What Things Can Your Competitors Teach You About Search Engine Optimization

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Written By Robert Dunford
I am a Marketing Consulting in the Great Toronto Area with over 25 years experience in building and implementing marketing plans for small business.

What Things Your Competitors Can TeachIn business, there is no better tool for success than studying your competitors and incorporating what you can to outdo them. The surveillance-orientated nature of a business is perhaps most evident in the SERP (search engine results page), where all manner of companies – both big and small – are striving to rank for the same exact keywords and phrases.

There is a good reason for this. Ranking in organic search has proven to offer a healthy boost in traffic, lead generation, and conversion rates.

The only trouble is: your competitors are probably deploying creative optimization techniques to beat you to the top. Would it not help to analyze their approach and see what SEO services you need to focus on more?

Even if you are only familiar with SEO basics, here are four key insights you can gain by keeping close tabs on your neighbors in the SERP:

  1. Keyword Ranking and Targeting

Google Keyword Planner and SEMrush are tools for exploring what searcher queries look like in your niche. With SEMrush, for instance, you can take the URL of a competitor and plug it into the SEMrush database to see what terms they rank. Once you know the keywords, you can pick a select few and form content strategies around them.

A piece of advice here though: go for long-tail keywords with less traffic to begin with. Leave the high ranking keywords for when you have the full spectrum of SEO services working in your favor.

  1. SEO Basics: Inform Your Content Strategy

You should also be taking notes on the content your competitors publish. Is it strictly blog form? Are they doing ‘How-To’ articles or industry guides? What about video content? Pay close attention to the type of material that performs best in search because it will highlight something important about the interests of the target market.

  1. Local SEO

If you are competing for terms on a local level, then you need to keep up to speed with local optimization. It starts with creating a ‘Contact’ page and an ‘About’ page on your site, and extends into many more avenues. Are they listed in directories that you are not? Is their blog full of local information? Get as specific as you can, because at this level small changes can generate a nice boost in traffic.

  1. Backlinking

Backlinks remain the most critical competitive advantage in the eyes of Google. If your site has incredible content, but no one knows about it, then you will not rank well. However, you can collect all the sites backlinking to competitors by plugging the URL into a tool like Open Site Explorer or Ahrefs. It paints you a clear picture of where your competitors get backlinks from, and how you can go about getting them yourself. Collecting backlinks is the most valuable insight you can take from competitors, and SEO specialists are trained in all the different ways to build backlinks to your site.


It is important to remember that ranking factors do not exist in a silo. Websites rank high because they have followed Google requirements and respond effectively to searcher intent. By analyzing competitors, you can see what searchers like best, and start working with an SEO specialist to incorporate them into your content strategy. Ultimately, one way to succeed is by knowing your competition so well that you can out-do them on every digital marketing front.

All you need is time and patience and you can get that new business through digital marketing efforts.

If you need results quicker than (4-6 months), a website refresh and pay per click (PPC) program may be better suited to your needs.    Contact me.   We can discuss strategy on the phone or get a coffee.

Robert Dunford is a Marketing Consulting in the Great Toronto Area with over 20 years experience in building and implementing marketing plans for small business.

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