Join Anson Alexander for an in-depth discussion in this video Discovering competitor website traffic data, part of Spying with SEO Tools.
- At this point, we know who our online competitors are, and we know how we rank up against them. So it's time to start asking the all-important question: why? Why do my competitors rank where they do? Why are some more successful than others on the web? Let's start finding out. Let's find out what their most popular pages are, and then, later on in the course, we'll take a look at which keywords are driving the most traffic to those pages. To do this, I'd like to introduce a new SEO research tool, called SEO Moz.
SEO Moz offers a 30 day free trial, but if you'd like to continue to use the tool after that, you would have to upgrade to a paid version. SEO Moz is one of the market leaders when it comes to SEO research, so upgrading to the Pro version may be worth it if you plan on doing quite a bit of competitor SEO research, and/or SEO research for your own site. We can access SEO Moz simply by going to moz.com. On this page, you'll see that there's a button to start a free trial. You'll have to enter some payment information because this is one of those trials that automatically renews after the trial period.
When using these trials, I make sure to put an event with a reminder in my calendar, to remember to cancel the trial a couple of days before it renews to a paid subscription. So, you may want to do that. At this point, you can sign up for the trial if you'd like. I've already signed up, so I'm just going to log in to my account. Once you get logged in, the SEO Moz tool that we want to use is called "Open Site Explorer". It can be accessed by hovering over the "Research Tools" link, and then by clicking on "Open Site Explorer".
On this page, there is a text box towards the top where we can enter a website URL for SEO Moz to analyze. So let's enter the URL of one of our competitors, the Courthouse Hotel, and then we'll click "Search". By default, we're presented with results showing the top incoming links to this particular website. This information's valuable, but we're going to take a look at it later on in the course. For now, let's click on the link on the left side of the page that says "Top Pages".
Now we're looking at a list of the top pages within this website. For each page in the list, there's a URL to the page, which we can see fully by mousing over the blue link, and then taking a look at the bottom left corner of our browser window. For example, when I mouse over the first page on the list, and I look at the bottom left corner of my screen, I can see that the top page for the courthousehotel.com is their homepage, courthouse-hotel.com.
This isn't uncommon, but the top page isn't always the homepage. For example, on my technology blog, ansonalex.com, my homepage is my second highest ranked page, not number one. We also have additional information displayed related to each particular page in the list, including how many unique domains link to this page, how many individual pages link to this page, how many Facebook shares it has, how many Tweets it has, and how many Google +1's the page has.
All of these factors contribute to a page's ranking, inbound ranks, and social metrics. As you look at the list, the top pages will probably have the most inbound links and the most social activity, or a combination of the two. That's great. We can see, technically speaking, why these pages are higher ranking. To gain the most out of this data, however, it's important to look at your competitors' top pages and analyze the content on the page, to find out why it's receiving so many links and so much social activity.
The hardest page to do this with is usually the homepage, because there might not be anything particular about the homepage of a website that's driving traffic to it, other than the fact that other pages within the website are valuable. So people are linking to the homepage saying, "Hey, check out this website, it's got "a lot of great information". For that reason, let's skip over the homepage and take a look at the next highest ranking page in the list. As you can see, when I mouse over the next link in the list, the next highest ranking page for the Courthouse Hotel is the page containing information about the restaurant and bar located at the Courthouse Hotel.
Let's click on this link, here in SEO Moz, to go to that actual webpage. This is one of those areas of competitive research with SEO that gets subjective. We have to try to figure out why so many people are linking to this page. The answer could be as simple as, it's a really good restaurant in London, so people are linking to it and sharing it with others. On this page, however, if I scroll down a little bit and click on the + icon located towards the bottom right, there's quite a bit of text about the restaurant and bar, which includes a lot of keywords and descriptions of the restaurant itself, also descriptions of the food.
All of these are good keywords that would probably help this page rank well in Google search. This is important, because if this page is ranking well in Google search, then it will probably receive more visitors, and in turn, more inbound links and social attention. At the bottom of this page, we also see a number of links to the restaurant's menus. There is a lot of valuable information on this page. As the SEO expert for Landon Hotel, I'm looking at this page saying, we need to make sure that our website has a page dedicated to our restaurant.
That page should contain descriptive information about the restaurant and the dishes offered there. Clearly, this page is driving a lot of traffic to the Courthouse Hotel website, so it's working for them. Obviously, your competitors' top-ranking pages are going to be different from the example that I'm using, but I implore you to use the same methods that I've used in this example, to discover new ways for your own brand to be successful on the internet based on the successes of your competitors. There isn't a specific section in the tracking sheet for this video of the course, but there is a Notes section.
If you come up with any ideas for your own organization by looking at your competitors' pages, it may be a good idea to record those ideas in the Notes section of the tracking worksheet. In this video, we've only looked at one page of one of our competitors. But I encourage you to take a look at the top three to five pages for each of your top three to five competitors, to have the best chances of finding new opportunities and ideas.
Author Anson Alexander explains what to look for when researching a competitor's SEO presence and website traffic. He then shows how to find both paid and organic keywords that competitors are targeting. Then learn how to find out what is driving traffic to a competitor's site, evaluate on-page SEO factors and usability, understand how competitors' social media platforms contribute, and monitor for new entries into the market.
- The benefits of researching competitor's SEO
- Researching competitors and their website traffic data
- Finding keywords targeted by competitors
- Reviewing incoming links and social media
- Checking out sitemaps
- Using competitor SEO data