Know your competition Tools of SEO -Crystal Clear SEO

SEO Strategies: The Importance of Knowing your Competition

Search Engine Optimization has become the most popular phrase on the internet. This is mainly because this simple but demanding process can help web pages rank better and become more ‘visible’ to their target audience. As Internet competition increases and competing web pages try to get more views, the concept of ‘competitor analysis’ has become critical. By now the competition in the market for most products is very high. For example a simple web search for ‘coffee’ will give you millions of results. If you sell a private label coffee product getting ranked for this keyword is everything.

Let’s face it search engines set-up a competitive environment when answering questions for their customers. Focusing simply on your own company’s SEO will likely not give you as good a result as a competitor analysis will provide. Identifying your competition and keeping track of their performance and search engine results has become really important for any business to win the SEO game. No business survives in isolation. Its niche and industry keeps on progressing with time and currently, the most progressive SEO technique that you can employ is competitor analysis. In simple terms, you find the best competitor in the market and study their SEO. Then you analyze what has been working and what has not. As a competitor also working in the same niche, their practices can affect you to a great extent. Using similar practices can bring business to you as well. On the other hand, avoiding the mistakes that they have made will also help you in getting better results. Considering all these factors, you should study your competition as deeply as your own business.

Before we move on to understand what can be done in order to find, analyze and learn from your competition, we shall discuss what SEO is really about and what changes you need to make in your own business model to get the best results.

How to work on your own business model

Understand what search engines are looking for. This process must be done before and after every competitive analysis is done in order to get the best results and keep improving your website daily. The search engines have four basic requirements of your website:

  • Content
  • Performance
  • Authority
  • User Experience

They do not want to see:

  • Stuffed keywords
  • Poor user experience
  • Paid links

You need to focus on your business model and build content around how your business matters, and how it is different from your customer’s point of view. If you do not perform this step properly, you will likely end up with a messy website that will never convert any leads for you. Too many businesses skip over this step and make a bad website that drives users away, instead of attracting them.

  • What do your customers consider to be your value adds?
  • What made your existing customers buy from you?
  • What are you goals?
  • What exactly are you selling? Is it products or impressions?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses, assets and liabilities?

Here are a few other pointers that you should be keeping in mind while making your own website:

  • Opt for multiple channels to attract prospects and make sure that social media plays a part. Use email, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, pay-per-click ads, TV ads, radio ads and even niche based magazine advertisements if possible.
  • Use consistent domain names. Get serious about your online identity.
  • Optimize for tablets and mobile users too. Let users experience the same great website on a small screen.

The Basics of knowing your competition

After addressing the basics of optimizing and building your own great website it is time to start looking at your competition. Remember, it is not just about studying who you are competing with. It is also about developing competitive intelligence for your own business. While analyzing your competition can seem to be a one-time activity, developing competitive intelligence is more about building an ongoing awareness of your industry, and your niche and anticipating the perceived value from your customer’s viewpoint.

There are some basic steps that you need to follow in order to get the best results:

  1. Finding/Identifying your competition

The first step is discovering your competition. If you really wish to outperform your competition, you can’t work on a vague idea of competition. For example, suppose you are a coffee shop located on ABC Street in XYZ neighborhood. Who is your competition? Do you compete with every coffee shop in the world or do you compete more locally or regionally? Do you offer regular coffee and buns or do you offer something special? Is there someone else who does the same? Is there a coffee shop that earns as much as you do, gets as much customer attention and spends as many bucks as you do? This is how you select a competitor in general.

On the other hand, when you identity competition, you need to work on your keywords. What is your major keyword? Which websites play on the same keywords and which of them are able to score? Do this for almost every keyword that you use in your own operations. Your first step should be discovering the top competition for your keywords (for each keyword). For example, you can look at the top 3-5 ranks of search engines. To gain a deeper local understanding of keywords look for geo-targeted keyword competition. Don’t just look for ‘coffee houses’ or ‘coffee houses in City D’. You should also look for ‘coffee houses in XYZ neighborhood’. This creates a keyword hierarchy for you to follow.

  1. Analyzing the competition

The next step is to analyze your competition. While you analyze, you need to find out the real performance landscape of your competition. Look at the volume as well as the value of the keywords that you wish to be ranked for. This will help you in prescribing a monetary footnote on your competitive analysis which will bring more quantifiable results for you. You must ask yourself – who is leading the market? Which keywords serve them the strongest? Do they have a weak spot?

