How To Use Competitor Analysis Metrics for SEO

Lauren Oliver


October 5, 2022 (Updated: May 4, 2023)

black metrics dashboard on a computer screen

While content may be king, purposeful content creation goes even further. Randomly targeting keywords won’t get you particularly far, no matter what field you work in. Instead, farming competitor analysis metrics can help you to plan your content strategy for the long run. If you know what makes your competitors successful, you can take inspiration from their keyword strategy.

Beyond just creating similar content, you can push to outrank your competition and get to that top spot. Understanding your competition and their current strategy allows you to structure your content marketing campaigns with more effective approaches. And this all begins with effective analysis. But how do you use competitor analysis metrics and what can they tell you about your SEO? In this article, we’ll explore the power of competitor analysis metrics with these topics:

How To Use Competitor Analysis Metrics To Compare Keywords

In the world of SEO, not every keyword is made equally. It’s important to compare strengths and weaknesses of keywords you’re trying to rank for. There are two defining factors that determine how good a keyword is: search volume and keyword competitiveness. Looking at these metrics, you can compare how strong or weak a keyword is for your content strategy. Here are several steps you can take right now in your analysis:

1. Look at Search Volume

First of all, how many people are searching for that term on their search engines? Obviously, if you’re ranking for a keyword that has hundreds of thousands of searches every month, you’re in a great position. If you’re in the top spot on a keyword that only has five searches every year, you’re probably not going to be pulling in many leads. The search volume of a keyword can also tell you how much traffic you could potentially get if your content ranks higher in search results. But the number of monthly searches for a keyword isn’t the only metric to study.

2. Assess Keyword Competitiveness

Keyword competitiveness tells you how easy or hard it is to rank for the term you’re targeting. It represents how competitive a keyword is. Typically, search volume and competitiveness relate to one another. That is, when more people search for a keyword, more sites try and rise to the top of the rankings for that keyword. So if you target these types of keywords when creating content, you’re up against tons of competing pages. Your best bet is to target keywords that fall toward the long-tail end of search volume and competitiveness. Look for an easy to mid-range ranking difficulty with moderate to high-volume search.

Keywords with lots of traffic and lower competition are where you want to aim. But at the same time, avoid the opposite. If there’s high competition and low traffic, it’s not really worth the time. As you find keywords that match these criteria, create a plan that targets these valuable opportunities in topic clusters. Ultimately, though, without digging into competitor analysis metrics with keyword research, you won’t know where your SEO tactics fall on the scale.

3. Assess Competitor Weaknesses

Your keyword research also allows you to take advantage of competitor weaknesses. Using this insight, you can develop a strategy that leverages content gaps and low-competition keywords. So pull up your favorite SEO tool and get searching. Google Search Console is one such tool that makes this process simple, and it’s free to use. With this, you can get a rough idea of competition and monthly searches for a keyword. If you want more details, then Ahrefs and Semrush are excellent for this.

By seeing what keywords your competitors are focusing on, you’re able to structure your own content production more efficiently. You’ll be directly competing with them for top spots. Luckily, you have a unique advantage. Your competitors have already produced their content. It’s published and live on the internet. So scope it out in your keyword research to see what they’re doing, then go beyond to make content even more valuable.

4. Research Related Phrases

You can also type in related words and phrases in your business niche and see how they check out. Often, SEO tools give you similar keyword recommendations to set you on the right track. If you want a little extra inspiration, then Answer The Public is a great place to begin. Just type in the main keyword, and it creates a map of related searches. Whatever people are searching for, it pops up, as in the screenshot below:

Screenshot of keyword research on Ask the Public.

Image via Answer the Public

From there, just take your favorites and plug them into your keyword research tool. You’ll get insights into the competitiveness and search volume of the related phrases you target. This gives you both primary and related keywords to target in your content strategy, expanding topics and clusters to provide even more value to readers.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Content Analysis

Benefits of Competitor Analysis Metrics in Content Strategy

Who doesn’t love a little bit of competition? Well, probably your competitors after you overtake them on the first page rankings. That said, this doesn’t happen overnight. Creating a content strategy takes time, even when you know which keywords to target. But competitor analysis metrics can be a huge help in getting there. Instead of hitting different keywords and hoping to outrank the competition, you have a core piece of the puzzle. The metrics can tell you what to focus on to improve SERP rankings. Using competitor analysis metrics in your strategy has even more benefits, including:

  • Find Content Gaps: Competitor analysis metrics can help you uncover the content gaps in your strategy. Finding these gaps gives you specific areas to focus content creation on to support your site’s search volume for new keywords.
  • New Offerings: If your competitors are offering a service that you could offer but currently don’t, it’s time to rethink your approach. Becuase if your competitors are pulling in leads for that service, your business can, too.
  • Find Trends: Analyzing your competitors’ SEO profiles clues you into industry changes and trending topics. Understanding the ebb and flow of traffic can help you produce high-impact content right when you need it most.
  • Steal Traffic: One of the biggest benefits of competitor analysis metrics is knowing exactly where to focus your efforts to get your rivals’ traffic to your site. Creating content around keywords that outrank them can gain traction within competitors’ audiences, ultimately increasing yours.

