Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Analyzing the Competition – Check Indexes

The beauty of the Internet is the inherent open nature of competition. It is so open, you can check indexes when analyzing the competition to improve your site.
A key step to any search engine optimization effort is to analyze the competition. The simplest way to do this is to simply go to their site and look at the code. Most browsers let you do this by clicking the “view” tab and then selecting “source.”
You competition isn’t stupid. Many sites will bar browsers from showing source code using the above technique. If your competition takes this step, is there anything you can do? Yes, there is.
Almost everyone knows how to check if their site is indexed in a search engine. Simply go to the engine and search for “site:yourdomainname.” This technique can also be used to see what your competition is up to.
If you want to see a glimpse of how a competitor is pursuing search engine optimization, check how many pages are indexed in the relevant search engine. Do a search for “site:competitorsdomainname.” You’ll be presented with a list of their pages, the meta title and meta description. This works particularly well with Google.
The resulting list of pages can be analyzed in a couple of different ways. First, you can isolate the particular keywords being pursued by the site. These should then be compared to your site to ascertain whether you’re missing anything. You almost always are missing a key niche. Second, you can analyze the meta description to see both the layout and particular formation of sentences and keyword placement they are pursuing. Again, compare it to yours. Using this process, you can get an idea of how your efforts differ from a competitor.
Importantly, this approach should not be overvalued. It is only a glimpse of the competitor’s site, not a thorough review. It will tell you nothing about how pages are arranged, keyword density approaches and so on. You’ll have to hunt and peck around the site for that information. Still, the meta information gained from this approach makes it worth a go if you are shut out from the code of a site.

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