  1. Track the SEO performance of competitors

The next step is to track your competition’s SEO performance. Short tail tracking is easy but focusing on the long tail can be quite complex. Do not feel intimidated by these terms and simply continue with your search. Group together the keywords that make sense for your business. Make sure that you are tracking their theme, brand, projects and even their individual projects. Grouping data in this way will make sure that you understand your competition better. Next, you must work on their blended rank. This kind of a rank will be taking all kind of text, image, local, social and video ranks into account to find the real ranking of a business. As these steps get completed, you will be able to:

  • Find the groups of keywords or specific keywords which can really bring in some SEO advantage to your business. These are the keywords that are already working well for you and further optimization may not be necessary.
  • Next, pay attention to the keywords which have not been working well for you. You likely face a lot of competition for these keywords and cannot find appropriate measures to rank high. Think about these keywords, optimize and modify them further, build more content around them. Are their social media channels that can boost their performance?
  1. Build an insight

By performing all the steps listed above, you will be able to understand what your competition is all about. More than the competition, it will give you an insight about your business. Make sure that you include the following in your research

  • Social media
  • Meta tags
  • Backlinks

This will help you get an even better insight on your competition. It is not just a way to outrank each other but also a great way to help your industry or niche grow. Make sure that competitor analysis is a regular and important part of your business, because competitive analysis is crucial for the search engines to achieve their goals. And when your goals align with the search engines everyone wins.

Why is Search Engine Optimization (SEO) important?

The search engine industry has always been customer driven – whoever finds the best answer fastest wins. Before Google the best answer was defined by the highest bidding marketer who often cared more about profit than the consumer. Consumers didn’t like that, but their feelings didn’t seem to matter much.

Google changed the game by defining the best answer from the consumer’s point of view, not the marketers. By carefully assessing how happy online searchers are with the answers they get, the search engines have become modern marvels.

Modern search engines measure customer satisfaction as a quality burden that all players must satisfy; business owners, online marketers and the search engines. And that is the key. By aligning goals with the search engines everyone wins.

We believe in the inbound marketing concept of creating, optimizing, and promoting content. But online marketers and business owners are badly misunderstanding the role of optimization. Optimizing is the complicated process of matching the needs of online searchers, the search engines and your best solution – faster, easier and better than your competitors.

Optimization is your response to the quality demands of your online visitors. It is your ability to understand your visitors, anticipate their needs, and dazzle them with your solutions, your delivery, and ultimately your brand. This is a constant alignment of your online presence, your brand, your online visitors and the search engines. This is a complicated dance performed at algorithmic speeds driven by customer satisfaction and the competition.

Crystal Clear SEO  is part automation and part brand optimization strategies that leads to better branding. We put the focus on your online traffic by making the connection between user experience, actual on page behaviors,  and your best solution. This constant analysis combines with lightning fast adjustments to the site; including content, offers and personalization all to satisfy both the consumer and the search engines need to provide the best answers in the fastest time.

In the model of create, optimize and promote content – optimization creates the emotional connection to your company’s brand promise. The best branding is triggered by a visual or auditory stimulus that bypasses thought and leads to an immediate emotional response. We love branding because brands communicate faster and easier than thought. And we know everyone loves faster and easier – especially the search engines.

Improve your Website Traffic & User Experience

A Webpage needs to communicate the advantages of a business’ products and/or services in the best way possible. These days the first meeting with your company happens online and unsupervised. There is no salesperson or owner to listen to the customer and then qualify them as a prospect and address their specific needs. It is often noted that many Websites become another chore to get done and end up being a jumbled mess of boring content that only the marketing department finds interesting. Then people wonder why they are unable to bring visitors to their site, keep them and convert them into customers. Successful online marketing tries to create ‘experiences’ for the users. They pull people in by playing to emotions that move the readers to action and use real life examples to explain their benefits and to justify their value. In order to be successful websites are becoming a complete experience that for all the different prospect types that come to visit. They use text, videos, images, info-graphics, links so that it becomes difficult for the user to leave that experience behind and move to something better. This is also known as website flow, where a reader simply keeps on flowing from one click to the other. This can only happen when you are keeping the interests of the reader alive. It is also known as ‘interactive storytelling’ a new internet concept that is based on effective click by click unveiling of a different experience to the user which is all controlled or themed on a single thread. The AIDA model can help us in understanding this concept better. It focuses on four basic principles:

Attention- how will you grab his attention to that he stays on your page? 0
Interest- what information will you provide the users so that they get interested in your site? 0
Desire- what is so special about your page that will make the user buy or develop deeper interest in your ideas, products or services? 0
Action- what will be your call-to-action? 0

