What is an SEO competitor analysis? How would you identify your competitors? What tools should you use to analyze them?
You may already be aware of some of your competition, but chances are, they don’t even realize they’re competing against you. In order to stay ahead of the game, you need to know who your competitors are, where they’re located, and what their strengths and weaknesses are.
Once you know who your competitors are and what makes them unique, you can start thinking about ways to differentiate yourself from them. This way, you can create better marketing strategies and gain more customers.
What is a Competitor Analysis in SEO and Why Is It Important?
A competitor analysis is the process of identifying what your competitors do well and what they don’t do well. This helps you understand why your customers choose one site over another. You can learn about your competition’s strengths and weaknesses, and use that information to determine whether or not you should be doing something similar.
How Do You Research and Find Your Competitors?
There are many different methods for finding out who your competitors are. The first thing you want to do is look at your own website traffic data. If you have access to Google Analytics, this will give you an idea of how much traffic you’re getting from search engines versus direct visits.
If you see that most of your traffic comes from organic searches, then it’s likely that your competitors are also ranking highly in those same keywords.
Another option is to check out your competitors’ backlinks. By checking out their anchor text, you can get a good idea of what types of links they’re receiving.
The last method is to simply ask your customers. They might tell you if they’ve seen any other sites with similar content.
Why Is Knowing Your Competitors Important?
Knowing what your competitors are doing can help you figure out how to improve your own site. If you notice that they’re indeed ranking well for certain keywords but you’re not, you can try to work on improving your own rankings.
If you notice that they’re targeting a particular audience that you’re not reaching, you can think about creating new content that appeals to that demographic.
In addition, knowing who your competitors are means that you can focus on areas that they’re weak in. If you notice that your competitors rank well for some keywords, but not others, you can spend time focusing on the ones where they’re lacking.
How Can You Use a Competitor Analysis Effectively?
Once you know who your competitors are and what they’re doing, you can start thinking of ways to compete against them. Here are some ideas:
1. Create Better Content
When it comes to content creation, you need to make sure that yours stands apart from your competitors’. One way to do this is to create unique content that no one else has created yet.
You can use tools like BuzzSumo to find popular topics and trends that people are interested in. Then, write articles based around these topics and include relevant images and videos.
2. Promote More Often
When it comes to social media marketing, you should promote more often than your competitors. This helps build up your brand awareness and increases your chances of being found when someone does a search.
3. Target Keywords That Aren’t Reaching You
One way to increase your visibility online is to target keywords that don’t bring in as much traffic as you’d like.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you should stop working on those keywords entirely. Instead, you can look at the competition for each keyword and decide whether or not you want to invest in it.
4. Focus On The Long Term
While it’s important to keep an eye on your competitors, it’s even more important to focus on long-term goals.
This will ensure that you’re always moving forward instead of just looking backwards.
5. Get Social Media Help
Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have made it easier than ever before to connect with potential customers. However, many businesses still struggle to get started.
To help you get off the ground, there are plenty of companies that offer social media management services. These services allow you to manage all of your accounts from one place so that you don’t have to worry about remembering which account belongs to which platform.
6. Work With A Professional Web Designer
A professional web designer can help you create a website that looks great while helping you reach your target market.
7. Start Using Video Marketing
Video marketing is becoming increasingly popular among consumers. In fact, according to HubSpot, video marketing generates 41 percent more web traffic from search than non-users of video marketing.
8. Optimize For Mobile Devices
Mobile devices are quickly becoming the most common form of internet access. As such, if you haven’t optimized your site for mobile users, you could be missing out on a lot of business.
9. Offer Discounts And Freebies
People love free stuff. When you give away something for free, you’ll likely attract more visitors and generate more sales than if you charged money for it.
10. Use Email Marketing To Grow Your Business
Email marketing allows you to stay connected with your current customers and lets them know about new products and promotions without having to pay for ads.
How Do You Perform a Competitor Analysis for SEO?
You can conduct a competitive analysis in several ways. For example, you could:
- Look at your competitors’ webpages and see what they’re up to.
- Compare your competitors’ traffic sources to yours.
- Check out their social media presence.
