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Gathering Data About Competitors for SEO

by Altaf Shaikh
Gathering Data About Competitors for SEO

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, may be the one of the oldest tricks in the digital marketing book. But it still remains the most used – and the most effective – digital marketing instrument today. Sure, ads can help you gain traction and convert, and social media campaigns allow you to connect with the audience on a more personal level. But SEO drives the most targeted traffic to your landing pages.

People use search engines almost instinctively when they need information. We turn to Google or Bing to learn about products too. Unfortunately, everyone is trying to leverage SEO to gain traffic, making the whole landscape saturated. Knowing how to stay ahead of the market requires a deep understanding of what your competitors are doing.

Beyond On-Site SEO

The most controllable part of doing SEO is on-site SEO. It involves optimizing your own website and digital assets for search engines. This has long been the best way to get started with SEO. There is a lot to optimize, too.

Making sure that your site offers a positive user experience is one example. Search engines now take UX-related metrics such as the time users spend on your site as key metrics that affect your site’s SEO performance. Improving UX means translates to boosting SEO performance.

Other metrics are less obvious. For example, search engine crawlers take context and relevancy into consideration when indexing your site and ranking the pages. But using older tactics such as maintaining a certain keyword density or targeting organic keywords no longer works.

On-site SEO is only the beginning. To really pull away from the market, you have to also use web scraping and proxies to gain a better understanding of what your competitors are doing. What is data scraping? What is a proxy? Let’s dig deeper, shall we?

Competitor Analysis with Data Scraping

Fortunately, you have many data points to tap into when it comes to better understanding what your competitors are doing. Information about SEO campaigns and digital marketing activities is easy to access, as it is available publicly and can be parsed with simple logic.

Data scraping, or web scraping, is the process of collecting and parsing data from public sources. This includes web pages, social media pages, and search engines. By running a data scraping operation, you can collect data about the keywords your competitors use and how they rank for those keywords. The data can then be processed to generate more insights.

Simply scraping the web from a single server or a device is not enough. Search engines will identify your IP address and the seemingly malicious activities coming from it. This is where web proxies come in handy. A web proxy is a middleware that masks your real IP address and makes your traffic appear to have come from different devices. If you want to find more information, this article perfectly describes what is a proxy.

The introduction of residential proxies has made web scraping for SEO purposes easier. Residential proxies are grouped in pools with thousands of IP addresses for you to use. Their traffic looks like it comes from real users in different parts of the world. It renders the data scraping operation completely anonymous and impossible to detect.

In-Depth Insights on the Landscape

Now, that the two tools required to do data scraping are in place, you can begin auditing your competitors’ SEO strategies and understanding what they do with their own optimization campaigns. To help with that, there are tools like ParseHub which are designed to be highly customizable.

If you don’t want to go through the process of tweaking your own scraping logic, specialized tools like BeamUsUp exist. You even have services like Brand24 using the same approach to generate insights on a massive scale.

It doesn’t stop with SEO either. You can expand your data collection routine to also include data about PPC spending, social media activities, user engagement levels, and much more. SpyFu, for instance, is a tool that can track the keywords your competitors are using on Google Ads.

Data scraping and parsing for digital marketing purposes can be further augmented with data enriching. Since you also have your own data from analytics tools, you can use web scraping to collect data that allows you to understand your site’s performance better.

Adding data about market trends, competitors’ activities, user behavior, and even general changes to the landscape (i.e. Google algorithm updates) will allow you to see the periodic data you have like never before.

That’s the true power of gathering data for SEO purposes. Not only will you gain a better understanding of your competitors, but you will also be able to understand your own analytics data better.

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