Keyword research is the fastest way to know your competition in any field. Modern tools allow to locate competitors right away and also to reverse-engineer their tactics. Getting well acquainted with the playing field will allow you to succeed. Your main objective in this stage is to avoid direct collision with competitors that are already well established. It is also to find our where these competitor get their strength and beat them at their own game.

SEO (Seach Engine Optimization) is a discipline we need to master in order to have success with content marketing. Yet a fundamental activity for any business is to know one’s field of activity. The initial survey of the play ground is paramount to figure out an effective marketing and product strategy.

Any successful general surveys the battle ground before joining a battle. Web marketing is no different but it is much easier to outmaneuver or be outmaneuvered.

As usual, we rely on the advice of an expert on the matter: Adam Clarke. In his book  SEO 2016 Learn Search Optimization With Smart Internet Marketing Strategies he explains the three key principles used by Google in deciding what goes in the first search results page. You want to be in the first page because otherwise the vast majority of people won’t find you.

Get Keywords from Your Competitors

One of the strategies to follow in keyword research is simply to “steal” them from your competitors. By knowing what they are ranking for you know what has been successful for them.

You can then find a way to compete by finding some variation of their keywords or keywords they have omitted. You can also try to compete head-on with them if they are not too strong.

The free tool to conduct this investigation is SEOBook Keyword Analyzer. You type the competitor’s page you want to examine and it will give you a full list of keywords used in that page and their percentage.

Let’s take the top competitor’s list we have built for our project in the previous articles of this series. They are:,,,

We will analyze them using a free tool provided by MOZ, a very famous consulting company in the USA. It is called MozBar and it is an extension for your browser.

Using the Mozbar to Reverse Engineer Competitors

Once installed, you can turn it on and off and it will show some precious information about each site. Let’s take and look at the Page Authority and Domain Authority ranking calculated by MOZ. Here we have respectively 78 and 73 which means this is a very powerful competitor. MOZ analysis bar

If we click on 21,484 root domains next to PA we will get a page with a lot of information. First of all we will see that the authority this domain has obtained doesn’t come from social media but from articles written on well established news sites. It has been obtained with a very strong PR strategy that has brought visibility to the site.  It has also been obtained by adding comments in articles published on other authoritative sites. Finally it has been obtained with guest posting on other authoritative sites.

By taking the time to follow these links and see the types of articles connected with them you can learn the strategy that brought this site to its prominent position. The funny thing is that you can gain authority also from a negative article. All you need is the link to your site and the critical article being on a reliable source. Below we see the picture you would get of the inbound links to the site.

MOZ Opensite Explorer Inbound links grouped

We can repeat the same procedure with all other competitors. For example has a Page Authority of 45 and a Domain Authority of 43. Itie fairly high, but not unbeatable. MOZ analysis bar


Interconnecting Sites from the Same Company

We look at the overall analysis produced by Moz and we see that they have worked a lot in establishing links from other sites mostly connected with the same holding company which owns They have also collected many incoming links from a site called which provides information on startups at a local level. Finally they have been published in a few sites dedicated to the elderly or to caregivers. Yet they have done little on social media according to Moz. This leaves a window of opportunity.

Moz detail inbound links

This gives us a pretty good understanding of the different promotional strategies followed by the two sites. Let’s continue with which covers the same subject are with a lower authority. Mos Bar tells us that it has a PA of 39 and a DA of 27. We find out that they get their incoming links from a very limited number of domains, 6, all of which are somewhat connected to public services and have a good authority themselves.

Therefore the good ranking is not the result of a specific marketing activity. It is the outcome of natural interconnection between mutually related sites.

Moz detail analisys

Higher Results When You Have Focused Marketing Efforts

Finally we have the fourth domain we have selected: We run the Moz Bar on it and we find a very high authority: PA 75 and DA 70. This is a tough competitor and it is comparable to

Lets get the detail analysis of the incoming links from Moz and we see that they have over fifty thousand links coming in from a total of 733 individual domains. This is a pretty high figure to match for a startup site like ours.

We look at the nature of these links and we see they are mostly from media sources, from the Better Business Bureau or from email campaigns they have run with Constant Contact. They also have some international edition of the site which point back to the main US site.

This is a well developed franchise and they have clearly invested some serious marketing and PR budget to get the site where it stands.

Through this simple investigative procedure we have collected a lot of valuable information about our competitors. It requires a bit of time on our part, but you wouldn’t repeat this process continually.

It is much cheaper to do it this way than perform any other kind of traditional survey and data collection.

Roberto Mazzoni

Other related articles:

Navigational Keywords for SEO in Content Marketing

An Amazing Free Tool for Internet Marketing Optimization

SEO the First Step in New Media





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