SEO Competitor Analysis Guide

SEO Competitor Analysis Guide

There is no successful ecommerce without competitor analysis and monitoring. If you want to reach top positions in the search results, you should keep an eye on your market rivals and watch their activities to ensure you’re always one step ahead of them. But how to identify who is your strongest competitor in the battle for first place in the SERPs? What strategies should you incorporate into your SEO process? Let’s find out!

Table of contents:

Why Is an SEO Competitive Analysis Important?

The ecommerce sector is developing at an incredible pace and we can observe it on an ongoing basis. Currently, almost every industry is extremely competitive. This means that without SEO competitive analysis and monitoring you won’t be able to gain an advantage over your market rivals.

What exactly can you gain with the right SEO competitor analysis and research?

  • higher positions in the search results,
  • increased brand awareness and recognition,
  • boosted web traffic,
  • higher conversion rate,
  • improved revenue.

Apart from that, an SEO competitive analysis will allow you to stay up to date with the latest market trends, keep up with your competitors or even get one step ahead of them to convince potential buyers that it’s worth choosing your offer.

As you can see, the juice is certainly worth the squeeze.

How to Do an SEO Competitor Analysis? Step By Step Guide

Are you wondering how to conduct an SEO competitor analysis?

We’re here to help!

Keep reading to discover our step-by-step guide and tools that will increase the effectiveness of your competitor analysis.

Don’t forget that SEO is an ongoing process, so you should regularly analyze your competitors to keep up to date with their strategies and marketing campaigns.

Identify Your SEO Competitors

Let’s state the obvious – determining who your market rivals are is the first step you need to take in this process.

If you don’t know who fights with you for the attention and money of potential customers, you won’t be able to come up with an effective strategy giving you a competitive advantage.

Moreover, it’s worth mentioning that 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.

So, how to identify your competitors?

There are several SEO tools that make the task easier. They take into account various metrics and factors, so don’t get surprised if the tools will show you completely different competitors.

SEMrush and Ahrefs are one of the most noteworthy options for international competitive SEO analysis.

Let’s start with Ahrefs.

It’s a great SEO tool used by marketers around the world. You have probably heard about it on numerous occasions. If you want to discover your biggest competitors, Ahrefs will indicate competing domains. This is the easiest way to do it:

  • Enter your domain name in the search bar,
  • Go to the Site Explorer tool,

seo competitor research ahrefs

  • In the Organic Search section, you will find Competing domains,
  • Ahrefs will generate a list of your best competitors.

seo competitor analysis ahrefs

During the competitive analysis, Ahrefs takes into account elements such as the number of keywords your and your competitors’ pages are displayed for in the search results, as well as unique keywords and keyword gaps.

Now it’s time for SEMrush.

It’s a comprehensive tool that takes into account even more factors. In order to analyze your competitors:

  • Enter your domain name in the search bar,

seo competitor research semrush

  • Go to the Organic Research tool (which is placed in the Competitive Research section),
  • Select Competitors,

seo competitor analysis semrush

  • The following report will be generated for you.

competitor analysis seo

When using SEMrush, it’s worth paying particular attention to the Competitive Positioning Map section that includes a transparent graph showing you how your website does compare to its market rivals:

competitor analysis seo semrush

Moreover, in the Organic Competitors section, you’ll get a list of your competitors categorized by various metrics, such as common keywords.

Is it necessary to use paid tools?

If you don’t have access to the abovementioned tools, you can still perform an SEO competitive analysis.

How? Simply use Google.

Enter your most important business-related keywords in the search results (e.g. “international SEO agency”, “language school in London”, “book store”) and analyze which websites are ranked in the top positions. These are potentially your b competitors. As simple as that!

Analyze Site Performance

There are a lot of metrics and parameters that Google takes into account when deciding which sites should appear in the top positions of the search results.

If you want to compete with the greatest tycoons, you need to keep an eye at least on a few of them. Check your parameters and juxtapose them with the parameters of your market rivals to plan your SEO activities and determine which elements should be improved and optimized.

In the table below, you can find the key metrics and parameters that will definitely come in handy during an SEO competitive 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 a site is displayed for 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

Keeping an eye on these elements will allow you not only to outdo your market rivals but also to detect any potential problems with your website well in advance and take necessary action if needed.

