What is SEO competitive intelligence?

Search engine optimization (SEO) competitive intelligence (CI) services can provide clients actionable steps to top rankings for their specified keyphrase and associated landing page.

Competitive Intelligence (CI) is the core of competitive strategy and would enable a client to:

- Understand their strengths and weaknesses

- Understand their competitors’ strengths and weaknesses

- Understand key factors influencing success

Why use competitive intelligence?

Competitive intelligence is more concerned with doing the right thing, than doing the thing right.

It complements a “Best Practices” approach to SEO.

Using "Best Practices" as the basis of client SEO recommendations has its pros and cons.

When it comes to guidelines for avoiding penalties, these "Best Practices" are usually very helpful (e.g. avoid keyword stuffing, don’t use 302 redirects, don’t use cloaking, don’t use invisible text, and so on).

However focussing on "best practices" in isolation may cause us to emulate the wrong features of higher ranked competitors or to emulate the correct features in the wrong way.

As an example, we many examine the keyword density of a high ranking competitor’s copy to discern how we should re-write our own copy.  We may, however, not take into account the fact that the value may not be wise to emulate because despite their high ranking, the keyword density value of their copy is not actually optimal and it is actually their very good off-page factors that are compensating for a less than optimal copy keyword density value.

At a basic level of SEO competitive intelligence, we can monitor the on-page(SEO coding and content) and off-page(website link building) activities of our competitors by using some freely available tools.

On-page analysis can be done via analyzing the title tags of top competitors returned in the search engines for desired keyphrases.  We analyze the title tag first as it is considered a top ranking factor for the major search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. Analysis is typically done manually using a spreadsheet or using paid SEO automation tools.

If a majority of the competitors are found to be performing good on-page SEO, then the focus will have to move to off-page SEO activities in order to outrank them online.

Off-page analysis can be done via free tools like Majestic SEO or Yahoo! SiteExplorer.  These tools can analyze the links that competitor website are getting, in order to understand their off-page link building strategy and identify potential valuable link partners for our own website.

For more competitive markets, advanced  competitive intelligence can be deployed to perform more in-depth statistical analysis of these on-page and off-page factors.

By employing advance CI, businesses will receive an actionable report that can help them avoid months of opportunity cost caused by mistakes in trial and error.

They can get the edge on their competition by knowing their strengths and weaknesses, and gain better results in less time by applying competitive intelligence to their SEO activities.

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