Explore The Canadian Guide to SEO Competitor Analysis in 2020

One of the least understood (and most important) parts of digital marketing is the SEO strategy. There is a lot of content that talks about on-page and off-page SEO, keywords, back-links. But all of this is relevant within the context of how you are performing against your competition. This is the Canadian Guide to SEO Competitor Analysis in 2020!

What is SEO in 2020?

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 behaviour.

A website’s role in 2020 is to deliver Marketing ROI

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 increases in organic traffic.

Let’s start with the SEO basics 

There are two key metrics you must become familiar with because they are at the base of good SEO strategy. Domain Authority and Page Rank.

Domain Authority (DA) is a logarithmic measure of the strength of a domain that was invented by MOZ. The search engines make decisions about where to direct organic traffic, with more of it going to high DA sites.

It makes sense considering a millions of searches that happen every minute. This measure is now the search engines evaluate and organize what they are going to show you for any given set of search terms (keywords) that you might use.

A Domain Authority score between 40 and 50 is considered average, while over 60 is considered excellent. Do you know what your domain authority is?

Here’s a free analysis tool to see your website’s DA:  https://ahrefs.com/website-authority-checker

Page Rank (PR) is a 1-10 score invented by Google founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin to evaluate the importance of specific website pages and blog posts. The measure considers incoming links to the page, reasoning that many people linking to the content attests to its quality and authority.

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 who rank first for your best keywords, you are putting your business on a stronger path for 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 layout below, then you can move to topic competitors. These are websites who have pages that outrank some of your specific webpages.

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.

  1. 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, their 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 want to do? 

  1. Measure your competitors’ overall SEO health.

What is their overall domain health, authority or ranking?

Collect information about the strengths of each of your competitors 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 for.

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.

  1. Analyzing your competitors’ backlinks

In analyzing your competitors 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 might provide your website with a backlink.  An especially important metric to monitor here are the “dofollow” 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.

  1. Applying those insights to your own website.

From these analyses on 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 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 in 2020 provides a valuable tool to develop SEO strategy for your business. Since today’s SEO is beyond the layman’s reach, businesses are hiring SEO Agencies to this work. However your ability to measure their impact is a function of how well you understand SEO.

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 SEO strategy. After all, it is you who will select your SEO agency. How do you know if they are doing good work for you?