How To Research Your Competition

As many of you already know, SEO comes in three stages: picking the right keywords, optimizing your content for those keywords, and promoting the content so it gains visibility. Instead of blindly blogging and picking any keyword that sounds good, you need to learn how to research your competition.

Step #1 – What is Google currently ranking?

Open up Google Chrome and browse via incognito browsing. (That way you don’t get skewed results while signed into your gmail and dealing with cached results.) Decide to only analyze the first page of Google.

Step #2 – What am I to be looking for?

There are dozens of things you could be looking for, but let’s focus on the most important ranking factors. They are:

  • Google PR (pagerank – a numerical value between 0 and 10)
  • Keyword in the Title, Description, H1 tag, and keywords tag
  • Keyword in the first paragraph of the blog post

Usually I find that Google is currently favoring sites that aren’t as optimized as they could be. That leaves us room for us to knock them off the first page.. providing we do the proper work and let time work its magic.

Step #3 – Tools to check PR and meta information

Both Firefox and Chrome have add-on’s that can do some this for you. SEO Quake is a really good one. If you want to check PR manually, then you can use this site:

If you want to manually check a page’s meta information, then you can right click on your mouse and hit ‘View page source’. You don’t need to be an expert in html; just hit CTRL F and search for:

  • title
  • keywords
  • description
  • h1

Step #4 – Authority Snapshot

Domain authority is an incredibly important ranking factor. Generally, a site with more incoming links has more authority than a site with hardly any incoming links. Please keep in mind link quality. Not every link is created equal; especially, if you get a link from a PR 3 site versus a link from a PR 0 site.

To perform this test, take your search term and take a hard look at what Google’s currently favoring on the 1st page. What kinds of listings are you seeing? If you’re seeing listings like videos, images, press releases, blogs, or even rating sites, then you’re looking at a page with literally no authoritative sites. Wikipedia is an example of an authoritative site. These sites are also described as a site that’s the go-to resource on any given topic.

Step #5 – Inbound links

No competitive analysis would be complete without mentioning the links the competition has to a specific URL. As I’ve done competitive analysis and achieved many first page rankings, I’ve seen sites with an enormous amount of links and I’ve also seen sites with hardly any. It’s really fun finding competitors like that. Sadly, they easily get bumped off the first page.. providing you can do proper on and off site SEO.

21 thoughts on “How To Research Your Competition”

  1. Oskar Borbas says:

    And what about backlinks? They are almost the most important ranking factor, you can find many backlink checkers.

    1. I think #5 refers to links

  2. sandi says:

    This is another great post!

    Thanks John!

  3. Erwin says:

    Hi everyone,

    very tech stuff! It looks complicated but it is really easy I hope.
    Thanks for this post I have a work to do! And I know it will pay off.

    All the best and see you on top.


  4. Moamen Ragab says:

    Nice post Mr. John and great information i searched about it a lot of time

  5. Hendri says:

    Honestly I dont like SEO:(

  6. Bhanupriya says:

    Another great post. Learn lots of new things about SEO. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Similar tips to what I would suggest!

  8. Ted Phillips says:

    Great steps you got here. I am sure everyone can benefit from this!

  9. Gugulethu says:

    That’s really great, Many Thnx. But which tools do you use to see Inbound links of other websites?

  10. Like #4, really haven’t been looking at the Authority items which I should certainly start doing.

    We are doing well with our link strategy and it is driving more traffic to our site.

    Thanks for sharing this.

  11. This is a great post! These are great tips to help you determine your SEO status. As you mentioned above, one of THE most important things you can do is to provide high quality blog posts on a consistent basis which have the proper SEO structure. Thanks for the information!

  12. Jason Rogers says:

    Ahhh Ha!! Great advice.. I’m always looking how to disect the comp. Thanks!!

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  15. Great info…truth is I kinda wing it. LOL

  16. Dwight says:

    Good info as always, do you have any information on other software or membership accounts you use other then the browser plugins?


  17. Great read as always John. It is true that good quality backlinks outweigh the rubbish blog posts on thousands of pages and Google are really coming down hard and penalising these sites. Thanks for the read, i have shared with my Twitter followers and Facebook friends.

  18. Tonya says:

    Thanks for this excellent post.. and it was for good reason, I guess you learn something new everyday.


  19. suryabhan says:

    great article and nice tips every blogger must know there competition on the keyword on which he/she is writing their post otherwise any nice written article may be wasted because without suitable keyword the article will not optimize in search engine. I use google adward external for checking the competition on keyword

  20. Very handy. 5 simple and easy to follow points. From my experience of using guidelines similar to these, you can’t go wrong.

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