SEO is competitive in nature. And like any competition, knowing your enemy has many advantages. If you are struggling to rank for keywords or phrases that you value, or you are struggling to find the right keywords that translate into meaningful conversions, look at your competition.
Who is Your SEO Competition?
First, we need to define SEO competition. Your competition on search engines might not be the store down the street. Your SEO competition is anyone who is outranking you for your keywords. The best way to find your competition is to search for the services you offer in the area you offer them and see who is appearing above you. Once you identify your competition you can utilize them to expand your keyword list and your content strategy.
What Are They Ranking For?
Using a tool like SEMrush, you can view a competitor’s top organic ranking keywords. From there you should consider a few questions: is that keyword translating to valuable traffic and conversions, and is it relevant to your business? You should never optimize for keywords that aren’t relevant to your company’s offerings. If a restaurant’s competitor ranks for “event catering,” that keyword would be useless to a restaurant that doesn’t cater. Similarly, even if a competitor ranks highly for a keyword, it doesn’t mean that keyword is valuable. Not all keywords translate to conversions and traffic. This is where an SEO specialist has to use their best judgment as well as tools like Google Search Console to see how keywords affect the click-through rate.
What Content Are You Missing?
Now, let’s assume a competitor is ranking for a keyword that is relevant to your company and would translate to new business. The next step is to find out why your competitor is ranking for that keyword. Although you might not be able to access the website’s CMS or backend, you can still glean information right from their website. If the keyword is service related, look at their existing service pages and blogs. If they are ranking in certain geographic areas consider their location and if they have service area pages. Are you missing pages or are your existing pages thin on content? Do you have similar pages, but they aren’t getting a lot of traffic? Based on what you see on your competitor’s website, you may consider adding new blogs, service area pages, adding content to existing pages, or improving your existing link structure.