SEO competitor analysis is analysing the SEO strategies that your competitors are leveraging to rank higher in SERP. This would include deciphering their links, content, on-page SEO techniques, and other tactics. This helps to discover unique SEO optimisation opportunities that you may have not previously touched upon.
How often should you perform Competitor Analysis?
SEO competitor analysis can often be overwhelming due to the sheer efforts that go into it. It is not a one-day task and requires some time to analyse and come up with an adequate strategy.
In order to save time and efforts, we would recommend performing SEO competitor analysis quarterly. You can adhere to a time frame that best fits your needs.
Interestingly, a study from Databox states that SEO agencies and experts preferred carrying out competitor analysis monthly or quarterly.
Why is Competitor Analysis Important?
Competitor analysis in SEO helps you in taking a deeper look at your industry as a whole and determining the gaps in the industry that you can fill. You can determine where your competitors stand, compare it to where you stand, and leverage the information gathered to drive your business. Your business might even be ranking in the top 5 results on the search results for the most relevant keywords in your domain. However, you will always have a website trying to edge your ranking and take over it by capitalizing on the weaknesses in your website.
When thinking about how to perform competitor analysis, it is crucial to determine the exact takeaway you’re looking for. Competitor analysis in SEO can be used for many purposes, like preparing a roadmap to determine what your competitors are doing better than you. Maybe they’re on featured snippets or have a better community. These things can only be determined through a comprehensive analysis of your competitors.
Ways to find your SEO Competitors
In order to start an SEO competitor analysis, we first need to be aware of who our actual competitors are. You most likely already know who your competitors are in the industry in traditional marketing. However, when it comes to SEO, the chances are that your competitors won’t be the same.
Here’s how you can find your true SEO competitors
The Google SERP is the best bet for finding SEO competitors. First, identify the keywords that you want to rank for. Now search for these keywords on Google. The websites that are ranking on the first page of the search engine are your competitors. You might notice some repetitive competitors ranking for most of your queries. These are the ones you need to keep a close eye on. Create a list of such 5-10 competitors, according to your preference.
By using Tools
Alongside Google SERP, which is a manual process, you can also use specific specialised SEO tools for finding your competitors. Ahrefs and SEMRush, both are reputed tools that you can use.
Who are your actual competitors?
Your business needs to consider the possibility that smaller businesses might be your biggest competitors. The vice versa may be true in this situation as well. The main point here is to not ignore any business that is making an impact in your industry while performing competitor analysis in SEO. Keyword research is one of the key tools here, which will help you in identifying your actual competitors. Often, big companies spend money on expensive keywords and are considered actual competitors. However, smaller companies might be dominating the segments smartly using long-tail keywords.
It is also true that you also must determine which websites not to compete with. If your website is ranking third on the SERPs for your targeted keyword/s and the only two pages above you are websites like Pinterest and Wikipedia, it might not be a good idea to invest resources and time to outrank them. Instead, only look for the keywords which your determined competitors are actually outranking you in, which might be costing you traffic on your website.
Types of SEO Competitor Analysis
We have collated some important competitor analysis techniques to help you strengthen your search engine optimisation results:
Keyword Gap Analysis
This is a technique which involves studying the keywords for which your competitors rank. The main idea here is to look out for keywords that your competitors are ranking for, but you aren’t. Make a list of such keywords and align your SEO strategy focusing on these keywords. To perform this activity, you can use a tool such as SEMRush.
Go to SEMrush and navigate to the ‘Keyword Gap’ section. Now enter your URL along with the URLs for your competitors.
As you can see from the above image, you will be presented with keywords that your competitors are ranking for. You can categorise these as ‘organic’, ‘paid’ or ‘Product Listing in Google Shopping’ (PLA) keywords.
Once you have the list of such keywords that your competitors rank for, there are few things you need to do going forward.
- Why your pages are not ranking for these keywords?
- Are you targeting these keywords in your SEO strategy?
- What is your Domain Authority (DA) and Page Authority (PA) as compared to your competitors?
- Do they have a backlink strategy targeting these keywords?
- What type of content are they writing for these keywords?
For your assistance, we will later discuss these in detail in this blog.
Content Gap Analysis
This is a technique that involves the study of different types of content that your competitors produce. This will give you an insight into how to prepare your content strategy.
Here are few things you need to look out for:
You can use a tool like Screaming Frog to find the word count of your competitors pages. In SEO, content is the king and most often long-form content performs the best. Keep a close eye on the word-count of the content that your competitors are uploading. Your goal should be to write content that is equal to or greater than your competitors’ word count.
Simply scraping your competitors’ content and adding it to your page won’t help. You might end up getting penalised by Google for this dreadful attempt. You can take an idea from your competitors to find your content topics, but you need to produce original quality content.
Other forms of content
Check whether your competitors use other content generation types, such as infographics, photos, or videos. Google likes it when site owners go out of their way to provide a good user experience. If your competitors use these different forms of content to achieve good rankings, it’s your time to step up the game.
