Transcript: Moving You Past the Myths of Competition Analysis
Mordy: Welcome to the SEO lounge, actually welcome to the first ever SEO Lounge. I'm Mordy from Rank Ranger...
Joel: I'm Joel.
Mordy: ... from Rank Ranger. Together we are Rank Ranger? Part of Rank Ranger?
Joel: Some of them.
Mordy: We're some of the people from Rank Ranger. In the SEO Lounge we're going to discuss some topics, some common topics, some popular topics, and the misconceptions we have about these popular topics. Today we're going to discuss competition analysis and two myths about competition analysis. Let's just get right to it.
First myth. The first myth is all I need is data. More data. Good quality data. As long as I have enough data I can outsmart the competition.
Joel: But that is not the case.
Mordy: No it's not the case. I don't even know what outsmarting the competition actually means, do you?
Joel: Not entirely!
Mordy: That's really the myth, the preconceived notion that we can outsmart the competition. It has sort of become a slogan that people use to get you to buy something but it doesn't really have any teeth to it.
The first thing we are going to look at is strategic data. In other words, it's data, competitive data where you can actually look at your competition's strategy. Get inside of their heads a little bit. There are of lot reports out there, a lot of tools out there, a lot of whatever out there that does this, that gets you inside of your competition's head so that you can see their strategy.
The first problem that people have with this, or the first mistake that people tend to make, no fault of their own is, well if I have the competition's strategy I can just...
Joel: Do what they do...
Mordy: ... and outsmart them.
Joel: But that's not the solution though.
Mordy: No, it's not the solution. You can't really just outsmart the competition. [As if to say] "Oh. I'll do some magical maneuver and get of ahead them one day"- because the next day...
Joel: ...they will be ahead of you!
Mordy: Right. Do you really think you're the only one out there with some sort of competitive tool looking at competitive analysis, etc.? Of course not! Everyone has it. So one day you'll outsmart them...
Joel: ... and the next day they're going to do the same to you!
Mordy: And it becomes a vicious cycle. So how do we get out of this vicious cycle?
Joel: We'll actually have to look at ourselves. Instead of just looking at the competitors, what they are up to, what they are doing, what they are optimizing [for], we must look at them and take some of these elements and apply them to ourselves. Because the only way for us to actually get ahead of the competition is to optimize ourselves.
Mordy: "Optimize ourselves," it's like a slogan!
Joel: It is, because that' s what it's all about!
Mordy: What Joel is trying to say, correct me if I'm wrong, is that you can't outsmart the competition. What you can do, what you should do when you have insight into your competition's strategy, is to learn from it. The goal is not to outsmart your competition, the goal is to become better at what you do.
Joel: Take advantage of your knowledge about their strategy.
Mordy: That's a great way to say it. It's to take advantage of the knowledge that you have about what they are doing. Learn from them. It's not to outsmart your competition, it's to learn from your competition so that you can be a better digital marketer, a better SEO... whatever it is that you do, you can just do it better. It also means that it's long-term. It's not that tomorrow I've outranked them, or I've outdone them, I've out "whatevered" them. It's that I've become better at what I do now and that's a long-term solution.
Joel: And it's better to be behind for a while until you can eventually pass by them and stay there.
Mordy: For good. Hopefully.
Joel: That's the plan.
Mordy: Let's get to point number two. We have strategic data, great. There's also another kind of data where you are tracking your competitor's progress. Think about rank for a second. I can track who is ranking ahead on whatever keyword. Am I ranking ahead? Is my competitor ranking ahead? You're not really getting into what they're doing so much as you're tracking their progress, or your progress relative to their progress. And there's a big mistake people make with this kind of data. And that is, "Well, if I'm ranking below a certain competitor, it must be..."
Joel: That he's better than I am and that he's doing things that I'm not doing, and that his technical SEO is better than mine.
