Following on from my recent blog “I want to do my own Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) where do I start?“, this series covers each of the seven areas in a little more detail so that you can really boost your rankings online to increase sales and revenue.
Knowing who your competitors are online will give you a better understanding of your market position and where your targets and goals need to take you. I find sometimes people get confused with their competitors offline, what I mean by this is the bricks and mortar businesses that you are aware of locally or nationally. When it comes to SEO, online competitors can in actual fact be websites who simply rank well for the key words that you would like to rank well for and probably don’t even have a big setup or any real office as such. The point I’m getting to is that online if you get your SEO and Online Marketing right, the internet can give even start up or micro businesses a level playing field even against big businesses who have big marketing budgets.
- Search Engines – Google, Yahoo & Bing
Online the main search engines most people will ask about are Google, Yahoo and Bing, and normally in that order of importance. In fact most people only recognise Google, but there are in actual fact may hundreds even thousands of search engines online.
There is of course reason as to why Google is the most talked about, 80% of the UK Population uses it. So when is comes to ranking well on a search engine Google is the focus of many people and businesses. With this kind of usage it’s also a great place to start leveraging this popularity (traffic) by getting some of the users to come to your website. This can only happen if you rank well on the search engine results pages (SERP).
- Top 10 Competitors
So now you have researched some key phrases that have demand and could possibly be what you want to rank well for. This will depend on a number of important competitor factors.
The first step is to do actual searches for the key phrases you researched in the previous article “SEO 1 of 7: Keywords – Maximise your SEO”, so you will need to type your phrases into Google’s search text box, but using a little extra specific phrase search. By putting double quotes around a set of words, you are telling Google to consider the exact words in that exact order without any change e.g. “Solicitors in Wolverhampton”.
So now we’ve performed our search and we have some specific Search Engine Results pages, which you can now analyse. What we are looking at here is the list of websites that appear on the first page of results, basically the top 10 websites who rank for our key phrase “Solicitors in Wolverhampton”. You will need to note them down and save them somewhere, in a text file or spreadsheet like Excel so that they can be further analysed a little later in the sixth follow up article to this series “SEO 6 of 7: Links – Hyperlinks”. The other number to bear in mind is the total number of competing web pages found – Results 1 – 10 of about 176,000 for “Solicitors in Wolverhampton”. This shows us that google has found 176,000 web pages that phrase match “Solicitors in Wolverhampton”, this number also allows us to analyse how much competition there is for our key phrase and the potential level market saturation. The less competition the better, but this can also mean that you may be targetting a key phrase that is very niche or not in demand.
If you want to move to the next level and go professional you should use tools like SEO Elite or Web CEO, both generate competitor information direct from the main search engines and put all of this information straight into spreadsheets or text files to make it faster and quicker for you to do. These tools also produce some extra results which are very valuable and useful, we will cover this in the follow up articles to this series.
- Localised Search
Up until this point we’ve mostly considered natural search engine rankings and SERP’s but we need to be aware of Google’s and the other search engines ability to deliver localised results. This is basically the ability to show SERP’s based on your location.
So to explain this quickly, Google is able to take into account your location by identifying your IP address, it then cross references this against websites and their search phrases related to a geographic location and produce localised SERP’s. So this would mean that if you searched for “Solicitors in Wolverhampton” and you were based in Birmingham you may receive different results than if you did the same search whilst you were based in Wolverhampton.
The images below show you how Google can present differing SERP’s based on localisation and web search history.
Now this is very interesting as it shows the importance of optimising for a geographic location, especially if this is important for your customers to find your website based on geographic location.
The other area to be aware of is Google Local Business Center, the ability to get a map result above natural (Organic) SERP’s. This can be done for free and requires you to register your business and its multiple branches if you have them and this allows you to appear on SERP’s and on Google maps for any business search related to geographic location. This is a very useful tool and comes equipped with analytical / statistical information on searches performed by people online and indicates the phrases that resulted in people clicking (taking action) on your information in order to get to your website.
Now that we’ve analysed our competitors for some of our potential key words you are starting to build the basis of online marketing strategy. We can take into consideration natural SERP’s, localised regional based searches and Local Business Listings, maximising three key areas of generating traffic from Google and other search engines.
Read the follow up to this blog: SEO 3 of 7: Your Web Page Content.
- https://adwords.google.co.uk/select/KeywordToolExternal – Google’s Keyword Tool
- http://www.google.com/sktool – Google Search Based Keyword Tool
- https://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com/ – Yahoo Site Explorer
- www.google.com/local/add – Google Local Business Center
- SEO Elite
- Web CEO
I would love to hear from you and your views on this topic, if you’ve got any great comments or advice to add to this please do below now. Good luck with your online marketing.