I'm truly passionate about winning. Working hard is important if you want to win, but just as important is working smart - utilising every advantage you an to maximise your return on investment of your time spent. So today, I'm going to walk you guys through a truly tactical tool which you can use to gain a competitive edge, smash your competitors and win more often. This is because I know that a proper SEO model is the ABSOLUTE BEST WAY to drive high-intent traffic to your site. And...
…if you haven’t got traffic, you haven’t got anything.
I've experimented with a lot of SEO competitor analysis tools over the last four years. About a year ago, I landed on a particularly funky tool: Page Optimizer Pro.
For 6 months now, POP has been a major part of our strategy. Almost every single post we publish eventually goes through a round of POP and I can safely say that it shreds the competition.
So, how does Page Optimizer Pro work? What have the results been like? What the hell is an SEO competitor analysis tool?
Keep reading, amigos, because enclosed in this post you shall find the answers you seek.
In this post, you will learn…
Why are they so important? You’re using a highly-efficient digital tool to crunch hundreds of data points and provide you with an effective roadmap for how to BEAT a competitors keywords.
Let me break that down a notch. You own a fairly popular pizza joint (your content). You're in stiff competition with the top ten in town (the first SERP) - but you notice that the top three pizza places always just seem to be that much further ahead. So what do you do?
I’ll tell you what! You send in undercover fucking pizza ninjas (SEO tools) to see what the competition is doing better than you. The ninjas come back saying:
They’ve got half-price Tuesdays. They’ve got three types of base. They’ve got goddamn prosciutto, bocconcini, and rocket pizzas!
Well, now you know exactly what you need to do to up your game!
Enter Page Optimizer Pro: the best undercover pizza ninja on the market!
I’ve given it the long-haul, I’ve jigged and re-jigged, and in my opinion, POP IS the best SEO tool for direct competitor analysis that I’ve found. Why is that?
The first thing I love about POP is that it’s pretty damn simple! It’s easy to use and it’s fairly straightforward to understand the results that the tool gives you. It recommends specific, easily implemented action steps so you know exactly what you have to do.
There's not much of a learning curve to using POP and I've been so impressed with it that I've hardcoded it into all of the content strategies we are working on at the moment. As someone that manages a big ass team of writers, virtual assistants, and all manner of background SEO wizards, it’s truly excellent to find such a powerful, EASY TO USE, tool.
Getting up to speed and maximising POP’s usage takes almost no time and energy. Hell, by the end of this post, your theory homework will already be finished!
To get started, you feed in the information that POP asks for (primary keyword, competitors, etc.), and POP gives you a report. A target word count, optimal keyword usage and - this is my favourite part - where those keywords should be going within the content layout.
Writing content for SEO is not some spray-and-pray game. If you want to be successful, you need to be surgical. Check this out:
This report show your tags are being utilised, how your keywords are spread through your page’s copy - this stuff is seriously important! When I first started attempting to finetune my content for Google’s fickle tastes, it was messy; I had no surgery.
My pizza had too many fucking toppings.
An SEO tool like POP demonstrates exactly how your page should be structured and optimised to be in DIRECT COMPETITION with the top-ranking pages for your focus keyword. If you can’t see the benefit of that, you need to take a refresher course on SEO.
Is there a downside to POP? Sure - it’s not a one-stop-shop for building a page’s structure. Over at The Broke Backpacker, we tend to provide meatier content than our competitors. As such, our word and keyword counts come out higher than POP’s recommendations and a level of critical thinking is still required (as it should be in any SEO practice).
That, however, is a minor detriment in an otherwise stellar platform. Page Optimizer Pro delivers highly-optimised SEO tactics in an incredibly digestible form. And guess what?
The price is right.
SEO best practices are a complicated affair. Google doen't just seek out the same cut-and-paste formats for every search query that's fed into it - it's a mutal affair. Google's algorithms are shaped as much by the SERP's content as content gets shaped by our need to please the algorithm.
Let's say you Google "timeline of Ross and Rachel" (this is an actual thing that people are apparently searching for; I checked.) Chances are that you're not going to see many listicles in the results and there's a reason for that.
