SEO Competitor Analysis & Research. A Complete Guide

SEO Competitor Analysis & Research. A Complete Guide

If you want your online business to achieve real success, you definitely need to monitor your competitors’ activities on a regular basis. But how to identify who is your strongest competitor in the battle for first place in the search results? What strategies do you need to take to get ahead of your competitors? You will learn all this from this comprehensive guide. Do not let your competitors win over you!

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Table of contents:

Why Is SEO Competitive Analysis So Important?

Year after year, the e-commerce market is growing at a rapid pace. What does this mean for you? Currently, almost every industry is extremely competitive, therefore without competitive analysis and spying on them regularly, you will never get ahead of them. So what exactly can you gain with the right SEO competitor analysis and research? These are, above all:

  • higher ranking in the search results,
  • better brand awareness and recognition
  • increased web traffic,
  • higher conversion rate,
  • greater revenue.

So I guess SEO competitor analysis is worth the candle. Am I right?

The Elements of SEO Competitor Analysis

If you want to carry out SEO competitor analysis, do it right. Below, I present all the most important tactics that guarantee your success. Remember, however, that SEO is an ongoing process, so you should regularly analyze your competitors to keep up to date with their strategies and marketing campaigns.

Be sure to also check my list of the most important SEO tools for competitor analysis. Without them, a proper analysis will not be as effective as it should be.

competitor analysis and research help

1. Discover Your Real SEO Competitors

Let’s state the obvious: this is always the first step you need to take to analyze your competitors. If you don’t know who your strongest competitor is in the battle for the first place in the search results, you will never succeed.

Sometimes you may think you already know your competitors, but until you consult various SEO tools to check all the data, you can’t be entirely sure.

How to identify your competitors?

You have several tools that will identify your SEO competitors. Remember that SEO tools take into account various metrics and factors, so don’t get surprised if the tools will show you completely different competitors. Here are the tools I use to discover the strongest competitors of our clients:

Ahrefs

Ahrefs is a great SEO tool used by marketers around the world, of which you have probably heard more than once. If you want to discover your biggest competitors, Ahrefs will indicate competing domains. This is the easiest way

1. Enter your domain name in the search bar.

2. Go to the Site Explorer tool.

3. In the Organic Search section, you will find Competing domains.

4. Ahrefs will generate a list of your strongest competitors.

competitor analysis ahrefs

When indicating competitors, Ahrefs takes the following factors into consideration: the number of keywords you appear in the search results and your competitor doesn’t as well as common and unique keywords.

SEMrush

Personally, I prefer SEMrush, which shows much more accurate results when it comes to competitors’ SEO and takes even more factors into account that is why in this article I will not mention SEMrush even more. Here are all the steps you need to take to identify your competitors in this great SEO tool:

1. Enter your domain name in the search bar.

2. Go to the Organic Research tool (which is placed in the Competitive Research section).

3. Select Competitors.

competitor analysis in semrush

4. You will receive such a report:

semrush competitor analysis report

Pay attention to a great section called Competitive Positioning Map, which in a clear graph that will show you how your website looks in comparison to other competitors. In the Organic Competitors, you will get a list of your competitors sorted by common level (the metric calculated on the basis of various factors, including common keywords).

Google

If you do not want to use paid tools, the most effective way to identify your competitors is… Google. That’s right! Enter the most important keywords in the search results (preferably those describing your business, e.g. “international SEO agency”, “language school in London”, “book store”) and analyze which websites are most often displayed. These could potentially be your strong competitors.

competitor analysis in google

2. Compare Site Performance

There are a lot of metrics and parameters that Google takes into account when deciding which sites will appear at the top of the search results. I recommend you to choose at least some of them and check the performance of your website compared to your competitors. This will immediately suggest which elements should be optimized and help you to organize your next SEO activities. In the table below I have gathered important parameters that you can use for your competition analysis:

Metric Short description SEO tool
Domain Rating (DR) site performance & quality Ahrefs
Domain Authority (DA) site performance & quality Moz
Page Speed (Mobile) speed of page loading on mobile devices Google PageSpeed Insights
Page Speed (Desktop) speed of page loading on desktops Google PageSpeed Insights
Number of backlinks number of all backlinks pointing to a website Ahrefs
Number of referring domains number of unique domains pointing to a website Ahrefs
Number of keywords in TOP 10 all keywords on which a site is displayed on the first page of organic search results SEMrush
Indexed Pages number of pages in the Google index Google
Alexa Rank ranking of websites Alexa
Optimization score elements that are optimized for search engines WooRank
Web traffic average estimated traffic on a website during one month SEMrush

3. Conduct Keyword Research

Keywords are the core of all SEO activities, they give you the greatest chance to increase traffic, so you need to perform keyword research very carefully to select these keywords with the greatest potential.

