Competitive Research

March 24, 2011
By Lisa Barone in Internet Marketing Conferences

Welcome to the last session of SES NY. Congratulations on making it. I’m hoping I make it through the next hour. If for some reason I don’t, I just want you to know that I loved you all. No, really. I do.

Luckily, I have a feeling this session will be interesting and maybe a little dirty.  Speaking we have Kristopher Jones and Seth Besmertnik. Everyone say hello.

We’re having some technical issues. Seth asks if there are any comedians in the audience who want to come up and entertain people for a bit.  Seth tries to tell the “An SEO Copywriter walks into a bar joke” but it pretty much bombs because he can’t spit it out. Hee.  Points for the attempt, Seth. :)

Up first is Kristopher Jones.

He wants to know what it means when you’re made the last speaker on the last day – does it mean you’re the best speaker or the best speaker. Heh. Don’t ask questions you don’t want the answers to, Kris. ;)  Kris takes some time to thank the folks at Incisive. Hear, hear.  Great show.

Why Do Competitive Research

  • Identify your competition; benchmark for SEO/PPC purposes
  • Better understand your competition for purposes of optimal resource allocation
  • Gain insights into trends; identify opportunities
  • Save time; create efficiencies
  • Duplicate success; Avoid failure
  • It’s fun!
  • Sometimes too much fun

Search-based competitive research

  • Helps you understand what, why and how high your competition ranks for specific keywords
  • SEM/SEO competitive research tools are a great source for keyword generation, as well as comparative analysis (How you rank for specific keywords vs competition)
  • Provides insight into keyword popularity and serves as a measure for duplicating rankings
  • Using the following “retail” tools will save you an extraordinary amount of time and resources

Trend Analysis with Google Trends

  • Serves as a great resource for you to ID all types of trends; trends allow you to anticipate demand and take action before your competitors do
  • Provides relative data on how often a particular search term is entered relative to the total search volume across various regions of the world, in various languages
  • Google Trends is a great place to begin thinking about competitive research; its gets the juices flowing

[we get an example using the term “groupon”]

Search Trend Data with Google Insights For Search

  • Provides a visual representation of regional interest on a country’s map
  • Displays top search terms and rising searches that may help with keyword research. Results can be narrowed down with categories.

Keyword Research with KeywordSpy

  • Allows you to perform keyword research based on what keywords your competition is bidding for on a pay per click basis, as well as what keywords your competition ranks for organically on major search engines,
  • Offers real time keyword tracking technology which allows you to easily assess the effectiveness of your keyword ranking, which in turn can influence your keyword research strategy.
  • Offers limited free version, prices range from $90+

Keyword Research with KeyCompete

  • Online keyword research tool that identifies the keywords your competitors are using in their pay per click campaigns
  • KeyCompete also identifies the competition that is bidding on your keywords
  • Pricing ranges from $19 per day to 300 per year
  • Popular tool with affiliate marketers

Analyze your Competition with SEMRush

  • Shows you how well you rank for specific keywords versus your competition
  • Provides estimates of keyword popularity
  • Includes international competitive research data
  • Offers limited free version/monthly plans start at $49.95

Analyze your competition with

  • Allows you to analyze your competition, including the KWs your competitors rank for on search engines, as well as how users interact with their sites
  • Compete’s large data set is made possible through the distribution of the compete toolbar, which collects information as a user surfs the Web.
  • Limited free version; Costs $199 and up per month

Other Research Tools

  • Google Keyword Suggestion Tool
  • Wordtracker Keyword Suggestion Tool
  • SEOBook Keyword Suggestion Tool
  • Facebook/Twitter/Delicious/Reddit/Digg

Evaluate Potential Linking Partners

  • One of the most effective ways to find potential quality link partners is to mimic the efforts of your most successful competition.
  • However, not all links are created equally so you should evaluate each potential linking partner for quality. This can be accomplished by analyzing numerous link-quality factors.

Determine Link Popularity and analyze backlinks with Open Site Explorer

  • Provides high level data on a range of metrics, including page authority, domain authority, linking domains, anchor text distribution, and a range of other important link analysis data.
  • Free version provides limited data, part of the SEOmoz premium family of tools. Offers a 30 day free trial


  • Google Analytics
  • Google News Alerts
  • FlipBoard
  • Neilson helps media companies better understand viewers, listeners and the industry as a whole
  • Industry conferences\

Now what?

  • It’s not what you know, it’s what you do with what you know.
  • Competitive research is fun, but you can suffer from paralysis of analysis so that a decision or action is never taken.
  • Take action in baby steps. Don’t overwhelm yourself.

Next up is Seth.

There are a lot of tools out there. Kris did a good job going over some of the really good ones. Seth is going to take a top down look instead of a bottom up look. I…have no idea what that means but let’s just roll with it, eh? Seth seems like a nice, trustworthy guy.

Who are my search competitors?

Understanding who your traditional and non-traditional competitors are is the first stage of a long term competitive intelligence strategy. You have business competitors and then search/SEO competitors. How can you figure that out? In the old days there’s a Google operator command [] which is give you related Web sites. There are more sophisticate ways like using SEMRush. You put in a domain name and they’ll tell you all the keywords that you’re showing up for and they’ll produce a report of competitors also organically ranking for your keywords. They call them Top Rankers. Those are your search competitors.

The best way to learn is to look at the people who are doing better than you.

Where is my competitive keyword overlap?

Determining the competitive overlap is a sure fire way to begin identifying new opportunities and tracking your competitive progress.

They use SpyFu Kombat. Looks at all the keywords you’re focused on and shows you which your competitors share. Does it all in a visual format.  You can use this data to make a business case for what you want to do.

Why are my competitors outranking me?

Intelligence into the search strategies of your competitors gives you the power to make accurate business decisions and stay ahead of the curve. Two tools he recommends: Yahoo SiteExplorer (while it lasts) and Backlink & Anchor Text Analysis.

Can competitive intelligence help me build a business cause for SEO?

Analyzing how much your competitors invest in search and resources they have will help you build a business case for search. He asks if anyone’s used LinkedIn to do competitive research. One person raises their hand. If you’re trying to hire an SEO, why don’t you pop open one of your competitors and see how many employees they have who list “SEO” as their job description.  If your competitors has 10 people doing SEO…maybe you can get your boss to give you one.   He also recommends Conductor‘s Share of Search Report.

How do I balance my natural and paid competitive strategies?

Integrate your paid and natural platform to maintain high rankings and keep the edge in search while your competitors use up resources and budget.  SEO takes a lot of upfront investment and you don’t always see the return right away. What you do is take your KW list and pump it into Google AdWords and see what happens. Do the people coming do something you deserve? If so, use them to build content around and do linkbuilding around. It’s obvious but it’s powerful.

And we’re done. Thank you SO MUCH for hanging out with us this week.  Hope you learned a little something. Until next time, friends.

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