Google is smart. It's a learning machine. It knows what formats work well for answering a particular type of search query. It knows that if you're searching "timeline of Ross and Rachel", you don't want an abbreviated bulletpoint list. You want a season-by-season full breakdown of the ins-and-outs of that ten-year tumultuous trainwreck of a relationship (Rachel sucks anyway - Team Monica and Chandler for the win!).
POP doesn't just take a blind shot at how your article should be structured. It looks at a range of datapoints across your article and your competitors. From this, it figures out what changes chould be made for optimization. POP also outlines sections that should be streamlined or de-chunkified. If words are your bricks, POP literally gives you a blueprint of how to build a house that Google'll love so much it'll move right on in.
At first I followed POP's recommendations strictly (with a certain level of skepticism). Results have been pleasing: nearly every post that's been tinkered with courtesy of POP has either maintained it's SERP ranking or improved. However, over a longer period of time, I've found the sweet spot with POP to vary greatly from the type, purpose, and overall mission of the content.
Now I can say to not follow POP dogmatically. I don't follow it's suggestions 100% to the letter and neither should you. I'll repeat this point again, don't worry, but it's important that you make Page Optimizer Pro work for you, rather than feeling you have to follow the report recommendations exactly.
I’ll get to the scrumptious stats later but here’s a little spoiler of some of the results I’ve seen employing POP across my ventures:
Ok, now it’s time for the rundown! If you want the real results, you’re going to have to get out there and do the hard work yourself.
But that’s why I’m here. To get you set up. SEO ain’t so scary.
It’s actually god-damn-titty-fuckin' awesome!
Your project is your domain. Enter your domain’s URL, give it a name, and move on. Now we’re getting to the fun part!
Now we’re at the important part. Choose your project and then select 'New Page'. The video reference below was created before POP received a facelift but it’s still just as simple a process since the overhaul.
If anything, it’s only easier now!
I feel now is the time to remind you to get your keyword research right. If your focus phrase is wrong, all the page optimizers, SEO tools, and spreadsheet sorcery in the world ain’t gonna do shit. You tied your shoelaces together and then faceplanted at the first hurdle.
(The language and region settings are up to you but make sure you’re targeting the right area. Also, if you’re not optimising a page that’s already built, check the relevant box to solely get an analysis of ranking competitors.)
This is the other part that needs to be spot on. Choose the wrong competitors, and the whole optimization process will be for nought.
You’ll be given the option of letting POP select your competitors for you and I’m going to go right on ahead and say not to do that. Competitor research should already be a part of your SEO tactics.
Browse through the SERP that POP gives you and start scouring for pages with good on-page SEO. I'm talking about competitors in your range - If Amazon or Reddit are on the front page, you can pretty much ignore them - they are mega sites and are likely on the front page just because of their authority rather than good on-page SEO. You want to find independent sites that are ranking, if it's a small blog and it's ranking then it's doing something right - and POP will tell you what. These sites are ranking because they’ve got killer content.
Killer content that you’re gonna disect in the analytics.
Solid formatting, structure, keywording, and a generally yummy user experience is a thing to keep an eye out for. For example, for the primary keyword 'budget backpacking':
Go get 'em, tiger.
Next, you'll be presented with this choice:
This option is going to give you a second set of metrics on a smaller set of your chosen competitors. It’s not always necessary to do and whether you utilise this feature is going to be case-by-case.
When would I use a focus set?
A good example is if the top three results in the SERP (for my primary keyword) were not only sexy content, but also a similar structure and style to my own content as well as being aimed at the same audience I was targeting - i.e. if the top three results are all independent blogs rather than mega sites like Amazon / Ebay / BBC etc.
The end result? You can further optimise your page to specifically emulate your strongest competitors’ content (and then smash them through the sheer awesomeness of how goddamn epic yours is)!
You’ll be given an option to use an ‘Express Report’ but fuck that - we’re SEO ninjas! Ditch Your Desk is only for the people truly committed to smashing the rankings so eat that full report up! Nom, nom, nom!
Here are the things to initially focus on:
This is, without a doubt, the true heart of Page Optimizer Pro and why it’s such a kickass SEO competitor analysis tool.
Here you’ll find your all the recommendations on how many instances of your keywords you should have and where they should be placed. When you’re using POP, this is your home base. This is your Batcave.