How to choose keywords? Keep in mind the following rules:

  • Keywords should be valuable and relevant which is why you should pay special attention to their search volume, i.e. how many times users have searched a given keyword during one month.
  • Choose keywords thematically related to your online business.
  • Compare more than two competitors to get the full picture and conduct a richer analysis.

How to conduct keyword research?

SEMrush

I explained above how to find your competitors in SEMrush. Once you have identified them, you can check many parameters, including the keywords on which they appear in the search results.

How to find it?

1. Go to the Organic Research report.

2. In the Overview section, you will find Top Organic Keywords.

competitor analysis keyword research

3. You will see a list of all organic keywords. They are ready for analysis.

To narrow down the number of keywords (let’s face it, sometimes there may just be too many of them, such a number may give you a headache), use filters. You have the following filters to choose from: positions (keywords in TOP 3, TOP 10, TOP 20, and TOP 50), search volume, SERP features, and other custom options.

Moz

This great tool also gives the possibility of keyword research, but only for those who have a premium subscription. Why will Moz be a great choice to find keywords with the greatest potential for increasing web traffic? You can easily compare the keywords of your domain with one or even two competitors and see which keywords you can include in your SEO process.

competitor analysis moz

What I really like about the Moz report is the ease of comparing the keyword data – in the table, you will find each keyword and its ranking for your site and your competitors. A quick way to find the keyword gap!

Ahrefs

How to conduct keyword research with Ahrefs?

1. Enter your domain name in the search bar.

2. Go to the Organic Research tool.

3. Select Organic keywords (or the latest available version Organic keywords 2.0).

4. Analyze the data provided.

ahrefs competitor analysis keywords

Use the following filters to limit results and find the best keywords prospects: country, position in the search results, search volume, keyword difficulty (indicates how difficult it will be to rank high in the search results on a given keyword), CPC (Cost per click), word count (how many word a given keyword contains), traffic and SERP features.

If you want to learn more about keyword research to prepare a top-notch SEO strategy, we have prepared other great articles for you. I hope that with their help you will conduct top-class keyword analysis:

4. Fill In the Backlink Gap

Backlinks are an integral part of any SEO strategy. Without a doubt, they are the key element of off-page SEO. Remember that backlinks are one of the most important Google ranking factors, so if your competitors have many more backlinks coming from trusted domains, it will be much more challenging to reach them. When analyzing your competitors’ backlinks, ask yourself these basic questions:

  • Do my competitors have more backlinks than me?
  • Do they come from trusted domains with high parameters?
  • What is their link profile?
  • Where do their backlinks come from? Sponsored articles, forums, profiles, blog comments, or maybe social media?

How to analyze backlinks?

SEMrush

Backlink Gap will be the perfect choice for backlink analysis. With this tool, you will be able to analyze up to 4 competitors at once!

1. Go to the Backlink Gap tool (you will find it in the Competitive Research section).

2. Enter up to 5 domains: yours and of your competitors

backlink analysis competitor research

3. Analyze the report with a list of backlink gap.

competitor gap analysis

This great tool will show you which competitor has backlinks in a given domain (together with the number of backlinks). Create a list of domains on which you do not yet have links and fill in the backlink gap.

Ahrefs

As you probably already know, when it comes to backlink research Ahrefs is second to none. This tool has literally billions of pages in its database so it can indicate to you lots of high-quality domains on which you should build a link to your site as a priority. How to analyze backlinks in Ahrefs?

1. Enter your competitor’s domain name in the search bar.

2. Go to Site Explorer.

3. Choose the Backlinks tool in the Backlink profile section.

4. Analyze the report with a list of all backlinks (my advice is to sort them by DR, this way you will get the best domains on the top of this list).

competitor analysis in ahrefs backlinks

Want to learn more about backlinks? Read our other articles which will tell you more on how to build high quality, valuable links that will take your website to the next level:

5. Analyze Your Competitors’ Content

Content marketing is currently considered to be one of the most effective online marketing strategies. Analyze the content of your competitors and answer these questions:

  • What type of content is most often chosen by my competitors? Do they create blog posts, infographics, videos, webinars, or maybe podcasts?
  • Where do they distribute their content? On their websites or in various social media platforms?
  • Which topics do they cover?
  • Which pages are most popular among users?
  • How does your content stand out from your competitors?

