With two-thirds of all Google clicks going to the first five organic search results, SEO strategy, quality content, and technical SEO audits aren't enough to ensure that your material gets the attention it deserves.
In reality, 90% of web pages receive no search traffic at all from Google! But who is getting that traffic if not you? Your SEO competitors are in the same domain.
The truth is that if your competitors are undergoing all SEO practices and doing them better than you, you will struggle to achieve visibility in the search results.
That's when a competitive analysis for SEO comes in handy.
Your competition can be viewed in two ways: as a cause of suffering or as a rich mine of information. To gain access to this wealth of information, you'll need to include SEO competitor analysis in your organic search approach.
In this blog, we have shared a detailed article on SEO competitor analysis and how to create an effective strategy to do that.
What is SEO Competitor Analysis?
SEO competitor analysis is an analytical process that allows you to identify the top-ranking competitors for your particular industry, business vertical, or niche.
An SEO competitor analysis is a process of researching your industry's competitive environment online, assessing your SEO competition, and interpreting the data to improve your own website's SEO and climb the ranks.
When it comes to SEO, you want to know what strategies your competitors are using, what keywords they are ranking for, what backlink profile they have, etc. That's when you need to do an SEO competition analysis.
Why is SEO Competitor Analysis Important?
With competition analysis, you'll take a step back and assess the broader market, where you stand, who your competitors are, and how the search landscape for important terms.
It's impossible to assess your SEO performance in isolation. It is an element of your digital marketing plan and is influenced by a variety of circumstances such as competition behaviour, search engine algorithm adjustments, and so on.
That's why it's critical to evaluate your competition on a frequent basis and see where you stand.
Regular SEO competitor analysis will show you where you can improve and whether there are any gaps in your competitors' tactics that you can exploit.
When Should You Conduct SEO Competitor Analysis?
Your SEO performance is always compared to your competitors’.
You can't take your foot off the throttle when it comes to SEO, with search engine algorithm adjustments, new competitors emerging, and the other side's digital marketers working diligently to exceed you.
Analysing your competitors on a regular basis to see where you stand (in comparison to them) will help you spot areas where you can improve before they have a negative influence on your rankings.
Thus, you might need to perform competitive research in case of events such as:
- While writing content: Make sure to create content that answers a user’s search intent in a better way than other competing pages.
- Planning Content: Researching about what your competitors are doing well and then adding your own unique twist is a terrific method to increase relevant search engine visibility. You can also use SEO competitor analysis to figure out how much work it will take to outrank competitors for a given topic.
- After ranking change: You can use SEO completion analysis to determine what's working in your industry and what's not to stay on top.
- If your page doesn't make it to SERPs: You can use SEO competitor analysis to find out why your page isn't making it to the first SERPs. You can use competitive analysis to spot the gaps and fix them.
As evident, SEO competitor analysis is important to gain organic traffic and get the right type of audience.
What are the Types of SEO Competitive Analysis?
Competitor analysis is a process that involves many subprocesses and methods. Content, keywords, and technical SEO are the three basic types of competitive analysis.
#1 SEO Content Analysis
The most apparent component of any website is its content. You want to find out which pages on your competitors' websites are the most popular and utilise that information to improve your own.
You know they're doing something well because you know how the pages rank high and attract traffic to their website.
You'll save time and effort by mimicking their strategy.
Of course, you'll need to fine-tune your content to fit your target audience's search intent and give a better user experience for your visitors. In the long run, this should enable you to outperform your competitors.
Now, there are two ways to outrank your competitors through content:
- Content Gaps: In the world of content, you can find competitors with better and more information for your users to base their search queries. It's about what people want most from a website.
Content gaps are where competitors have different types of content on their websites that make it difficult for them to rank well because they get less traffic than other pages or don't attract any visitors at all.
This strategy entails detecting and exploiting flaws in your competitors' material. If they aren't addressing popular themes, you can fill in the blanks and give the searchers what they want.
- SkyScraper: Skyscraper entails taking the material of your competitors and generating a better version of it.
After that, you must contact the websites that link to a competitor's content and request that they adjust their links to go to your superior content.
Once you have the links, it's important to create compelling content that will keep people coming back. You can do this by focusing on creating valuable information that is easy to digest and provides value.
This way, you'll be able to outrank your competitors without having to spend a lot of time and money on marketing campaigns or worrying about their search engine rankings.
To optimise content for outranking your competitors, here is what you should optimise:
- Meta titles
- Meta descriptions
- Keyword placement
- Word count
- Page structure
- Structured data
#2 Competitor Backlink Profile
Backlinks have been a significant ranking element since the dawn of search engines, and while their prominence has waned, they still have a significant impact on SERPs.
