Ranking high for your selected keywords is crucial for the success of your business. A better position in search engine results increases your brand’s visibility, adds to the authenticity of your business, and above all, drives traffic to your website.
But to reach the coveted top spot, you must be better than your competition. To get there, you need to understand your competitors better. Why are they outranking you? What are they doing right? Where are their weaknesses creating an opening for you? You will find the answers to these questions if you conduct an SEO competitor analysis.
What is an SEO competitor analysis?
An SEO competitor analysis is the practice of closely examining your competitors’ SEO practices for the purpose of improving your own. Typically, you will focus on competitors that outrank you so that you can learn what they’re doing better. But you can gain insights from all competitors if you know what to look for. You’ll want to examine everything from their website’s structure to the SEO content they create to their link-building strategy.
Why is it a good idea to conduct an SEO competitor analysis?
Competitive analysis can be very helpful in developing your SEO strategy. It is more focused and precise than general market research. Therefore, it will help you learn about best practices in your specific niche and how to apply them. Remember, if you want to grow your business with SEO, you need to know as much as you can about it.
Who should conduct an SEO competitor analysis?
Almost anyone with a website can benefit from conducting a competitive analysis. It is arguably more important for small businesses and start-ups than those already dominating the search results for their main keywords. After all, when you’re just starting, anything that will point your efforts in the right direction can help you grow. On the other hand, established websites should learn from their competition because even when you reach the top, there’s always someone trying to usurp you.
The best way to conduct an SEO competitor analysis
There are many ways to perform a competitive analysis. Most follow the same basic rules: identify the competition, analyze their top content, and find gaps. Then, apply what you’ve learned to your strategy. But the specific steps may differ between methods. Here is our suggestion:
First, identify your competitors
This is the first step of any competitive analysis. After all, you can’t analyze your competitors if you don’t know who they are. It is also one of the most important things you will do because it will define your entire analysis. So, you must get it right. To start, don’t just guess your competition. Instead, use one of the tools designed specifically for this purpose – Moz, Ahrefs, and SEMrush all have a version. Then, narrow it down by deciding who you shouldn’t compete with – you only want to go against websites you can outrank, not someone like Wikipedia or Facebook.
Next, find keyword gaps
Just knowing which keywords your competitor uses is not enough. What you need to do is identify a keyword gap that you can exploit. So, find valuable keywords that your competition ranks highly for, and you don’t. Specifically look for high-volume, high-conversion keywords. By targeting these keywords and ranking for them (or better than them), you’ll get a traffic boost that can put you above your competition.
Then, take a closer look at best performing content
Content is vital for SEO. Therefore, if someone ranks higher than you, it’s likely because they have better content than you. You need to find out what it is that makes their content better. First, identify top-performing content – content that converts the most, gets the most links, attracts the most traffic, or any other metric you deem essential. Then, see how it compares to similar content on your website. Whatever practices your competitors are employing, improve upon them in your content to overtake them.
Remember the three types of SEO
While content is undoubtedly a significant factor, you mustn’t forget that SEO consists of three aspects – on-page, off-page, and technical practices. For an accurate picture of your competitors, you need to examine everything they do. So don’t just focus on their content, internal linking, titles and headings, and image optimization. Look at the website structure, mobile optimization, and loading speed. Finally, check what they do off-site – how they use social media for marketing, where they have citations, and where their backlinks are coming from. Finally, remember to look for strengths and weaknesses – both are revealing in their own way.
Pay special attention to backlinks
Few things are more important for improving your SEO than running a strong link-building campaign. Therefore, sift through your competitors’ backlinks carefully. Find out where their backlinks are hosted and in what form. Are they guest posts on other blogs? Or source citations in news reports? Whatever the case, odds are good that you can get the same type of backlinks in the same places.
Finally, don’t forget to analyze the SERPs
There’s one major factor of ranking that you can’t examine by looking just at your competition’s websites: the search engine results pages themselves. Google’s algorithms favor certain types of content when trying to enhance user experience. Rich snippets, lists, instructions, videos – the presence or absence of these features can affect your ranking. Make sure to take a look at the SERPs for your keywords. Are your competitors outranking you by posting content in a more suitable format? If so, make sure your future content is more suitable for the results page that you see.
Other ways to conduct an SEO competitor analysis
This is just one way to conduct an SEO competitor analysis. There is no one-size-fits-all formula. Instead, you can add steps you think are pertinent to your niche. Or you can forego some steps if you already know the answer to the questions they pose. The important thing is to find a process that works for you and then repeat it regularly. SEO is a dynamic field that changes all the time, so it’s vital to stay up to date.