Analyze Top Pages

This is another important step in the process. Again, you can do it either manually, or with the use of professional SEO tools.

At this point, it’s worth noting that a manual competitive SEO analysis is possible only if your website is small and you don’t target numerous keywords. Otherwise, the process would be too time-consuming, and overwhelming.

Therefore, if you have a sizable page optimized for hundreds of long tail phrases, Ahrefs and SEMrush are a must-have.

When it comes to the analysis of top pages, you can do it either manually (simply enter keywords assigned to each page into Google and analyze the results), or you can rely on the tools.

How to check what are the top pages for a given keyword?

In Ahrefs:

  • Enter the Keywords Explorer section,
  • Provide the keyword you want to analyze,

competitor analysis seo ahrefs

  • Go to the SERP overview section and analyze the pages.

In SEMrush:

seo competitor analysis ahrefs

  • Enter a keyword in the search bar,
  • Go to the Keyword Overview section,

how to do an seo competitor analysis

  • Find the SERP Analysis section,

how to do an seo competitor analysis semrush

  • Analyze the pages that rank in top positions for your keyword.

However, determining the top pages isn’t enough. Now, you should take a closer look at the search intent.

What are the users looking for? Do they expect to see a product page, blog post, or ranking?

When analyzing top pages for each keyword, pay attention to the types of content that are displayed in the SERPs. Are these landing pages, products, or blogs?

Thanks to it, you’ll be able to better understand users’ expectations and create content tailored to their needs. This will allow you to assign specific keywords to specific content types.

Why is it important?

Because if you see that only blog posts rank high for a given keyword, you won’t be able to outdo your market rivals with a product page or a landing page (even if it has top-notch quality). For some reason, Google knows that users entering this specific phrase want to see blog posts.

What to do when you know top pages that rank for a specific keyword you also rank for?

Focus on your pages that rank just outside the top 10 (positions 11-20), and scrutinize the top pages to see what elements your website lacks and needs to improve its position.

What can you improve?

If you compete with blog posts, complement your entry with extra paragraphs and make your text more comprehensive to ensure it ranks for more keywords and has better quality.

Be sure to check elements such as titles, headers, and meta descriptions –  they all have an impact on SEO.

These are SEO quick wins that will allow you to quickly boost your results.

Don’t limit your activities to one competitor only. Check other pages that rank high for a given keyword. They’re a valuable source of information and inspiration.

Find out more about how to make great content in 2022!

Do the Keyword Gap Analysis

As the name suggests, a keyword gap analysis will allow you to check the keywords your competitors rank for, but you don’t.

The task is simple and (again) can be done with SEMrush and Ahrefs.

How to do it?

Simply find the sections called Keyword Gap Analysis and Content Gap.

Then, provide the URL of your website and your market rivals. Click Analyze, and you’ll see a report that can be exported. Of course, the analysis frequently contains lots of random keywords, so it’s crucial to go through it and check what phrases are relevant.

Once you’ve selected important phrases your competitors rank for, it’s time to saturate your website with them. If necessary, create appropriate pages, services, or blog posts.

This will allow you to increase the number of keywords your page is displayed for and rank for the same phrases as your rivals.

Analyze 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 on various social media platforms?
  • What topics do they cover?
  • Which pages are most popular among users?
  • Does your content stand out from the competition?

How to find your competitors’ top content?

In SEMrush:

  • Enter your competitor’s domain name in the search bar,
  • Go to Organic Research (in the Competitive Research section),

how to do seo competitor analysis

  • Find the Top Pages list (you need to scroll down a bit),

how to do seo competitor analysis semrush

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

In Ahrefs:

  • Enter your competitor’s domain name in the search bar,
  • Go to Top Pages in the Organic Search section,
  • Analyze the report.

how to do an seo competitor analysis ahrefs

The type and quality of content offered by your competitors are crucial. Is their content diversified? How long are their articles? How many headers and paragraphs do they have?

All these elements are important. Check what content created by your competitors ranks high, and how many backlinks it has. Analyze the structure and draw conclusions that will help you refine your texts and saturate your page with quality elements.

You have probably already heard about featured snippets. They’re a great way to increase website traffic and win over competitors, even those who rank high in the search results.