Because backlinks are so valuable, you need to know how your competitors are obtaining them, and you should make improving your backlink profile a top priority. More than the number of backlinks, it is the value of backlinks that matter.
Fortunately, looking at your competitors' backlinks can cut down on your research time and help you enhance your backlinking approach.
Backlinks from low-quality or fake websites might lower your SERP score and negatively impact your performance.
Here is how you can improve your backlink profile:
- Reach out to bloggers and pitch your excellent content to develop high-quality links to your website using the Skyscraper strategy.
- Look for unlinked references of your brand and contact site administrators to request that a link to your website be added.
- Keep an eye out for large-scale link-building activity from your competitors. This will help you to mimic their technique and create content that is similar but better.
#3 Technical Analysis of Competitors
Analysing a competitor's content from every angle will give you an edge. However, the best way to analyse their content is by closely examining their home page and blog posts.
The final step in an SEO competitive study is to conduct a technical SEO audit.
Simply put, it is looking through the technical aspects of your site, comparing the findings to the competition, and filling any technical SEO holes that could harm your rankings.
Technical SEO keeps in mind the following things for analysis:
Internal Linking: Internal links make a site more user-friendly and assist search engines in finding, indexing, and mapping the pages on the site. Internal links should have a recognisable and meaningful anchor text as best practice. As a part of link building, an internal link structure aids both visitors and search engines in navigating your website.
Page Speed: Site speed has always been a significant ranking element, but it is getting more so as time goes on. Users want a frictionless experience; thus your pages should load in under three seconds.
Mobile-friendliness: The rise of mobile users around the world has helped businesses adopt a mobile-first indexing strategy. Any company that wants to have a strong internet presence should ensure its content is mobile-friendly.
SSL Certifications: Make sure the website is secured by using HTTPS for security purposes to ensure no website visitors turn away from your site.
Sitemap: The sitemap is a list of all the pages on your site. It becomes important to get this mapped out properly so search engines can find and index them easily without any issues.
How to do SEO Competitor Analysis Step By Step?
Competitor analysis can be included in an SEO competitive study as a part of technical SEO. There are many aspects to it, and some aren't necessarily apparent on the surface at first glance.
The following simple steps will help determine what information you should have gathered from your competitors before conducting competitor analysis:
#1 Identify your competitors
The first step is to figure out who your SEO rivals are. While this may appear to be self-evident, keep in mind that your biggest market competition may not be your biggest SEO opponent.
There isn't much room for error in this process. If you try to rely on your 'gut instinct' to figure out who your competitors are, you're bound to fall into the same trap.
Big businesses are prone to focusing on high-volume keywords while overlooking long-tail keywords, which allow smaller businesses to dominate certain market sectors.
By comparing and researching SEO for a range of keywords, you may cast a wide net and focus on the top 10 or even 20 websites that regularly rank for all of them.
To go deeper into SEO comparison data and acquire accurate findings, a paid SEO tool like Ahrefs may be required. The Ahrefs competitor analysis tool is more complex and has a plethora of options that make competition analysis easier and faster for you.
You can even find info about your competitors by using Scalenut SEO Assistant. Enter your main keyword and hit Enter. You can view the location-based competitors by viewing your report tab.
Scalenut SEO Assistant.
Regardless of whether they're your business competitors or not, your top SEO competitors are those who rank on the first search page for the terms you're targeting.
If you work in several categories, you may have separate lists of competitors for each service you provide, with little to no overlap.
#2 Perform a Page Analysis
The next step is to examine competitor websites and their best-performing pages. Pay attention to the text and keywords, as well as how they've been combined.
Keyword gap analysis is another term for this. You want to figure out which keywords your competitors are ranking for and which ones you aren't. Then you may devise a strategy that will enable you to outrank your competitors.
For instance, you can create a page dedicated to ranking these keywords once you've discovered relevant keywords that also pertain to your business. When this occurs, you have the chance to direct customers to your site rather than the competition.
You can also use fresh keywords to update some of the older pages, but be careful not to dilute their focus.
You can also perform a competition backlink profile analysis to check your competitors' backlinks.
Furthermore, you can examine the number of backlinks, connected sites' domain authority, and the relevance of linked material.
By doing this, you can have useful insight into how a similar technique can perform for your website once you know which sites are connecting back to their material and how it affects their ranking, domain authority, and rating.
#3 Focus on Keyword Research
When you have a reliable list of keywords, it's time to brainstorm ideas for targeted pages.
