Analyzing competitors is one of the oldest and most effective ways to stay ahead in the field. It’s nothing new. However, ways of doing it have changed. In the digital business landscape, you don’t need an insider to get important insights into their digital marketing process. All you need is an SEO strategist who can help you with competitive analysis and create SEO campaigns to get a competitive edge in the market. To rank higher than your competitors, you must know about what competitive analysis exactly means and how to do it. So, here, we are sharing this post that will help you develop a good understanding of SEO competitive analysis.
What does Competitive Analysis mean in SEO?
In simple words, competitive analysis is the evaluation process to know your position in the (digital) market with respect to your competitors. It involves comparing different SEO strategies to see the kind of approach they are using, their ranking position, keyword selection, website performance, and various other aspects.
When the competitive analysis is done the right way, it can also help you learn about their strengths and weaknesses. Thus, it allows you to prepare a more insightful SEO strategy, creates a successful SEO campaign, set your goals, and perform better than your competitors.
Why should I bother to evaluate and analyze my competitors? Is it necessary?
Competition in itself is a healthy part of any business industry. There are several reasons to conduct a competitive analysis. Some of these are:
- It makes you (businesses and professionals) competent, encourages innovation, promotes motivation, and stimulates you to do better so that you stand closer with your competitors, not far behind them.
- It helps you find out where you are doing well, locate the gaps in your SEO campaigns, and get exposure to more SEO strategies and tactics for improving customer satisfaction and retention.
- It creates an opportunity for you to improve all those important aspects of your business which you might be ignoring. When you make improvements in your business processes, it ultimately benefits you in terms of profits and reputation as well.
Many companies manufacture products and provide services better than their counterparts; still, their popularity is less than their counterparts. This happens when you don’t know what’s helping your competitors to succeed. They might be doing much better in their marketing campaigns, using the right keywords and timing for launching their campaigns, or using social media in an attempt to know their customers better.
So, if you want to succeed, take the lead, and earn a more reputable position, competitive analysis is the first thing that you should do with the help of an SEO pro.
Now, when it’s clear that competitive analysis is of paramount importance for successful SEO, let’s check out how to conduct an SEO competitive analysis in detail.
6 Tactics to Conduct an SEO Competitive Analysis
Though the following list of tactics is not exhaustive, your competitive analysis will be incomplete without them. So, whenever you plan to conduct competitive analysis, don’t forget to combine these tactics to get the maximum out of this analysis.
- Find Out Who Are Your SEO competitors
The first thing you need to understand is that, in this case, you need to find your SEO competitors who may or may not be different from the competitors you see in general. In fact, your SEO competitors might be the ones you have never heard of. They might be outside of your targeting region.
For instance, when you search for “dresses for 1 year baby”, the results could be from anywhere. While most of the results will be specific to the country from where the user is searching, some of the results could be of business sites from other countries if the user frequently interacts with foreign websites.
You might even have several SEO competitors outside your niche. For example, if you run a plumbing business and are trying to rank for “plumbing services in Florida”, you might also be competing with those sites that just provide information on “how-to” related topics. One great example of this is wikiHow. This logic applies to every business industry and niche.
So, when you are identifying your SEO competitors, remember that:
Your SEO competitors are those who rank on the first page of the search engine for keywords you are targeting. It doesn’t matter whether they are your business rivals or not.
How to find SEO competitors
The easiest way is to enter the targeted keyword in the search engine and see which sites are ranking on the first page. However, you can also use competitive analysis tools to find out your SEO competitors. Still, you should take a look at the SERP so that you know what type of content the top five or first SERP’s sites are ranking for. If there are more videos, you can also think of creating a good, informative, and engaging video. Also, make sure to check out which sites are ranking in the featured snippets and for what types of keywords and topics.
- Compare your website to that of your competitors
The next step after identifying your SEO competitors is to check out their websites and then compare your website with them.
What to Focus on:
- Overall Website Design – Is their website appealing and engaging?
- Responsiveness of the Website – Is it responsive or unresponsive to mobile format?
- Website Structure – Is the structure smooth and easy-going?
- Website loading speed – Are their high-value landing pages optimized for speed?
- Navigation – Is it easier to find products/services/contact info/sitemap/CTAs on their website?
- Desktop and Mobile User-Experience – Does their website provide a smoother experience to both desktop and mobile users?
- Sitemap – Is their sitemap better optimized than yours for crawlability?
- PageRank Distribution – What is their PageRank distribution?
- Placement of CTAs – What positions are they using to place their Call-to-Action buttons?
