Sunday, August 28, 2011

SEO Competitive Analysis @ SES San Francisco 2011 Live

Search Engine Optimization Competitive Analysis at SES San Francisco.

The challenge with a great conference like SES is that very useful, multiple presentations can occur on multiple tracks simultaneously. "SEO Competitive Analysis" was a session I did not want to miss, and I was not disappointed! Excellent presentation. I filled page after page with notes, here is an overview.
Moderator: Chris Boggs, Director, SEO, Rosetta
Michael Hayward, CEO, ROI Labs
Taylor Pratt, VP of Product Marketing, Raven Internet Marketing Tools
Richard Zwicky, Independent Consultant 

Highlights from the SEO presentation included:

"Help! I've dropped in search engine rankings. What am I doing wrong?"
  • When bad SEO happens, don't panic. Don't focus just on your website. Look at those sites which have passed you. Evaluate and research their success. Develop a Reverse Marketing Plan - - in effect, reverse engineer your competition.
  • Determine your competitive landscape. Who is doing what where? 
  • Look at the web strategy of competitors, including their source codes, to get drill-down data you can use.
  • "To Compete, you must Displace your competition." In other words... Kill, or be Killed. 
  • Organic Search, Local Search and Social Search are all connected. Don't ignore any of them!
  • Proper web analytics tools can help you understand your competition in hours, not days.
SEO is the most highly leveraged tool in the digital marketing toolkit - - you can enjoy great ROI. But more SEO and other tools are needed to achieve success. Your SEO marketing plan must be part of a total package which includes PPC, email, print, advertising, sales, mobile and PR.

  • Look exploiting Brand and non-Brand (generic) positioning in organic search and paid search.
  • Consider building three matrix evaluation charts, grading current marketing results by 'effective', 'neutral' and 'ineffective': 
    • SEO Matrix - Organic Search
    • PPC Matrix - Paid Search
    • Social Media Matrix - Social Sites
  • Use analytics for quick (top 5-10) and in-depth (deeper) analysis of keywords. Ask "is that keyword worth the effort and cost?". 
  • Keyword research tools, free and paid, are readily available to help you evaluate keywords. Tools include Google Analytics, SEObook, SEOMOZ, SEObook for Firefox, CustomRankGetmelisted, Sycara, Searchmetrics and many others.
  • Analyze SERPs from your competitors. Consider:
    • Age of the domain. Number of links. Number of ads for keywords, title tags, page urls, keyword density, keyword positioning, anchor text, navigation, back-links, clean HTML, Call-to-Action, etc.
    • What else are they doing? Blogs, Conferences? Part of the back-link analysis.
    • Compare their webpages to YOURS. Evaluate and prepare. How far do you have to go to be competitive?
  • After evaluation, determine rank potential. Look at potential keyword value, ROI and % share of clicks. 
  • Then ask: "Is it worth your time?". Pick your targets and your battles and implement your strategy.