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Old 11-01-2006   #1
BuckfastMonk
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Monitoring your competitors SEO efforts

Rather than asking lame questions I have decided to start a new thread which will hopefully encourage some ideas from the more established members.

1) Analyise your top 3 competitors source code and robot.txt file (if its not been hidden)
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Old 11-01-2006   #2
projectphp
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Why? To learn what? I can't imagine a lawyer analysing competitors legal deals to learn how to practice law, can you?

Can you imagine Coke launching a new slogan, and Pepsi copying it? "Coke Is It" followed by a Pepsi ad: "Pepsi Is It"?

SEO competitor analysis that focuses onw hat others do is only useful if it changes their results. If they suddenly "get it", that is useful to know, but looking at their source code should teach most competant SEOs little, IMHO.

If you really want to do competitor analysis, and everyone should, there are far more useful things you can do. For one, why not sign up to their newsletter? Monthly updates, to your inbox, explaining what they plan to do, how much they charge, what they think is important etc etc.

The goal of all competitor analysis is to stay ahead of the game, or not be left behind when new developments arise. looking at someone elses source code won't help that much IMHO.
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Old 11-01-2006   #3
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umm

I certainly agree with some of your comments and whilst coke and pepsi might not copy each others "branded" keywords for obvious reasons they may have similar general keywords.

ok lets assume a new fish merchant decides to launch a brand new website. He gets his nephew to design the website. A few months down the line traffic is light, there are no sales, no contacts, no brochure requests, nothing.

He realises that he has to implement SEO for his website but cant afford the budget a few companies have quoted. Now what? He decides to buy a book or join searchenginewatch.com and research the subject.

What has he learned? He needs to add meta tags, descriptions, keywords, build links etc. Where does he get these from? He can start by looking at the competition and when he has gathered his list he modify it to suit his own company and implement otheres using a keyword tool.
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Old 11-07-2006   #4
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I love competitive analytics!

Just as there is The World of Business and different Industries or Markets within The World of Business, each with its own competitive environment, there are many very different competitive markets on the Internet.

It’s one thing to study an SEO guide and learn excellent methodology and quite another to understand the benchmarks that you must achieve for your particular industry or marketplace on the Web. Let’s face it; the benchmarks one must achieve in order to compete for top rankings in the sports shoe market are quite different than the benchmarks one must achieve for petroleum distillates.

By understanding the necessary benchmarks for a particular industry or market one can calculate the financial barrier to entry, undertake strategic niche planning, create an effective SEO plan, set specific goals and much more. By carefully studying the playing field you learn IF you can compete and HOW to compete. You can set specific goals and run evaluations.

If you want to do this for yourself Rand recently provided a great roadmap that coupled with a book on Quantitative Method or Statistics should serve you quite well.

Note: Smart clients understand that Search Engines use quantitative methodology to rank websites whereas humans generate preferences based on qualitative factors. This is still new territory for many marketing professionals and business executives. Search Engines do not care how great your product tastes or how clever your brand promotion is. You can have the best tasting frozen Head Cheese and Hog Maw dinner and come nowhere near to ranking #1 if you do not understand and achieve or exceed the necessary quantitative benchmarks on the Internet.

Last edited by SEOcritique : 11-07-2006 at 08:17 PM.
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Old 11-08-2006   #5
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If its just a matter of keeping your eye on what your competitors are doing SEO-wise we developed a cool tool that allows you to do just that quite easily.

http://www.emarketingperformance.com/tools/codemonitor/

Its a simple tool that allows you to monitor for changes to a competitor's website and highlights the changes. It won't teach you SEO but it can give you an idea of what your competitors have going on, and not just for SEO purposes. Maybe they add free shipping, a winter discount, or even lower prices on specific products. This can all be good information to know.
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Old 01-04-2007   #6
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. . .

Excellent! Looks like a promising tool and will certainly try it out! Thanks
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Old 01-08-2007   #7
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Hmm, interesting idea. But I get DB errors when I tried inputting some URLs.
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Old 01-09-2007   #8
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. . .

Yeah me too, like the idea if it worked
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Old 01-09-2007   #9
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Quote:
What has he learned? He needs to add meta tags, descriptions, keywords, build links etc. Where does he get these from? He can start by looking at the competition and when he has gathered his list he modify it to suit his own company and implement otheres using a keyword tool.
That's basically premised on the fact that the competition knows what it's doing.

The fish merchant, him- or herself, should be the first source. They know the business, know the customers, know how customers ask for certain types of fish, the various different names under which one type of fish can be sold, the various cuts, etc.

