It is imperative for you to know who your top competitors are, primarily those who rank high in search engines for your target keyword(s). Once you know who they are, you can do further research to find out how they got to the top. One important factor to consider is that a company’s top offline competitors aren’t always their top online competitors. To find your online competitors, you will need to conduct some Google searches on your target keywords. If you don’t know what keywords to use, be sure to read my article titled, “How to choose the right keywords for your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) campaign”
Once you have your keywords, visit google.com and perform a search for each. You will want to write down the websites found on the first page of each set of results. Once you have finished your searches, review the data. Note the websites found in all or most of the searches. Typically, these are the sites that are optimized well and are your top online competitors.
So what do you do now? Well, the next step would be to visit each site and find out their target keywords. To find this information, you will need to view their source code. You can do this by right clicking the competitor’s home page and selecting “view source” in Internet Explorer or “view page source” in Firefox. Look for the meta tags at the top of the page. An optimized web page will have target keyword(s) listed in each meta tag.
Important Meta Tags
- Title tag
- Description tag
A well optimized page will not only have keywords in the meta tags, but also in other areas of the page.
Other Important Elements
- Header tags
- Image alt attribute
- Body tag
- Strong tag
By examining your competitor’s code and content, you can find their strengths and weaknesses. Once you have this information, you can use it to improve your own website. When reviewing their site, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is the website optimized?
- Do they provide relevant and updated content?
- Do they have a blog?
- How many backlinks do they have and are they quality backlinks?
If they are failing in any of these areas, it’s an opportunity for you to do better and therefore gain relevance in search engines for your target keyword(s).