Every online business wants to rank higher on the search engine results page (SERPs) to drive more organic traffic and, thus, get more conversions. However, if everyone is working towards the same goal, how will you ensure better results for your website?
Well, that’s when SEO competitor analysis comes in.
By performing competitor analysis, you can determine what your competitors are doing right and what mistakes they’re making, giving you the upper hand. But how to perform SEO competitor analysis. This blog is there to help.
Below, we’ll discuss what competitor analysis is, why it is important, and detailed steps on how you can perform an effective analysis of your competitors. And by the end, you’ll have everything to take your SEO game to the next level. So, read in full.
What is SEO Competitor Analysis?
SEO competitor analysis is studying competitors in your industry to understand their strategies and leverage insights to boost your SEO performance. Usually, competitor analysis involves exploring keyword rankings, content strategies, backlink profiles, conversion tactics, website design, etc.
Why is SEO Competitor Analysis Important?
By performing SEO competitor analysis, you can:
- Find the winning strategies your competitors are following and replicate them.
- Identify your competitors’ weaknesses and use them to your advantage.
- Benchmark your current SEO performance against your competitors.
All in all, an SEO competitor analysis allows you to understand your competitive landscape better. This way, you can identify any hidden opportunities to help you drive better results than your competitors.
Step-by-Step Guide: How to Do SEO Competitor Analysis?
Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you analyze your competitors’ SEO strategies:
1. Identify Your Competitors
The first step towards analyzing your competitors is identifying who they are. If your website is already ranking, you might know them. However, if you’re new, you’ll need to identify your competitors.
For starters, you can go to Google and search the keywords you’re planning to target. And the websites that rank high on the search results page are your direct competitors.
Usually, they’re the businesses that offer services similar to your business and have a similar target audience.
However, you need to keep a few things in mind:
- Your SEO competitors may vary from your brick-and-mortar competitors.
- Some websites posting content related to your niche may be your organic search competitors, but they aren’t your direct business competitors.
- If you offer multiple products or write about multiple topics in your blog, you’ll have different competitors for each product or service you offer.
In addition to searching for keywords on Google, you can opt for one of the best SEO competitor analysis tools: Semrush’s Organic Research. Just visit this link, add your domain (I’ve added Walmart for this example), choose the location, and hit search.
2. Keyword Gap Analysis
Once you’ve identified your competitors, it’s time for keyword gap analysis. Keyword gap analysis is the process of identifying potential keyword opportunities that your business might be missing out on.
To get started, you need to look for keywords that you don’t rank for, but your competitors do. These missing keywords are your gaps and can offer you the leverage you need. To find these missing keywords, you can rely on Keyword Gap.
Keyword Gap is a reliable SEO competitor analysis tool from SEMRush you can use for performing keyword gap analysis. Just enter the URL of your website and up to 4 competitors underneath.
Click compare, and almost instantly, you’ll see a list of keywords. Scroll a little and select the “Missing” column; there you have your missing opportunities.
3. Content Gap Analysis
After identifying the keyword gaps, you need to perform a content gap analysis. A content gap analysis helps you determine:
- If your competitors’ content is high quality.
- What topics (how-to guides or general informative content) are they creating content around?
- If some blogs or content pieces seem to be of lower quality or are less detailed.
- The type of content your competitors are producing (podcasters, blogs, articles, YouTube videos).
Once you have the information, you can compare multiple competitors and identify their weaknesses and strengths.
Let’s say one of your competitors has a dedicated blog section on topics relevant to your niche. While it’s getting traction, you notice there are certain gaps. For instance, the content is not detailed enough, lacks data & stats, and infographics, or ignores the audience’s intent.
In such a scenario, you can capitalize on their weaknesses by producing higher-quality content. However, keep these pointers in mind for the best results:
- Define your user persona and create a visual representation of the needs of your ideal customer.
- Research keywords based on your user persona and the stage (awareness, consideration, decision) of the buyer’s journey they’re in.
- For TOFU (top of the funnel) customers, informational keywords like “how to improve customer retention” can work. And for BOFU (bottom of the funnel), transactional keywords like “[company name] CRM” can be used. The motive here is to show relevant content to individuals with relevant intent.
- Stand out from your competitors by using attractive visuals, images, or infographics. Also, use statistics, case studies, and customer testimonials to add credibility and authority to your content.
4. Competitor Backlink Analysis
Backlinks are the links that redirect visitors from a different website to your website. The more high-quality backlinks you have, the stronger your backlink profile will be. A strong backlink profile means higher authority and SEO ranking. Unfortunately, the same is true for your competitors as well.
By including backlink analysis in your SEO competitor analysis strategy, you can determine how strong your competitors’ backlink profile is, which will decide how hard it will be for you to rank.
