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A Guide to SEO Competitor Analysis for Canadian Business

One of the least understood (and most important) parts of digital marketing is the SEO strategy. There is a lot of content written that talks about on-page and off-page SEO, keywords, and back-links. But all of this is relevant within the context of how you are performing against your competition. Our SEO Competitor Analysis Guide For Canadian Business will explain the role of a proper analysis of your industry or competitive landscape.

Benefits of SEO Competitor Analysis

Before you start producing content for SEO, wouldn’t it be a good idea to see the competitive landscape? Thorough competitor analysis allows you to:

  • Find out who your true competitors are. These are not always the same as your offline competitors. Online, there is more competition for your target audience’s attention.
  • Evaluate which keywords have little competition so you can quickly rank and start getting leads and sales.
  • Create quality content for the most relevant keywords. Google will give you a boost by providing its users with an outstanding search experience.
  • Discover valuable keywords your competitors are ranking for (and you’re not). This is a big opportunity to close the gap.
  • Repeat successful actions that helped build your competitors’ website authority.

In short, competitor analysis affects the quality and quantity of traffic to your website, which can produce more leads and sales for your business.

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A Website’s Role Is To Deliver Marketing ROI

Your website has a job to do: bring quality traffic and leads to your website. You made an investment in your website to establish an online presence. You want to be found. SEO is the way you will be found.

SEO is more important than ever before. There are rapid technological advances happening such as voice search, AI, and mobile-first indexing as just a few examples.

“Taking charge of your website SEO strategy today means holding your website accountable for what it is: a business asset which should be driving growth”, states Mary-Jane Owen, our founder, and president.

What does this mean? You should expect an ROI from the considerable investment you made in your website. You spent valuable time and money on it, in order to establish an online presence in response to the growing importance of online search in consumer behavior.

A website should be bringing new business to you, generating enough visits to your website to provide adequate leads. Your sales team will close a portion of these leads, and their ability to close the business, or their close rate, is a common sales measure.

What is your website’s conversion rate? How many visits to your website result in leads? Just as you hold your sales reps accountable to bring results, similarly you must hold your website accountable to do its job.

Carrying out SEO provides the tools to measure and manage the ROI you are getting from your website. Here we lay out an analysis template to carry out an analysis of your top competitors to gain the edge in ranking and as a result increase organic traffic.

The Most Important SEO Factors

Domain Factors

How old is your domain? How long is the domain registered for?

These are some factors Google takes into account, yet not many people talk about them. Older domains and those registered for a longer period will find it easier to rank. Newer domains will take longer to see significant changes.

Page-Level Factors

These are simple optimizations that anyone can do. Ensure that keywords are in the title tag, appear in the H1 tag, and are included at the beginning of the content.

Keep in mind that Google places a lot of importance on user experience. Check that your site loads fast and is user-friendly.

Site-Level Factors

Your site needs to have essential pages like About Us, Contact Us, Terms of Service, and Privacy Policy pages. You’ll also want to have a sitemap, so the search engines have an easier time indexing your site, thus helping you to rank.

Backlink Factors

Search engines treat backlinks like people “voting” that your content is good. They look for the number of backlinks and the authority of the domains linking to your site. Conversely, backlinks from spam sites will hurt your rankings.

User Interaction

Google keeps track of a lot of data. They use data to see how well users like your content. One common metric is Click-through Rate (CTR) – The number of people that clicked as a percentage of how many people saw your website on the search page. A higher CTR signals to Google that your content is relevant.

SEO Factors guide-to-seo-competitor-analysis

Special Google Algorithm Rules

Depending on the intent of the keyword, Google has special elements displayed on the search results. These are additional opportunities to appear on the first page.

  • Featured snippets
  • Answer boxes
  • Shopping results
  • Video results
  • Related questions
  • Knowledge graphs
  • Local map results
  • Brand Signals

As part of giving an excellent user experience, Google wants to associate itself with legitimate brands. They will check if your website has social media profiles and the followers count.

Webspam Penalties

Over the years Google began penalizing websites that tried to over-optimize their site. You want to stay away from shady black-hat or grey-hat tactics that game the algorithm. Google frowns upon these and will penalize your website if you use them.

When you hire an SEO agency based on a low price, you run the risk of paying a much higher price with a Google penalty, which will effectively reduce your website traffic and hinder your ability to be found by the search engines.

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A Truly “Competitive” SEO Strategy

An overlooked aspect of SEO is understanding your competitors and what their SEO strategies are. When you measure yourself against the firms that rank first for your best keywords, you are putting your business on a stronger path to success.

This Canadian Guide to SEO Competitor Analysis will help you significantly improve your website ranking ability.

