To be successful, a search engine marketer does not need to be the best marketer on the internet. Simply said, your SEM methods must be more effective than those of your rivals. I understand what you’re thinking right now. “Well, if I could read minds and know exactly what movements my competitors are going to make next, it would be easier to be more effective than my opponents.” Duh!”
What if I told you there was a reasonably simple approach to gain insight into the brains of your SEM competitors? What if I told you that discovering precisely what your competitors are up to and what tricks they have up their sleeves in search engine marketing can be performed quickly and simply by implementing a few foolproof tactics? What if, in other words, you were given the SEM playbook for annihilating your competition?
Do I now have your attention?
Yes, you read that right. This essay is jam-packed with practical advice and approaches for uncovering the Search Engine Marketing strategies used by your rivals. To surpass your competitors, you may replicate their SEM methods and implement newer, more successful ones.
Search Engine Marketing Strategies
Continue reading to receive the most complete SEM playbook for defeating your opponents.
Step 1: Choose the Best Competitor Websites
Choosing the proper sites to evaluate is the first step in any significant competition analysis. If you’re looking at sites that are irrelevant or have bad SEM methods, no amount of study will offer useful information.
You probably already know which competitors you want to research; it only takes a few minutes to validate your thoughts with data that demonstrates which competitors are most worthy of investigation. Checking ensures that resources are used efficiently; the data assists in answering any inquiries that others may have about why you picked the sites you did.
First, conduct a fast search to check what sites appear in search engine results. Pay attention to sites that rank towards the top or slightly above yours. Also, keep an eye out for any sites that are running pay-per-click advertising for your chosen keywords. Any of these may be worth looking into.
Second, utilise a site like RankWatch to find new rivals and observe how they are trending. After logging into RankWatch, go to the “Competitors” area and choose the ones you want to compare. You’ll notice certain specifics about how each competition shows in search engine results. More significantly, the display will illustrate how the rankings of the selected competitors are trending. Concentrate on rivals who are rising rather than those who are sinking.
You should now have a selection of the finest competitors to investigate. Keep this list to a handful of items or less so that you can thoroughly examine each. You could even want to focus on just one top competitor.
Step 2: Examine Each Competitor’s Website
Before diving into the search results itself, spend some time on each competitor’s website. Examine them as if you were a regular visitor, paying close attention to on-site SEO tactics, user experience, and conversion strategies. Only on-site techniques are directly connected to SEM, but because the ultimate aim of SEM is conversion, the other two areas should not be overlooked. In terms of on-site techniques, simply consider the elements you keep in mind while creating new pages.
As an example:
- Is there a crucial term in the URL structure?
- What essential terms appear in H1 and H2 headers?
- Where do crucial terms appear in the text?
- Pages contain graphics and/or video?
- Are there any photographs or videos that have been appropriately tagged up for visual searches?
- What type of internal connection structure is used?
- Where do people go after leaving a landing page?
Step 3: Determine the key phrases your competitors are using.
You undoubtedly have a fair notion of what principal key words rivals are targeting after examining their websites. The phrases should be used in headers, copy, and elsewhere. However, you may not be aware of all of the important terms that are driving traffic to each competition. Use a tool like SEMrush to gain a more thorough view of the key terms that rivals are targeting. After logging in, inputting a competitor’s URL, and choosing a nation, you’ll have access to the following data:
- Rankings in organic search
- Campaign activity for pay per click
- Profiles of backlinks
The backlink profiles and display advertising data are intriguing. However, the lists of organic and paid keywords that a rival is targeting are the most useful data.
SEMrush is a third-party service with access to a large amount of data, yet even this data is limited at times. As a result, without other sources, the display advertising information and backlink profiles are only somewhat useful. These reports can be retrieved and saved for further use.
What is now required is a list of essential phrases. Combine the SEMrush lists with the key words you’ve previously found and rank them.
Step 4: Examine the Search Results
Use the prioritised list of key words to observe how your rivals are ranking in search results. Enter a couple of the most important terms into the main search engines and see the sorts of entries that appear for each competition. Is the primary organic listing complemented with additional organic listings from social media, external blogs, or review sites? Is display advertising utilised in addition to organic listings?
All of these additional listings contribute to a site’s authority while reducing the amount of space available for other sites to be featured. Even if they don’t enhance organic results, they raise the possibility of searchers visiting the competitor’s site.
You don’t have to do this for a whole list of key keywords because the same tactics are most likely being employed for all big terms. You should, however, use many search engines. Competitors may use slightly different techniques or achieve slightly different results in Google, Bing, and other search engines.
Naturally, as a search engine marketer, you may take action at this moment. Any SEM tactic that you observe a rival adopting may be used for your site. If a competitor’s Facebook page is ranking, devote effort to growing your site’s social media sites. If a competitor’s PPC advertisements show many times in the same results, you can launch PPC campaigns for the same keywords.