Analyzing the data is always the first step of setting campaign goals. The more information you have, the better. Once you understand how your competitors are ranking, you’ll be in the perfect position to then find their best keywords and start ranking for them yourself.

If you want a detailed breakdown of your competitors’ content and keywords, then be sure to use our content marketing analysis tool. With this in-depth report, you’ll see the content gaps your strategy should be focusing on. Check your top competitors and find valuable opportunities to boost your SEO and drive more traffic to your business site.

Understanding Content vs Keyword Gaps

When doing keyword research on your competition, it’s essential to look for your content gaps. That is, the content that your competitors are producing which you’re not. When you find these gaps, take note of the keywords competitors are targeting in the content. These phrases can help your team plan for content types that cover each gap in your strategy. It’s also important to understand the difference between your content gaps and keyword gaps. Unlike content gaps, keyword gaps show you all the keywords that directly relate to your content niche which no one is covering—including competitors.

Both of these gaps are highly valuable to your company. Content areas that you don’t currently have any articles for should be a priority. Remember, you want to create competition for brands in your niche. If you’re letting them rank without putting up a fight, then you’re already losing the battle. Make sure you have high-quality content that answers to every keyword your competitors are ranking for.

Related: What Is a SERP Analysis and How Can It Keep You Competitive?

Finding Competitive Keyword Gaps

Keyword research and competitor analysis metrics for keywords in Semrush.

Image via CopyPress

Alternatively, if you stumble upon a keyword area that hasn’t yet been used, you’ve hit the jackpot. Typically, brands tend to stick with the primary keywords that most relate to their niches. So most of the time, the competitive keywords end up being the long-tail keywords. These phrases tend to appear at the end of the line as far as search volume and ranking difficulty. Long-tail keywords are excellent to target, as they have lower ranking difficulty overall. On the other hand, the search volume is also lower, which makes it no surprise many content marketers don’t target them.

In practice, we tend to think of long-tail keywords as longer phrases, but this isn’t always the case. For example, instead of “SEO services,” a long-tail alternative would show up at the tail end of the search, with lower volume and ranking difficulty. So the term “SEO services for law firms” could show up with lower volume and ranking difficulty. That said, if you do find long-tail keywords with higher search volume, it’s an opportunity to rank for it.

What Should You Do With Content Gaps?

When you find competitor content that you’re not currently ranking for, it’s time to push this new content to the top of your to-do list. A lot of the time, by simply checking the front page of Google for a keyword, you’ll be able to find some gaps. The most common gaps that you can exploit are:

  • Outdated content: If content is from a previous year or a few years ago, then you’re in a prime position to create fresh content and overtake your competitors.
  • Thin content: Google loves in-depth, helpful content. If a 500-word blog post ranks on the top page, you can swoop in with a 2,500-word guide that blows your competitors out of the water.
  • Unclear or unrelatable: Let’s face it, not all content is high-quality, clear, or relatable to the reader. If a competitor’s guide is hard to follow or read, then make it better and add more value for your readers.

Whether you need to update and extend content or create something completely fresh, the above signs are a good pointer for content gaps you should be filling. With competitor analysis metrics, you’ll already know which keywords you should be targeting. Combining this with visible front-page content gaps helps paint a picture of what content to create.

From this strategy, target the most relevant keywords to your niche. Then, produce quality content that hits the front page. Competitive analysis metrics give you a starting point for filling these content gaps so your brand delivers top-quality, valuable content, every time.

Related: Audit a Topic Cluster Strategy With Content Analysis

Stay On Top of Quality Content With CopyPress

Competitor analysis metrics are the foundation of effective keyword strategy. Alongside conducting analysis on your own site, looking at what your competitors are doing can steer you in the right direction. Whether you’re looking to shoot up the rankings or directly steal traffic, content analysis is always a great place to begin.

With the data from your analysis, you’ll have the info you need to continue producing valuable and helpful content. Are you curious how the recent Google updates are affecting site-wide SEO? Be sure to register for Search Engine Journal’s Helpful Content webinar. Tune in as our CEO, Dave Snyder, gives us the latest on the Helpful Content and core updates so you can stay on top of your SEO and content strategy.

Author Image - Lauren Oliver
Lauren Oliver

Content Manager at CopyPress

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