1. Select Your Prime Competitors

The competitors that come to mind for you are likely not your top SEO competitors. Your SEO competitors are the companies that consistently rank higher than you for important keywords. In other words, your SEO competitors are not necessarily your business competitors.

Your SEO competitors are specifically those websites and pages that receive traffic targeting the same keywords as you. A logical starting point is selecting some domain competitors as part of this strategy development work.

Once you have gone through the work we lay out below, then you can move to topic competitors. These are websites that have pages that outrank some of your specific web pages.

Gone are the days when keyword research could be done with elbow grease. It will take you forever and you’ll not be able to uncover everything you need to identify and analyze.

Today digital marketing agencies like ours, as well as large companies that have the teams to carry out the work, use automated tools to be efficient.

If this is your first time through the exercise, start with one SEO competitor, and use them in developing your SEO strategy. Then find a few more, based on your time available, team size, and resources.

2. Identify What You Want To Achieve In Your Research

Now that you have identified your SEO competitors, the next step is to understand their online success.

Using a good SEO tool, you will research their top pages, ranking keywords, anchor texts, backlinks, and any relevant piece of content on their website. You seek to understand the ranking factors that have earned them success.

What Competitive Research Do You Need To Do? 

1. Start With Google SERP Analysis To Save Time And Money

Before writing a single word in your article, you need to do a Google SERP analysis. It can save you time and money.

You need to know the search volume to decide if it’s worth going after that keyword. Analyze the articles that are ranking on the search results. It will give you a clue on what is the search intent of the users.

Also, take note of what types of articles are ranking. For instance, if you see many listicles on the top of the first page, you can conclude that is what readers want. So you’ll want to create a listicle article too.

2. Do a Keyword Gap Analysis To Find Hidden Opportunities

A keyword gap analysis reveals opportunities for keywords that you can get leads. In essence, generate a list of your keyword rankings and compare it to one of your competitors.

This is easy to do with SEMRush’s Keyword Gap tool. With just a few clicks, you’ll get a side-by-side comparison of how you fared against them for many keywords.

3. Do A Content Analysis To Measure Your competitors’ Overall SEO Health

What is their overall domain health, authority, or ranking? What are their top pages and topics that bring in the majority of the traffic?

Collect information about the strengths of each of your competitor’s websites.

Establish what are their best ranking keywords (link to tools) are using tools such as keyword explorer.

Once you understand your competitors’ ranking keywords, the next step is to flag the keyword gaps. Keyword gaps are those keywords they are ranking for and you are not.

Prioritize the keywords you want to work on. Those are the ones for which you want to improve your ranking or begin ranking.

From here a high-quality content strategy can be developed for both blogs and social media. The content strategy should include existing content and new content.

Get improved performance from existing content by refreshing it, adding more value to the content, and adding relevant keywords based on this research. Analyze each of your website pages. Compare your pages against your competitors’ pages around ranking for similar keywords.

SEO Competitive Research

4. Analyze Your Competitors’ Backlinks

In analyzing your competitor’s backlinks, look at sites linking to their entire domains as well as to any webpage in particular. Having quality backlinks is vital, and increasingly difficult.

Within the list of sites linking to your competitors, you may identify websites that might provide your website with a backlink.

An especially important metric to monitor here is the “do follow” links. They are the ones who actually have the ability to directly impact your rankings. These are high-value linking domains that a few of your SEO competitors have in common, which link to a number of them but not to you yet.

5. Apply Those Insights to Your Own Website.

From these analyses of your competitors, now you can come back to your keyword strategy and identify and prioritize your next steps including developing your semantic core:

  • Review your current website pages and look for improvements in title tags and meta descriptions.
  • Develop a content plan that will support your ranking goals.
  • Improve keyword ranking with well-optimized content. As a first step, review the current content on your website and consider a content refresh and re-optimization plan based on your keyword findings.
  • Your analysis will have identified content gaps on topics that are of interest to your audience but about which you have not yet written.
  • Your content strategy should include updating existing content, reviewing the type of content you have, and creating new content.
  • Develop a backlink strategy based on any gaps you found from your analysis.

Develop A Competitive SEO Strategy With Your SEO Agency

This Canadian Guide to SEO Competitor Analysis provides a valuable tool to develop a strong SEO strategy for your business. Since today’s SEO is beyond the layman’s reach, businesses are hiring SEO Agencies such as Asset Digital Communications for this work.

As a business owner you don’t need to become an expert in SEO, however, you are well-advised to understand the strategic levers that drive good quality SEO work. After all, it is you who will select your SEO agency.

How do you know if they are doing good work for you? A great starting point is feeling confident that your SEO agency in Toronto has a strong understanding of your business.

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