SMX 2011 – Search Analytics and Competitive Intelligence

Before I begin, I would like to say thank you to all the SEO Chicks for letting me be the first ‘chick with a dick’ to post on their site. It is a huge honour and I got to dress up like a girl so everyone’s a winner. After trying on the t-shirt I must admit it looked like a boob tube on me so it’s an experience I would like to forget, especially since Nick Williams thought I looked like this butch chap when I put on the wig as well:

However, I am wearing the t-shirt with pride today, even though it is underneath my ‘normal’ sized shirt. I hope you like my coverage of SMX today and feel free to ask me any questions on my Twitter account or in the comments section below.

Our first session today from #SMX is about search analytics and competitive intelligence.

This process has continue to evolve over time, in the early days of search a lot of people were doing it in a vacuum, however the reality is very different. It is very very competitive, especially in certain industries and if you are not aware of what your competitors are doing they are certainly aware of you and your activity.

We have two speakers today @dsottimano and @johnstraw They both look at how can you look at your competitor and how you can use the information to your own advantage.

David Sottimano

The main objective behind competitor analysis is how to turn your findings into something actionable.

Inevitable question – why are we not #1

Everyone has experienced this question and may have gone off to analyse client’s competitors and even produced a lovely spreadsheet with all their findings. However, we need to make it client friendly. Try to give a solid response. This is why…. Now go off and ask yourself can we replicate and how can we make it better?

Make sense of your findings, seeing it clearly:

“If time be all things the most precious, wasting time must be the greatest prodigality.”

Benjamin Franklin.

Try not to waste your time, realise why you are carrying out the comp analysis

Identify Competitors

Offline to online – There is a difference, inform and explain to your client

Figure out exactly what space they are competing on, is there a match? Is it similar?

Educate you client

Available Google document for you to use

Three main benefits of using this system:

–          Identify competitors by frequency (solid, accurate data)

–          Identify similar sites that don’t sell your product, approach them as link target

–          Repeat the process every 2 weeks, identify new competitors & their tactics

Use a valid metric

Can’t use competitors traffic estimates as a reliable metric, so ranking is the only feasible metric.

Get data for high level decision

Create excel table:

Your keyword list (actual and hopeful)

Rankings (you and comps)

URLs ranking for each keyword

Create columns in spreadsheet that identifies:

  • Keyword
  • My rank
  • My ranking URL
  • Section (blog, category etc..)

Make sense of it all – give it a value

Which content drives their rankings/most valuable

How to do this – example

How many #1 spots for each keyword multiplied by the weight you give a number 1 spot

8 #1 rankings X 40% (weight)


6 #5 RANKINGS X 8% (weight)



This is answer to the question

Now think like an SEO and use the tools you have and know about to develop your plan of attack.

Deep Dive + other tools – majestic, SEOmoz

Actions are to build a better Q&A or get UGC, optimise and expose to SEs

There was a lot of actionable information here so make sure you try it out.

John Straw

John started off his presentation with some questions that raised some interesting points. Getting intimate with competitors

80% of people put their hand up if they were getting regular competitive intelligence

50% of the audience thought this data is actionable

ONLY 20% of these people believe they are actually actioning it

INDUSTRY PROBLEM – Plenty of people talk or blog about using competitive advantage BUT not enough people action it

Where we get data from?


Free, not very fresh, updated every 30 days (long time in SEO) nothing like as large as Google’s index


Free-ish, its fresh, nearly as large as google, only reports link data

If only looking at links you are not being effective. This is true, you need to combine this data with analysis of on page elements to really visualise what they are doing. Maybe they are implementing on page features that have not taken off yet (obtain the links that would make you notice) but by visiting their site and reviewing it you can see what they are doing way before it has an impact.

John went on to discuss the benefits of building your own tools and hiring mathematicians to create algorithms. Their team has created a tool that matches nearly 70% correlation with PageRank.

Use the Linkdex and Yoast WordPress plugin integration to help make some sense of this.

This touches on the same points as David, using the tool breaks down sections where they are active, such as blogs, directories, forums, news, or social presence.

One great TIP is if you compare over period of time and see where growth comes from

If anyone has their own crawlers speak to JS and he will give you algorithm for you to use @johnstraw

Tags: competitive analysis, competitor research

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