A great tip for learning about your business and improving your website rankings is to do some research on your competitors.
It is always a good thing to learn what your competitors are up to. Even if you rank #1 in a keyword, you still want to know how your competitors are ranked and what they are doing, to make sure you keep that #1 spot in Google.
If you don’t rank on the first page of Google, then that is even more of a reason to research your competitors to get an idea of how they got on the first page.
We will examine a good way to do this using Ahrefs.com and the tools they offer. There are other sites you can use for this type of competitor analysis, but we prefer Ahrefs because of their site explorer tool. We also feel that they have the best link database compared to their competitors.
Let’s get into it.
Figure out what keyword you want to rank for, and type it into Google. For the sake of this example, since it is close to Mother’s Day, we will use Toronto Flower Delivery Service as the keyword.
We are going to note the first five websites that return on the keyword SERP (Search engine results page) and copy them into a notepad.
We will start at the top. It is said that the first five results on the SERP receive about 70% of all clicks, and the top result being the highest with about a 33% CTR (click through rate). In this example, when I type in Toronto Flower Delivery Service, the top of the page is filled with Google Ads, but I will skip past those because those ads were created through a PPC campaign. After the Google Ads, we see a map with a few website URLS and a Google rating associated with them. We will skip past this as well, but I will cover the importance of Google reviews in another blog post.
We will take the first URL, in this case, flowercompany.ca, and paste it into the site explorer tool in Ahrefs. Some relevant information will return after doing this step. First, we get to see the Domain Rating of the URL. This is important to note because it can be difficult to rank higher than competitors if their DR is significantly higher than yours (please note, you can increase your DR by continuing to produce content, keep your page up-to-date, and follow SEO best practices).
Other relevant information from the site explorer tool overview is how many backlinks are pointing towards your competitor from external sources. We can also determine how many Domain names are pointing towards your competitor. What is the difference between these two? It is important to understand that if you see your competitor has 1,000 backlinks, but only 4 referring domains, it is safe to assume the diversity of these backlinks is not strong. Even though there are 1,000, they are only coming from 4 different sources. It is much better to see a more even number of backlinks and referring domains. For example, if your competitor had 726 backlinks, and 86 referring domains, it would look a lot better in terms of diversification. You don’t want all of your links coming from the same source.
Another thing to research about your competitors is which keywords they rank for. You’ll want to find out which are their strongest keywords and where they rank in Google. You’ll also want to examine the type of content they are producing to rank for those keywords.
If your competitor has an article of high substance, there is nothing wrong with “borrowing” their ideas and rewriting that content with your own spin, and opinion. The key is keeping it unique, putting it in your own words, and giving credit where credit is due.
By using the tools on Ahref, you can view who is linking to your competitors sites. You can also view the content that is being linked to. This should give you an understanding about the type of content you’ll need to create to successfully rank in search.