Do you do SEO for a brand involved in a straight fight with another company? It's pretty common for brands to become fixated on one particular competitor; I've seen entire marketing strategies geared towards beating another brand, rather than hitting a specific revenue target.
While some would argue it's unhealthy to define any market as a two-horse race (especially in today's fast-changing world), some marketing leaders like to do it to motivate their staff. They believe that you can better channel your team's competitive spirit when your staff can relate to what / who the "enemy" is.
Pros and cons aside, there's a good chance you will eventually work for a company that thinks this way. In the long term maybe you'll be able to convince them to broaden their competitive focus, but in the meantime, wouldn't it be awesome to deliver a content strategy specifically to them that is designed to help them build market share at the expense of their SEO nemesis?
How to Design Your Content Strategy
To do this I'm going to use the following model to visualize the content landscape:
By using the following methodology you should be able to build a content strategy, which enables you to:
- Expand your visibility into areas currently considered business threats.
- Understand in detail the dogfight between you and your competitor, as well as how to gain the upper hand in this battle.
- Expand your visibility through a focus on where your audience is being underserved.
The methodology pits two companies against each other across an unlimited number of keywords, using search volume and click curve data to understand each brand's current reach. It then classifies each keyword so that they can be slotted into the model above. We can then understand the relative size of each part of the content landscape and tell the client what topics they should be publishing on in future.
If you don't care about the methodology there is a template you can download here.
Use Keyword & Click Curve Data
You will need as many relevant keywords as you can lay your hands on, grouped by topic. For each keyword you will need:
- Your organic rank.
- Your competitor's organic rank.
- Exact match local search volume.
You will also need click curve data in a separate table. If you don't have the data to build your own click curve, there is a ready made one here.
Once you have that data in two tables you'll first need to estimate current traffic for both you and your competitor from each keyword.
Do this by multiplying the exact match search volume by the CTR figure corresponding to current rank (simple vlookup to retrieve this).
Determine Traffic Differences
Work out the percentage difference between your traffic and your competitors. If your competitor receives more traffic for a keyword, the figure should be negative.
Use if statements to ensure that where both brands receive no traffic a figure of 0 is returned, or a large positive figure (I use 1000 percent) if your brand receives a lot of traffic and your competitor receives none at all. You need to use these statements because percentage change involves division and if 0 figures you will have errors returned.
Classify Each Keyword
We can classify each keyword based on our content landscape model using nested if statements. The criteria is described below:
Once we have applied your nested if statement across all keywords and related each keyword to a place on the content landscape we can use filters to quickly isolate the keywords we're interested in.
Use pivot tables to quickly show the number of searches in each sector, and other details, such as how much traffic each brand is getting within the dogfight sector, or the size of the business success sector relative to the business threat sector.
Here your keyword grouping comes into their own as you can visualize both the overall content landscape and the landscape for just a small subset of similar terms.
I've yet to build a Venn diagram or bubble chart that can show the relative sizes of each sector of the content landscape; I'd love to know if you can do this in the comments!
Despite the lack of a proportionally sized Venn, you have been able to visualize for your client how well their content serves the consumers need, as well as indicating which topics they should be focusing their content creation on in order to take the SEO fight to their main competitor and steal their SEO market share.
As a next step, you could prioritize the most important terms, a process which enables you to make the task of content ideation much more disciplined and less prone to becoming one endless, unfocused brainstorm.
Simply take all the opportunity and threat keywords from above and estimate how difficult it will be to improve ranking for these keywords using a tool like SEOmoz's keyword difficulty estimator.
You can then multiply the difficulty score by the search volume for each keyword to give a weighted score for how important each keyword is.
Following this step my recommendation would be to hold a brainstorming session focused on the topics identified as a priority in the graph above, but that's a topic that could take up a series of posts in itself!
For this piece I'll leave you with a template for the process outlined above: there are a lot of possibilities for making this process even better; for instance, you could quickly use the click curve to model what the content landscape would look like if you managed to alter your clients visibility, leading to a forecast of how market share might change based on your content strategy.
All in all, I hope this template will enable you to compare and contrast your content strategy and SEO performance with that of your SEO nemesis and come up with a way to vanquish your most dreaded foe once and for all!
Just a final reminder that you can download the content strategy template here.
Meet Your Favorite Search Engine Watch Contributors
Many of SEW's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Thom Craver, Josh Braaten, Lisa Barone, Simon Heseltine, Josh McCoy, Lisa Raehsler, Greg Jarboe, Dan Cristo, Joseph Kerschbaum, John Gagnon, Eric Enge and more!