spy on competitors research strategy

Spy On Your Competitions Keyword Strategy

Have you ever wondered what your local competitors are going after, regarding their website and keyword targeting strategy? Believe it or not, there is a whole host of services out there just waiting to help you find the answer! In this episode we’ll go over some of these tools, and how you can use them to spy on the competition and get new keyword ideas.

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  • Discover who your main online competitors are
  • Find out which keywords your competition is targeting
  • Best practices to study what is working for competitors
  • How to research other markets to find trends
  • Online tools and resources for spying on the competition
  • How to discover niches your competitors are ignoring

Thanks for Listening!

Here is the transcription from Episode 10 – Spy On Your Competitors Keyword Strategy With Keyword Research Tools;

Jesse: What’s your competition doing? What’s working? How are they dominating and what are their
strategies? Welcome back to Local SEO Tactics. Jesse Dolan and Bob Brennan here, bringing you
actionable items that you can execute each week to help increase the rankings on your website and
dominate the search engines. We’re going to talk more again today about keywords.

Last episode we were talking about what are keywords? How do I find the right keywords I should be
going after and a whole lot of stuff on that. If you haven’t checked that episode out yet, go back, check
that one out first before this, ’cause we’re going to kind of build on that here. Today we’re going to talk
about what your competition is doing. By now, you should have an understanding of what you’re doing,
what you’re going after, what your customers ar looking for.

Now, what’s your competition doing? What’s working? How are they dominating and what are their
strategies? There’s a lot of different ways that you can go about this. One, just do it manually. You can
go out there and you can just plug in your keywords that you wanted to be found for, see who’s ranking.
If you find a competitor that’s outranking you consistently, it’s nice to peek under the hood and see
what they’re doing. One bit of caution on that, I wouldn’t go after people that are just kind of one and
dones. If there’s one turn they’re ranking for but really not showing up anywhere for anything else.
You’re going to want to do a few different searches for some relatively similar phrases, and find out
who’s consistently outranking you, and who’s consistently dominating. Whatever they’re doing, they’re
doing it right, so lots of different factors come into play for what makes a good webpage and how do
you dominate and rank. One of them is just the overall gravity of your website. There’s not going to be a
website that just remains super dominant in any industry or niche for long, if they’re not having a certain
scale or mass.

Sometimes what you need to do is find out what your competition is going after to again, uncover those
niches that you may be ignorant to right now, or just not aware that you need to be marketing in those
areas. Definitely do some searches, compile a manual list of what competitors are ranking really good
and write them down, ’cause then you can go to some different third party services and really peek
under the hood for what those competitors are doing.

Bob: I would throw out too Jess is sometimes if you’re in a smaller market, you can look at your competition
in your market, but I would actually go maybe to another big market or a nearby market.

Jesse: Absolutely.

Bob: See what they’re doing because that’s very competitive and you’ve got to be super sharp to hold those
positions in those major markets. That’s one other thing I’d take a look at as well.

Jesse: I think that’s a great tip, even if you don’t “need” to. That’s just great to do so you’re not blinded by
what’s happening in your local market. There maybe somebody on the other side of the country that’s
just killing it.

Bob: Yeah.

Jesse: Doing things that nobody in your market’s doing. That’s excellent pro tip there. All the other things that
we’re going to be talking about really for the rest of this episode, just keep that in mind. This is going to
apply to any market anywhere, not just in your own backyard. Definitely, a great tip. What you’re going
to want to do is compile a list of these competitors. Not just their names, you need their websites, and
even better if there’s particular pages that you’re really impressed with that are dominating. Maybe
they have a certain page, one of your competitors that’s dominating for multiple keywords. Just like us,
no matter what I type in, these pages come up number one.

You’re going to want to save the actual webpage. Copy and paste that entire link into a spreadsheet or
something or write it down, whatever you got to do. Not just the company name, not just their
homepage, but any individual pages that they’re highly ranking for as well. Compile a list of those. Then
you can go out to a bunch of different tools and do some research on those. There’s a few of them.
There’s like Long Tail Pro. If you just Google that, you’re going to find that. There’s Sem Rush, which S-EM Rush,

and that stands for Search Engine Marketing. Then there’s one that we use mostly, it’s called
Spyfu, S-P-Y-F-U.com.

All of them operate very similarly, and there’s probably hundreds of others. It’s really pick your poison.
We have no horse in the race for what you use, just what we’re comfortable with. All of them are going
to provide some of the same basic utilities for you. All the services we just mentioned are all paid
services. I’m pretty sure in all you can download for maybe seven or 30 days, no risk. Really to get this
kind of information we’re going to be talking about, it’s going to have to be a paid service. We haven’t
tried any free services that have really been worth latching on to, just because it costs money to get the
kind of data that we’re going to be accessing. There’s just not any company that provides good quality
data in this arena for free.