Only after refining this list would I take a peek at the competition.
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Old 01-09-2007   #10
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Hey guys, it's still in beta and we are constantly tweaking with it (especially in the past couple of days). can you tell me what the errors are so I can have the programmer take a look and get a fix?

Thanks.
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Old 01-09-2007   #11
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. . .

I will get back to you this evening with the exact error it is returning
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Old 01-09-2007   #12
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Add Page Error

When I tried to add a page with Code Monitor, I received the following error, "Unknown column 'page_active' in 'field list'."
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Old 01-09-2007   #13
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The error I get:

I'm presented with a box that says:

DB->query() :: sql query failed
INSERT INTO pages
( page_client_id,
page_name,
page_link,
page_active
) VALUES (
708,
'[name]',
'www.domain.com',
1
)
Unknown column 'page_active' in 'field list'
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Old 01-10-2007   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by projectphp
Why? To learn what? I can't imagine a lawyer analysing competitors legal deals to learn how to practice law, can you?

Can you imagine Coke launching a new slogan, and Pepsi copying it? "Coke Is It" followed by a Pepsi ad: "Pepsi Is It"?
Oh quit with all the "purist" griping... people ask a question on a SEO forum and the last thing they should get are people arguing with the formation of their question. I feel like we're on IHY...

The guy never said he was going to copy them verbatim, so just answer the darn question, and in doing so teach them why they could be asking a better question - especially when competitive analysis IS a good idea.

Any company of significant size and success has someone doing competitive analysis. That includes all the stuff like newsletters, sales materials, and it would also include SEO. Lawyers do analyze their competitors - they always want to know what evidence the other side has, how they are going to use it, etc. The law firm I worked for was absolutely insane about security of documents. Why would they do that if the competition had no interest?
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Old 01-10-2007   #15
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I would think that tracking competitor source code is a good idea especially if you use that tool mentioned above so won't spend so much time figuring them out.

While that on-page tracking idea sounds good to me (esp with the tool) I would also consider monitoring their off-page SEO efforts. These include their inbound links, relative share of traffic and keyword rankings.

I agree with SEOCritique. The more quantitative areas you can measure from your competitors, the better the picture would be. But I guess the quantity mention ed here is influenced by quality factors. I think brand building has something to do with improving your numbers. If a product is good enough, it gets mentioned/cited more likely, through links/blogs which in turn is a quantitative measurement that improve SEO performance and help achieve goals.
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Old 01-11-2007   #16
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There is definitely value in competitor analysis, at least when focused on the competitors which appear to have a successful web presence (which is easy to evaluate on the SERPs of the targeted keywords /keyphrases).

E.g. the need for semantic tags is well known, but the keyword density level of the competitors which are outperforming us, has to be analyzed.

K
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Old 01-11-2007   #17
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The CodeMonitor tool has been fixed and new pages can be added. Like I said before its still in beta so if you run across any more problems just submit a bug report (link at bottom of page). I'm also open to improvement suggestions. On thing we should be adding shortly is the META tags to display in the text-only view.
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Old 01-12-2007   #18
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The only interesting question...

The only interesting question is whether one's competitors are ranking higher for particular keywords than one's own site pages.

If that's happening, then I would analyze my competitor's pages to see how I think they achieved it. In some cases, they've traded advantage somewhere else to achieve that ranking -- which I might not be willing to do.
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Old 01-14-2007   #19
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I believe there is a lot to be learned from competitive analysis.

In a previous life I worked in the area of competitive web analytics. One of the first questions we'd ask is 'who is the best of breed' in a competitive space. Usually that would be defined by conversions (whether purchase, or registration, etc.)

You don't necessarily want to spend a lot of time analyzing or "copying" a competitor that isn't doing as well as you are.

The next step is finding out what makes them successful. It can be content, or features, or even navigation of their site. And in the context of this forum it can simply be the volume of traffic that they're drawing.

By looking at the industry leader (assuming you're not in that position already), you can gain valuable insight into what techniques to apply and which to skip over. Certainly there may be general SEO/SEM rules, but each unique industry can also have its own special cases.
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Old 01-15-2007   #20
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SpyFu - another SEO competitive analysis tool

I haven't used this yet myself, but my colleague Marshall Sponder just reviewed http://www.spyfu.com on our blog at www.biggreenblog.com/2007/01/competitive_analysis_with_spyf.html

I'm going to try it out on 2 upcoming projects so I'll let you know how it works for me. I'll also try CodeMonitor too.

Last edited by Marcia : 01-20-2007 at 12:44 PM.
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