Step 5: Research Social Activities
Whether or whether you notice a rival’s social media profiles in search results, you should rapidly assess how each competition uses social media. Examine your rivals’ platforms, if they have several accounts on a single platform, and how they use the accounts.
It is difficult to say why there is such a large variance in the number of visits and how that difference affects SEM. If they were your competition, the posting patterns would undoubtedly be worth investigating, and the payout may go far beyond social media marketing. Search engines take social activity into account, and a 1.4 million difference in visits is certain to have an effect on search engine ranks.
Your social media efforts should at the very least match, if not outperform, those of your competition. Social networks may be useful sources of traffic in and of itself, and social engagement has been found to be positively connected with higher positions in SERPs.
- Analyse Backlink Profiles
Perform a complete backlink profile study utilising Ahrefs, Moz’s Link Explorer, and SEMrush’s backlink report to get a detailed view of your competitors’ off-site search engine optimization activities.
None of these third-party reports are complete in and of themselves. However, when combined, they provide a reasonably complete view of a competitor’s connecting domains and pages. You may view linked domains, linking pages, the number of backlinks a site is acquiring and losing, if a linking site is spammy, and much more. Creating a master spreadsheet containing referring domains allows you to easily delete duplicates and arrange domains based on your criteria.
In principle, you should strive to outperform your rivals’ backlink metrics. If your site has more links from higher quality sites and all other factors are equal, it should outrank rivals’ sites.
Of course, this isn’t always the case because search engines take into account a variety of other characteristics. Backlink profiles are one of the most important variables to evaluate, and if your site has a stronger profile than the competitors, it will rank higher.
Make a note of any referring domains that could be willing to connect to your website during your study. Any webmaster who has already connected to your rivals would most likely give you a backlink if you provide the same value. Determine how your rivals obtained the backlink and make a similar offer to the webmaster. Some of these websites may potentially give referral traffic in addition to aiding SEO.
Step 7: Examine Your Pay-Per-Click Activity
Analyzing your competitors’ PPC advertising is the final stage in thoroughly knowing their SEM strategy. To do so, you’ll need SEMrush’s summary data and more particular information from Google Ads and Microsoft Ads.
Step 7a: Utilize Google Ads
First, use Google Keyword Planner to test any new key words you’ve identified. While this is merely a high-level summary, the estimated traffic volume, average cost-per-click, and overall competition level might help you decide whether to explore new key terms. Remove any key words that do not look to be profitable, as your rivals may not always choose the ideal terms to target. Continue to look into any terms that appear to be successful. Second, go to Google’s Auction Insights report with your condensed list of keywords. Auction insights will reveal:
Which competitors take part in an auction?
Competitors’ average ad position and impression share
This information is obviously useful for determining which key words provide the highest ROI and setting budgets. You’ll discover how much you should bid to have an ad appear, and you’ll be able to calculate the needed investment and consequent return.
Auction Insights additionally allows you to dive down by device type and/or time to further optimise campaigns. This form of segmentation allows you to optimise your PPC ads by targeting devices and periods depending on cost-per-click or total activity.
Step 7b: Microsoft advertisements
Finally, use what you’ve learned so far by entering the same key terms into Microsoft Ads’ Campaign Planner. Campaign Planner, like Google Ads, will provide you with the following reports:
- Key term industry benchmarks
- Competitors’ key phrase activity
- Ad coverage and average ad position of competitors
What is the difference between Google Ads and Microsoft Ads?
Competitors generally choose one platform over another (primarily Google Ads). This is because that platform has greater activity or because they are less familiar with the other. Any such disparity, such as greater and lower cost-per-click, may be leveraged to increase PPC ROI.
Assume you manage a website that specialises in cell phone repair services. Most PPC advertisements will be aimed at mobile device users who may require a screen repair or other issue to be resolved. However, this data may imply that rivals are not targeting desktop users. While the conversion rate for desktop users is likely lower, the cost-per-click may be low enough to justify running a short desktop-focused campaign.
Incorporate the findings into your SEM strategies.
Once you’ve performed a thorough examination of your rivals’ SEM methods, turn your findings into a workable plan. Gather your team to create a budget and plan your next moves to exceed the competition. Then, put the strategy into action and keep an eye on how your site is performing.
Conducting a thorough research of rivals’ SEM methods requires a significant investment of time and resources; it takes time to identify competitors and evaluate their sites, social activity, search rankings, backlink profiles, and PPC campaigns. However, at the conclusion of the process, you will understand exactly what SEM methods you must employ in order to thrive in search engine marketing. If you commit time and other resources, the ROI can be long-term.
So, what are you holding out for? It’s time to get out there and smash your opponents.