- Home page
- Individual Product and Service Pages
- Browse Pages (Pages with Multiple Products for easy browsing)
- News/Blog/KnowledgeBase Pages
- FAQ Page if they have any
By comparing websites, you can determine if your website also has that kind of appeal, ease of navigation, special features, easy shopping process, easy-to-spot CTAs, and user-experience that their website is designed with. If not, you should start working on all these things so that you don’t get out of the race even before running. Doing this will also help you improve your website in terms of bounce rate
- Keyword Gap and Difficulty Analysis
Now, it’s time to see what keywords they are targeting. Are their targeted keywords the same as yours? Are they doing something different with their keywords, such as adding local place name, or catchy words like deals, discount, free, cheap, or best? Are they focusing more on long-tail keywords? Or, are they targeting topics instead of keywords? Take this as your opportunity to find keywords and topics you have missed or didn’t know about.
Term frequency – Inverse Document Frequency (TF-IDF) Analysis can be very helpful to enrich your existing content with suitable keywords that your competitors are using and are also beneficial for you. It will allow you to properly optimize your page content for search engines.
Use a competitive analysis tool for keyword gap analysis. And don’t undermine the importance of analyzing specific factors, such as domain authority, domain country & age, catalog listing, backlink data, traffic volumes, social signals, and ranking in smart speakers.
This way, you will not only find what they are better at but also find their weaknesses that you can use to your advantage.
- Conduct a Research on Their Site Content as well as Onsite SEO
While analyzing your competitor’s website, the most important part is to analyze their content. Why? Content is the King in SEO – which might not be completely true because this sentence has been too generalized. Still, content is one of the most influencing factors that can help you turn the tables on your SEO rivals.
Several tools are there to analyze your competitor’s content. Don’t hesitate to use them. See what type of content they are creating. Are they just creating content that will benefit their business? Are they using the type of content that will help their customers and enhance their knowledge base? Or, are they using both techniques to rank on the search engine?
Take a look at:
- Word count
- Type of content – text, videos, photos, or podcasts
- Type, variety, and quality of information within the post
- Frequency of keywords
- Headings and subheadings of the content
- Length of headings
- Structure of the content
- Linking strategy within the post
- Length of the post
- Relevancy of the content to keyword
- Depth of the topic covered
All these parameters will not only help you make your content better but also improve your ranking on the search engine because now Google ranking algorithm gives importance to quality content. What they aren’t using or better at, you can use that as your opportunity to get ahead of them by providing the content your audience might be looking for but not getting through them. Plus, it will also help you know where you are not doing better.
- Analyze Deeply Your Competitors’ Backlink Profiles
Your competitors’ backlink profiles refer to the sites that link to your competitors’ websites. Earning high-quality backlinks is crucial in the SEO world. When high-authority websites link to your website, it indicates that your site is authoritative enough that they can recommend your site and display your content to their visitors.
So, finding your competitors’ backlink profiles can be a gold mine of opportunities for you. Since it is practically impossible to do this task on your own, a quality competitive analysis tool will surely come in handy to dig this mine.
- Check out Your Competitor’s Google My Business Listing Page
More businesses are creating a profile on Google My Business as it is one of the most important parts of Local SEO. When people search for local businesses on Google, they are shown a list of Google My Business profiles. So, if you also conduct business locally, checking your competitor’s listing will be worth it.
Compare if they have filled out their listing. If they haven’t, it’s a great opportunity for you because people looking for local businesses will choose your business if your listing provides complete information. In case they have it already done, you must do it too so that you can compete with them in this area as well.
Check out the way they have filled out their contact information, hours of operation, busyness updates, photos, and other things they have added. If they have done the work nicely, maybe you can get ideas on how to add information in a much clear format and engaging way.
This is not all.
Apart from these things, you should also check out if they are spending on paid advertisements. Though it might not be economical for you to spend the same amount, tracking their Google Ads campaigns, promotional content, paid posts, and banner ads might help you generate new ideas. Plus, it is also worth to see if they are active on social media, how frequently they interact with their followers, if they respond to comments, if they are sharing blog posts links there, whether they are sharing photos, videos, or focusing on giving a few tips on regular basis.
By now, you can easily see how insightful an SEO competitive analysis could be and how it can help you boost your brand awareness, improve ranking, and gain trust and reputation among your online audience.
Without competitive analysis, you might be doing fine. But with competitive analysis, you get to see your business with a new perspective, determine if you are really doing fine, find out whether you are losing opportunities, and see where you stand in the competition or you are out of the game in the race of the virtual world.
Lastly, don’t think of competitive analysis as a one-off time strategy. You will need to do it regularly because new businesses keep entering the digital world every day and no site is going to stay at the top position forever.