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: www.prchecker.info/check_page_rank.php
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:
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.