Your website may currently rank first for a specific term, but this position will not last. Other websites, most of which are rivals, will learn how to optimize their content and outrank your site over time. This is why SEO competitive analysis should be a continuous effort for every organization.
Many organizations take competition analysis for granted, believing that they have done everything possible to improve their SEO efforts. This, however, is not the case. There is always room for improvement to get greater outcomes and stay ahead of the competition. Data-driven marketing methods, such as SEO keyword competition research, may assist you in learning the approaches that are effective for your rivals and using this information for your SEO efforts. That’s why it’s important to do SEO competitive analysis by working with an SEO agency.
What is SEO Competitive Analysis?
SEO competitive analysis entails examining your SEO rivals’ links, keywords, content, and other factors to reverse engineer the most effective elements of these strategies into your SEO approach.
Instead of guessing which keywords to target, what content to generate, or which links to establish, you can look at what’s currently working for others and build on their success.
Consider the following real-world example: Consider yourself the owner of a grocery shop, one of three in town. Your consumers are pleased, but you know they shop elsewhere since they can’t get everything in one location. So you decide to take a road trip to acquire competitive information. You go to the other businesses to learn about the popular products they sell. By providing these things — or even better ones — you enable your clients to make fewer excursions, resulting in more business.
Analyze your competitors’ SEO can involve the following:
- Analysis of SEO keyword competitiveness
- Analysis of competitor backlinks
- Analysis of keyword gaps
- Analysis of top content
Because you don’t have to start your investigation from begin, SEO competitive analysis is effective and efficient. You may observe what your rivals are doing and use it in your SEO efforts.
Most marketers utilize an SEO competitive analysis tool to expedite the process and acquire vast amounts of data with no effort. These tools may also be used to create competitive analysis SEO reports. Ahrefs, SEMrush, and Moz are a few examples of SEO competitive analysis tools.
Marketers learn how to do SEO competitive analysis. SEO to maintain their ranks and remain competitive in their sector.
Why SEO Competitive Analysis is Important?
SEO competitive analysis gives you a bird’s-eye view of SEO in your sector. It allows you to discover the strengths and weaknesses of your rivals as well as examine the entire market in which you work.
Even if you are one of the top-ranking companies in your sector, you need to do SEO competitive analysis to remain ahead of your competition and provide the greatest client experiences.
It is not optional to have a good SEO presence. It is an essential component in developing a well-rounded and successful digital marketing plan. By keeping a close eye on your rivals, you may grasp opportunities to develop and expand into the gaps that your competitors have left behind.
An SEO competitive analysis helps you to examine your overall market, rivals, and how the current search landscape works for key keywords.
Even if you’re currently at the top of the search results for your most essential keywords, you’ll need to keep an eye on your SEO performance to avoid losing your position to a rival.
How to Run an SEO Competitive Analysis?
Now that you know what SEO competitive analysis is and why it’s important, let’s look at the steps you need to take to finish your analysis.
While there are various techniques for doing an SEO competitive analysis, there are some main categories to consider.
Begin by compiling a list of individuals you regard to be your competition. (If you’re working with a client, solicit input from their marketing team or stakeholders.) Concentrate on websites that rank high or often for your primary target keywords as well as any major supplemental keywords.
When doing an SEO competitive analysis, keep in mind that your main competition may not necessarily be the one capturing all of the top ranks.
You’ll also be competing with other sites for long-tail or branded keywords, so don’t be hesitant to include them in your review. If you just focus on broad terms, your keyword analysis may be distorted or eventually useless.
1.1 Deciding Who Not to Compete
Every rival who ranks higher than you in the SERPs is not legitimate competition. Similarly, outranking other sites may not be as necessary or even sustainable.
Consider aspects such as current rating, resources, and time invested to determine which sites are not your competitors.
It’s not always worth it to try to outrank sites like Wikipedia or Pinterest for certain keywords. Alternatively, you may need to devote more work to outranking sites that are much larger or more established, which might have an impact on your entire approach.
Instead, concentrate on the rivals who can have the most influence on your traffic. These are most likely the websites that are responsible for the majority of your lost traffic.
1.2 Analyze Your Competitors’ Top Pages
It is also critical to find the most popular sites of your competition. Take note of the following:
- Which pages rank the highest for the most keywords?
- Which pages are the most popular?
- Which pages account for the lion’s share of their total traffic?
Finding Keyword Gaps
Keywords are precise words and keywords that search engine users employ in their queries.
These keywords are the actual queries that visitors enter into a search engine like Google, therefore you want your content and website pages to appear towards the top of the results for terms related to your goods, services, industry, brand, or consumers.
You’ll want to keep track of the various keywords for which you now rank, but you’ll also want to examine where your rivals rank for keywords.
If you are only a few positions behind a competition for a certain keyword, you may have an opportunity to overcome them by focusing some fresh content on that term. You may demonstrate to search engines that you are a more authoritative source on that search phrase by discovering and resolving keyword gaps. This allows you to leapfrog your competition and surpass its existing ranks.
