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4 Specific Tactics for Using Comparative SEO Data to Outsmart the Competition

Posted by Allison Gibbs on 7/31/17 9:12 AM

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It's time to get into the nitty gritty of your next SEO moves. You'll need to gather some advanced weaponry if you want to get serious about using competition data to improve SEO.  Are you up to the challenge?

Most of the time, people stop at the obvious questions. Who's ranking #1 for my keywords? What are the top pages on my competitors' domain? You might look at Google Analytics or something more advanced like Moz. But why stop there when you can dig deeper and get some very specific direction on improving SEO?

My data nerd crush Rand Fishkind and the geniuses at Moz did a whiteboard video earlier this year that pretty much blew my mind and I wanted to share some of the tips I've been using from it. 

Before we dive in, we should cover some of the basic tools and reports that you'll be using to find your competition data.

SEO Tools You Need Now:

1. Moz—we'll be using this tool to pull reports on linking and domain authority.

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2. BuzzSumo—this tool will pull our data on social sharing.

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3. SEMrush—super powerful tool that gets our search traffic and ranking keyword data.

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There are other tools out there like Ahrefs, Majestic, SimilarWeb and Jumpshot that pull a lot of the same reports, but the three I've highlighted are the ones we're most familiar with. You might want to start your free trials of these platforms if you don't already have subscriptions. Play around with them, run a few reports and then dive into these tactics.

Let's go!

1. Fill in gaps and offer more targeted, detailed content.

Your competitors may have pages that answer broad queries and capture search for those broad questions. You can seize an opportunity to provide more focused, detailed answers. How does this help you? By answering more narrow questions and being hyper targeted, you can win featured snippets or answer boxes on Google.

First, run these reports:

  • Top pages by number of ranking keywords (SEMrush)
  • Top pages by estimated search traffic (SEMrush)

Next, let's ask "What are my competition's top pages by number of ranking keywords  compared to their pages where they have not done so well in regards to total organic estimated search traffic?"

Finally, that gap is where you can find content opportunities. You'll take those broad content wins they're getting with ranking keywords and you'll take a hyper-focused approach. Tailor your pages to focus on specific keywords and detailed answers, and create the kind of content required to win featured snippets and answer boxes on Google.

Download the free cheat sheet! Back to Basics: SEO for Marketers

2. Compare social shares to search performance to find content that resonates.

You can examine your competitors top shared content on social media or top performing direct traffic to find out what social audiences are connecting to and sharing. But take it one step further to narrow in on opportunities to outperform on search. Here's how to do it:

First, run the following reports.

  • Top Pages by Social Shares (BuzzSumo)
  • Top Pages by Direct Traffic report (SEMrush)
  • Top Pages by Number of Ranking Keywords (SEMrush)
  • Top Pages by Estimated Search Traffic (SEMrush)

Next, ask the question—What content gets the most social shares and performs well with social audiences or direct traffic, but under performs in Search?

Finally, to find your SEO opportunities, you would compare the top shared content report with those competitor pages that have performed poorly on Number of Keywords and Estimated Search Traffic. Create content and optimized pages around those opportunities.

 3. Offer more current content than your competition.

Your competition may have outdated content that once ranked really well, but they haven't kept it current. What should you look for?

First, run these reports:

  • Top pages by links (Moz)
  • Top pages by estimated search traffic (SEMrush)
  • Top pages by number of ranking keywords (SEMrush)

Next ask—"What pages have a high number of links but are low in estimated search traffic or ranking keywords?" Your competitor once built up those links with their content, and so it must have been in high demand, and those links are still there, but now they're not winning the traffic or ranking as well for those keywords.

Finally, once you've identified this opportunity, create fresh, updated content with the current year in the titles and URLs.

4. Identify the weak links.

Your competitor may have stellar content that people are searching for, and the pages are getting ranked well for those keywords. However, they've got no link juice! Here's an opportunity to overtake them.

First, run these reports:

  • Top pages that are low on links (links to that page from external sites) (Moz)
  • Top pages by estimated search traffic (SEMrush)
  • Top pages by number of ranking keywords (SEMrush)

Next, let's find their top pages that are lowest on links but perform well by number of ranking keywords and estimated search traffic.

Finally, if you have content that fits this bill, optimize it and start working on build more links to it. Why does this work? Linking domains is a very strong ranking factor.

Thanks to Rand at Moz for these great tips! You can watch his in-depth whiteboard video that covers some of these tactics and more right here.

Download the free cheat sheet! Back to Basics: SEO for Marketers 

Topics: google, seo, competitor

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