Bob: Yeah, these are pretty good tools. What are we spending and more importantly just what’s a individual
business going to have to spend a month or a budget for some of these tools. Then I’ll throw this out
there too, how does our own free tool come into play with any of these? Does it help?

Jesse: Yeah, great question, absolutely. Most products out there are going to maybe on the low end be 19.99 a
month, 29.99 a month, somewhere in there, and then you can spend upwards of a hundred dollars or
more per month for this. Most of it’s going to be volume driven so how many searches are you doing.
There’s other features that they’ll provide, which I’ll get into in just a second. But also I’ll kind of provide
their pricing tiers. It’s really about at the end of the day, how much are you going to use it. How much
are you going to lean on it.

Yeah, you can get into it for 20 bucks a month, I would say for most local service businesses, start there.
Don’t worry about jumping into a higher plan right off the bet, unless there’s some particular feature
that the medium or top in plan provides there. Start with the basic plan, and really start with the free
demo if they have one, take advantage of it to find out which one of these suits your style. Again, they
all kind of provide the same basic services. They got different interfaces and different specialties or
maybe graphics, how they portray it.

Find the one that’s right for you. We’re going to be talking about Spyfu. Some of the main things that
you can do with that is again, you can spy in your competition. If you just take the web address of one of
your competitors, you plug it in, they’re going to show, what keywords are they ranking for, addresses
to those pages, search volumes, how long has that competitor maybe been ranking, and then kind of a
trend line if they go on up and down, or how dominant are they or not, which is again, great information
because Google’s results are dynamic. What works today may not work there tomorrow, which is kind of
the crux of this podcast, is to stay there and dominate, you have to do all of these things.

If somebody is ranking high today, maybe they’re just a flash in the pan, they might be gone tomorrow.
It’s important to look at these tools and say, “Okay, here’s somebody that I think was dominant, and
yeah, they’ve been holding this position for nine months. Before that, they were still on second or third
spot.” If you see a trend like that, versus somebody who’s just up and down, all over the board, that’s
going to maybe influence what set of data you’re going to look at and, which one you’re going to really
dig into. They’re going to show you things about what keywords these pages are ranking for. They’re
going to give the actual URL of the pages. Again, so you can go and visit those pages.

You can make some assumptions if you’re impressed with these companies that if they’re ranking high
and being dominant for these keywords, they’re also putting some energy into the conversion on their
pages. Definitely evaluate their pages, see if they’re talking about things, maybe using certain styles or
images or call to actions that are attractive. Again, if you get inspired by their ideas, great. If you’re
listening to this podcast, pretty fair that you didn’t go to school for marketing, graphic design, and things
of that nature. This is your class. This is how you get educated, just finding out what’s working out there
right now, and deconstructing it, and reverse engineering it, and putting it to use for yourself.

You’re not doing anything deceitful, that’s why these products exist. That’s why this industry has a lot of
niche here. You’re not doing anything that your competitors aren’t already doing, so don’t be bashful
about it. Yeah, so you’re going to want to get inspired by what they do and all of the details that you’re
going to be provided in these tools like Spyfu are valuable. Can likely say on the upside, don’t get
overwhelmed. You don’t have to take it all then digest all of it. Make sure you’re looking for a certain
thing. Yeah, I want to find out what keywords they’re going after, what I’m probably missing. I might be
missing a certain segment of the market. I might be missing that particular brand of furnaces that I’m
not currently trying to get found for service on.

What are their pages saying for call to actions, things like that. They’re also going to show and also these
tools, what they’re doing for their paid advertising, which means or why do we even care about that,
that’s not what the show is about, we don’t talk about paid stuff, we’re trying to rank naturally. Well, if
they’re paying for something, there’s a good reason for it, right?

Bob: Yeah, there’s money there. There’s also a couple of strategies, you can go, I think it’s called the Art of
War, this book, it’s a really good book, I’ve only read part of it. There’s this one part that kind of sticks
out and it really is if your enemy is much bigger than you, don’t go fight them head on. If you can
compete in a pay per click deal, great. If you can’t, this tool will help you see where the holes are in their
strategy, where you can kind of exploit that.

Jesse: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, you can go either end of the spectrum, what’s the super popular stuff that cost a
lot, for pay per click, ’cause it will show you, most of these tools will show you not just what they’re
going after for pay per click. Because of how sophisticated they are in their data collections, they can tell
you where these companies are ranking in the pay per click, how long they’ve been ranking there for,
and then they also know what it takes, how much each click costs. If they know competitor A is in the
first spot and it’s $20 per click to be in that spot and they’ve been there for six months, they can kind of
project how much they’ve actually been spending, right.

