Starting up an online business includes checking a number of variables before you begin selling your product. It’s not just having merchandises for sale, building a website on that product and starting selling it online. You need to ask yourself, how will people find my website online? Because if there are nobody visiting your website there is no clear sales opportunity for you and the solution for all startup businesses is search engine optimization (SEO).
You need to start by putting up a smart SEO campaign that includes competitive analysis on your niche and business competitors. But I’m not going to bore you by giving you the dictionary definition of keyword research and competitive analysis. I would be more elated to give an illustration that summarizes of the process of competitive analysis.
The Competitive Analysis Process
Identify Your Competitors
By doing a ‘search command’ on Google can easily pinpoint your competitors. For example, you want to sell guitars online. You should try different search commands like ‘guitar online’, ‘buy guitars’ and etcetera. Remind to aim for ‘buying’ search phrases and not just regular searching.
With my experience in SEO for a quite some time now, I’ve noticed that there are two kinds of competitors:
- Keyword competitor
This type of competitor shares the same target keyword as you do. For example, if you search for the phrase “Guitars for Professional Guitarists”. You would get competitors who are not selling guitars but they are hosting guitars tabs or they are writing articles about guitars.
- Industry competitor
This is real competitors in your industry. They are selling the same thing that you’re trading. You must focus on these competitors in your internet marketing campaign.
Website analysis is a process to determine the strengths and weaknesses of your competitor’s website. There are a lot of tools available out there that you can use for website analysis but I personally use the SEOBook Toolbar. Here are the different aspects of a website that you need to check in order to determine your rival site’s strengths and weaknesses:
- Page Rank
- Pages Index by Search Engines
- Site Age
- Domain Authority
- Page Authority
This is how you determine what keywords your competitors has been optimizing. For this procedure, you can use Google Adwords to determine a website’s keywords. You just simply have to put the URL of your competitor in the website box and Adwords will give your competitor’s keywords with their search quantity and competition. Knowing your competitor’s keywords will save you time in doing keyword research for your industry.
It’s in your advantage to know the quantity of traffic and the top queries that drives traffic on your competitor’s website. When I perform traffic analysis my personal choice is using Compete for calculating the quantity of the traffic and Alexa for the top queries from search traffic. Seen below is a screen shot of what Alexa can do by using the guitarcenter.com as an example.
This process is very useful for link building. By doing a backlink analysis of your competitors, you’ll have a complete overview of their backlinks. You can see what domains are linking to your competitors and determine what kind of link building strategy they are practicing. That way you can go after on those domains for link building. I’m using a Pro version of SEOmoz and their Open Site Explorer tool which is user-friendly, gives you a clear backlink and social media reports. But if you don’t have a budget for it, you can opt use Backlink Watch which is FREE. Below is an example of how accurate SEOmoz in backlink analysis.
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