Here’s How to Reverse Engineer 1st Page Google Results to Build Your SEO Roadmap

The ability to bring more organic web traffic to your website isn’t the easiest task to accomplish. Considering how search engines like Google have changed their search ranking algorithms over the years, it can be difficult to know exactly how and where you should focus your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) efforts. However, while it can be easy to debate what techniques are the most effective when optimizing various SEO elements on a website, a much more effective technique can be used to help you get the desired results. By identifying your top competitors in your niche and studying their marketing strategies, you can quickly uncover some helpful strategies for building your own SEO roadmap.

Find Your Top Competitors

The first step you’ll want to take is to take a deep dive into your industry or product or service niche to identify who your top competitors are. These businesses don’t necessarily need to have the same types of products you offer directly, but rather they have similar audiences or the type of market share you’re looking for. Your competitors also don’t necessarily need to be other businesses. They can also be made up of various websites, blogs, or any other digital entity that rank highly on search engines for multiple keywords and phrases relevant to your industry.

Evaluate Their Website

Once you’ve created a list of top competitors (20 or less) to track, now you should take the time to carefully evaluate their individual websites. This step shouldn’t be rushed since it is what will give you the most perspective and important information you need to build your own SEO campaign. When navigating your competitors’ websites, notice how in-depth or diverse their content is. Also, keep an eye on how long their typical blog posts are and how detailed or structured the site layout is. This will help you better understand certain quality benchmarks your own website should try to hit.

Discover What Keywords They’re Ranking For

The next step you’ll want to take is to start identifying where your competitor’s website traffic is coming from. This involves doing thorough keyword research on their website, which can be done using a variety of free or paid SEO tools. The goal here is to identify what types of keywords or phrases your competitors are trying to target. This can help you get a better idea of potentially profitable terms you can target yourself as well as help you to brainstorm a number of potential avenues you may want to explore.  Many times, your competitors may have found certain niche long-tail terms or phrases that can be highly profitable and could be an easy win for your business to target to start bringing in more organic traffic with little need for investment.

Identify What Backlinks They’ve Acquired

Another thing you’ll want to look at is the type of backlinks your competitors have been able to acquire. Understanding the type of backlinks in place can help identify what type high-authority domains Google is prioritzing when ranking these competitors higher when using certain key terms. Although backlinks are not used to tell you the whole picture of whether or not they make a large impact on their rankings, they can give you a number of prospects to consider when reaching out to other websites or blogs for guest blogging partnerships.

Create Important Objectives and Milestones

After you’ve taken the time to understand each of your competitors’ keyword strategies and backlink profiles, you can start creating important objectives and milestones for your own site.  Based on what you’ve discovered, you may want to refine the keywords you’re looking to target. Depending on how well-positioned your competitors are in certain niches, you may want to opt for a slightly different approach, so you’re not wasting efforts to try and rank for terms that could take a long time to achieve. It’s important to create goals around your SEO strategy so you have something to shoot for in both the short- and long-term. It also can be a great idea to track the performance of your competitors over time in addition to your own. This helps you to see if you are making headway on your initiatives or if you need to revisit your strategies.

Start Improving Your SEO Results

By leveraging your competitors’ ranking positions and analyzing their SEO success, you can start implementing an effective strategy to help your business achieve the online visibility it hopes for.

Jason Khoo started freelancing in SEO in college, sold his first agency, and now is the founder of Zupo, an Orange County-based SEO consulting agency helping construct powerful long-term SEO strategies for our clients. Jason also enjoys multiple cups of tea daily, hiding away on weekends, catching up on reading, and rewatching The Simpsons for the 20th time.

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