Kind of to your point Bob, in some cases, maybe you want to go where all the money is being spent. Or
maybe sometimes you want to go towards the low end of that spectrum, where maybe there’s not a lot
of competition to drive that price up, and kind of go where that fight isn’t there. Absolutely and that’s
again the power of these kinds of tools, it’s to provide you that kind of under the hood peek at what’s
making these companies tick. They sure as hell aren’t going to tell you if you call them up say, “Hey,
what are you guys marketing towards?” That’s kind of top secret.

Again, that’s why you got to pay for this kind of information. It’s not easy to collect but it’s super
valuable and it’s a lot of good insight. Another feature most of these tools are going to incorporate is a
keyword research tool. Just like we talked in the last episode about going out to Google, plugging in your
keywords, Google will give you suggestions and ideas on related keywords or similar products and
services. These are going to have that built in as well. Some of them are going to rely on Google itself
kind of for the core for that information. Some of them are also going to have their own algorithms and
datasets that they incorporate in that.

If you’re going to pay for any services, or at least do the free demo, check that area out. If you find like
we usually find that mostly has the same kind of information you’re getting from Google, then I wouldn’t
spend too much time there. It’s definitely worth to check to see if it helps you uncover any gems and
phrases and keywords that you want to go after that you were just ignorant to before that and that you
had been missing.

Couple of other things that usually are involved with these tools that don’t really apply to what we’re
talking about today but will for future episodes, and to help you get an idea of what you’re looking on
the dashboard is going to be one of the key areas is back links. We’re going to be digging into this in a
future episode, ’cause it’s really important for SEO.

Bob: Yeah, back links are huge.

Jesse: Yeah, what other websites link to yours and we’re going to dive into what that means. But it’s
important. This is going to show you that, again for these competitors, what websites are referencing
them? Who’s pointing back to them? Things like that. Let’s say if it’s like maybe a free local directory of
businesses. Bobsplumbinglist.com. Hey, contact bobsplumbinglist.com, see if you can get listed as well.
It’s going to help you build some links and may help you expose there again, where is your competition
getting their business from, where are they getting their leads from and their traffic from. It’s only going
to help you.

Bob: Yeah, and then a local service, I’ll throw this, either a question or a statement and you can correct me,
but in a local service type search, which hopefully most of our audiences we’re really talking about more
of the local back link, is that right?

Jesse: Absolutely.

Bob: Some national back links are okay, but you really want to pay attention to those local back links. Those
are the ones that are going to bring you local credibility.

Jesse: Absolutely.

Bob: The national ones are okay, but again, I can’t stress enough, it’s your local newspapers, your local

Jesse: Chamber of commerce.

Bob: Chamber of commerce.

Jesse: Things like that.

Bob: Those kind of things are definitely going to come into play there.

Jesse: Yeah, and the whole spirit of this is yeah again, it’s probably a paid service but let them do like work.
They’re not going to be everything for you but definitely, get in there, explore these different areas and
just see what kind of information you can pull out of it, what they have available to you. At the very
least, the key things you’re going to want to get is the keywords that your competition is going after,
what are the pages are like kind of stuff. But these other areas can have a lot of value to you. If they
don’t apply to you, they don’t apply to you, don’t worry about it. But they are there, at least, peek at
them to take advantage to help your business.

That kind of rounds out about using a third party tool like that. Bob, you were also asking how does our
free SEO tool play into this? That’s not going to give you any ideas for keywords or things like that, but it
is going to grade your page for you, or again some of these competitor pages that we’re talking about,
book market and saving the links for, run those through articles as well.

Bob: Yeah.

Jesse: It’s a free tool.

Bob: Right.

Jesse: Takes 15 seconds to do, and it’s going to help you kind of deconstruct their page even deeper. If you say
this is a page that’s getting a lot of traffic according to Spyfu for my competitor, I’m only plugged into
their free order tool and peek even further into their hood. Not just what page is working and what
keywords they’re going after, but what are they doing on this page, and kind of deconstruct that and
you’re going to literally compare it to your page side by side with those two reports.

Bob: Yeah, it’s really important you try the tool and you take a look at it and we’ll help you with your site for
sure. You can gain intelligence of your competition with our tool obviously, but if you have any
questions after using the tool, what does this mean, or what have you. I had a friend of mine that did
actually use it and they said, “Oh, hey, I got a really low score, what have you.” I said, “Well, your score is
actually not bad.” When we did some searching and digging into it, they actually ranked pretty good.
However, I looked at the page and I just thought, “You know what, I think there are some things you
need to be doing for a conversion., you know, some things we’re going to move around a little bit.”
They’re going to work at that, see if that makes a difference. That said, that tweaking, the constant
tweaking to get the results but again, the first step is you’re going kind of where your rank or what
direction you’re heading and our free tool will help you in that. The point of this is reach out to us, shoot
us an email and heck, even a phone call if you have to.

