One of my favorite things about our Research Central tool is how versatile it is. You can use it for just about any SEO task, whether you’re in the keyword research stage or finding link opportunities.
One of my favorite uses of Research Central is for competitor analysis. If you remember, a few months ago we launched a Competitive SEO Analysis guide to walk you through this process. Let’s take a look at a few areas of the guide that Research Central can help us with.
Step 1: Identifying Targets
In Step 1 of our guide, we look at identifying who the major competitors in your market are. To figure this out, all you need to do is enter your domain in Research Central and run the report. Next, head over to the competitors tab. Here you will see a list of websites that compete with your own frequently in the SERPs.
The real value in Research Central isn’t just identifying who those competitors are, but showing you which keywords they are competing with you for. This is not only a great way to get a better understanding of just how big of a competitor they really are, but to also do some great keyword research. To view your common keywords, click the gear icon at the end of the table row for the competitor you wish to evaluate. Under the Research option, select “View Common Keywords.”
What’s great about this view is that you can quickly see where you’re ranking compared to your competitor for each keyword, and an estimation of the keyword’s monthly search volume. This report is also great for business development.
Step 2: Operation Search
Within Step 2 we analyze our competitors’ on-site SEO strategy. That includes analyzing their title tags, content and internal link anchor text.
Over on the “Pages” tab of Research Central you’ll find a list of all of the pages on your competitor’s website that you are researching. Within this table you’ll get an understanding of how strong the page is from an SEO perspective, what the status code is and how many links the page has. What we want to focus on is the page’s title.
Sort the table by title by clicking on the “Title / URL” column header to make it easier to mine through. Now you can quickly browse through your competitor’s pages and see how much effort they are putting towards optimizing their titles.
To get a grasp of what keywords they may be focusing on within their internal anchor text, head over to the Keywords tab of Research Central, and select the “Internal Keywords” tab within the sub-navigation. This report will give you a list of keywords we believe they may be targeting on their site. In many cases, they are using these keywords as internal anchor text which is what got our attention when we compiled this report.
Step 3: Operation Anchor
Operation Anchor is where Research Central really shows its power: backlink analysis. While there are a number of tools within Research Central to help us with this operation, we’re going to focus on the “Backlinks” and “Compare” tabs.
If you head over to the backlinks tab, you’ll see multiple great data points to evaluate your competitors with. Things to narrow in on:
- Top-level domain distribution – how does this compare to your own site?
- How many quality links do they have (based on Page Authority, Domain Authority and/or ACRank)?
- What keywords are they focusing on? You can also get a better view of their external keyword anchor text in the “Keywords” tab of Research Central.
It shouldn’t be hard to find a number of potential new link partners and keyword ideas, and to get an idea of how much work it might take to overtake them in the search results.
On the Comparison tab you’ll be able to compare your site with your competitor’s side-by-side. Take a few minutes to see how your site stacks up, especially in these areas:
- Referring domains
- Total links, according to both SEOmoz and MajesticSEO
- Internal vs external link breakdown
- How their backlink profile compares for specific pages on their site that you compete with
Step 4: Enemy Surveillance
You’ll want to repeat these steps every few months, or soon if something about your business or industry changes. Always know who your competitors are—and if you repeat your analysis or part of it periodically, you’ll always know when new ones pop up.
There is a wealth of information within Research Central. Don’t be afraid to dive deep into the data – the time you spend will quickly pay off.
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