Too many people make this mistake in SEO by benchmarking themselves against the wrong competitors. Wrong competitor benchmarking leads to flawed research and bad decisions.
Who your organic competitors are NOT:
- Businesses that are popular by their brand in your industry
- The sites whose ads you see most often
- The few sites you see consistently show up in the Top 10 on Google for a few random searches that you’ve made related to your industry
- Businesses near your physical location
Those businesses & websites may be competition for you otherwise and should definitely be treated with respect when it comes to general marketing. However, when it comes to SEO, they are NOT your competitors.
As far as SEO is concerned, you will have MULTIPLE sets of competitors for different sets of keywords. The competitors you want to benchmark against will the the sites that are consistently ranking in the Top 10 for ALL your target terms (grouped by keyword themes).
I cannot stress how useful and how important it is to identify your true competitors at the very initial stages of any SEO campaign.
You will only want to dissect the strategies of your ‘true organic competitors’. You would be wasting precious time otherwise.
So let’s get started with identifying these sites that you need to care about.
Identify your true organic competitors.
Expected outcome :
After identifying these competitors, you will be able to dissect what’s working for them and eventually outrank them for many of your target terms.
There are two steps to this process.
Step #1 – Identifying & Grouping Keywords
The process outlined here is brief and does not compensate for a full explanation of the keyword research & selection process. For a complete understanding on how to go about keyword research, refer to the section, “Finding the Best Keywords for your Site.”
You may skip to Step #2 if you already have a list of tagged keywords in your account.
- Go to the keyword research tool and enter a primary keyword that you’re looking to target.
- Repeat these steps for as many searches as you see fit, till such time that you feel you’ve compiled a large enough set of keywords that you deem as highly relevant to your site.
- If you feel you’ve got a sufficient list of keywords to start with (would recommend having at least 200+ keywords), then you could move to the next step. If not, you could then gather more keywords by visiting the Competitor Keywords tool. Out here, enter a competitor url. You’ll then get a list of keywords for which this site ranks. Again, select and tag as many keywords as you find out here. Ensue you use 2 sets of tags, i) as “shortlisted” and ii) a keyword that’s relevant to the set.
Once you’ve tagged a list of keywords, you will find the keywords available in the “Tagged Keywords” section. If required, you can further manage the tags assigned from this page.
Step #2 – Running a Rank Check on the Shortlisted Keywords
From the previous step, we’ve compiled a list of keywords that are relevant to our site. We will now want to determine the top sites ranking for these keywords.
- Visit the On-Demand Rank Checker.
So that’s it. If you complete the steps above, you’d have successfully identified your true organic competitors from an overall perspective as well as for specific keyword subsets.
Using this data, you can now go on to dissect your competitors’ SEO strategies and see what’s working for them.