael Hayward is up first.
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He is going to talk about competitive intelligence.
Ben Pfeiffer: 2:04:13 pm
He says he is not a search marketer, he is a marketer.
Ben Pfeiffer: 2:05:52 pm
His company is ROI Labs, they do work for many B2B and B2C companies.
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SEO is the highest leverage tool in the digital marketing kit.
Ben Pfeiffer: 2:07:38 pm
He explains that search returned such a high ROI, that he couldn't find a enough stuff to do with search, it was so exciting.
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He goes on to explain what a marketing plan is.....
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Tactical digital marketing issues are important. Do you understand your competitive marketing strategy? How will it impact your long term goals.
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One of the ways we understand competitors is a reverse marketing plan.
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He gives an example of a fake Canadian airline.
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So think about your competitive landscape if you are an airline in Canada.
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The first thing he is going to do to understand landscape is research their websites for each competitors.
Ben Pfeiffer: 2:12:29 pm
He looks at the website, looks at the source, looks at what is most important (transaction).
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He asks himself what is are they trying to do here.
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He says the airline industry is always on sale.
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So once he does an overall analysis, he figures that 2 of the airlines only promoted locally in canada. The other competitive marketing more globally.
Ben Pfeiffer: 2:14:05 pm
Next, he looks at SEO of each of the 3 competitors.
Ben Pfeiffer: 2:15:32 pm
Next he looks at PPC. Where are they putting their effort, what keywords, etc..? Are they targeting keywords he wants to target. Is anyone using keywords no one else is using? That could be a rich conversion bed no one has thought about.
Ben Pfeiffer: 2:16:32 pm
Next, he looks at social networks. What kind of content are they customizing in Facebook. For example Air Canada is pushing a student pass.
Ben Pfeiffer: 2:17:52 pm
Next he looks at Twitter. He sees complaints, follower to following ratio, if they interact with customers.
Ben Pfeiffer: 2:18:12 pm
Next, you want to sign up for all their email newsletter and get in their email database.
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Your next want to get into their PR materials, and read what they are saying.
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FINALLY.. pull all that info together and put together a reverse marketing plan.
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Take a marketing plan format and explain what their plan is. For example, Air Canada is focused on a broad based country approach.
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Next up is Taylor Pratt from Raven Tools
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He says that competitive analysis is free advice
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Think of everything you'll get with a competitive analysis. Keyword ideas, content ideas, usability ideas, etc..
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There are two types of competitive analysis. One is a quick analysis. The next is an in-depth analysis.
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The quick analysis looks at the the top 10 results for a targeted keyword.
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The first goal when looking at keywords is how strong is the competition for a targeted keyword.
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First you need an keyword research tool.
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Also an understanding of what your goal is with the keyword.
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He is talking super fast so its getting hard to follow.
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Your first step is to analyze the SERP for the keyword. Are there lots of advertisers? Look the age of domain? Number of links to the page & domain. Number of advertisers.
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Next you need to determine your rank potential. Is it 3, 6, and 12 months?
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He brings up AOL search data getting out. He shows that #1 position gets 42.13% of the traffic, 12% next, and so on.
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So he next goes and does keyword research on that keyword, how many searches does that keyword get? Of that total if I got a #1 ranking, I get X number of visits.
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Next you take your conversion rate on this keyword or a similar one, and see what kind of money you can make with this keyword. For example it might be $5000 a month. Now you know the value.
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There are some other goals. What competitor is using the on-page strategy, what competitive has the best off-page strategy...
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Take a look at the top 3 competitors. Your own custom algorithm (using a tool like
Ben Pfeiffer: 2:35:40 pm
You can learn a lot of from the on-page SEO of a competitor. For example.. where do they put the target keyword on the page?
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Is it obvious they are focusing on that ranking term?
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How well does the website render in search engines? Can they see all their content?
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How are they optimizing their navigation...
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What are the calls to action.. are they obvious.
Ben Pfeiffer: 2:38:26 pm
He seriously needs to slow down.. this is way to fast for anyone to keep up.
Ben Pfeiffer: 2:38:27 pm
He seriously needs to slow down.. this is way to fast for anyone to keep up.
Ben Pfeiffer: 2:39:00 pm
Next Taylor talks about doing backlink analysis. This is an important component to the analysis.
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How many backlinks do they have? From how many domains? Can you see backlink growth? What keywords are they focusing on?
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A competitive analysis can be extremely valuable if done right.
Ben Pfeiffer: 2:47:18 pm
Up next is Richard Zwicky
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Lots of businesses have had their 15 minutes of fame.
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He explains back in 1997, there were a 100 search engines. And it was difficult to do competitive analysis.
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Now you really only have to worry about two search engines.
Ben Pfeiffer: 2:48:34 pm
He explains back in 1997, there were a 100 search engines. And it was difficult to do competitive analysis.
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It's all about analyzing.
Ben Pfeiffer: 2:49:30 pm
When you break down the components you can see competitive opportunities.
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He gives the example of trees. A pine and maple tree.
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The difference between the two is you can only make money once with the pine tree. The maple tree you drill a hole and get a whole lot of value from it.
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Competitive analysis should help you define this.
Ben Pfeiffer: 2:51:21 pm
Another example of a guy turning junk into shoes.
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Everyone knows the dominate players in the market. In the past when they did competitive analysis. They used to rank check their competitors. Look at the source.
Ben Pfeiffer: 2:52:53 pm
Today the market has changed. Facebook and Twitter wasn't there in the past.
Ben Pfeiffer: 2:53:07 pm
Today there are more and more signals to monitor.
Ben Pfeiffer: 2:54:57 pm
You got to look at their other signals as well.
Ben Pfeiffer: 2:55:14 pm
By looking at Facebook you can discover the engagement it has with its opportunity.
Ben Pfeiffer: 3:04:37 pm
Session is over.

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