Doing SEO without doing a competitive analysis is like trying to fix a car without knowing what’s broken: you’re likely to fix what’s working and you won’t fix what’s broken.
A competitive analysis is crucial to understand WHY your competitors are outranking you. Once you understand the “why” you know what you need to do to revert the situation.
NicheWatch is a great tool that shows you the search engine rankings for allinanchor, allintitle and allintext (they pull the data from Google).
allinanchor: this shows you where you’d rank for a keyword based on links pointing to your site. If your allinanchor number is lower than your regular ranking (a regular Google search), it might mean that you don’t have enough links pointing to your site with the keyword in the anchor text. If your allinanchor ranking is equal or higher than your regular ranking, incoming links is not the problem.
allintitle: this shows you your ranking based on your page title. If your allintitle ranking is lower than your regular ranking, you need to optimize your page title.
allintext: this shows you your ranking based on page text. If your allintext ranking is lower than your regular ranking, you need to optimize your page content.
Let’s take a look at the results I got from NicheWatch for the keyword and URL showed in the image above:
This is what I can see about the website I’m trying to rank:

  • It has 23 backlinks, whereas most of my competitors have a lot more links.
  • It has 7 pages indexed, whereas some my competitors have 1000’s.
  • My regular ranking is #55, but my allinanchor ranking shows a dash, meaning I don’t rank at all for this keyword. This is a strong indicator that I need links pointing to my site with the anchor text “Seattle painting services”.
  • Same thing for allintitle. The keyword isn’t in the page title but it should. I can get a nice push from creating an optimized page title.
  • My allintext ranking is 31, which is better than my regular ranking of 55, but still not that great. I’d put the keyword in the H1 tag of the site once and a few times in the page content. (I use the IBP software for this but you can manually calculate the keyword density of your top 10 competitors and adjust yours to be within that range. A word of warning: don’t obsess over keyword density; there’s no magic number. But, if the top 10 websites have keyword densities of 5%-10% and yours is either 25% or 0.1%, you need to fix that.)

By doing all this (optimizing page text and title, and getting keyword-rich backlinks) this site will rank a lot better for this keyword. It’s not competitive at all, so a top 3 ranking can be achieved within 30 days without too much effort.
Do you see the power of diagnosing the problem before treating it?