Jesse: Yeah.

Bob: We’ll walk you through it.

Jesse: Yeah, we’re here to help. That’s the nature and the spirit of everything that we’re trying to do here is
just to help you guys out. Definitely let us know when and where we can do that. The last two that we
want to talk about here to day. Something that’s kind of a little different. We kind of saved it to the end,
just so it didn’t get too confusing or too out of that field. It’s a website called answerthepublic.com. This
is kind of interesting, so everything we’ve been talking about so far is about what phrase, or what
keyword do you want to maybe go after, get exposed to and kind of find out.

This is kind of the other way around. You go to answerthepublic.com, enter your keyword, and it’s going
to return you a list of the most popular questions related to your keyword.

Bob: Yeah, it’s kind of cool.

Jesse: It is kind of cool. One of the things we always like to say when you’re in the creative writing end of the
SEO here and developing the webpages is you want to always answer a question with your page. You’re
not trying to sell things on your page necessarily. There’s always a spot for that. In general, you’re
providing an answer to people. How fast can you do it, how cheap can you do it, all these things. It all
border under answers, they’re looking for information. This really helps you kind of frame up what kinds
of questions are people asking about this product or service for the keyword you put in.

Again, just like you’re going to be amazed when you do these keyword research tools for what people
are actually typing in, for how they describe the problem of the service they’re looking for. You’re also
going to be pretty amazed at the kinds of questions people are typing in. This is what they’re typing into
Google too, I should make that very clear. These aren’t just questions that this website kind of was like
oh, here’s something that you can ask about it. This is pulled out from the same kind of dataset of
Google’s keyword research, but just in question type format.

How much does my heater cost to fix? What’s an average response time for heater repair? Just anything
you can kind of think of, phrased up as questions. We like that because again, I think we’ve talked before
on past episodes, the hard part about all these is as business owners, we really didn’t go to school for
this and aren’t big marketing geniuses is writing this stuff. If you can get in your head, what’s the
question you’re trying to answer with this page, it really helps you to sit down and write out content,
’cause again, you need like 2000 words on your page, if you’re going to be sticking in Google and
maintaining your rankings. It’s a lot of words. That’s a lot of words to write.

If you keep that in your mind of what am I trying to answer, what are people asking about, it makes
those words flow out pretty quick.

Bob: Yeah, I think Seth Golden uses an analogy, if we all could get in a wheelchair and try to get into a
building, and move around the building, go to the bathrooms, then go carry on our normal lives if you
will in a business building, we would design better buildings for the handicapped. If we can get in their
shoes, we can definitely create better products and services. This tool in terms of answering the public
and content writing and everything else, if we really understand their pain, then we can answer those
questions. And ideally, rank better, but more importantly, help these people out and convert better.

Jesse: Yeah, at the end of the day, if you’re not writing something that’s speaking to a person, if you’re just
trying to write an advertisement, it’s not going to resonate. We’re not used to that. It’s just different
now. You got to speak to somebody. Again, great example, you got to design it better if you will, really
get inside their head. This is just a super cool tool. The only we know if. If anybody else out, give us the
feedback of these other ones that are similar. Love to check them out, just ’cause this one’s so super
useful and it’s the only one we really know of that provides this, and we just wanted to share that with
everybody ’cause we think it’s got some good value.

That about does it for this week. As always, go to Intrycks.com/show, drop us some feedback, check out
our show notes and again, we’d just love to hear from you.

Bob: Yeah, just have a good week. Get started, the key is to get started.

Jesse: Absolutely, get started. See you next week.

Hey everyone, Jesse Dolan back with you. I wanted to share
another great review with you this week here. Again, they keep rolling in, we’re going to keep reading
them. Absolutely love this. This one here is from Mark Linberry, he says, “Demystifying SEO.” Gave us a
great five star review, we appreciate that Mark. Goes on to say, “It wasn’t until recently that I learned
the value of SEO. It was ingrained that it was important, so we hired a company to help us and
eventually saw some great results for our business. However, I still didn’t know what SEO was. This
podcast was a great resource to help break down the basics of SEO. Even if you don’t hire someone to
do it for you, check this podcast out and you’ll discover some actionable tips to help you.”

That’s great Mark. That’s kind of what we’re hoping for. Not everybody is going to tackle this SEO on
their own, don’t have the time or even the skills set to maybe do it. At least as owners and managers we
can understand what it is so when people are talking to the talk, we can make sure they’re walking the
walk, and we kind of know what results to look for, and how to know if this is being effective, instead of
just throwing money at it. Again, Mark, thanks for great review. Everyone else, if you want to leave us a
review, let us know if the show was valuable to you and if we’re helping you out. Go to
Intrycks.com/iTunes, and from there, you can follow to iTunes, leave a review and we appreciate it.

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