Create lists in categories that are related to your business and target high-performing competitors on those terms.
Make sure each page is unique by including the right mix of text and keyword combinations that will help drive traffic to your site from search engines like Google (and potentially other sources).
You should concentrate your efforts on keywords that are relevant to your business, have a large search volume, and are not too difficult to rank for.
#4 Focus Keywords with High ROI
The quantity of keywords you may rank for is determined by your budget and competition. Rather than diluting your efforts, it's usually more cost-effective to focus on a smaller number of keywords and really nail them.
It's best to focus your efforts on ranking for keywords that will give you the better ROI, or those that will bring you the most profit or revenue. Unless you're working with huge volumes, low-cost products and services aren't worth putting much effort into.
It is always better to concentrate on high-profile items and rank for keywords that will generate more leads for them or related products/services.
Alternatively, you may try to generate material that is particularly high-quality and relevant to your target demographic, which your competitors have overlooked.
Finding a niche that your competitors haven't thought of exploiting is critical to the effectiveness of an SEO competitor analysis. Even low-competition keywords might be a great place to start if you want to branch out into other market sectors.
#5 Evaluate Keyword Difficulty
Keyword difficulty can give you an estimate of how competitive your keyword is. Keywords that have low competition and a high search volume are considered to be easy keywords.
Keywords with medium competition but not necessarily high search volumes are considered moderate keywords.
Highly competitive, difficult-to-rank, or highly specialised phrases can't possibly generate enough traffic to make it worthwhile when you consider the costs and effort of optimising your site's pages for them.
Use a competitive analysis tool like Ahrefs or SEMRush to find the keyword difficulty level. Furthermore, just the keyword competition metric isn't enough to determine how easy or hard it would be to outrank your competitors. The following factors play a huge role:
- Domain authority.
- Domain age.
- Indexing in search engines.
- Backlink data.
- Traffic volumes.
- Social signals.
The higher a target competitor's difficulty, the stronger their SEO, and the tougher it will be to outrank them.
#6 Focus on Search Intent
The keyword intent metric is a ranking factor that's used by Google and Bing to determine how relevant your content should be.
Simply ranking for a keyword with a high search volume does not guarantee a significant boost in search traffic. Instead, focusing on the user search intent (also known as user intent) is recommended.
When a user conducts a search, search intent is the primary goal they have in mind.
Understanding user intent is a critical component of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in order to increase your website's ranking and traffic.
Some visitors are trying to buy a product or service, while others are looking for knowledge on a certain topic, and yet others may require additional information or wish to contact a company or someone.
It varies from person to person and may constantly change.
There are four possible search intents:
- Navigational intent
- Commercial intent
- Informational intent
- Transactional intent
To help with the search intent, NLP terms play a significant role.
The goal of SEO is to get your website to the top of the search results for specific keywords.
When users arrive on your page, NLP and SEO work together to improve the user experience. The use of natural language combined with the focus keyword aids search engines in determining the content's relevance.
NLP is used to help search engines understand what people are looking for on the internet by making information more legible for them.
Use the Scalenut SEO Assistant to find all the relevant NLP terms for your main keyword.
#7 Discover New Keyword Opportunities
After understanding the competition, it's important to uncover new keyword opportunities. Every website should have a list of potential keywords that can be targeted for optimisation in order to increase traffic and rank.
Term Frequency-Inverse Document Frequency analysis (TF-IDF analysis) can be a good way to enhance your existing content with "correct" keywords that your competitors are employing.
This allows you to correctly optimise your sites for search engines or find low-competition keywords that you may have overlooked.
When you look into TF-IDF, you might see that the majority of the top-ranking pages for your target keywords use a lot of the same terms and phrases.
If those topic-related terms aren't being targeted, you'll need to either add them to current relevant pages or generate new material to improve your semantic search relevancy.
Google prioritises the websites that provide a relevant user experience, which includes increasing search results that satisfy users' search needs.
So, if you can better and more thoroughly answer the user's search intent than your search competitors, your content is likely to be rewarded with keyword rankings boost.
#8 Find the Long-tail keywords
You'll have an uphill struggle if your competitors are larger or more established than you. Switching your focus from highly competitive keywords to long-tail phrases that are easier to rank for is a good strategy.
With 60% of the top ten Google results pages being three years old or older, shifting your attention away from the most competitive keywords and toward more winnable long-tail term variations is a wise decision.
Because there are theoretically an endless number of long-tail keywords, this endeavour can be overwhelming. However, conducting a thorough competitive study and utilising the appropriate SEO tool can substantially simplify the process.
