In the last article I showed you how to do keyword research and how to find how many sites are competing with you for those keywords. This article will cover ways to check the SEO strength of your competition.
What this means is that for any particular keyword, the top 10 sites in the search engine result pages will have varying degrees of competitive strength and very often by analyzing them against the SEO parameters that I will cover, you can get a good idea of whether you could take their place in the top 10 or not.
It is always smart to have enough data to wisely pick your battles. That way you can avoid wasting a huge amount of time fighting the wrong ones (as many do) and trying to compete for keywords that simply have no chance of getting you traffic.
So, what are the main competitive strength factors and how can you find out which ones a competing site is strong or weak in?
A) WHAT THE MAIN COMPETITIVE STRENGTH FACTORS IN SEO ARE
1. Google Page Rank – this is how high Google ranks a site (authority) based on many of the factors below and others and it rises over time and with good SEO. As the numbers get higher, the jump from one to the next becomes much harder – i.e. the jump from PR 1 to PR 2 is much easier than PR 7 to PR 8 etc. (Page rank goes from 0-10)
2. Domain age – this is how long the site has been on the web – the longer the better
3. # of pages indexed by Google – how many pages the site has that Google has been able to index
4. Links to the home page – inbound links from other sites especially authority sites and how many of those links have keywords in them
5. Links to all the pages of the site
6. High Authority links – especially government and educational sites
7. Directories – # of online directories – especially authority directories – the site is listed in
8. Having a sitemap (sitemaps help Google to index your site)
9. On-page SEO factors such as keywords in the web address, the title, description and headers etc.
B) HOW TO FIND THE SEO STRENGTH OF THE COMPETITION
There are a number of ways to assess the competition’s SEO strength but the most-used one is to look at the sites that are on the 1st page of Google for your keyword and to evaluate them against the list above
So how do you do this? One way is to use various free tools to examine each of the competing factors one at a time, but that could take you a very, very long time indeed, especially when doing it for multiple keywords.
Fortunately there are tools (also free) that give you most of the info in one go. One of my favorites is the SEO for Firefox plug-in.
When it’s activated, when you look up a keyword in Google and go to the search engine results page, it shows you the status of each site with regard to the 9 SEO factors listed above, as well as a lot of other useful information.
You can install the SEO for Firefox plug-in (and other cool free SEO tools) here: http://www.seobook.com/7599-16-3-37.html
(once installed, make sure that you set the options to Automatic Mode – right-click on the icon at the bottom of the Firefox browser).
As you can see, it really is possible to do all this research yourself for free and to find your own relevant, high-traffic, low-competition keywords.
There are also tools for less than $100 that automate the whole procedure and save a huge amount of more time.
My favorite of these, and the one I use myself, is Market Samurai. Market Samurai does the keyword research and the competitive analysis for you plus it finds you affiliate programs relating to your keywords that can make you money as well as a great deal more. You can try Market Samurai for free at the link below. If you like it after you try it, you can get a 35% discount and get it for only $97 (instead of $149).
If you’ve managed to read this far (I salute you!), I wanted to briefly mention the next generation of SEO – SMO (Social Media Optimization). In the first article I mentioned that correct SEO should underpin and inform all your Internet activities – your web site, blog posts, your Facebook and Twitter posts and everything else.
This is where SMO comes in as it ensures that all your online social activity is correctly keyworded for maximum exposure and spreadability.
I will be writing in detail about SMO in future articles. Did you find this article useful? Let me know and let me know what else you’d like to know about SEO.