What is SEO Competitor Analysis?
SEO is ever growing in complexity, so make sure to do a proper competitor analysis
A concept very important in business is competitor analysis. In the digital world, it’s called SEO competitor analysis but at its core, their purpose is the same.
If you have a business, you probably have one or many competitors who offer very similar products/services or alternatives that fill the same need as your business does.
The question that comes after realizing that is: how can I make my business stand out? To answer this question, you will need to gather data from your competitors by doing a competitive analysis.
This analysis provides great value in the physical world and the digital world. So, it is something that all site owners should be doing when implementing their SEO strategy.
A thorough SEO Competitor analysis can be turned into your roadmap of what you need to do to improve your site in today’s competitive online scheme.
So, in this article, we will explore what is SEO Competitor Analysis, why it is important, and the steps for how you can do it.
Let’s dive in!
What actually is SEO Competitor Analysis?
The principle of SEO competitor analysis is the same as traditional competitor analysis. Meaning you will gather data by analyzing your competitors and use it to improve your business.
However, its context and specificities are directly related to digital aspects and SEO terms. SEO competitor analysis involves researching the links, keywords, content, and more of your competitors in order to reverse-engineer the most successful elements of their tactics and apply them to your own SEO strategy.
We all know there is some research work to do to optimize your site’s ranking. So instead of starting from scratch or guessing which keywords to target, content to create, or links to build, you can see what’s already working for others, and build upon that success.
The idea is not to copy your competition but to leverage data and use this knowledge to improve your online business and create better experiences for your visitors.
Innovation is always an important aspect so even if your competitors are all doing something that’s working don’t be afraid to also try something more innovative.
Remember a competitive analysis gives you some guidelines, not some fixed rules you need to copy and blindly follow.
Why is SEO Competitor Analysis Important?
It can be used to identify the strengths and weaknesses of both your site and your competitors’ sites for everything from SEO to search feature wins.
Utilizing this information, you can discover the areas you are weak that you can improve upon them, as well as identifying the areas where your competitors are weak, and then capitalize on their weaknesses for your site and search performance.
A proper SEO competitor analysis will give you the opportunity to look closer at what your competitors are doing on a page-by-page basis.
This helps identify any potential gaps your site might have when compared to your competitors. Perhaps you will discover they have a blog that is doing well with how to type articles that get lots of shares and links, something that is lacking on your site.
Or you might discover that one competitor is getting a lot of traffic through videos they are creating and sharing, while your site is lacking in that department.
How to do an SEO Competitor Analysis?
Step 1: Finding your competitors
Now that you know how important SEO competitor analysis is, your first step is finding out who your competitors are.
When you first think about who the competitors in your industry are, probably some names pop up in your mind, right?
But keep in mind your main industry competitors and your online competitors aren’t necessarily the same.
In fact, you might have multiple SEO competitors that are completely different from those you deem as industry competitors.
This is where it gets tricky, because in organic and paid search you may be competing with more than just direct competitors.
Even if you wouldn’t necessarily consider someone to be a huge competitor for your business as a whole, they can still be impactful for specific segments of your market.
This is why whenever you are doing a competitor analysis, you can’t only consider those that are competitors to your entire business model.
Instead, you need to be aware of those that are only targeting a segment of your overall market, whilst making a significant impact on it.
Because there is more than one type of competition, not only does your content and keywords need to be spot on, so does your site experience.
You can have the most relevant website for a keyword or content, but if it isn’t optimized properly it’s unlikely to get a lot of organic traffic.
Sometimes you also need to compete with brands or businesses that want to be found for keywords you want to rank for, even though they aren’t your direct competitors, nor offer a service to one of your targets.
For example, let’s say you offer website building services and a tech blog is writing about some cool website building services as well.
What happens here? You both will likely be using the same or similar keywords. Therefore you become SEO competitors even though you don’t exactly offer the same service.
Basically, your top SEO competitors are the ones who rank on the first search page of the keywords you’re targeting, regardless of whether they’re your direct business competitors or not.
Step 2: Competitive keyword analysis
Also known as keyword gap analysis, it is the process of identifying valuable keywords that your competitors rank highly for, but you don’t. Since your competitors can potentially rank for thousands of keywords, this type of analysis can be difficult to do manually. But fortunately, you can use some tools to make it easier.
Some of the best tools to help you in your Keyword gap analysis are:
You need to then consider if the keywords they use have a high volume, are related to your business, and the likelihood of conversion they have.