#9 Create a Content plan
You can utilise the information you've gathered to produce a competition analysis report. The next step is to create an SEO content plan based on the information in this report.
Create and store a list of content ideas and/or keywords first. After that, you must begin implementing the content plan and, if necessary, reach out to external sites.
Once you have a list of content ideas, create either a post or an article. Make sure to use the SEO information and keywords that were identified in your report as well.
Make sure that it contains all relevant links within each section (and keyword).
You'll also want to make certain that the quality is appropriate for search engine rankings; there should be enough variety amongst the different page types.
Once you have a clear understanding of these, the next thing is to promote the content. Doing this will help to generate more traffic, which can lead to better results from search engines as well.
While analysing the competitors, it is important to understand the type of content they are creating:
- Is this the video content?
- Are they creating the podcasts?
- Is it infographics?
- Are they popular live streams?
When you find competitors who are much better at certain content types, you can decide whether you need to add them to your site as well. However, you must ensure that they offer value to your site.
#10 Analyse On-Page SEO
Once you've found certain keywords and search results, you'll need to compare your pages to the pages of competitors that are outranking you on a page-by-page basis.
Comparing pages will assist you in identifying specific faults on each page that are causing your competitors to rank higher than you.
It is important to analyse different on-page SEO elements:
- Titles: One of the most important aspects of On-Page SEO is title tags.
You should include the precise keywords or relevant keywords in the title as part of your SEO strategy to help search engines and visitors understand what the content is about.
Keep the title length around 55 to 60 characters for better readability, and make sure it doesn't cut off in the search results.
- Meta Description: The meta description can help describe your website's content and purpose. Some meta descriptions are created with the intent of attracting search engines, while others are written with the intent of attracting users.
The meta description should describe what you do and be clear and relevant to the content of your website.
- Internal linking: Internal links are critical to an SEO strategy's success. One of the most essential ranking criteria is link creation. The simplest technique to help a page on your website rank is to create an internal link to it.
Adding a link from a high-authority page on your website to a low-authority page can help your page rank higher. Internal linking can be done in a variety of ways, but the most fundamental is to use relevant anchor texts.
#11 Analyse Site Structure & User Experience
You should also take a look at how your site is laid out and make sure pages load quickly. Poor user experience can lead to visitors abandoning your website altogether.
You can use tools such as Google PageSpeed Insights or WebPageTest to measure the performance of your website on different devices and browsers.
Almost all of the significant algorithmic changes we've seen in recent years have been centred on user experience (UX) — better mobile experiences, faster page loading, and better search results.
#12 Monitor Competitor's Backlink Profile
Finding out where your competitors get their backlinks and leveraging that information to develop high-quality backlinks for your website is a key point in developing competitor analysis.
Examining the link profiles of your competitors is an excellent method to discover fresh link opportunities. You can use various tools, such as Moz's Link Popularity Insights tool or Ahrefs' site explorer tool.
When a competing page has a considerably superior backlink profile, particularly high-quality backlinks from credible websites, you'll find it more difficult to compete.
It's also crucial to understand the difference between high-quality and low-quality backlinks.
Because of the changes Google made with the Penguin update to how they manage low-quality links, if you see a rival has a lot of low-quality links, those connections may not be helping them at all.
High-quality backlinks, such as those from prominent news sites, high-profile sites, or specialists in your market areas, are what you want to focus on.
You should also look for no-follow vs followed links. Because no-follow links aren't used by Google's algorithms, they won't necessarily aid with SEO.
They can, however, be a valuable source of traffic that helps raise brand awareness, improve traffic, and increase conversions.
#13 Track your SEO progress
You must track the performance of new or re-optimized content after it has been released.
Regular keyword audits and competition analysis SEO reports should be prepared to see if your competitive analysis plan was successful.
You need to determine if your content strategy is working once you've implemented it and published new content while optimising old content.
You should also conduct regular keyword audits and use tools to develop SEO competitor study reports.
A full SEO competitive analysis can be a daunting task. It involves gathering and analysing a lot of metrics that need to be pulled from different tools and then synthesising that data into one cohesive report. The process can take hours or even days, depending on the size of your site.
When it comes to performing a full SEO competitive analysis, there are a lot of tools and metrics that need to be pulled from different sources.
Scalenut SEO Assistant further helps with the competition analysis, on-Page SEO and content improvement. It gives recommendations on NLP terms and analyses the top competing pages to calculate word count, readability and content grade.
So in this article, we talked in-depth about what is SEO competitor analysis and how to ensure your content aces on the SERPs. If you have any further doubts, feel free to reach out to us.