SEO has become one of the most important components of digital marketing and, when working on their SEO strategy, most people know how to important it is to do their competitor research, just like they would for any other strategy.
However, there’s one little, yet essential detail that many forget about when conducting this research.
Digital marketing is constantly evolving, algorithms are updated, new ranking factors emerge, and, as such, what could be the perfect strategy today might not be that great tomorrow.
In other words, SEO isn’t stagnant.
All of this means that gathering your competitor research when you first create your SEO plan isn’t enough — not if you want your rankings to be high at all times, anyway.
So the question is, which of your competitors’ metrics should you be monitoring regularly in order to be successful in your SEO efforts?
Rate of link and referring domain growth
First off, it’s crucial that you know how many referring domains and links are coming into your competitors’ websites.
This way, you can compare your research with your own metrics and get a clear idea of how many links and domains your SEO team should be striving for, as you’ll have a specific number to beat within your industry.
Having said that, you should keep in mind that these numbers will always vary.
Once again, they’re not stagnant.
As such, on top of checking the actual counts of domains and links, you should always track the rate at which they grow into a website from month to month.
Ultimately, this will let you know how much catching up your SEO team needs to do at every stage of the strategy in order to overtake the competition.
Rate of content growth
You’re probably aware of how important content is for SEO but, when it comes to analyzing your competition, do you ever do more than taking a quick look at their blog posts?
If not, it’s time to change that.
Your research should go a little deeper than that.
Many brands invest heavily in SEO and content marketing to ensure that they are optimizing their website and blog posts for certain keyword groups.
Since you play in the same industry as them and, consequently, work to optimize your content for similar (or even the same) keyword groups, it can only benefit you to monitor how your competitors’ content grows for certain topics.
By doing this type of research, you’ll know exactly how much you need to invest in content marketing on a monthly basis in order to keep up or even surpass them.
The ever so common question, “How much content should I be publishing every month?” will become a thing of the past!
Research on several fronts
Think about all the SEO campaigns you’ve ever created for your business.
None of them were devoted to one single keyword group, right?
More often than not, you want to rank for multiple keyword groups and, when we speak about research, this means that you’ll need to monitor the relevant metric and growth rates for every single keyword group you’re considering.
“But I know who my competitors are… Shouldn’t I just focus on them?”
Well, the thing is that many times, different keywords groups have different competitors. As much as you know that A and B are your biggest competitors in the industry, if, for a certain keyword, C is beating you, then you can’t overlook C.
Furthermore, your competitors are probably complex companies as well.
Companies that offer several services and, therefore, optimize their content for several keywords, some of which might not be relevant to you — and that’s also something to keep in mind when doing your research.
All of this to say: when looking at your competition, you need to go beyond one single dimension.
SEO competitor research, step-by-step
Now that you know three essential aspects of SEO competitor research, it’s time to learn how you can put them in action — and we’re here to help you with a beginner’s step-by-step guide:
Referring domains and links
- Assess how many referring domains and links are coming into your competitor’s website for pages that are optimized for a keyword group you are also competing for;
- Monitor the monthly referring domain and link growth rate for those pages;
- Assess how many referring domains and links are coming into your own website for pages that are optimized for the keyword group in question;
- Measure your own link and referring domain growth for those pages.
- Compare your growth with the competition and understand how you can surpass them.
- Considering a specific keyword group you’re competing for, check how much content your competitor adds to their website;
- Monitor how their content library for that keyword group grows from month to month, in order to understand how many resources they’re putting into content marketing;
- Compare their efforts with yours and, again, understand how you can overtake them.
Remember that this isn’t the type of task that you do once. If you truly want to grow within your industry, you need to take these steps regularly, so that you can update your SEO strategy as necessary and keep up with the other players in the game.
The importance of measuring your competitor’s growth
After reading this, you might be thinking, “Well, I better step up my competitor research game”.
Doing so means that you’ll be dealing with a lot more data points than what you’re dealing with now, which might sound confusing and time-consuming at first.
However, this type of work will give you a better idea of what your business needs to invest in, as well as a much more accurate picture of the ever-changing SEO landscape, allowing you to always keep up with the trends.
So remember all our tips and tricks, apply them to your SEO strategy, and your performance will certainly get the boost it needs!