We'll go through a full SEO competitive analysis example so that you'll know how to do yours
If you’re starting a digital venture, launching a blog, or competitors outrank you in organic search and you want to do something about it, there are great market review tools that you can use to analyze your business competitors. In this article we will show you how to perform a SEO competitor analysis by example, so that you can fully understand all of the steps and then be able to replicate them for your own business.
This article will show you how to get the most out of these tools practically for free. We will discuss on page optimization techniques that give best results for your ranking in Google, and the optimal way you can organize your backlink profile with the best backlink checker tools… wait for it… in the world!
Preface: What if I’m still deciding which niche to enter?
I’m quite a frequenter at Quora and whenever I see questions like this, it fills my heart with sadness:
Every profitable niche has its level of competition around it. That’s called reality. That, however, should never discourage you from trying to enter this niche. No matter how awesome opponents or soon-to-be-opponents might look, it’s just the quality of a competitors research what stands between you and your success. There are many actionable strategies that you can implement to beat your rivals and take your share of a pie. That's why an SEO competitive review is a critical part of your success.
What’s even more interesting is that your opponents had already done tons of legwork for you, including SWOT research of their competitors (which could also be your competitors as well), thorough keyword market share research (that if they are on the top of search), and they most certainly are keeping their backlink profiles as tidy as possible.
But what if you could spy out their results, backlink profiles, and all and benefit from this intel in order to outrank them?
That's the job of a SEO competitive analysis (an example of which you'll find here).
Luckily, if you know how to use market tools, you can. In this article, we’ll focus on the most important aspects of a market research and some other important aspects of your promotion in SERP. By doing an SEO competitor analysis example, we’ll show you how you can:
- quickly identify your most successful competitors
- analyze their backlink profiles
- monitor positions of all top domains
- never miss SEO errors on your site
- dominate over established competitors
- develop your ROI-oriented content plan
1. SEO competitor analysis example: Identify Your Competitors
To maximize the result on your opponents you can also use SimilarWeb. For that you would have to type in your direct competitor’s domain and go to “Similar Sites” tab:
This is a very clear example of how your SEO competitor analysis can help you to identify your competitors.
Note that you can also sort the competing sites by their rankings. This way you’ll have an A-Z list of your competitors to take on. The free version of this tool is limited to just 5 results but can still provide you with some useful data, especially if you actually then do the same process with each of those 5 examples.
To maximize results even further you can use Serpstat. It shows top performing domains both in organic and in paid search not just for a query but for all related queries (clustered) to boot:
In this way, you’ll have your most successful competing websites with a wider spin across clustered keywords.
2. Get Backlink Profiles of Your Competitors
Backlinks are still important.
Don’t believe everything you read. And don’t just believe me, read Moz’s study on this instead.
Backlinks are substantial as a form of building online bonds and partnership. These days, your backlink profile says a lot about your business. That's why a critical part of our SEO competitive analysis by example will revolve around finding links and backlinks from your competitors.
First, run your competitors through Majestic to identify their topical trust flow:
This action will help you better understand your competitors by analyzing their backlink profiles’ semantics. On this stage, you should research what topical sources of backlinks your competitors rely on the most. That alone can lead you to an insight, but our main goal here is to analyze competitors’ backlinks more thoroughly.
For that, type your competitor’s domain in Serpstat and click on “Backlink Analysis” > “Referring Domains” where you can see and download all their referring domains.
Furthermore, if you navigate to “Backlinks” you can analyze your competitors’ newly acquired and lost backlinks.
This is a valuable source of intel if you compare this data with the types of backlinks. If your competitors are established entities chances are that their backlink profiles are managed properly. Carefully inspecting their actions can be a great source of your growth. This is a truly essential part of your SEO competitive analysis, it takes you directly to the horse's mouth, those people who are collaborating with your competition.
Of course, you'll need to make them a similar or better offer :-)
3. Track Your Keywords as a strategic piece of your SEO competitive analysis
Keywords are one of the most strategic parts of your SEO competitive analysis. This is one of the most important part of your strategy.
Now that we have backlink profiles of our competitors, it’s time to track your keywords. Except we’re not going to simply track your domain’s positions for your set of keywords, but we will be monitoring all top 100 domains and keep historical data on all SERPs for them. This is, of course, a competitive analysis example of how you can monitor the progress of your marketing and search engine ranking efforts.
Create new project in Serpstat’s Rank Tracker:
Add your domain and all your keywords, set your location to see your positions in your region, and group your keywords by tagging them.
Set the tracker to refresh data daily, once every 3 days, or once a week. After this period of time, you can analyze all top 100 domains for tracked keywords without the need to create separate projects for each of your competitors individually.
It usually takes some time to gather that kind of data but in a few hours, you will be able to see all top 100 domains and the dynamics of their position changes for a given keyword. Below is an SEO competitive analysis example, you can see plenty of domains of our competitors together with their ranking movements.
As part of your SEO competitive analysis, you need to monitor all top 100 domains positions for your keywords and analyze their dynamics.
If some domain gains positions quickly, or alternatively, lose them, you should be the first to know and analyze why.
Many site-owners neglect the rank tracking strategy and focus on their sole promotion. Never make that sad mistake. In order to survive in tough niches, you have to have the whole picture of all competing domains and their position changes. As you can see from the SEO competitive analysis example screenshot above, you'll see that we are checking all of our competitors and what their domains are like at any point in time.