Answer based content
You may find some of your competitors appearing on featured snippets. Closely analyse their content and check if they are using question-based queries (answering questions about the content). This answer-based content helps you get an edge over your competitors to appear in featured snippets. It is also good for your voice search SEO.
If you are having a hard time producing quality SEO content, you can reach out to companies that provide SEO content marketing services. This will help you generate SEO-optimised content and help you in your website’s rankings.
Backlink Gap Analysis
This technique involves the study of competitors’ backlinks to determine how strong their backlink profile is. Backlink analysis, also known as link gap analysis, is a fundamental competitor analysis technique. If your competitors have a high-quality backlink profile, ranking above them may be difficult.
You can use a tool like Ahrefs to find all your competitors’ backlinks. Go to Ahrefs and enter your competitor’s website URL. Now click on the ‘Backlinks’ section to see all their backlinks:
Once you have the list of all the backlinks of your competitors, identify the common backlinks. Look for websites from which all your competitors are getting backlinks. Check these websites, and see if you can get a backlink from these websites as well.
Analyse domains from which your competitors getting links. Again, you can use Ahrefs to find these.
Do your competitors get backlinks from the .edu (educational) or.gov (government) domains? Such backlinks from unique domains are considered of high quality and help increase your domain authority (DA). Look for opportunities to get backlinks from such unique domains that have high domain authority. This will help you in your website’s rankings as well.
This competitor backlink analysis will help you strengthen your backlink profile and establish authority over the Internet.
Website Architecture Analysis
Website architecture plays a significant role in your site’s rankings as well as user experience. The design layout, the CTA’s all contribute towards getting conversions. If your competitors’ website has a better UI and design, they are more likely to perform better in all aspects of the digital marketing funnel. You may want to spend some money to get the most out of your design language.
Internal Linking Structure
Check your competitors’ internal linking strategy. With a good internal link structure, you can boost the authority of your top pages and ensure that the Google bot crawls all your pages. This will also help your website in ranking better on the SERP.
Look closely at how your competitors are using internal links and the subsequent anchor texts. These internal links may be part of the content or within the page’s footer. Most of the e-commerce websites use the ‘Popular Searches’ or ‘People also search’ section/s to include these internal links. Analyse what keywords your competitors use as hyperlinks.
URL and Breadcrumb Structure
You need to keep a close eye on the competitors’ URL and breadcrumb structure. This will help you in the initial process of designing your website’s layout. The URLs of your pages should be user friendly and also include your primary keyword. And the breadcrumbs should be aimed towards providing the user with the best navigation experience.
Your top navigation section is the most important part of your website. This is the place where users are going to interact the most.
See how your competitors have set up their top navigation. This will help you get an idea of how to segment your top navigation by category. You can also study the keywords that are being used in the navigation and use this to your advantage.
Google SERP Analysis
Understanding the Google SERP and the results it shows for your keywords is extremely necessary. Enter your focus keywords in the search bar and observe the search results.
Let us understand this with a few examples:
Keyword ‘life insurance’
From the image above, observe the results displayed for the term ‘life insurance’. First, you have a featured snippet from ICICI. Next, you also see the ‘Top Stories’ section.
This makes it quite evident that you can target your pages to appear in featured snippets. The section ‘Top Stories’ will also take up some space on the SERP.
Notice the results in the Google SERP for ‘paintings’. These results are quite different from the ones displayed for the ‘life insurance’ keyword. The first result shown is the ‘Images’ section. You will also find the ‘Videos’ section below. This makes it quite evident that you need to target the ‘Images’ section. You would want to optimise the images on your website.
As you can see from the above examples, understanding Google SERP is a very important part of SEO competitor analysis. See which positions are acquired by your competitors in the SERP. This will give you a decent sense of where your website can rank in the Google SERP.
Technical SEO Analysis
Technical analysis involves researching the backend technologies and the subsequent frameworks that your competitors use. It also includes taking into account their page speed and site performance metrics.
You can use Google PageSpeed Insights tool to find these metrics.
Having a better page speed than your competitors will help your websites in rankings.
With the number of mobile device users increasing day by day, it becomes extremely important for our website to be mobile-friendly. Your website should be well optimised for mobile devices. It should have a responsive layout that is easily viewable on all smartphones.
You can run your website through the Mobile-Friendly test tool.
Many times, you might be able to beat your competitors in desktop rankings but not in mobile rankings. Mobile friendliness is an area you need to improve upon.
There are various technologies used to build websites such as Java, PHP, Ruby, Angular JS, Node JS and more. Check which technology your competitors’ website is built upon. Also, check the above-mentioned page speed and mobile friendly metrics. If any of your competitors’ websites are performing exceptionally well. This is a technology you should build your website upon.
We all want to beat our competitors in rankings. However, before doing that, you need to have a fair idea of what you are up against. This makes competitor analysis an integral part of any SEO strategy. Once you know your competition, you can align your SEO activities and efforts towards performing better than your competitors.
Performing competitor analysis helps you uncover hidden SEO strategies you might not have known before. It also highlights the areas of SEO that you need to improve upon. We hope this exhaustive guide helps you perform a healthy SEO competitor analysis.
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