SEO tools can assist you in identifying keyword gaps and providing lists of keywords that work effectively in your business.
Identify ‘SW’ in SWOT
Even the most powerful companies in your field have flaws that you may exploit.
You may uncover areas of potential for your brand by evaluating where your rivals are strong and where they are weak. But, before you start scrutinizing your competition too deeply, you should first examine within.
Examine your brand and where you are falling short in your SEO strategy. To find out where you stand in the following areas, ask your staff, use consumer surveys and feedback, or use SEO tools.
The level of confidence that search engine algorithms and people have in your brand is referred to as its authority. Building authority entails acquiring more links from competitors and narrowing keyword gaps to rank for more significant search phrases.
Your content should be of high quality, targeted, and relevant to your audience. Search engine algorithms are considerably more focused on the value your content delivers to users than on the number of keywords jammed into a piece of content.
Technical SEO Issues
Your technical performance has a significant influence on your SEO rankings. If you have technical SEO concerns, it might cause your authority to drop and your ranks to fall. Avoid duplicate content and keep an eye on your crawlability and indexability.
Because you normally produce content and improve SEO on the desktop, you tend to conceive of websites and content postings in terms of a desktop screen. Even with huge brands, this is frequently a major SEO mistake. Optimizing your sites for mobile can help you get an advantage over your competitors.
Internal Linking Issues
Your linking structures are critical in assisting search engines in crawling, indexing, and ranking your content and pages. Internal linking maps may be confusing and damaging to your SEO results if they lack a firm framework.
Lost and Declined Keyword Rankings
You should also look into any terms that your rivals have lately lost, with an emphasis on those with the biggest search traffic initially.
You might also look at the pages that used to rank for the keywords and see if there is a reason why they are no longer ranking – it could be anything from a technical crawl issue to a spam issue.
New Keyword Rankings
Another important part of SEO competitive analysis is monitoring new keyword rankings. You should try to perform it regularly for general SEO considerations.
You should constantly be aware of any new pages or ranks that your rivals are achieving, so this is a quick method to discover what they are working on. For eCommerce sites, it can provide insight into any new items or product categories that may become popular and that you would like to be aware of.
Analyze On a Page by Page Basis
While keywords and your strengths and weaknesses are general examples of how your SEO compares to others in your sector, you’ll also want to become more precise with your SEO competitive analysis.
You can understand why your rivals are ranking higher than you by going through each page and comparing it directly to theirs.
While going over each page, you should look at a few different elements that impact how pages are ranked and what you can do to enhance your page architecture, such as:
- Meta descriptions
- Meta keywords
While Google does rewrite title tags for search results depending on a query, it is usually for things like adding the site name to the title tag or emphasizing the specific keywords being searched for — especially if Google finds the page relevant for the keywords. Nonetheless, the keywords are not included in the title. So consider both the title from the title tag and the title as it is adjusted by Google for certain keyword searches.
Be warned that if you perform a ‘site: search’ for a rival, the titles that Google returns are extremely distorted. Instead, make sure you’re using the title tag from the page itself or the one that Google displays for the specific keyword search.
Google may or may not utilize the meta-description tag’s description, but it is critical to evaluate what is in the description tag for analytical reasons; this is commonly missed, especially on large sites.
While it is often worthless because it is a general description tag, it is sometimes useful when the description is adequately worded. It is important observing how your rivals use theirs in comparison to yours for the pages in question.
This is important not because Google uses the meta-keyword tag for ranking purposes, but because it can provide insight into the keywords your competition is targeting for that page or the site as a whole. It can be useless sometimes as they use the same keyword phrase for every page in the entire domain, but other times it can be useful if someone has put work into the keyword tag for non-Google SEO.
Headings (H1, H2, etc.)
Google favors h> tags for SEO purposes. Check that your site uses genuine h> tags rather than CSS to define headers. Because Google might utilize these headings for featured snippet usage and other search features, it is crucial to compare them to your rivals and see how they are utilizing them and whether it affects their search features.
Breadcrumbs and a robust URL structure can assist Google in understanding the hierarchy of content on your site and ranking it properly.
If you guarantee that yours is robust and free of technical flaws, you will have an edge over a rival who is missing in that area. While this should be part of your general SEO competitive analysis for each site, it is also important to consider how it pertains to individual pages that you are attempting to rank higher for.
All of these factors must be considered when selecting keywords and developing content:
- How are your rivals using keywords in their content?
- Are they employing any keywords that you should include in your content?
- What about the content’s quality?
- Do your rivals use more or fewer words per page than you?
- Is your readability score considerably different from that of your market competitors?
Backlinks are links on other websites that redirect visitors to your pages.
These links are quite significant in SEO since they assist develop authority in your pages and demonstrate to search engine algorithms that your content is trustworthy. There is, however, a distinction between high and low-quality backlinks.