Mordy: Did you say their technical SEO is better than yours? It could be... and that's our first reaction - that if there's a problem it's always a technical solution. If my competitor is doing better than me over here, then there's some sort of technical thing I can do better. In the case of SEO it's optimizing titles or keywords.... [As if to say] his H2 is better than my H2 so therefore he's ranking better than me.
Joel: SEO is so much more than technical these days. It involves so many departments and so many elements. That's what people are often times missing. If my competitor is doing way better than me on certain keywords it doesn't mean that my technical optimization with these specific keywords is the lacking element. And that's where I would like your input as to what should be done to actually boost yourself.
Mordy: I'm going to put some words into your mouth. I'm going to take what you're saying and go one step further. It could be your technical SEO is not jibing. Let's think about it for a second. Most people, anyone who is anyone, you're thinking about your SEO from time to time correct? You know you need to optimize your H2s, you know you know to have your keywords in there, you know your meta-descriptions needs to be up to par, right? If it's between a solution that you're constantly thinking about, that you're constantly trying to worry about, that you're constantly trying to make better... versus a problem that you're not really thinking about at all.... I would think it's the problem you're not thinking about at all right? It's a rhetorical question!
Joel: I believe that often times... let's say it's technical, you can see the issue. You can see that your title isn't good. But in most cases, you might not be able to at least to see the issue. Because the issue can be a combination of many elements. It can be within your team, it can be either within management, it can be within your social team that they're aren't pushing your content. It can be anything within the marketing, it doesn't have to be within the actual SEO department. That's what people might miss.
Mordy: That's actually interesting in reality. What you're saying is, it could be a technical problem, it could be I didn't optimize my title, but most likely not, it's something we're pretty much on top of usually. It's like a red herring, it distracts us from the real problem. The real problem could be (a lot of the time) what we're really not worried about, which is: How's my brand doing? How's my authority? And authority is a big deal because Google now (because of all the whole fake news 4.0 problems) is saying that we're going to rank sites with higher authority above the sites with lower authority.
So those more global issues are a real problem and sometimes you don't really worry about them. We don't really worry about, "Is my brand awareness up to par?" or "Am I authoritative as I could be?"... and what you just said, you don't really look in the mirror and look at yourself... and that's a problem because we don't really want to do that because that could be painful. It could be, you wake up in the morning, you look in the mirror and you say, "You know [what] the reason is why I'm not ranking above so and so? It could be because I'm just not managing my team well."
We could do the best SEO... we could have the best brand... we could be the most authoritative whatever, whatever... but we're not executing properly. We're not working cohesively, efficiently, for the best, and it could be just as simple as that. But if you're so wrapped up in your technical SEO, or your technical problems, you'll never ask that. And you won't ask that because it's painful sometimes to actually deal with that and make things better. It's much easier to go, "Hey you know what? I want you to fix the SEO on this." versus going in and saying, "Guys we got to get together and I need to be a better manager, or better whatever, so we can get it all together." Right?
Joel: That's a good point.
Mordy: I guess the last point we want to to make is... think long-term. Think about yourself, look at yourself. Think how you can learn, think how you can grow, think how you can do things better outside of technical issues. But mainly go with your gut.
Joel: Go with your gut and keep in mind that the issue might be closer to yourself than you would have thought initially.
Mordy: Right, because really at the end of the day know how you're performing. I mean, the data could say one thing. The data can tell you x, y, and z, but if you know in your gut something might be off here, "I really want to go a different way. I really know the problem." You really know the problem. You don't have to always go with the technical data. You can say, "You know what, the data says one thing." But the data is really a small picture within a much larger picture that you, and only you, are aware of. And it starts with you, and it ends with you... and we'll end here I guess.
Mordy: So until next time, well thank you for joining us.
Mordy is the CMO of Rank Ranger as well as the host of The In Search SEO Podcast. Despite his numerous and far-reaching marketing duties, Mordy still considers himself an SEO educator first and foremost. That's why you’ll find him regularly releasing all sorts of original SEO research and analysis!