When I was in middle-school, comic books were AWESOME. Looking back, I notice now that in nearly every comic book, eventually there was the villain that could take everybody's powers and use them as his or her own. The uncanny X-Men battled the aptly-named Mimic; the Avengers and the Fantastic Four both took a shot at the extra-terrestrial, mega-warrior called the Super Skrull; and more currently the TV show Heroes has a creepy fellow who can do more of the same thing. The list goes on. Feeling geeked out on super-powered goodness? This is still an SEO blog. And you should know that the common ability of these villains apply to SEO.
Think of your strongest competitors on the internet. Why are they competitors? Is it because their site has a lot of useful information? Is the site multilingual? Do they have links from big news sites like CNN, or from government or university sites? Is their blog well thought out and and a leading trusted voice in the industry? Are they taking advantage of new media and social media avenues? What do they have that gives them an edge? What do they do that makes them weak?
These are some of the major questions to ask when performing a competitive analysis. They tell you what makes your competition special and give you information necessary for competitive search engine optimization. These answers are followed next with the question that touches the heart of competitive analysis: How can I do what they are doing, but better?
Now, I know what you are thinking right now: Sure, there's money to be made as a super villain, but what about self-respect? Integrity?
The good news is that you can use your new-found powers garnered from competitive analysis for good. Competitive analysis isn't about copying. Improve upon your competitors' ideas, avoid their weaknesses, and build their strengths onto your own site's ideas, structure and philosophy. This is the best way to stand out as most relevant to your potential visitors. The problem with the aforementioned villains (insert black-hat SEO) is that they're frequently using their powers to deceive and control people in ways that shouldn't be done. This sort of villainy will always lose out to the quality and relevance of a site properly strengthened with competitive analysis.
Here at SEO.com, competitive analysis is one of the first things we do with a new client. We look for strengths, weakness and give you suggestions on how to implement these in ways that will increase your level of search engine optimization. Then we periodically keep an eye on the competition to see how (if) your competitors are innovating in their approach to generating traffic, appealing to search engines, or making conversions. With greater power and strength than your competitors how can you not succeed?