If your backlinks come from low-quality, untrustworthy sites, it might harm your SEO rankings. Keep an eye on your backlinks and make sure they are coming from reputable sites that can help your rankings.
You should prioritize high-quality backlinks, such as those from important news sites, high-profile sites, or industry experts. Consider the following questions while examining your rivals’ backlinks:
- Have they gotten coverage in major news outlets? If that’s the case, is there any way you can get yourself involved in similar stories?
- Are they reputable but noncommercial sources in your industry?
- How can you get your name on the list of suggested resources?
Nofollow vs. Dofollow Backlinks
You could look for nofollow versus followed links. While Google officially does not employ nofollow links in their algorithms, they will not necessarily aid with SEO.
They may, however, be an important source of traffic that raises brand recognition, increases traffic, and leads to conversions. As a result, do not disregard high-quality links merely because they are nofollow. While there may be no SEO value in all of those links, there may be a lot of non-SEO benefits.
Look for significant gaps in your backlinks, particularly connections from the same page or site shared by numerous rivals. It is typically simple to get oneself featured if they have connected to several of your rivals.
Don’t forget to look at your rivals’ backlinks to powerful internal pages. For SEO competitive analysis, many people only evaluate connections to the homepage, although links to internal sites might be just as essential. Some of their best-performing internal pages may have incoming links that play a big role in their ranking.
Analyzing Content Types
Different sorts of content will rank differently in SEO. Rather than assuming what content will work well on your website, look at what is doing well for your rivals. This allows you to save money while focusing on your content efforts.
Among the several content categories that might be included are:
- Search Snippets
- Social Media Live Streams
When you discover rivals that are considerably better for certain content categories, you may consider if you need to add these content types to your site; nevertheless, you must ensure that they provide value to your site.
If your competition has a podcast but only has a few downloads, it means that either your market does not require podcasts or they are doing a poor job of it. If you can create a far greater podcast, you could find that you can fill that void.
Identify SERP Features
When doing an SEO competitive analysis, many people ignore the presence or lack of search elements in search results. While placing third in search results may be a fantastic outcome for some searches, it may not be if search elements such as videos, questions, and photos dominate the search results. You may need to invest more in certain keywords to rank first, while simultaneously investing in content that appears in features.
An Opportunity for Ranking
Under these sorts of search results, you will frequently discover that there is the opportunity for a major chunk of the search results to be taken over by adding a video that might rank on the page or creating content that would appear in People Also Ask. Examine the characteristics and take note of where you and your rivals appear.
Choosing a Featured Snippet to Focus On
If you determine that featured snippets are the most important search feature for your site, you’ll look at each of your competitors and find their featured snippets. Next, examine the URL the snippet links to determine if you have a relevant URL that you believe is appropriate to inherit the highlighted snippet.
While some search capabilities are derived from the page’s content, others rely on a schema. If you’re upgrading a website with schema-based search capabilities, it’s generally a good idea to include the relevant schema, even if Google doesn’t presently support it as an active search feature in their search results.
You’ll be ahead of the game when Google activates a search function that requires that specific schema and your site will be among the first in your sector to have it. Similarly, you should keep an eye on your competitors’ vital sites to see if they are doing the same thing by applying schema before Google does.
Going Beyond Keywords
It is important to note that when conducting SEO competitive analysis, you should not focus just on ‘purchase’ or ‘product’ keywords. Home Depot, for example, contains multiple ‘how-to’ keywords that rank with high search traffic.
The search results for ‘how to unclog a sink’ include a prominently displayed snippet for Home Depot, which would drive click-throughs. It takes you to a help page with links to items mentioned in the video or step-by-step instructions, which generates income.
Featured snippets are sometimes a lot simpler to take over from a rival than top ranks. Google aims to make sure that highlighted snippets are accurate, and succinct, and provide the searcher with the information they want. So, if you examine your rivals’ highlighted snippets, consider how you may modify your content for sites ranking in the same SERP to claim the featured snippet.
What to Do After Major Algorithm Updates?
When Google makes a big algorithm change, you must go back and reassess your most critical terms.
- Did you keep your ranking?
- Did one of your competitors appear out of nowhere and suddenly rank first for your keywords?
- Is it possible that another rival has dropped out of the space entirely, and you can take advantage of this?
Take the time to evaluate every feature of all sites in your market region while doing an in-depth investigation; remember, this is a continuous activity. With the introduction of algorithm changes, site migrations, new pages, and new search capabilities, things change. It’s critical to go back and examine what’s changed since the last deep dive.
It is not always the case that your rivals have suddenly adjusted things to rank higher when an algorithm update occurs. It may have been something they were doing better all along, but Google changed something to reward them for it.
With an SEO competitive analysis by a content marketing agency, you should be able to detect what your competitors are doing sooner and make improvements before an algorithm update.