How do you use it? Hold onto your bat-hat because this is where it gets really fucking cool.
You see this number?
That’s your optimization score. That’s the number you want to raise. How do you do it?
With the goddamn Batcave.
After the facelift it looks a bit different but it's no less simple.
This feature right here is why Page Optimizer Pro is such an elegant and simple SEO tool. It’s so damn easy!
Watch that number climb and watch your content climb in the SERP. It may not be instant, but you will see results.
It's just that easy! But I decided to make it even easier with a ridiculously easy-to-follow flowchart for you to follow in case you forget how easy it is at any point...
I’ve been putting POP through its paces over at The Broke Backpacker and on our other sites, and the results are tight!
My writing team now uses POP in the preparation phase for each piece they write. Final word counts are less of a guessing game and our post structure and keywording is so much more finely-tuned - sweet, sexy, and SEO seductive.
Gone are the spray-and-pray days!
The best results, however, have been POPing older content. The comparison and optimization capabilities of Page Optimizer Pro are legendary!
Using POP, we can analyse older, poorly performing, content to find what adjustments it needs to push it up the results page.
This is a huge win and an easy win - 80/20, amigos! Why spend huge amounts of time, money, and energy creating new content when existing content can be vastly improved in less than an hour? I'm willing to bet you have some content that isn't ranking - go POP it.
Remember: SEO is not a one-and-done affair. It’s a process. Over time, your content will need to be updated or tinkered with to keep it relevant in the eyes of our benevolent Google overlord.
Using Page Optimizer Pro to improve the rankings of existing content that isn’t performing well (or solidifying the position of content that is) is absolutely supreme!
So, the numbers have been crunched and the results are in! here's the summary:
So, after dishing out the optimization goodness to my team, they've come back with some key points to using Page Optimizer Pro to its full potential.
I run a tight ship and so do my team. These guys know their way around the minefield of Google SEO and more than that, I trust them. So you should too:
After playing around with it, choosing 5-7 competitors to analyse seems to be the sweet spot. Ten is way too many.
Use POP's recommendations with discretion - it's not perfect. Sometimes the read-outs can be false or it can struggle with counting instances of keywords that Google wouldn't like singular vs. plural tenses. Similarly, its wordcounts aren't completely accurate as they also count other aspects of the page like comments.
Don't treat POP as a scripture. It's not a one-stop-shop; it's another SEO tool in your utility belt. As always: apply critical thinking. SMASH THE COMPETITION, TAKE NO PRISONERS!
Dude, I love POP! It's so informative. I'd let it Google my SERP anyday...
So here’s the deal… there’s no real direct alternative to Page Optimizer Pro. There are no shortage of SEO tools for competitor analysis out there - the market is absolutely saturated - but there’s nothing necessarily offering the service that POP does.
Is that a bad thing? No, of course not! You’re looking at an innovative platform that kicks ass and chews bubblegum…
POP is for a targeted and direct method of optimizing page structure and keyword usage. Still, there are other alternatives to consider that fill a different niche:
There are also a couple of other free online SEO tools floating around and I’m going to tell you right off the bat to not even bother. I’m not trying to be harsh… I’m just being real. You get what you pay for.
You’re playing with the big cats and the big cats all came armed to the teeth. If you show up with a pair of inflatable Hulk hands and a safety whistle, things aren’t going to last long.
Again, it’s that 80/20 thing. Sometimes, the big wins are also the easiest.
Page Optimizer Pro is an incredibly valuable tool. It’s simplicity to apply and utilise in proportion to the benefits of making the time are amazing! It didn’t take long before I had my whole team optimising our content through POP and the results have been extraordinary.
But what’s the ultimate thing I learnt from POP?
I learnt to get my proverbial SEO shit together.
SEO is not about throwing paint at the wall and seeing if you end up with a pretty picture. There’s an art form and a science behind it. Sure, Google may still be supplying the paint, but we’re doing the painting.
We’re cooking that goddamn pizza. And it gonna taste goooood.
Founder of The Broke Backpacker and Co-Founder of Ditch Your Desk, Will has been on the road for over ten years. He is a Crossfit fanatic, crypto enthusiast, marijuana connoisseur and the master of the handstand pushup. Addicted to building businesses and climbing mountains, Will plans to settle in South America.