Well, it's week 3, discussing Competition in the book, Search Engine Optimization: An Hour a Day.
There is only one website that can rank #1 for each keyword search, making SEO a constant tug of war. So, what can associations be doing about their competitors?
Find out who is competing with your association website and what you can do to rank higher. As I recently heard in a meeting about SEO - You don't have to be able to run as fast as the bear chasing you, just faster than your friend. Beat out your competition and you'll have more association website traffic, more new member sales, higher member engagement, higher member retention, and more non-dues revenue.
- Businesses and organizations that compete for your members' time and/or money. Industry groups, networking clubs, community service organizations. They may not do exactly what you do, but this type of competitor is engaging your ideal member - and taking your members' time, and sometimes their money as well. (We'll have more posts in the future about how to use technology to communicate your value to these members.)
- Businesses and organizations that rank in search engines for your keywords. You're certainly not getting 100% of clicks for users searching for your keywords. Other top ranking websites are your competitors and be sure to look at any sponsored links as well.
Typically, I've used my knowledge of the competition and a few Google searches to confirm my top 5. The book offers a scoring system that gives a potential competitor 1 point for being in the top 10 searches and 5 points for every time in the top 5, which can help give you an unbiased list.
2. Utilize free tools. There are so many tools out there, you can get huge competitor insight with tools that are quick, easy to use and free. Here are a few that I use often:
- http://toolbar.google.com You'll have to use Internet Explorer as your browser but download this toolbar to quickly and easily see how pages rank while you surf the web. For Firefox users, download the Google PageRank Status within FireFox Add-Ons.
- www.alexa.com, www.compete.com, and www.quantcast.com Each of these tools will provide various pieces of information about your association's competitor websites including traffic rank, unique visitors, keywords driving traffic, and more.
3. Determine what they are doing for SEO. Scan each of your competitors' websites. Look around for words repeadely used in headlines, bolded text, site links, etc. Look to see if their page titles contain targeted keywords. Use what you learn to:
- Consider implementing some of their strategies into your own.
- Validate/change/add to your keyword list. They may be targeting a keyword you hadn't thought of.
- Define how hard you're going to need to work. If at this point you've learned that your site is ranking well and your competition isn't doing much, that is great news for you. If your competition has an SEO strategy in place, you'll need to do more in order to rank higher.
Check back with competitors often. A website can quickly go through changes that make impact and you want to stay one step ahead.
In the meantime, tell us what you do when it comes to evaluating your competition's SEO strategy. We'd love to hear from you!
Next week: Analytics and Goals