Last week, we looked at the basics of doing a website SEO audit and why it is important for developing your digital strategy. While you may already be familiar with using a site audit tool for your own brand, have you ever considered running a site audit on your competitors?
Competitive Website SEO Audits are Essential
Conducting a website SEO audit on your competitors sites can help you gain valuable insight into their digital strategy, as well as a possible wider view of your industry, by highlighting the terms each competitor is actively optimizing for.
In reviewing through the data, look for identifiable keywords and phrases in the same locations you have optimized for on your own site. This includes HTML page titles, meta descriptions, header tags, etc.
Vicky Lawrence, gShift’s Digital Marketing Services Manager, reviews the importance of these types of audits with gShift clients as part of any strategy.
“Competitive analysis is a critical aspect of doing great SEO work. By analyzing the web properties Google is ranking on page 1 for elements such as Domain Authority, Domain Age, Backlinks, Page Titles, Meta Descriptions, H1’s and Schema, you can learn a lot about what Google considers important for relevance and ranking in your industry. This information allows you to align your strategy to feed the search engines what they are looking for versus what you think they are looking for.”
In some cases, your competitors may not be carrying out the SEO best practices, so make sure you only spend time examining the sites of companies who seem to know what they are doing for optimization.
Online vs. Real World Competitors
When it comes to SEO, there can be a lot of discussion around who really is your competition. Real world competitors are the the ones you are most likely familiar with, because the offer the same product or service and compete for the same market. Online competitors refers to the websites with whom you are actually competing with for search engine positions.
When looking at keywords in your strategy, which websites show up in the top 10 search results on Google? Some of your real world competitors may appear in this list, however, many of your online competitors may turn out to be different brands entirely. After identifying who these competitors are, take a good look at the list and ensure they are sites you can actually compete with.
Again, this is something Vicky tells our clients regularly;
“The other important aspect of competitive analysis, is determining whether your web presence even has an opportunity to rank on page 1, or if you are up against ‘mountains,’ which are nearly impossible to move. These online competitors could include massive sites such as WebMD, Wikipedia, etc. If you find you are up against mountains with your keyword, find another relevant keyword or choose a long tail keyword. This strategy will set you up to get wins and results.”
In the case of competitive SEO audits, you will likely want to look at websites of both online and real world competitors. While some of the real world competitors are not optimizing for the same keywords as your current strategy, reviewing their site could help to identify different target market terms you hadn’t previously thought of.
Frequency of Competitive Website SEO Audits
Just as your strategy changes on a regular basis, your competitors’ likely do as well. Consider running website SEO audits on your competition quarterly to stay on top of any shifts in their optimization efforts.
Also, use an SEO platform to continuously track the top 50 search engine positions for any keywords in your current digital strategy. This will allow you to stay on top of emerging competition, both in the real world and online.