These 4 concepts are often sidelined by the online entrepreneurs and they end up messing up their landing pages. However, learning the basic concepts of communication can be a very tricky task and you might want to know about a simpler, easier and more ‘practical’ way to apply these theories in your websites, especially your landing pages. Here is all that you will have to do in order to get the best results and create a great website flow that really matters to your audience. Moreover, these methods will be enough to drive the user from Attention to Action. Have a look at what all you can do. Use Images Don’t be afraid of using large images and banners on your websites. The internet is a very visual place and the more interesting images you will be able to add to your website, the better impression you will be able to create. Almost every website that is able to ‘engage’ their users and grab their attention uses images to attract the users. They might not be as interested to learn what you have to say in black and white print. However, they will definitely have to pause for a moment and look at what the picture is all about. The best way of grabbing user attention is to use images of people who look like your potential customers. The users are able to relate to your business in this way and they definitely stop and wait for something more. As a result, the first concept of the AIDA model i.e. Attention, is fulfilled here. You will likely be using a combination of the right pose, the right direction of gaze, the expression on their face, their body language and the overall composition of the image to get the right results. A warm gaze that comes with a more welcoming body language is always preferred over people sitting idle with plastic smiles. Red Flag– don’t ever use rotating images. They always send users away. Create a path for the eye Now, you need to work upon the ‘Interest and Desire’ part of idea. You need to create a path that can be followed by your users. You can include elements of visual storytelling where each part leads to the other and creates more interest for the users. For doing this, you can use arrows, pointers and even hand drawings. You can compare it with a mind map. It is a flow chart that helps you in going through a series of little steps that will lead towards the big goal. Make sure not to make too much eye movement. If one of the arrows lead to the left on one page and on the right on the very next page, the user will definitely get irritated. Make his eyes move only in one direction and unfold your story step by step. Stopping the eyes Now that the story is over, you need to work on the ‘Action’ concept. Stop the flow, make the eyes to stop and pause on a single call to action. Use the principles of photographic composition used in the first step to catch their attention. Let them fixate on your calls to action. If you have built a strong path, they will likely respond positively to the calls to action. Maintain a balance and also make sure that your calls to action button is big, bold and visible. Follow these concepts and convert more leads into sales.

SEO by searching for the right Answer -Crystal Clear SEO

To Improve SEO Ranking Just Answer The Question

Search engine ranking is critical to your online marketing, but Search Engine Optimization is an ever-changing discipline. This is not about gimmicks; it is about process, consistency and longevity. We have found that aligning with the search engines is a great way to achieve competition killing results. We have coined a name for it; Search Answer Optimization (SAO).

All the search engines have customers who simply want answers to questions. The search engines want to serve up any website that has proven they can answer questions fastest on the searchers first try. What answers can you provide? What questions are being asked of your product and/or service? This is deeper than long or short tail keywords. It also involves your site architecture, the behavior of visitors to your site, and the authority you wield in your industry.

If you want to improve your ranking, then start with your keywords and play the reverse Jeopardy game. Turn your keywords into questions that must be answered to the satisfaction of online searchers. Take the keyword “jump starter” for instance and brainstorm some immediate questions: Cheapest jump starter? Portable jump starter? Safest jump starter? Available jump starter? Jump starter in stock? Easiest jump starter? Etc…. Now which of these questions does your product answer? Which identifies product attributes that you want to answer? Would you rather be in the business selling cheapest jump starter or the safest jump starter. Make sure your product’s attributes align with the questions you want to be the answer for.

Safest beats cheapest for purposes of this discussion, there is more value to provide in being safest. So now we build content that speaks to safety. We promote and optimize for the question; Safest jump starter. We align our on-page, content and social media around that answer. The result is much better ranking for that keyword: safest jump starter. The search engines are happy because we can provide a fast accurate answer to the searchers question. The searcher is happy because they found lots of information related to safety and jump starting. And the merchant is happy because they are ranked higher than the competition and they have more website visitors and conversions than before. That is what we call Search Answer Optimization.

Search Engine Optimization -Crystal Clear SEO

What is Search Answer Optimization?

Yesterday someone asked me what the acronym SEO means. I was a little surprised that there are people who still don’t know. It is Search Engine Optimization – the process of getting found by the search engines in response to a search term being entered into Google, Bing or whatever search algorithm. It is the constantly changing and unknowable techniques to rank your online content higher in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).

Once upon a time Google introduced a way to organize search results in a hierarchy based on inbound links to content. Google discovered that the number and quality of links worked like votes for the best content. The public fell in love with search results that seemed almost magical in how relevant they could be. Marketers wanted to pay Google for higher SERP placement, and Google said no. The integrity of their search results and happy searchers was more important than selling placement. Google then offered up Adwords which provided an online auction approach to selling the most popular search terms or keywords. They made a ton of money without compromising the magical feeling provided by their search algorithm. Google did a great thing by clearly noting that some results are paid-for ads and some results are unpaid organic algorithmic responses. Most searchers rely on the organic results, and most marketers highly covet those organic results.

The search engine algorithm is ever changing. Where inbound links from high authority sources used to be everything for ranking, the search engines discovered some marketers were “gaming the system” through manipulating links. Google has done a brilliant thing lately, instead of picking a million fights with the marketing world Google now just wants to serve their searchers. If a company can answer questions quickly and accurately then Google will serve their sites up to searchers, period. What are you doing to align with Google’s goal?

Let’s look at the SERP screen shot on the right for the search term Arik Accent Table.Arik Accent Table
The first organic result is for our customer Obelisk Home. Why? Look at the snippet – Obelisk Home is telling the searcher a price and whether the item is in stock. They also have served up two of Obelisk Home’s images of the table. For anyone searching this is a great answer and Google must believe that the odds are high that the searcher will be happy with this answer on the first try. Here is the item, here is the price, it is in stock click the link see a picture and buy it now! Perfect Search Answer Optimization (SAO) aligned with the searcher, Google, and the online retailer. Thinking in terms of answers is the key; optimizing your site structure, images, and content for the best answer in the fastest time. It’s our specialty at Crystal Clear SEO

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