You can analyze the keywords your competition uses at the domain level, but a keyword gap analysis is also a powerful tool for optimizing individual pages.
So if you and your competitor have two similar pages covering the same general topic, you want to find out the exact best-performing keywords your competitor is using. Then you can optimize your own page to target those terms.
Remember to get a richer keyword gap analysis you should consider two or more competitors. After doing this you should get a list of some valuable keywords you can start using in your SEO strategy.
Step 3: Content Analysis
After knowing which keywords your competitors are targeting you will need to take a look at their actual content. To compete effectively through your content strategy, you need to know the type of content your SEO competitors are making. You can find a site’s top content again by using an SEO analyzer tool.
When analyzing their content, look out for :
- What types of content they’re creating. (e.g. video)
- The depth of detail covered
- The length of the content
- Their posting frequency
After analyzing those aspects and the overall quality of each content type, you need to compare it against your own content.
- Are you delivering content in the most desirable format for the user?
- Are you creating enough relevant content? How can you improve your content?
Once again to answer these questions in the most accurate and unbiased way possible, you should analyze two or more SEO competitors.
Step 4: Link Gap Analysis
Once you have your competitors’ most ranked keywords and content it’s time to take a look at their backlinks.
Site architecture is an essential aspect of SEO, and if a site doesn’t have a good backlinking structure it can be very detrimental to its performance on the SERP.
To do a Link gap analysis, you need to examine how competitors have structured their site, including URLs, breadcrumbs, and anchor text.
You need to figure out where your rivals are earning their backlinks from and using that information to build high-quality links for your website.
Now let’s say you found out your competitors’ most linked pieces of content.
You can then use the ‘skyscraper’ technique to attract links to your site:
- You create a similar piece of content with more quality
- Show it to the sites who link to your competitor’s content (that now has less quality)
- Ask them to swap out the link for yours which has better quality
This involves a lot of manual outreach and can have different success rates depending on the nature of the link for example. There a lot of link building strategies.
For example, you can also reach out to other websites and ask for Link Opportunities. As you can see link building is a very important topic that requires quite some work, so be prepared to allocate some resources to it after doing the analysis.
Step 5: SERP Features Analysis
Since Google introduced featured snippets, they have become one of the holy grails of SEO. Featured snippets are short answers to user queries displayed at the top of Google’s search results.
And the reason why they are so important is that they occupy the coveted “position zero”. They come in all shapes and sizes, including paragraphs, lists, tables, YouTube videos, images, etc.
Sometimes when you are searching for something you just want a quick answer to your question without having to actually go into websites looking for it.
This is where featured snippets shine. They allow users a great experience and give your website more traffic, greater SERP visibility, and a boost in credibility.
Even if users don’t go into your website straight away, you are already established on their mind as a good source. So they might be coming directly to your site in the future when they have related queries.
Why fight over Position 1 when you can get Position 0? Unfortunately, occupying position zero is easier said than done.
Featured snippets are volatile since a search that gets one featured snippet will show something entirely different an hour later. However, you can analyze your SEO competitors and identify their featured snippets.
Once you find the snippets they have ( using tools like Ahrefs or Internetmarketingninjas ) you can try and take them over by creating better content than theirs.
Step 6: Paid advertising analysis
If you’ve done everything you can to optimize your website and you’re still getting beat in the SERP, it’s possible that your competitors are simply outspending you and using paid traffic campaigns to generate conversions and sales.
Although this doesn’t fall into the organic category, you may find it valuable to monitor their Google Ads campaigns, promoted content, banner ads, paid posts, and more so that you can get an idea of what other people in your niche are spending on advertising.
It could be the next step on your journey of optimizing your site, so it’s good to have an overview of what you could possibly deal with.
Competition is a healthy part of every industry. It encourages innovation and keeps you on your toes in order to do optimize every aspect of your business.
If you want to stay competitive you cannot accommodate in a place you feel comfortable. In a world where constant optimization is required, you need to continuously work on improving your business strategy. Whether that is offline or online in this case.
Competitor analysis will never technically be complete since things are continuously changing. As sites evolve and as search algorithms evolve, keeping an eye on your competitors with competitive analysis means you will know what they are doing better and hopefully stay one step ahead.
This means watching for new pages, new keywords, or a rise in new search features such as featured snippets. To get the most value out of it you need to see it as a continuous job.
We hope that this article helped you grasp the concept of SEO competitor analysis and that you realize it is not a do it once and it’s done process.