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How to Use SEO to Spy on Your Competitors

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a very powerful skill to have. Not only does it help you get a site to the top of the search engine rankings but you can use it to learn about your competitors. I’m going to show you a few simple SEO tricks to spy on your competitors to get a real understanding of what they are planning and what makes them so successful on the web.

1) Spying on your competitor’s code:

The first trick is one of the oldest tricks used by SEOs. Long before Google was the dominant search engine, the method of choice to achieve high rankings was meta tag optimization. To this day the keyword meta tag gives a lot of insight into the goals of a competitor. To see your competitors meta tags visit their site, right click, and choose the option to view source. This allows you to view the page’s code. The meta tags appear at the top of the code. Seeing the words inside lets you get a very quick understanding of what niches your competitor targets and what products they put the most marketing emphasis. Words that appear near the beginning have the most importance. Now you should have a clear understand of your competitions keyword targets and you might get some ideas for choosing your own keywords to target based on what you find.

2) Spying on your competitor’s web traffic

Now there is no real way to see a competitors traffic without having access to their web analytics. However, you can get an approximate understanding by viewing their statics in Alexa. Alexa uses a survey of web surfers to determine what amount of traffic a web site should be receiving. It gives trending information so you can see whether your competitors business is growing or shrinking online. Also, it shows rankings of shows based on how much traffic they receive. Other important stats its gives are: page views, time on site, links in, search analytics (where it shows which keywords drive the site’s traffic), audience (tells you the demographics of the visitors to a site), reviews, and clickstream (which search engines drive traffic to the site).

3) Spying on your competitor’s SEO

If you are trying to find out whether you can out rank a competitor’s site an important tool to use is SEMrush. The site SEMrush.com allows you to get a fast understanding of your competitor’s SEO skills. It shows their keyword rankings, estimates of their cost per click marketing, and lists similar sites. There is also traffic trend information as well as estimates to how much their traffic would be worth. My focus tends to be to look at the keywords information where you get a sense of their rankings, the level of competition and how much it would cost to advertise for those same keywords.

At the end of using all of these methods you should have a really good understanding of your competitor’s business. Using the same ideas on your own site allows you to compare your online efforts and keyword targeting to measure your own success. Ultimately it is the comparison that allows you to raise above the competition.

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