- See who else is linking to them.
- Learn about their advertising campaigns.
- Find out how they rank for specific keywords.
- Analyze their backlinks.
- Read through their comments.
- Watch their videos.
- Review their content.
- Visit their websites.
- Track their rankings.
- Monitor their performance.
- Take note of any changes they make to their sites.
- Check out their analytics data.
- Study their blog posts.
- Observe their customer service.
- Research their products.
- Read their reviews.
- Search for similar terms on Google.
- Scan their forums.
- Browse their FAQs.
- Watch their YouTube videos.
- Listen to their podcasts.
- Read their tweets.
- Read their blogs.
- Check out the latest news.
- Read their press releases.
- Read their articles.
- Read their case studies.
- Read their testimonials.
First, You Want to Identify Your Competitors
Before any other part of the process, we have to figure out who our main competitors actually are. These websites compete with our own when it comes to organic search. This helps us understand what people are searching for online. We want to know where our prospective customers are looking.
Let’s use an infographic design tool as our example. The organic search competition may not be the same thing as direct business competitors, so let’s examine how possible clients might perform a search for our business. This might be something like “infographic design tool,” but this is something that may not be correct, because the tool explains that there is no search volume for that term.
So then, we need to figure out exactly the terms people are using to find similar stuff in the search engines. Let’s begin with a few popular ideas:
If you go into AHREF’s Keywords Explorer Tool, you will be able to see where you can enter in specific keywords for their search data. You might want to enter in a few keywords, let’s say – “infographic design tool,” and then click on the search button.
You should then see a list of keyword phrases along with their AHREFs-specific metrics.
This is where we can dive deeper into related keyword phrases, and figure out exactly which ones will be the best ones to target based on our preferred metrics. In our case, our preferred metrics include higher search volume, and their keyword difficulty (also known as competition).
By working to put together a comprehensive list of keywords to target, you can aid your site’s growth by creating new content based on these particular keywords and topic areas.
After this keyword research, you can move into performing a keyword gap analysis, which will help you with figuring out exactly which keywords to target along with competitors you need to beat, along with the keywords they are physically targeting.
With this gap analysis, we are armed with the data we need to pursue further growth strategies for our blog. This will also help us aid in the prioritization of our work, to go after the lower hanging fruit first.
That way, we have easier rankings to obtain in order to show results to our clients, and then we can continue our work towards higher and more impactful rankings later on.
Build Your List of Your Actual Competitors
The first thing you’ll want to do is build a list of all the companies in your industry. Start by thinking about the people who are buying your product or service.
Who else offers similar products or services? What keywords do they use to find those products or services online? How many customers does each of these companies serve? Once you know how much traffic your potential competitors receive, it becomes easier to identify who you should be targeting during your next steps.
To make sure you’re getting an accurate list, try using different sources such as Google Trends, SEMrush, Buzzsumo, and other paid tools to really dial in your keywords and competition.
Research Your Organic Competitors
The next step is to locate your competition. Start by entering your domain name into the tool.
Next, select the “Organic search > Competing Pages” tab. This gives you access to detailed information about your competitors’ performance across different keywords and common keywords. This will also give you a list of all domains that are similar to yours.
You can use this data to determine where you stand against your competitors. For example, if one of your top competitors ranks well for a particular keyword group, it could indicate that they are doing something special to attract searchers looking for that term and warrants further investigation.
Research Your Paid Search Competitors
The key to finding your paid search competitors is to know what terms they bid on. To do this, we recommend using the selections underneath paid search: paid keywords, ads, and paid pages. This tool allows you to see how much money each competitor spends per keyword, as well as which keywords they target most frequently.
Once you’ve found your competitors, it’s important to understand where they fall in the competitive spectrum. Analyzing your competition based on paid search metrics is a wise decision, because it will give you information about what your competition is bidding on.
This data could indicate which keywords are profitable for your competition. In which case, you may want to go after similar keywords as part of your own marketing strategy.
Although paid search does not have much impact on SEO, they do intersect, and it would be wise to have a digital marketing strategy that tackles both paid search and SEO also. This helps you go after more of your audience, and paid search helps you go after terms that might take you a while to gain rankings for.
