June 17, 2021 (Updated: May 4, 2023)
When you want your website to be more visible and rank higher than others in your space, you need a search engine optimization (SEO) competitor analysis. This type of evaluation is essential for pinpointing strengths and weaknesses in your site and staying ahead of the competition. Find out how to do competitor analysis SEO and discover why this tactic is critical to your website’s success.
An SEO competitor analysis is an evaluation of all the keywords, backlinks, and other optimization factors that your website’s competitors use. After preparing an SEO competitor analysis report, you can use the insights to inform your own website’s SEO strategy.
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Essentially, this type of analysis lets you avoid developing an SEO strategy from scratch. Instead, it gives you a behind-the-scenes look at what’s working for your competitors so you can build on their proven tactics.
When you do SEO, focusing solely on your own website’s visibility and ranking can be tempting. However, SEO doesn’t happen in a vacuum. The success of your SEO strategy is highly dependent on how your competitors’ websites perform and the tactics they use. That’s why it’s essential to perform competitive analyses regularly.
Besides, even if your site currently ranks at the top for the critical keywords in your portfolio, there’s no guarantee that it can maintain the same position tomorrow, next week, or next month. It’s important to keep an eye on your competitors so you can identify and address threats before it’s too late.
When you’re new to competitive analysis, you might struggle with figuring out what other domains your website is up against. You might naturally assume the biggest companies in your market are also your strongest competitors in terms of SEO. Although there may be significant overlap, it’s important to survey the landscape instead of making assumptions. To identify your biggest SEO competitors, keep these tips in mind:
Once you identify your website’s biggest competitors, you need to know what it’s going to take to get ahead of them. Fortunately, a good competitor SEO analysis can answer this question and provide you with a roadmap for your strategy. A detailed evaluation can also tell you which topics to focus on, which keywords to target, and where to build the most effective backlinks.
As you learn how to do competitor analysis in SEO, you’ll quickly find how helpful this tactic is for identifying strengths and weaknesses in both your competitors’ and your own websites. You can find strengths and weaknesses in many key areas of SEO, including:
If you’re wondering what to include in a competitor analysis, ranking factors like content are the ideal place to start your evaluation. First, compare the types of content on your website and your competitors’ sites. How do product, blog, and how-to pages compare in terms of rank and quality?
Then identify your content weaknesses compared to competitors. For example, other sites in your space may have a more active blog or more how-to pages to support product pages. Your competitors may also produce completely different types of content, such as videos or podcasts. If you don’t yet have a plan to publish a wider variety of content, now might be the time to factor it into your marketing strategy.
On the surface, keyword competition seems like a straightforward concept. It essentially refers to how difficult it is to rank for a keyword. However, gauging keyword competitiveness can get complicated quickly, as measuring the difficulty level goes beyond just calculating the popularity of the search term.
Instead, you also have to get a read on the entire industry landscape to assess how tough it would be to rank for a search term. In other words, you need a competitive SEO analysis to evaluate keywords effectively.
A keyword competition analysis is a deep dive into how two or more sites compare in terms of critical SEO factors. Naturally, a look at how the sites use specific “money” and long-tail keywords is critical to this type of evaluation. Ultimately, a keyword competition analysis provides a complete overview of the landscape, including strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities.
If you know SEO, then you’re already familiar with some common types of search terms. For example, “money” keywords typically drive revenue, while long-tail keywords relate to much less common but much more specific searches.
To improve your SEO strategy and get greater value from your efforts, it’s helpful to think of these keyword types in terms of the intent that drives these searches. After all, if you target important keywords with content that focuses on the wrong search intent, then your efforts won’t hit the mark.
As you identify keywords to target, take the time to clarify the search intent for each. That way you can ensure low-intent searches lead prospects to introductory information about your brand and products, while high-intent searches take customers to product pages or an e-commerce site.
To match keywords with the right search intent, you need a few essential pieces of information. You need to map out your customer journey, understand which keywords go with each step of the journey, and determine how competitive these keywords are.
To streamline this part of the process, create a spreadsheet that charts the key stages of your customer journey. For most businesses, the stages include awareness, consideration, conversion, and retention.
Next, do some brainstorming and think about the search terms that the average customer would use at each stage. At the awareness stage, prospects often have more general questions and seek out content with a wide scope, such as ultimate guides. At the consideration stage, prospects tend to have more specific questions about your product, including how it compares to competitors. The conversion stage usually includes high-intent searches with terms like “buy” or “price.”
In many cases, your insights into your customers’ thought processes can provide you with a great list of keywords to research. However, you can also use tools to supplement your brainstorming sessions. Some of the most popular keyword research tools include:
Even once you’ve compiled important keywords and matched them with your customer journey, keyword competition analysis can be complex and time-consuming. But by following these steps, you can learn how to do SEO competitor analysis successfully and start outperforming other websites in your space.
Take your list of competitors and collect SEO metrics for each one. Create a chart that shows these metrics:
Then take some time to determine how competitive each of these websites really is. To gauge site and SEO health, look at metrics like bounce rate, traffic sources, and top referrers for each competitor on your list.
Now that you have a sense of which competitors to prioritize, you can take a deeper dive into their keyword strategy. Use a keyword research tool (see below) to identify which keywords your competitors rank for, and add them to your chart.
Remove the keywords that are too difficult to compete for and therefore not worth your resources. Then take a closer look at the remaining keywords. Which are relevant to your own SEO strategy, and which would provide the best return on investment (ROI)? For maximum impact, group the best keywords into topical clusters.
At this point, you have insight into your competitors’ SEO strategy, and you’ve identified some of their keywords that you want to target. Next, you need to know what to do to beat them. Here’s how to leverage their weak points:
To get the best results from your efforts, you need the right tools. The most powerful tools for competitive SEO analysis include:
No matter what tool you use, it’s important to make competitor analysis SEO an integral part of your marketing strategy. With these tools and tactics, you can improve website performance, identify problem areas, and stay ahead of the competition.
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