Improve SEO by doing Competitor Website Analysis
As part of your website SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) work, you may be visiting competitor websites to do competitor website analysis, but what do you look for?
You are studying competitor websites to see how they get organic page one search results, so that you can apply some of the same techniques to the search engine optimisation (SEO) or design of your own site.
You want to visit the sites that come up on page one of search results for each search word or phrase that you typed into the search bar.
You’re looking at the page one organic search results, and not at the PPC ads that appear at the top or the sides of the organic results.
Make sure you have your different search words or phrases noted down, and then do your searches. Do not start visiting the sites that come up on page one of the results (unless you’re really only doing one keyword search) until you’ve gone through your entire list of search words and phrases.
Take note of the websites that appear more than once in the results on page one for different search terms. If a website is coming up on page one of the results for a search term, that’s good, but if some sites are coming up on page one for a variety of different search words and search phrases, they’re obviously doing a lot better – a person looking for information on the Internet can find those sites by using more than just one search term. One never knows what a person might type into a search bar, and if your site can appear on page one of results for more than one search term, that’s excellent.
Once you’re heading to any particular site, be ready to just sit back and get a “first impression” when the site opens.
- How long does it take to open?
- Does any image near the top immediately tell you what the site is about?
- Does the website have a minimal but effective look?
- Are the navigation tabs easily visible?
- What is the font size – is it easy to read?
- Is the text nicely spaced, or all squashed up?
- Are there calls to action?
- What are the main colours?
- Are there any videos visible above the fold?
- Are there any small forms visible above the fold?
- How does looking at the page make you feel – interested to learn more, bored, excited, calm, or irritated?
- Is it obvious that one needs to scroll down to read or view more?
- Is it obvious how long the site has been live on the Internet – if so, how long is that?
- Is the site mostly a static website or is it a blog?
- Do the site owners have a blog – is it attached to the website, or separate?
Now look at just the text:
- How much text content is there?
- Does the text have links in it that go to other pages of the site?
- How much text is near the very top of the page?
- Is there a lot of text in any sidebars?
- Is the text really text or is it an image?
- If the text is an image, does an alt tag pop up when you hover your mouse over it?
- What are the words in the alt tags of images?
- Are the navigation tabs text or images?
- Do image navigation tabs have alt tags?
- What is the domain name and which keywords appear in it?
- Are the main keywords in the main body of text related to the keywords in the title, description, image alt tags and text links on the web page?
- Is the grammar good and is the spelling correct?
Now look at navigation:
- Do the navigation tabs really take you to where they should?
- If the navigation tabs take you to where they should, is it easy to again navigate from that second page to wherever else you want to be on the site?
- Do the navigation tabs have drop downs?
- Is there a sitemap?
- How many pages does the site have?
- Is there a resources page or a link partner page?
- What are the resources and who are the link partners?
- How many text links are visible on the page?
- Are there any RSS feeds and what is the content being fed?
Now look at the coding (click view source):
- Is there a doc type declaration in the first line of coding?
- Is the Meta tag coding good – does the title, description and keywords match those of the web page?
- Does the Meta tag coding also match the title and description of the search result when you did your search?
- Are there robot crawl instructions?
- Is the content that’s on the web page also in the coding, or is a script calling the content in?
Use free online tools to check other aspects of SEO:
- What are the Meta tag relevancy percentages?
- What is the page rank of the homepage?
- How many backlinks does the site have?
- Where are the backlinks coming from?
- Which main keywords are repeated the most and exactly how many times are they repeated?
- Which main keywords appear in the text links and how many are there of each?
- Which main keywords appear in the alt tags of images?
- How many people use those keywords to search for information every month?
- Does the website owner use PPC advertising?
- What is the wording of the PPC adverts?
- How much is the website owner paying per click?
Once you’ve noted and compared the contents of the top sites, it is likely that you will notice many similar SEO techniques being used. Use the same techniques to improve the SEO of your own site (or the site of a client.)
During the competitor website analysis process you may also become more aware of which design and navigation techniques work best to keep a visitor on a site for longer.