This is something I’ve been teaching clients for a few years now, just to get a quick grasp of the competition that is out there on the first page of Google. Some clients don’t fully understand how challenging a top 10 position can be in certain cases.
It’s not a full analysis of the competition, although it will give you a fairly good idea of what effort you’ll need to make in order to get between those competitors to rank in that top 10, hopefully top 5, at best top 3.
Note: this is purely based on my own SEO experience and what I’ve seen working in the past few years, so don’t take this as the ultimate guide to competitive analysis, although it could help you to show your management how much time and resources you’ll need to get that ranking you want. It will give you a good idea how difficult it can be to rank. If you’re into some heavy shit SEO and want to take on your organic traffic more seriously, I strongly recommend to do a much deeper analysis that will help you to give more insights, even into content creation, distribution and PR.
This is a quick & dirty hack to scan your competition, taken advertising in account as well.
Nothing more, nothing less.
Use it to your advantage!
Install The Moz Bar First
First, install the Mozbar Chrome Extension.
Afterwards, you’ll see the Moz icon in your browser.
When activating the Mozbar, it will look something like this in your SERP.
The Mozbar will force to show you non-personalized results, but if you want to make sure that’s really the case, be sure to add the parameter &pws=0 to your search in the address bar when searching Google.
Let me first give you a brief introduction how the Mozbar works.
The Mozbar lets you scan page and domain authority in a few seconds.
It’s a algorithm the Moz crew has defined (and is still fine-tuning, an on-going process) that comes close to a the link algorithm (Page rank) Google takes in account. It’s the best thing out there to do this kind of analysis.
There are only two things you need to understand from data you’ll get from the Mozbar:
- Domain authority
- Page authority
If all the sites on the internet would be graded from zero to hundred, this number for a domain is where it’s graded between non-important and extremely important. Actually, a domain authority can never be zero. It’s not how the initial Page rank algorithm works (if we even can guess how it actually really works).
This number is a translation of how valuable a domain is according to external linking and other underlying factors like optimization and content (really short sighted).
Note: this score is not within any category of sites, it’s across all the websites out there.
Within that domain (website) there is another part that is taken into account to rank your pages. This number is the translation of how valuable your page is within your own website and its structure according to internal linking, optimization and content.
So… the higher to number, the higher its value within the website. Most of the times, these are top pages like the homepage and categories in your top menu depending on the structure of your website.
Grade The TOP 10 Results in under 10 seconds!
Let’s have a look what we have in these first page results.
First, check what type of content is ranking.
- Google Shopping ads
- 1 x Exact matchting domain (and e-commerce website) scoring with the homepage (sportshoes.com)
- 5 x Big e-commerce websites, mostly retailers (Jabong, Flipkart, Amazon, Sports authortiy and Sports direct)
- Image results
- 1 x Price comparison site (Snapdeal)
- 1 x Big (love) brand (Nike)
- 3 x Google News articles (2 x BBC, Guardian)
- Some related searches that are maybe interesting when you would dive into the content side of things and keyword research
How to read this?
You can read this in two ways
and you _need_ to read this in these two ways.
1) Check DA, PA & Who Is Ranking (The Quick & Dirty Off Page Check)
This is fairly easy. If DA is high, you’ll will need some serious good content to outstand the competition. If you’re content is not even close to what they have online on their site, you’re toast.
I sometimes get the question from clients: “what is a high DA”?
Well, in Belgium it’s anything about fifty. The average mediocre and medium website in Belgium is up to +40 DA. Anything above that is pretty high to Belgian standards.
Sportshoes.com only got a DA of 43. Easy to outrank?
Hmmm…. not really. It’s an exact domain match and it serves sport shoes. So the domain matches the query very well. Tough one to beat. You’ll need to have patients with this one.
If Nike & Flipkart would adapt their pages and add some extra weight to it, you’re toast as well in the short run. With a DA of 93 and 82, that’s mental :)
It’s interesting to see Jabong.com rank that high with a PA of only 26 and a DA of only 55. It’s the first site I would look into, in detail to get more grip on why they rank so well.
My best guess is that did some link building to that one particular page.
Might have a look in Majestic & OSE and even Ahrefs. That could give some extra insights if you’re going into more detail about this query and it’s results.
2) Check What Is Ranking (The Quick & Dirty On Page Check)
The top of the SERP is covered by Google Shopping.
A study from july 2014, done by Advance Web Ranking and written out with other stats on Moz, has shown click through ratio’s around 30% for the first result and than going done till 14% for the second place and left only 10% open if you’re ranking third place! It doesn’t matter if this is US only. It is like it is. Many clients still think the cheapest win is in the organic traffic, which isn’t (depending only on this factor)!
In short: Want a big impact in a short period of time? Go with ads!
Despite there’s a bit of traffic left in that first page SERP, you’ll get a fairly good idea what you need to create to make an entry in the top 10 depending on content only. Remember, this is purely about _what _ content you’ll need, not the amount of effort regarding optimization (off page, on page) .
