Even though Google relies on AI to determine organic rankings for a search query, Google has made (and continues to make) updates to their AI such that they increasingly think more like humans. Websites that deliver value to people tend to outrank websites that prioritize optimization for Google’s AI, and this trend will only increase in the future.
We have reached a point where optimizing a website for human experiences is the same as optimizing for Google’s AI. The more people that engage and interact with your website and its content, the stronger your SEO performance will be.
Prioritizing the human experience should always be your goal if you want your website to rank well in organic search!
While elements such as website loading speed, HTTPS, and mobile-friendliness all influence how well your website is optimized for user experience (and Google’s AI factors these elements into organic search rankings), your website’s content is what makes users want to visit and engage with your website.
We’ve said it before, but it can’t be overstated: Google themselves have confirmed that your website’s content is among the top three most important ranking factors. If your website does not offer content that people want to interact with, you will never perform well in organic search.
That said, it can be challenging to find content relevant to your website’s niche that people want to interact with. This is where competitor analysis comes into play.
Since Google’s AI already ranks valuable content & websites high in organic search, simply performing a Google search for a relevant query will generate several examples of content that people like. Google essentially tells you what your audience wants!
For example, let’s say you run a marketing agency and want to bring more organic traffic to your website. Knowing that publishing content which people want to engage with is crucial to achieving this, so we may search for queries such as,
Analyzing the topics and types of content ranking on Google’s first page for these queries will show you the types of content you should create. If you want to outperform any of those other websites in organic search, the content you create must be better than what is currently ranking on page 1. By including all of the information your competitors high-ranking pages offer in one place on your website, and then adding more to it that none of competitors’ high-ranking pages offer (think of Brian Dean’s “Skyscraper Content” strategy), you will have an excellent chance of outperforming the competition.
These keyword examples are more related to insight/thought leadership content – what if we want to rank high for something with stronger commercial intent? We can use this same approach to assess the content organically ranking on Google’s first page for queries such as:
The content you find on web pages that organically rank well for these queries can inform what you should include in your web page tailored to queries like these.
Side note: You may find that pages organically ranking well for these service-based queries include very little content. This can indicate that the website offers value in other places/pages. For example, a marketing company with an active blog and several high-value resources (research articles, whitepapers, etc…) can actually boost the organic ranks of other pages on the site more tailored to services. Ranking on page 1 for “Marketing Trends,” “Challenges in the Marketing Industry,” and “Future of Marketing,” can enhance your service pages’ ranks for queries like “Marketing Strategy Services.”
If you run into a hurdle where you’re having trouble brainstorming queries and content topics to search for, you can use tools to analyze what industry competitors and blogs are ranking for.
For example, one tool that offers such functionality is SEM Rush. Using this tool, we can see that the popular marketing blog, Marketing Profs, ranks organically for a total of over 60,000 keywords.
Among these 60,000 keywords, we can see that some of these queries include:
There are thousands of keywords we can find with this tactic to inform content topics we can create to gain more visibility in organic search.
We also don’t need to limit ourselves to these insight/thought leadership type of keywords – if several of your marketing company’s competitors rank for a query such as “Inbound Lead Gen Services,” and your website doesn’t have a page speaking to this service line (assuming it’s something your company offers), you can use this keyword to inform your research on what content to include in a service page on “Inbound Lead Gen.”
SEM Rush isn’t the only tool offering this type of functionality: Moz, Keyword Spy, SpyFu, and others can generate similar insights. Leveraging the keyword findings with tools like these can uncover content topic opportunities that may have never crossed your mind.
When it comes to SEO, competitor analysis isn’t only useful for informing your website’s content. Everything from color schemes and imagery to interactive functionalities and navigational structure can (and should be) taken into consideration when performing a competitor analysis.
Your website can perform reasonably well in organic search by simply taking all the good components your competition offers and adding value to it. This is what makes competitor analysis so important in SEO.