Ways to Evaluate Your SEO Competition

Maybe you have a well-established site that’s looking to make the final push toward a high-ranking search term. Maybe you haven’t even created your blog yet, but you’re trying to see how you’ll fit into your niche. Either way, you could benefit from seeing how you compare to your competitors and capitalizing on your strengths while improving your weaknesses.

Let’s look at a couple common, free website graders: Open Site Explorer and Website Grader, and see which of their metrics are the best to compare with your competitors.

Open Site Explorer runs a one-click report, but as an anonymous user, you are limited to three reports each day. For more reports and more complete metrics, you can sign up for a free or a pro account. You can also compare your site with another site, including a competitor’s site. Open Site Explorer looks at the following metrics specifically:

  • Page Authority
  • Domain Authority
  • Linking Root Domains
  • Linking Pages
  • Total Links
  • Anchor Text Distribution
  • mozRank
  • mozTrust

Website Grader also makes it easy to run a report, though you have to have it e-mailed to you (in essence, automatically creating an account with HubSpot). This report puts a slightly heavier emphasis on integration with social media, showing the number of tweets referring to your most recent blog posts, and whether RSS feeds and conversion forms are present. It also helps show patterns within headings and metadata. You can also include a competitor to be analyzed in this report. Website Grader focuses on these metrics:

  • Blog (indexed pages, recent posts and tweets)
  • Number of Indexed Pages
  • Metadata
  • Headings
  • Images (alt text)
  • Pages and descriptions
  • Domain age and time to expiration
  • mozRank
  • Linking Domains
  • Twitter
  • RSS
  • Conversion form
  • Alexa Rank

As you can see, the two tools overlap in some areas, but give you a different picture overall of where your website stands. Once you have gotten a chance to check out your site and the competition, now really break it down.

Use your analysis

When looking at your competition, especially the top 10 in Google for your chosen keywords, focus on understanding two things: the site’s general standing, and how they are ranked for that search term specifically.

When looking at a site’s authority in general, check out the Page Authority and Domain Authority, and the Number of Indexed Pages. Statistics like the Alexa Rank help, too. If your site isn’t even close to ranking similarly in any of these categories, you should probably focus on creating more backlinks from authority websites and more pages of internal content. If you are a comparable sized site, however, look at the specifics.

Now, to check out how sites ranked for specific search terms, find out how much (or if) that term is in their URL, title text, metadata, and homepage, and how often it is the link text for external links. This gives you a ballpark number for how much link-building work you should do on your own page to make it compare.

For a great example of the statistics gathered for a comparison like this, read this SEO.com article, which shows this kind of analysis for the phrase “online degrees.”

Once you have established your authority and your relevance, you should have no problem climbing your way up the search results! However, if you’re aiming at a significant keyword, you might be in for a long hike, so make sure to notice your long-tail keyword opportunities along the way!

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