We'll go through a full SEO Competitor analysis example so that you'll know how to do yours
If you’re starting a digital venture, launching a blog, or your competitors are outranking you in organic search, you'll want to do something about it ASAP. There are many great market review tools that you can use to analyze your business competitors. In this article, we will show you how to perform an SEO competitor analysis by example, so that you can fully understand all of the steps that need to be done. You can then replicate them for your own business, to make sure you're set up for success.
We'll show you how to get the most out of these tools practically for free. We will also discuss on page optimization techniques that give the best results for ranking in Google, and the optimal way you can organize your backlink profile with the best backlink checker tools!
What if you're still deciding which niche to enter?
We’re quite a frequenter at Quora and whenever we see questions like this, it fills our heart with sadness:
Every profitable niche has its level of competition around it.
That’s called reality.
This, however, should never discourage you from trying to enter a niche. No matter how awesome opponents or soon-to-be-opponents might look, it’s just the quality of competitors' research that stands between you and your success.
There are many actionable strategies that you can implement to beat your rivals and take your share of the (organic traffic) pie. That's why an SEO competitive review is a critical part of your success.
What’s even more interesting is that your opponents have already done most of the legwork for you, including SWOT research of existing competitors, thorough keyword market share research (if they are on the top of search engine ranking positions), and they most certainly are keeping their backlink profiles as clean as possible.
But what if you could spy on their results, backlink profiles, and everything AND benefit from this intel in order to outrank them?
That's the job of an SEO competitive analysis (an example of which you'll find here). You'll need to find your top competitors, primarily the top 10 sites that are ranking for the keywords you want to go after.
Luckily, if you know how to use market tools, this is all possible.
In this article, we’ll focus on the most important aspects of market research and some other important considerations about your positions in the SERPs. By doing an SEO competitor analysis example, we’ll show you how you can:
- quickly identify your most successful competitors
- analyze their backlink profiles so you can get ideas for link building
- monitor positions of all top domains
- how to perform keyword research
- never miss SEO errors on your site
- outrank and dominate established competitors
- develop your ROI-oriented content marketing plan
1. SEO competitor analysis example: Identify Your Competitors
The very first step of our SEO competitor analysis by example is identifying your competitors.
Of course, you can always find your topmost competitors by entering your seed keywords (queries that you would want to rank for) in Google and analyze the top 10 search results.
If you see a competing site on the first page, then by default these will be the top rivals that you want to outrank.
In our competitor analysis example, we're going to focus on "selling sneakers online". That obviously means that we'll want to rank for such keywords as "buy sneakers online".
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 the “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 the competitors you want to take on. The free version of this SEO analysis tool is limited to just 5 results but can still provide you with good and useful data, especially if you actually then do the same process (iteratively) with each of those 5 competitors.
This would give you a broad range of competitors.
To maximize results even further you can use Serpstat. It shows the 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. Find the Backlink Profiles of Your Competitors
Backlinks are still one of the most important ranking factors.
Don’t believe everything you read, that links are no longer relevant. And don’t just believe us, read Ahref's study on this instead (last updated in April 2020).
Backlinks are crucial as a way of building online relationships and partnerships. More importantly, they are a ranking signal, telling Google that the content of this website is relevant and important.
Link building is, therefore, another important aspect of your SEO strategy.
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 the links of your competitors.
First, run your competitors through Majestic to identify their topical trust flow:
This will help you better understand your competitors by analyzing their backlink profiles’ semantics.
At this stage, you should research what topical sources of backlinks your competitors rely on the most. That alone can lead you to good insights, 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 the referring domains of a competitor (i.e. links).
Furthermore, if you navigate to “Backlinks” you can analyze your competitors’ newly acquired and even backlinks they have recently lost.
This is a valuable source of intel if you compare this data with the types of backlinks. They are incredibly useful for your own link building efforts.
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 because 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 than the one your competitor is making :-)
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 parts of your SEO strategy.
Now that we have backlink profiles of our competitors, it’s time to start tracking keywords, primarily in Google Search, since this is the search engine that sends most organic traffic.
Except we’re not going to simply track our 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 the Google search region that is most important to you, 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 this kind of data but within 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 of keyword movements, you can see plenty of domains from our competitors together with their ranking movements.
As part of your SEO competitive analysis, you need to monitor all top 100 domain 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 and analysis of search results as part of their SEO strategy and focus on their own promotion.
Never make that mistake.
In order to survive in tough niches, you have to see 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 ranking for (and their movements) at any point in time.
4. Automate your SEO Error Report
So-called over-optimization can cause your site to drop rankings 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 a significant negative effect on your site but still. Optimization is an ongoing process and you should audit your site on a regular basis and whenever you make large 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 unseen through the backdoor?
The backdoor in our case would be relatively easy keyword ranking possibilities that we have to identify researching our competitors’ keywords. But instead of researching whole websites and all keyword that they are ranking for, you can do something more accurate and valuable with the keyword data.
Rather than putting huge efforts to make Google treat you the way you want, and get your overall domain ranking on a good level, focus on specific important pages of your site.
If a website is a school class, then its top pages would be its best students - the best URLs should not be treated like the rest of the URLs. In fact, there should be a strict focus on the best pages. You should structure your site to show Google relevance to certain pages and certain queries.
This is done through internal linking.
There’s also a problem with giants like Amazon and Wikipedia that have colossal keyword pools and will be shown in the search results 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 organic 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 the cool visualization, this option can save you lots of legwork. You can select the correlating group of keywords, then 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 most important driving force. You should create a full-blown digital marketing based on the type of content that resonates with your user base such as:
- Long-form informative posts
- Assets for link-building
- Comparisons and reviews
Great content increases conversion and even as we speak your rivals are probably working on their next piece of it to boost their sales/sign-ups/brand awareness. But 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 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, once again, 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 keyword 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, organic traffic is important but fruitless if your expenses are not covered through good roi.
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 backlinks are part of the aggregate link profile.
In the Pre-Penguinian period, this “mass” had more weight as its influence on ranking was more prominent.
Link-building was everything to SEOs. Today, links are superseded only by content (in terms of ranking effectiveness). Links still play a role, however, Google now values referral sites’ DA, age, and size, not the sheer quantity of ref sites. Quality over quantity.
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 mailshot.
To perform a thorough backlink review you can use Serpstat. Enter your domain in the tool and go to “Backlink Analysis”:
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 on 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 try and understand what's going on.
You should always contact domains and ask why your backlinks were removed, and if it was just a mistaken action (sometimes backlinks are getting removed by new editors) then there’s no serious problem with that.
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 the most used anchor text usage of your domain.
Underneath the Anchor Cloud, you will have detailed information 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 the 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 SEO competitor analysis by example article, these SEO 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.
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