Conducting an SEO Audit Pt. 4: Competitor Research

Get your SEO audit on

This series walks through the components of an SEO audit. In the first post, we walked through the questions you should ask to find out whether or not you need an audit; in the second post, we covered on-site components. The third focused on search-specific aspects. For today’s fourth and final installment, we’ll dive into the world of competitor research.

When it comes to sales and marketing (or anything really), a lot can be learned from our enemies – err, competitors. An examination of what your top competitors are doing can clue you in on what to do to step up your game — or heck, even what not to do.  The same holds true for SEO. There are several ways to take competitor research into account as you conduct your audit. We recommend starting with keyword and content research.

Keyword Research
In the previous post, we discussed how to take a deeper look at your own keywords. Checking out your competitors can be also beneficial. There are tools out there that allow you to easily get keyword info for other domains. It can be as simple as typing in a competitor website, and you’ll get a look at what organic keywords they perform well for as well as what keywords they’re paying to appear for.

Why should you care about what keywords your competitors are in on? Well for one thing, you can check out which specific terms they’re outperforming you on. If you’re in the video conferencing business, and your competitor is performing better than you for the phrase ‘video conference’ – you may want to take a look at how their site is set up and how they present their content. You can also look at what words they’re showing for that you maybe hadn’t thought of.

This data can point to what topics you should consider creating content for that competitors are currently using for their sites and PPC efforts. Some keywords may only be helpful from an advertising perspective – but others can certainly offer new ideas that can drive visitors away from competitors to your site.

Content Research
Content research is pretty straightforward: scope out competitor content! Do your competitors have blogs? eBooks? Is this content updated frequently or rarely? What topics do their most popular and widely shared posts cover?

This can almost be a mini audit itself. You’ll get a sense for what topics they regularly discuss and how it contributes to their overall SEO efforts. For example, say you discover Competitor A is seriously outperforming you; you check out their website and realize they have a blog that covers trending industry topics and is updated daily. Compared to your company – which has a blog that posts once in a blue moon. While it may not be the only factor in their ranking over you, it certainly could be a big one. That’s something you can take as a recommendation to your team and say, “hey – we need to create some more consistent content here!”

Bear in mind not all content has to map back to your specific SEO keywords. Include keywords when you can, but don’t stuff a post full of them. It will be painfully obvious, and you’ll lose visitors as fast as you gained them. Focus on creating content that your audience wants, and the SEO will follow.

That completes our short and sweet series on SEO audits. Use the series as a foundation to build on as you embark on your own audit.

Amanda Grinavich
Account Manager

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Posted on October 8, 2015 in SEO

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About the Author

Amanda Grinavich is a Marketing Tech Account Manager at SHIFT Communications. Prior to joining the digital marketing team at SHIFT, Amanda worked on the PR side of the house where she served clients in the technology space. She graduated from Boston University with B.S. in Communications.
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