To perform a backlink analysis, you can use SEMrush’s Backlink Analytics tool.
Just enter your domain and hit analyze.
Once done, you’ll see a dashboard. Just to the right of your domain, you can enter your competitor domains and get a detailed backlink comparison.
5. Analysis of Technical SEO
Technical SEO focuses on improving the technical aspects of your website to make it load faster, easier to crawl and index, and more understandable for search engines. And all this to ensure your website ranks higher.
Website Performance and User Experience (UX)
Website performance and UX are the two aspects search engines and users notice about your website. If your website loads slowly and has a poor user experience, you will rank lower.
But how do you determine how your website’s performance and UX stand against your competitors?
By analyzing the core web vitals of your website and comparing them with your competitors. Core Web Vitals are the metrics introduced by Google that measure the UX of your website for interactivity, loading speed, and visual stability for every page.
To analyze and compare the core web vitals, you can use Google’s PageSpeed Insights. Just enter your URL and hit Analyze. You can do the same for your competitors and have a clear comparison.
URL structure is an important part of SEO competitor analysis and helps search engines and users understand what the page is about. When analyzing competitor URLs, pay attention:
- If your competitors are using keywords in the URL.
- If the URLs are comprehensive and easy to read.
- If the URLs provide some context on what the page is about.
Based on the answers you get, you can optimize your website’s URLs.
Regardless of what your competitors are doing, mobile responsiveness should always be a priority. Because the majority of individuals use mobile devices for browsing the internet, be it searching for stuff online or booking flights. And if your website is not mobile responsive, it’ll ruin the customer experience by sending them to your competitors.
However, it’s still recommended you analyze competitor websites for mobile responsiveness. This will help you determine what they’re doing extra to deliver a consistent experience across devices. And to do this, you can rely on Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.
Just enter the URL of the website you want to test and hit “Test URL”. Within a few seconds, you’ll get the results.
Schema markup is a short code that offers structured data to search engines. This structured data is easy to interpret for search engines and helps them understand your content better. When you offer schema markup, search engines present your listing as rich snippets (with additional info) in the SERPs, which are way more captivating than normal ones.
For instance, you might see FAQs, reviews and ratings, extra features, pricing, product images, and even business opening/closing hours in the search results using structured data. Here’s an example:
So, check if your competitors are using structured data by searching for keywords you wish to rank for. If you see rich snippets, then they’re using schema markup. This means you need to use it, too. To create your schema markup, you can use Schema.org.
Website Design and Structure Analysis
Lastly, you need to pay close attention to your competitors’ websites’ design and structure (UI). A user-friendly UI leads to a better user experience, which increases the time users spend on your website and reduces the bounce rate. And when users spend more time on your website, your ranking improves.
So, head over to your competitors’ websites and analyze the design, including CTA placement, navigation bar, use of animations, etc.
The motive is to identify the elements that make their website more appealing and user-friendly and use them in your website while avoiding anything that brings the UX down.
SEO competitor analysis is undoubtedly a critical step in boosting your rankings and organic traffic to your website. You get to know your present SEO stature and learn from already successful businesses while avoiding the mistakes most new businesses make when working on SEO.
So, what are you waiting for?
Follow all the pointers listed in this guide, boost your SEO, and always stay ahead of your competitors.
How can I identify my top SEO competitors in my niche?
Finding SEO competitors in your niche is easy. You can simply search for the keywords you wish to rank for on Google or other search engines. And the top listings on the first page of search results are your top competitors.
Another way of identifying your competitors is by using free SEO competitor analysis tools such as Organic Research. Just enter your domain, choose the location, and there you have your list of competitors.
Note. Make sure to know that your organic ranking competitors may not be your direct business competitors.
What puppets can I use to perform SEO competitor analysis effectively?
There are multiple SEO competitor analysis software or tools out there. For instance, SEMrush provides comprehensive features that you can use for competitive analysis. However, here’s a list of SEO competitor analysis tools free that we’ve used for this blog:
- SEMrush’s Organic Research: For identifying your competitors.
- SEMrush’s Keyword Gap Analysis: For identifying keyword gaps.
- PageSpeed Insights: To determine website performance and UX.
- Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test: To check mobile responsiveness.
- SEMrush’s Backlink Analytics: For analyzing backlink profiles.
Why is Competitor Analysis Important in SEO?
If you wish to rank higher, drive more traffic to your website, and achieve more conversions, you need to follow the right strategies and avoid obvious mistakes. And that’s something you can only do using SEO competitor analysis.
By analyzing your competition, you can determine the following:
- Where do you currently stand in terms of SEO?
- Who are your competitors?
- What they’re doing right and replicate that.
- What they’re doing wrong and capitalize on that.
When you understand your competitors better, you can create highly effective strategies and thus achieve quality results.