Why Should You Analyze Your Competitors When Planning an SEO Campaign?
Before offering any options of cooperation to our new client, we conducted a free preliminary analysis of competitors' strategies, as well as a review of search demand. We managed to surprise the client already at this stage.
Real Competitors’ Websites Analysis Case
In summer 2019, we received a request to optimize a B2B website of a gaming equipment manufacturer. No SEO work had been done, and the site had been developed just 3 months prior to that time. As the head of the sales department explained to us, their audience mainly comprises owners of developing businesses.
The client entered the market in 2014, and in a relatively short time, according to various reviews, their products ranked TOP-10 among the most popular equipment. To quote the client, this was due to the fact they “never saved money on quality, materials, or electronics. All our competitors are better than us only in terms of advertising and promotion".
Purpose of website promotion, which was described in the brief:
- increasing positions in search engines, achieving the first place in the TOP-10;
- increasing sales of goods and services in Europe and America.
Before proposing any options for cooperation, we conducted a free preliminary analysis of competitors' strategies, as well as a review of search demand. We managed to surprise the client already at this stage. It turned out that the competitors that the client considered to be their main rivals are actually operating just as poorly optimized websites, which do not attract visitors from the search engine. Who are the client’s competitors then?
A preliminary competitors’ analysis is the basis for decision-making
Client’s website had 781 indexed pages in Google, 356 of which were associated with the English version. This was a good indicator to start.
However, it was obvious that the pages were not optimized – Google didn’t define search queries for all these pages; there were actually no positions for any search queries.
We compared it with other sites.
Competitor analysis: Website No.1
For comparison, we analyzed the indicators of a competitor website that the client provided to us: [WEBSITE1].COM
- Not the site itself but its subdomain en.[website1].com collected the main traffic;
- Number of indexed pages in Google — 176.
- Number of visitors: about 6,000 per month.
- Statistics in terms of countries: France (over 90%), Great Britain, Ukraine.
- Search traffic was only about 3%.
- There were about 80 keywords in the search results.
- The main influx of visitors to the site came from social networks, namely – Facebook.
As you can see, this website could hardly be identified as a real search engine competitor. In fact, it was also not optimized and didn't collect search traffic.
Сompetitor analysis: Website No.2
Our next website [website2].COM was optimized much efficiently.
It had 120 indexed pages (i.e. even fewer than that of the first competitor’s website [website1].com and that of the client), but
- It had about 400 search queries (in Google for the USA),
- About 5,000 users visited the website in one month,
- And in general, its search traffic was about 70% of the whole traffic.
In summary, we can conclude that the site’s pages did a better job at describing an offer, and that they were more relevant to the actual requests of users.
- In terms of countries, only 10% of users visited the site via US based search engines (i.e. about 350 users in one month).
- The greatest numbers of European site visitors were from Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Bulgaria, and Poland.
- The traffic, however, was of doubtful quality (it had to be researched in more detail).
- Moreover, traffic from Spain and Italy was brought via certain specific sites, which meant that the project team could have possibly done some work with redirecting links from third-party websites (posting articles, links, etc.).
As for specific search queries in the TOP, the following requests attracted visitors and increased the traffic of the analyzed site:
- [key1] manufacturers
- [key2] experts
- + queries with the following structure: [brand1]+key, [brand2]+key, and so on.
It is a slightly different set of words if compared to the clients’' examples like "[key1] franchise, [key2] supplier", etc.
Based on the above information, we were able to conclude that despite certain achievements, the [SITE2].COM’s strategy was also not the optimal one: it collected traffic from an incomplete pool of thematic queries, while visitors came only from a few European countries. In fact, we had some doubts about the quality of the traffic.
Competitor analysis: Website No. 3
For comparison, we also analyzed a similar website from another region – [SITE3].RU. The client did not mention it as a competitor, but the site could definitely be used as a benchmark.
The site had a completely different promotion strategy compared to the two resources analyzed above. Additionally, it worked only with Russian regions and some CIS countries, which meant that its main source of traffic was the Russian audience and that it wouldn't be the clients’ competitor in the future.
- The site had 41,000 (!) indexed pages.
- There were separate versions of the site with local domains:
- In addition, for each region (city), separate subdomain sites were created: [city1].[website3], [city2].[website3], etc.
There were several dozens of such sites with subdomains, and it was obvious that the site continued to develop.
- Estimated traffic was up to 6,000 users for each subdomain.
- Search traffic was about 55%.
- Moreover, each subdomain had thematic pages: [city1].[site3].ru/buy-product, [city2].[site3].ru/buy-product, etc.
The site had several dozen regional pages for every search query with the following structure: «buy + [key1]».
What conclusions can be drawn from this competitor analysis?
In the preliminary questionnaire, the client indicated “Europe and the USA” as the main regions for promotion. These were very large regions, especially if we take into account the approach of the [SITE3] and possible demand in each country and each city.
Based on an analysis of competitors, we concluded that English-speaking demand for Europe could be highly regionally dependent, while the same regional dependence was possible for particular US states and cities.
For example, the radius of New York is 30 kilometers. Approximately 20 million people live there, which indirectly denotes a possible level of competition and the orientation of the search system to display specifically regional search results in the first place.
Accordingly, creating/optimizing general pages on the site with “the whole world” in mind may not give the expected effect (in fact, this was what happened with [site2].com).
The client would have to either narrow the choice of regions or put great effort into preparing an optimal SEO-strategy for generating and optimizing content for each region.
What did we offer to our client after we have analyzed the competition?
To help the client make a decision, we suggested performing the following work on the client’s site:
- Research of real search demand – compilation/adjustment of the semantic core of the site and assessment of capabilities of the existing pages.
- Research of real competition in search engines – an overview of the search results according to the semantic core, selection of competitors, evaluation of the performance of their sites, comparison of competitive strength according to the main pages, assessment of pages’ relevance (thanks to which factors they are in the TOP).
- Preparation of a promotion strategy.
We suggested making a technical revision of the site and correcting all possible technical issues. We also prepared recommendations for improving the existing pages with their current content so that they could just “pop up” in some queries in the near future, without having to wait for possible strategic changes to be implemented. Our experience shows that technical website optimization always increases traffic from search engines. However, this is only an initial stage of the SEO process.
Thus, the preliminary competitors’ analysis allowed us to see the whole picture, outline possible strategic decisions for the client and assess their potential effectiveness. Whether or not these recommendations come to fruition is always up to the client. As to the client we described in the case, we are moving towards the defined goal slowly but surely.
Alconost Ads is a digital marketing agency that offers search engine optimization for multilingual websites. We conduct full SEO audits and website optimization, improve website usability, develop an international promotion strategy, analyze statistics and many others to help your website to reach top positions in search results.