There are three types of content that stand out in this example:
- Google Shopping: make a feed and launch a campaign
- Google Images: be different and make high PA pages contain the best optimized images and content
- Google News: don’t waste your time on this, unless you’re a magazine or newspaper (this is hardcore)
Other types of content are shoes, shoes and shoes.
Let’s have a look at some sites.
The interesting about Sportshoes.com is that the content of that page is very light-weighted concerning running shoes. Although the domain name and the whole site is in that content category, the page itself isn’t very impressive, at first. Although… there are some interesting content blocks linking to interesting categories on there (women store, deals, …).
There are 4 pair of shoes per tab and a pile of links to other categories, mostly shoes ordered by brand. The interesting parts of the page are probably the linked logo’s and the shoe-finder tool. Apart from that, nothing special on this page. It’s an interesting site for customers looking for sport shoes though!
It’s an e-commerce website, don’t forget to take that in account as well (the basket on top).
- Some new arrivals on top of the page
- Left, a bunch of filter options
- A lot of shoes on one page
That last bullet is actually not true.
They’re using infinite scroll to add more shoes as you scroll but that part doesn’t get indexed.
They only index the first thirty shoes or so…
That’s where you’re opportunity comes in!
Index more than they do!
Oh… did you notice the url? It contains “men”.
That could mean several things:
- Men sport shoes has been better optimized than women sport shoes (internal linking, meta’s, text, …)
- Do they have a general page on sport shoes, not depending on sexe? if so, they got the wrong page ranked?
- Just coincidence
Something to think about.
I’d would say http://www.flipkart.com/q/sports-shoes has done a better job leaving the options open to pick women or men shoes from this general page about sport shoes. It depends. Maybe these are unisex shoes. Which would be a great result.
Nothing special on this page, although you can find a whole lot of text below the page. Something the other sites we’ve screened so far haven’t got. Could make difference. You should try to add text to your site as well to see what the impact is.
A bunch of linked categories on the left, which is interesting for crawling. Some categories on top as an extra, probably some of the better working products? Not sure.
Same overhere, infinite scroll. Another option open for you!
Snapdeal is interesting because it doesn’t show any products, it’s all about categories. Links to subcategories and to brands of shoes. That’s it. So… you can rank with a categorie page, which makes good sense since this is probably a page that has been structured higher within the site and thus the internal link structure. the “shop by sport” section is a bit shallow, but the idea is good. They should give it more body.
One problem though, again, it’s the men page.
What if I were a women?
Also… lots of filters on the left and a bunch of text at the bottom making this page a bit more heavy weighted to rank on particular keywords.
I’m not sure why at first sight, but it’s kinda strange Amazon.in is ranking in these results. Again, with a men focused page. Amazon has all the content the others have. Filters, shoes, a bit of categories, text, … and they have interesting reviews! Something the other don’t have as much. Reviews are very interesting because they are complementary to the original content. It’s added value, for users and thus for Google.
You should invest in getting reviews. Not only for the extra user-generated content, but also for your retention and conversion rate!
Sportsauthority is really simple compared to the other websites. It’s a categorie page with some extra complementary products. Those complementary products are probably making the difference here for them on a content level.
Nike doesn’t really stand out. Actually, their content is pretty weak compared to the others. If they would invest some more in text and extra products or some categories, they probably would gain some places in the SERP easily.
Sportsdirect isn’t special as well. Again, a site ranking with men products only although they have a bunch of categories on top (links only, no pics) that could add some value to the page. My guess is that Google is picking this one on price and the discount labels. Not because they can scan for those images but rather the impact on the dwell time.
What To Do Next?
One way to do this analysis, is to write every down into an excel sheet or a Google Sheet.
It will take you longer though, although you’ll have something you can show/sell to clients.
I’m not a fan of doing this.
It has a big value to know how to read this information, although I firmly believe the value should be made in the advising _what_ your client needs to do and how much effort they can expect this will ask from them and their team.
There are two main things you can advise them to do:
- Build what others don’t have and adds value for the customer
- Work on your branding by making content that is different or 10x better than your competitor
Sounds lame, I know, although it’s 100% applicable to anything.
Make it count!
In this example, as a retailer competing with these websites, I would recommend to think about an extra service that I can add to my website or try bigger pictures, as in, build a full page e-commerce website. Something that others don’t have. As for text and other written content, I would rewrite every product description to be unique and add every single detail about the product in a way the customer can recognize what this feature solves for him or her.
for instance, something very stupid like:
- Fluor yellow colour to be noticed when running in the dark (if you’re a fan of late night or winter running sessions)
or something extraordinary others didn’t think about:
- 100% washable at 40° – we guarantee you’ll only need to wash this shoe once a year due to special treatment against dirt, mud, water and sand (every runner likes his shoes to be shiny as long as possible – eventually, you fell in love with that shoe in the state as it was, brand new with shiny colours)
Do a brainstorm with your team.
Invite runners and others close to your clients (the mom, the wife, the husband, the kids, …)
It takes time to stand out.
Give it a spin!
Practice will get you to that 10 sec analysis
At first, this will take a bit longer than 10 seconds until you’re used to this kind of quick & dirty analyzing technique. Eventually, it will take you only 10 seconds after a few more times.
30 seconds is OK as well :)