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  SEO Competitive Analysis -- Search Engine Optimization Services

          Article on Competitive SEO Analysis by Austin SEO Company Semantic Advantage -- September 2011
Your website is very attractive and informative, and your value proposition is compelling; but if you don’t show up on Page One of the search results, you’re not going to get the traffic and business you deserve.  Few searchers go beyond the first page of the results; so it’s important to employ effective search engine optimization practices to get your pages listed on page one.

This would be fairly easy if it weren’t for those pesky SEO competitors!  There are a lot of businesses and SEOs doing search engine optimization, search engine marketing and social marketing to get on page one.  If you’re not showing up on page one of the search results for your major keywords, it can be instructive to do a competitive analysis to find out why.  The resulting competitive intelligence will give you insight into your search engine optimization weaknesses -- and suggest ways to improve your SEO, website traffic and conversions.

Identify Your SEO Competition
Your biggest SEO competitors may not be your usual business competitors.  Try a simple Google search on your main keyword, and look at the first page of the organic search results.  Most likely, you get back a few of your business rivals – but also a mix of Google Places, business directories, ratings and reviews, academic reports and spammy links to pages that have nothing to do with those keywords.  But whatever these pages are about, these are your SEO competitors -- because they are keeping you off page one of the search results.  

How does this happen?  It’s important to remember that search engine web crawlers don’t really understand what they’re reading.  They traverse the Internet and rank web pages, using rather simplistic mathematical models based on rudimentary statistics about the words on the page, links to and from the page, and the site on which the page resides.  The search spider can not distinguish between a brilliant essay and a page full of gibberish.  

SEO Ranking Factors
Search engines have web crawlers that traverse the Internet and build out their index by grading each page (and the website it belongs to) according to dozens of parameters.  We don’t know for certain what parameters the Google, Yahoo! and Bing search spiders use to rank website pages, but we can deduce some of these from web statistics and search experiments.  Here is a short list and explanation of some key SEO Ranking Factors.

To conduct an SEO competitive analysis, you’ll need to compare how your page (and website) compares with those of your SEO competitors for each of your major keywords.  This can be a tedious process; but it will give you some insight into what the competition is doing to make their pages more appealing to the search engines, and give you ideas for surpassing them.

Comparison of SEO Ranking Factors
For every major keyword, do a Google search and record the URLs of the pages that come up on the first page of the search results.  Follow each link to the page, and score the page (and website) according to these SEO ranking factors.  Follow the in-links back to their origin -- these websites will be good candidates for your link building program.

Once you have evaluated competitors’ pages and website SEO ranking factors for a particular keyword, compare these with your page’s score for these ranking factors.  If your page and site are as strong or stronger in most areas, your page should outrank your competitors for that keyword.  If your page and site are stronger in some areas and weaker in others, you can undertake search engine optimization to enhance the weaker areas.

Revise your SEO Strategy -- Search Engine Optimization Recommendations

If your page and site are generally weaker than competitors’ pages and sites for most of the SEO ranking factors, you have three options:
  1. Improve your page and website to meet or exceed the competition.  This can be very time consuming and expensive; and, of course, your competitors will be enhancing their pages at the same time.

  2. Select a longer-tail keyword for which you have a better chance of besting competitors in the key SEO ranking factors.  Generally this can be achieved by adding a modifying search term to the existing keyword to make the resultant keyword more specific to what your company does.

  3. Explore supplementary methods of generating website traffic like search engine marketing (PPC or other forms of paid search), social marketing (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, rating and reviews, blogging) email campaigns, or article placement with relevant e-zines.  
As with all Internet marketing programs, you should experiment with multiple traffic generation methods to see which provides the most benefit for the cost.  Recently a lot of websites have successfully utilized social marketing to compensate for SEO deficiencies; but the bar keeps going up – now they’re competing with sites with good social marketing AND good search engine optimization.   If you look at SEO, SEM, social marketing, email marketing and article placement as links in the online marketing chain, the best overall Internet marketing strategy is generally to allocate resources to the weakest links.   For example, most companies get a huge benefit (at a relatively low cost) from initiating a pay-per-click program than they would from putting the same budget into an already excellent SEO program.

SEO Services -- Competitive Analysis, Keyword Selection, Copywriting, Search Engine Optimization
Semantic Advantage provides SEO competitive analysis services to Austin area corporations and small business.  Competitive search engine optimization analysis enables businesses to identify SEO competitors, competitive SEO weaknesses, and ways to improve organic search rankings through keyword selection, copywriting and link building.  For more information about our SEO, SEM/PPC or Social Marketing services, visit the Search Engine Optimization section of our website or Contact Semantic Advantage.



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