SEO competitor analysis is a key element when planning your SEO strategy. Often we see this step being skipped in favor of the bigger campaign tasks such as keyword research, content planning and link building.
However, wouldn't it stand to reason that we should research our competitors first to gain a complete understanding of whom we're trying to outrank and find hidden opportunities along the way?
What is Competitor Analysis in SEO?
Competitor analysis in SEO is the evaluation process of your the highest ranking search engine competitor listings. Marketers use the analysis to uncover SEO ranking opportunities. The evaluation process includes SEO factors such as keywords, keyword difficulty, monthly search volume, search query relevance to your buyer personas, etc.
SEO Competitor Analysis Checklist
1. SEO Competitor Research
We would consider any organization or site a competitor where they are already ranking for your target keywords.
So, the first step in beating the competition is to know who they are. You may have a general idea, but you need to do your due diligence and really get to know them. Here, it would be best to start with.
Take some time to do keyword research to find out who's competing in your space. After you’ve compiled a list, start following their online activity.
- What kind of content do they post?
- Do they post long-form content?
- What type of engagement are they getting on their posts?
- What type of content (lead) offers do they have?
- Where do they rank in search results?
Define your Baseline Analysis
Once you’ve identified patterns, successes, and failures, you’ll have some baseline information along with the best pieces of your competitors’ strategy and use them to build your own strategy.
Your competition might expand beyond those companies who offer similar products and solutions so keep an open mind.
Having some competition can be beneficial to businesses, especially in terms of online performance. While snooping around rival brands may seem like a sketchy tactic, it’s a great way to see what's out there.
Remember, you’re on the internet, vying for your place much like everyone else and a little investigation via an SEO Competitor Analysis can go a long way in helping your SEO strategy.
Identify New & Old Competitors
Search positions says a lot about a company’s performance. When one business is slowly, but surely rising in the SERP, you see a potential competitor. When an old rival changing their engagement and conversion tactics, you find an new benchmark.
A competitor analysis tells you who you need to keep a close eye on, and this determines your next SEO steps.
2. Determine Your Website’s Strengths & Weaknesses
How do you fare against the competition? The key to answering this question is looking at their websites. If they are performing better than you, how are they doing it?
After you get your answers, form an action plan to achieve the same rankings or surpass them. A new set of keywords might be all it takes to boost your site or increasing your site's loading time (speed).
3. Know Your Audience Better
They’re your competitors because you’re striving for the attention of a similar audience. When you research the SEO competitor, you’ll see what factors drive online visitors to them. Determine what resonates with you audience and you can make the necessary changes to improve your site.
We need to know what our allies are up to, but the real priority is keeping an eye on those we are battling against. While your SEO competitors aren’t exactly the “enemy,” we are still fighting them for rankings.
If we want to beat them in the competitive world of search results, we need an intelligent competitive research strategy.
4. Don’t Get Lazy
Once you’ve completed your SEO competitors analysis checklist, you can’t put it away and forget about it. Just like your SEO strategy is constantly evolving, so are the strategies of your SEO competitors.
Make time to review your checklist and examine how the competition is performing. It’s an iterative process and one that must be performed regularly and thoroughly. The digital marketing world is always changing, with new players entering the market and irrelevant players being phased out. Always keep evolving and look for new opportunities along the way.
5. SEO Competitor Analysis Tools to Measure Success
Don’t forget to include your own SEO performance metrics in your competitive analysis. Do a side-by-side comparison to see how you rank.
- What's your average position?
- Keyword distribution?
- Average visibility?
- Click-through rate?
Compare short-term metrics against long-term metrics and identify patterns (good and bad) to help refine future SEO tactics. Repeat this analysis regularly to track your efforts.
6. Get Inspired by Great Ideas
One of the biggest payoffs from a detailed competitor keyword analysis and SEO checkup is that you can adopt the activities that are working well for your SEO competitors and make them your own. Don’t stop there, however; look for ways to improve on them and gain an edge in the market.
Hone the right keyword list based on search volume, relevance, and profitability. It should be part of your regular research routine to measure performance and seek ways to perform incrementally better every day.
Over to you
With a combination of good, old-fashioned manual research and using the right SEO competitor analysis tool, you’ll have the information you need to rise to the top in SEO rankings.
Remember to identify all the competitors in your market (not just those who sell the same products and services as your company), periodically reassess their activities, and adapt successes to build your own wildly successful strategy.