How to find your competitor’s top content?

Moz

In Moz, finding your competitor’s pages that generate the highest traffic and attract users’ attention is super easy.

1. Go to Link Explorer.

2. Enter your competitor’s domain name in the search bar.

3. Select Top Pages (you will find it under the Link Research section).

4. Analyze the list of top pages.

competitor content analysis moz

You can sort the list by Page Authority (PA), the number of linking domains, backlinks, and outbound domains.

SEMrush

A list of top pages can also be easily found in SEMrush. How to find it?

1. Enter your competitor’s domain name in the search bar.

2. Go to Organic Research (in the Competitive Research section).

3. Find the Top Pages list (you need to scroll down a bit).

smerush competitor content analysis

4. Analyze the report with a list of top pages. Sort them by traffic or the number of keywords.

competitor analytical tools

Ahrefs

This is not the end of SEO tools that can generate top pages of a given competitor for you – Ahrefs can do it as well!

1. Enter your competitor’s domain name in the search bar.

2. Go to Top Pages in the Organic Search section.

3. Analyze the report.

competitor reasearch content

Would you like to prepare top-notch content that will stand out from your competitors? Check out our articles about content marketing and introduce the most effective strategies which will be a direct way to success:

6. Analyze Google SERP

If you want to increase traffic to your website, you really need to take good care of searcher intent for your keywords. Analyze the top 10 results in Google and see what users expect and how to fully satisfy the search intent. Pay attention to the link metrics, which will also be a great indicator of whether Google evaluates given pages as trustworthy and reliable.

How to perform a SERP analysis with an SEO tool?

Moz

1. Go to SERP Analysis (in the Keyword Research section).

2. Enter a keyword you want to verify.

3. Analyze the report.

moz competitor analysis reports

Featured Snippet

You have probably already heard about featured snippets. It’s a great way to increase web traffic and win over competitors, even those who are ranked first in the search results. What to do to appear in featured snippets? You should make sure that your content is accurate, high quality, responding to user’s needs, and concise.

How to analyze your competitor’s featured snippets?

SEMrush

1. Enter your competitor’s domain name in the search bar.

2. Go to Organic Research (in the Competitive Research section).

3. Select Positions.

4. Apply a filter as in the image below.

ahrefs competitor analysis filters

5. Analyze the report.

report competitor research

Conclusions

Competition in the e-commerce industry is furious. Every year there are more and more brand new online stores, that is why currently practically every sector is highly competitive. If you want to achieve great success, i.e. increase visibility in the search results, boost web traffic, improve conversion rate and eventually get more revenue, then you need to constantly monitor all the activities of your major competitors and try to be always one step ahead of them.

If you need help from real experts who build their long-term campaigns on regular SEO competition analysis, feel free to contact us. With us, your competitors have no chance!

FAQ

Competition analysis is really important for both companies who aim to beat the competitors and those considered a leader in the industry. Using your time and material resources for researching competition is a great investment as it brings you ideas for improving your website activity, allows you to determine weak points, and control the competitors’ impact on your business.

There are many great tools that can be used for SEO competitor analysis, both free and paid ones. Among the most popular ones you will find:

  • Ahrefs
  • SEMrush
  • MOZ
  • SpyFu
  • Alexa
  • Owler

the list goes on and on. Remember to always choose the tool that you feel comfortable with and at the same time provide you with crucial data. If you want to learn more about SEO competitor analysis toolscheck our article: https://delante.co/seo-tools-for-competitor-analysis/

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Author
Head of SEO & SEM - Matt Calik

Head of SEO & SEM

Technical SEO specialist experienced in creating scalable processes based on agile methodologies. Responsible for international SEO strategies. He has strongly analytical approach to online marketing supported by over 12 years of experience. Previously associated with IT, motorsport, tobacco and financial markets. He has been building Delante for 5 years where he is Head of SEO and SEM department.
Comments (2)
  1. I’d say that competitive analysis is as crucial as detecting errors on site when it comes to SEO. Glad you showed on screenshots how to dig some of the information out of the tools!

    1. Totally agree with you, Gianni! Glad you find the screenshots useful – I always want to make the content as helpful for the reader as possible 🙂

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