Identifying your competition on both fronts helps you better understand your own business model and strategy. It also provides insight into how your competitors are performing so that you can learn from them and figure out how to beat them.
Create Your Competitor Profiles
You’ve done some digging into your industry, and now it’s time to learn about your competition. You want to know what makes them tick, where they fit in the competitive landscape, and how they stack up against each other. To start building out your competitor profiles, we recommend analyzing market share (how much influence or power they have in your space), researching their audience (who they target, and how well those audiences align with yours), and creating a detailed profile of their business.
To get an idea of how much power your competitors hold over your customers, you need to analyze market share. Market share is calculated by dividing the total number of impressions your competitors received during the last month by the total number of impressions you received during the same period.
This metric gives you a sense of how many people are seeing your competitors’ ads versus your own.
Next, you’ll want to dig deeper into your competitors’ audiences. Who are these people, and how do they compare to your own?
For starters, you can find out who your competitors’ audiences overlap with. Do they target similar demographics? Are there any differences between your audiences?
Once you’ve identified your audience overlap, you can dive even deeper by comparing the performance of each audience. For example, if you notice that one audience performs better than another, you may be able to identify why.
Finally, you’ll want to look at how well your audiences align. Is your audience targeting the right keywords? Does your audience match your product/service offering?
Once you’ve analyzed your audience research, you should have a pretty good understanding of your competitors. Now it’s time to build out your competitor profiles!
Create Comprehensive Profiles of Your Competitors
Now that you’ve got a basic understanding of your competitors, it’s time to create detailed profiles. The goal here isn’t to make your competitors sound like they’re perfect — instead, you want to highlight areas where they could improve.
Create a Profile for Each Competitor
The first step in creating a detailed competitor profile is to decide which metrics you’d like to include. There are two main options:
1. Keyword Performance Metrics
These metrics will help you understand how well your competitors rank for certain keywords. They include things like search volume, position, traffic, and conversion rate.
2. Revenue Metrics
These metrics give you insight into how profitable your competitors are. This includes things like revenue per customer, average order value, and lifetime value.
You can also add additional metrics as needed. Some examples might include:
- Social Media Presence
- Customer Service
- Website Design
- Content Marketing Strategy
- Pricing Structure
Once you’ve decided on the metrics you’d like to track, you’ll need to gather data from Google Analytics. We recommend using the Audience Insights feature to pull
Analyze the Data Behind Your Competitors and Make Improvements
After collecting all of your data, it’s time to analyze it. What trends did you see? Did you notice anything interesting?
If so, great! It’s time to take action. You can use this information to make improvements to your site or business.
If you didn’t notice anything interesting, don’t worry. That’s okay too. Just keep analyzing until you spot something worth improving.
Implement Your Changes and Continue Tracking Results
Once you’ve made changes based on your analysis, it’s time to measure their impact. How has your website changed since implementing those changes?
If you noticed an improvement, great! If not, try making different changes. Keep testing until you find what works best.
As you continue to test and implement changes, you’ll eventually reach a point where you know exactly what needs to change to get more conversions. At that point, you’ll be ready to launch your next campaign!
Analyze the Landscape of Your Overall Competitors
AHREF’s Batch Analysis gives you access to tons of data about your competitor’s sites, including domain authority, AHREFs rank, the number of referring domains, etc. But it doesn’t stop there. You can even see what keywords are driving traffic to specific pages on those sites. This information is extremely helpful when trying to figure out where to focus your efforts.
But let’s start off simple. We want to know how well our competitors are doing overall. So we’re gonna analyze their DR score.
You can find the Batch Analysis function in More > Batch Analysis. Here, you can enter up to 200 URLs into the box. Set your preferences for Protocol, Target mode, and Index. Then click on Analyze.
You’ll immediately see a list of all the sites you’ve entered. For each one, you’ll see a number next to the DR score.
The higher the number, the better. In fact, most people consider a DR score of 50+ to be pretty good.
Next, we need to get an overall picture of the competitive landscape. This includes looking at where the sites rank across multiple keywords, what those keywords are, how much traffic they’re getting, and whether there are any issues that could impact rankings.