What to do to appear in featured snippets?

You should make sure that your content is concise, accurate, high quality, and responds to users’ needs.

How to analyze your competitors’ featured snippets?

In SEMrush:

  • Enter your competitor’s domain name in the search bar,
  • Go to Organic Research (in the Competitive Research section),
  • Select Positions,
  • Apply the On SERP, Featured Snippet filter,
  • Analyze the report.

competitor research seo

Take a look at your competitors’ featured snippets and draw conclusions.

What do they offer? How do their websites stand out from the crowd and attract attention? What can you do to improve your page? Get inspired but make your activities even more comprehensive and get ranked in position 0!

Backlinks are an integral part of any SEO strategy. Without a doubt, they are the key element of off-page SEO. Remember that they’re one of the most important Google ranking factors.

Therefore, if your competitors have more backlinks coming from trusted domains, it’ll be much more challenging to outdo them. When analyzing your market rivals’ 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?

Then, make a list of pages your market rivals have backlinks from.

How to conduct a backlink gap analysis? In SEMrush:

  • Go to the Backlink Gap tool (you will find it in the Competitive Research section),
  • Enter up to 5 domains: yours and of your competitors,
  • Analyze the report with a list of backlinks your competitors have but you don’t.

Now it’s time to obtain links from these pages.

How?

Contact them and offer guest posts or link exchanges. Make sure that the page you want to get backlinks from has higher parameters (DA, PA) than your site. Otherwise, the link won’t bring you benefits.

Also, check lost backlinks. Maybe some websites used to link to your page or your competitors’ page but something happened and the link doesn’t work anymore? Contact the owners of the linking pages and ask them if they could replace the missing link with a link to your website. You’d be surprised how often people agree to do it!

Of course, first, you need to ensure that your content is thematically related or create adequate texts. But in exchange, you’ll get a backlink from a quality domain.

Analyze Traffic By Country

Sometimes it may turn out that your activities don’t bring you the expected results simply because you don’t operate in the right market. An SEO competitor research will allow you to check also this element.

So, which countries have the greatest potential for your business? For this purpose, you can use SEMrush:

  • Enter your URL into the search bar,
  • Find the Compare by country section,

competitor research seo semrush

  • Switch between the views in the upper menu,
  • Analyze root domains and subdomains that generate the most website traffic.

how to do competitor analysis seo semrush

Who knows? Perhaps it’ll turn out that you should expand your offer.

Don’t Forget to Check Your Progress

As you can probably guess, knowing how to do an SEO competitor analysis and even doing it isn’t enough to succeed.

In order for this to happen, you need to regularly check your progress and monitor if the conducted activities bring you the desired results.

Things and elements that may work great for one website won’t bring any benefits to the other. Keep this in mind and test various solutions to find a recipe for outdoing your market rivals.

Repeat the Analysis Every Few Months

Your market rivals never sleep. They constantly come up with new solutions, strategies, and campaigns. They probably saturate their websites with quality content on a regular basis and do their best to stay up-to-date with the latest trends.

For this reason, you should repeat your SEO competitor research every few months to ensure that you’re in the loop and you have the right strategy, website, content, and offer to compete with pages ranked in the top positions.

SEO Competitor Research – The Takeaway

Hopefully, now you know how to do an SEO competitor analysis and what elements are the most important in this process.

Keeping an eye on your market rivals, their backlinks, SEO, texts, offers, and marketing activities will allow you to fine-tune your strategy and provide users with content tailored to their needs.

Not sure how to proceed with SEO competitive research? Contact us! We’ll be happy to do it for you and give you great tips for improving your positions in the SERPs!

This is an update of an article published in 2021. 

FAQ

Competition analysis is really important for both companies that 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 tools check our article: https://delante.co/seo-tools-for-competitor-analysis/

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Author
Jr SEO Specialist - Kasia

Jr SEO Specialist

A graduate of English Philology and Translation Studies who learned about SEO by accident while translating an article. At Delante since 2021. Apart from watching positions grow, she enjoys content tasks that give free rein to her imagination. On days off, she plays volleyball, walks her dogs, reads psychology books, and has fun analyzing translations of puns and poems.
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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