4. Automate your SEO Error Report
So-called over-optimization can cause your site drop ranking but this term usually refers to grey hat methods like keyword stuffing, spammy links, etc. If we’re talking about valid methods to increase your SEO like fixing broken links, missing titles, 404s and so forth, then there’s no such thing as over-optimization.
For an SEO audit of your site, you can use tools like Netpeak Spider. It crawls your pages for SEO errors and sends you an automated report on all key SEO parameters.
Common SEO errors and shortcomings may not have the most detrimental effect on your site but still... Optimization is an ongoing process and that’s why you should audit your site on a regular basis and whenever you make changes.
5. Think Pagewise, Not Domains
Next step in our SEO competitive analysis by example, is what we want to rank for ourselves.
Now that you monitor all your competition and have their backlink profiles, it’s time to strike and reach the top of search results. There’s no need to spend your budget trying to outrank competitors, especially with high DA and trust flow, for broad keywords. And why would you want that? Would you enter a crowded place from its main entrance, or rather sneak unhindered through the backdoor?
Rather than putting tremendous efforts to make Google treat you the way you want, and get your overall domain ranking on decent level, focus on certain pages of your site. If a website is a school class, then its top pages would be its best students. And since URLs are not people, you should not treat them like equals. In fact, there should be a strict domination and structure in your site to show Google relevance of certain pages to certain queries.
There’s also a problem with giants like Amazon and Wikipedia that have colossal keyword pools and will be shown in SERP before your page. This is another strategic advantage you can gain with an SEO competitor analysis, the below example shows you what this looks like.
To create your ultimate pages that will increase your whole website’s traffic, type in your page URL in Serpstat and navigate to “URL Analysis” > “URL vs. URL” and add competing pages:
Similar pages are compared back to back which enables you to identify their correlating and unique keywords. Apart from cool visualization, this option can save you tons of legwork. Here you can select the correlating group of keywords, export the data and keywords.
There are no easy solutions to bring your page to the top of Google naturally, but this method will save your time considerably as it instantly shows the weak spots of your rivaling pages from the top of organic search. That gives you a nice place to start gathering keywords for your ultimate page.
Again, you can easily how this SEO competitive analysis gives you an excellent advantage on the competition.
6. Content Plan that Brings Conversion
Your content should be your uttermost driving force. Great content increases conversion and even as we speak your rivals are working on their next piece of it to boost their sales/sign-ups/brand awareness. Remember that you can always outwork them.
Rather than taking chances it’s better to create a content plan and stick to it. Luckily, you don’t have to do it from the scratch. Again, your direct and indirect competition unwittingly lend you a helping hand. You can easily find all of their ROI-oriented top-converting landing pages, and… let’s say, borrow some ideas from them. Moreover, with the full list of these pages, you can analyze their content strategies. Let's see how to perform this part in our next part of the competitive research by example.
This can be done with Serpstat. Enter your competitor’s domain and go to “PPC Research” > “Domain vs. Domain”, add two more competing domains and press “Compare”. Export the data for each domain.
Your competitors spend their budget on ads for reason. Now you can research the lot - PPC keywords, landing pages, Titles, and ad texts of your opponents.
Your content plan should first and foremost be ROI-oriented and not just bring traffic. Yes, traffic is important but fruitless if your expenditures are not covered.
7. SEO Competitor Research: How to Manage Your Backlink Profile
Because of course, doing an SEO competitive research without doing much about it is going to be pretty useless.
We know that all your backlinks aggregate your link profile. In the Pre-Penguinian period, this “mass” had more weight (totally unintentional pun) as its influence on ranking was more prominent. Link-building was everything to SEOs. Today, humbled only by content, they still play a role, except that now Google values referral sites’ DA, age, and size, not the sheer quantity of ref sites.
That’s why you should pay attention to your backlinks and use them to create good partnerships. For example, you can exchange publications with an affiliate site or set up a mutual mailout.
Here you can assess your overall backlink activity. Your goal here is steady growth. This way you’re showing Google that you are earning backlinks naturally.
At the same time, we can see here that our sample domain doesn’t have many new referring domains, which indicates our sample domain’s dependence from certain domains:
Now go to the “Referring Domains” tab to analyze your referring domain more closely:
Choose the domain with the lowest Alexa Rank (the lower the number, the more popular the site) and analyze the context of your backlink, i.e., in what way did the referring domain link to you, and would you want to click on the link if you were a reader.
If the answer is yes, then your goal is to attain more backlinks from this site – and receive more traffic. As we've repeated time and time again, our SEO competitive analysis will be using backlinks to give us great insight into what our competition is doing.
Now, click on the “Lost Backlinks” tab under “Backlinks”:
If your backlinks are being deleted from reputable resources, it’s best to inspect the matter. You can always contact domains and ask why your backlinks were deleted, and if it was just an automated action (sometimes backlinks are getting erased automatically) then there’s no serious problem with that. But sometimes donor site owners can point you your site’s flaws even you weren’t aware of.
Once again, we're seeing all of the tricks of our competitors with our SEO competitive analysis.
While still in the Backlink Analysis section of the tool, navigate to “Anchors”, then click on “Toggle Anchor Cloud”:
Bigger fonts show most used anchor texts of your domain. Underneath the Anchor Cloud, you will have detailed info on each of your anchors, i.e., the total number of domains that have this anchor along with other metrics that you might find useful. This will allow you to quickly analyze your pages with the biggest quantity of backlinks on them and further optimize them to attract much more traffic.
Wrapping up our competitive analysis example
As you've seen in this competitive analysis by example article, these tools will really help you boost your online presence. Do this competitive review process strategically and you'll slowly but surely rank close to or better than even your strongest competitors.