To do that, we’ll use Ahrefs batch analysis. We’ll run it against our list of competitors and see what happens. Here’s what you need to know about running batch analyses, and the steps to follow in sequence:
1. Use the competitors option (the large text box at the top) to add the domains you’d like to analyze. Be sure to enter one domain name per row.
2. Click on the number under “keywords” to look at a detailed list of the keywords that competitor ranks for.
3. You can then select your preferences which includes whether or not the site is in the live index, recent, and historical.
4. Click run tool.
5. Wait while the tool analyzes all selected domains at once.
Research the Growth of Your Backlinks
Link popularity is a well-known factor that helps your Google SERP performance. We found that the number of referring domains received per month had a significant impact on rankings.
The one thing we need to do is learn more regarding our competition’s link building strategies.
In order to accomplish this, we want to begin by examining their acquired referring domains rate.
We want to see how many new linking sites are being acquired each month. To do that, assuming you still have your site entered in the search field, click the Overview tab in the left-hand navigation bar.
If you don’t have the site you want to review in the search field, make sure you enter it first.
Now, you should see a graph showing the number of new referring domains acquired over time (this should be the second graph to your left):
This tells us two things:
1. How often are these sites acquiring new links?
2. The number of referring domains that the site has over its previous history.
This also gives us an idea of the site’s link velocity, as well as how many backlinks the site is acquiring and how fast it is acquiring them.
Using this information, you can deduce whether or not the site 1. Is growing naturally how it is supposed to, and 2. Whether or not the site may be under a negative SEO attack.
Either way, this graph will help you pinpoint where you need to go next in your link profile auditing journey.
Find and Nurture Relationships with Superfans Who Support Your Company
We want to work with influencers who are passionate about what you do. They’ll help spread the word about your brand, amplify your marketing efforts and provide value to readers.
Superfans are those who have linked to our competitors on several occasions. They also tend to share sites in the space more often than others do. If you want to know how many times someone has linked to your site, look up their referring domain names in Site Explorer.
You can plug in their domain, and examine their own referring domain names metrics on a deeper level. Doing deeper dives into other sites’ data is something that you can do within AHREFs.
You’ll see a list of sites where they’ve linked to yours, but this is going to require some digging. It’s not going to be an “instant gratification” type of research. If you want to find superfans, use the following criteria. Some of this criteria could be that they:
- Have a blog
- Are active
- Link to competing websites
- Use social media influencers
- Write about similar topics
Whenever possible, when you write content that also refers to these super fans, you want to make sure that they are tagged in your social media posts, and referenced in the post. That way, they will know pretty quickly that they are featured and may help you amplify your post’s shareability throughout the social media spectrum.
Find Pages That Are Broken
Ever heard the saying that one man’s junk is another man’s treasure? Well, it applies online too. Nowadays, you don’t just have to look for broken links; you can actually find out what those broken links are pointing to.
To start off, let’s say that you want to know what the competition’s 404 error pages are pointing to. You could go into AHREFs, plug in their domain, and go to their broken links section.
The best thing about AHREFs is that it lets you crawl the entire website as well, and you can check whether or not that competitor site contains broken links. Here’s how to do it:
Now that you’ve entered the URL of your competitor’s website, you can select the option that says “broken backlinks” under the “Backlink Profile” heading. You can also use the “Broken links” option underneath the “Outgoing Links” heading if you are looking for broken outgoing links.
In the next window, you’ll see a list of URLs that contain broken links. Clicking on each link will open a new tab where you can view the corresponding page.
This will help you perform a deeper analysis of your site’s broken links and/or pages, which will help you further understand and diagnose complex issues.
Analyzing Your Competitors is a First Step Towards Truly Becoming Competitive in SEO
Performing a competitor analysis can mean the difference between the success and failure of your campaign.
By analyzing and diving into what your competitors are doing, it’s possible to really nail down certain attributes of an SEO campaign that can beat them.
And, by making sure that you keep tabs on your competitors, you can adapt and make changes as necessary, as they adapt and make changes.
When are you planning on creating your next competitor analysis?