SEO competitive analysis in 5 steps: A comprehensive guide

Competitive analysis is fundamental to any successful SEO strategy if you want to boost your rankings. Not only does it allow you to measure yourself against your competitors to determine how well your own website is performing, but it also provides insight and inspiration for your own marketing decisions.

In this guide, you’ll learn how to identify your competitors in order to use their strengths to your advantage, as well as discovering your own opportunities for improvement.

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1. Know your competitors

Depending on which industry you’re in, the big players are not likely to give up their position at the top easily. Identifying your competitors is about conducting market research to evaluate other companies selling a product or service similar to yours.

Claire Wilder, Technical SEO Account Manager, adds:

“However, when it comes to SEO, you may also have competitors outside of your industry niche who compete with you for target keywords in the SERPs. Your top SEO competitors will likely rank on the first search page of the keywords you’re targeting, regardless of whether they offer the same product or service as you. For example, one of our pages at Embryo about podcasts is likely to compete with other podcast sites as well as other digital marketing companies who might have also seen the positives in podcasting.”

You can identify competitors by simply searching for your top keywords in Google and writing down the domains of your main competitors. Alternatively, there are a heap of competitor analysis tools that can carry out this process for you. Or, of course, we can do this for you here at Embryo.

As well as highly optimised competitor sites, you should pay close attention to competitors that make up local packs. This is a group of three local business listings that come up in response to search queries. Unlike organic search results, which are produced from Google’s index of websites, the listings in Local Packs come from the Google My Business directory. Companies that occupy position zero – in marketing terms, the top spot in SERP rankings – should also be a high priority on your competitor radar.

2. Evaluate keyword difficulty

While link-building strategies and creative content production are both fundamental elements of a successful SEO strategy, it’s important to assess the strength of your SEO competitors. This will enable you to understand which, and how many, resources it would take to capitalise on certain keywords.

A competitor analysis tool can help you look at your competitor’s total domain strength in order to analyse more specific factors, such as:

  • Domain authority (DA) – This is the metric used to establish the credibility of your website overall. A score within the 30-40 range would be considered good to average, but ideally you should be aiming above the 60 mark.
  • Domain country and age – The age of a domain (how long its been registered) can be an indicator of how frequently or recently a competitor’s website has been updated. Then, the domain country tells you where the company is based, which can be a useful factor when considering the popularity of, and interest in, your products and services from your target audience.
  • Indexing in search engines – Indexing is the process by which a search engine organises and stores online content in a central database, otherwise known as its’ index. This indexing allows the search engine to analyse and understand the content in order to produce the SERP rankings.
  • Catalog listings – This appears at the beginning of the SERP on the product page where your business competitors will also be ranked. Using information from the catalog enables you to compete with other sellers who sell the same thing. This means that whoever offers the best selling conditions and experience will be the first purchase option for online customers.
  • Backlink data – The quality of your backlinks, the links that lead to another page on your website, is incredibly important for generating organic traffic to your website by creating routes to your own relevant online content. By dissecting your opponents’ backlink profiles, you can seek out new link opportunities for your own content.
  • Traffic volumes – This refers to the total number of visitors a site receives in a specific period. This is a good way to measure whether your competitor’s SEO strategy is working well and provide inspiration to demonstrate the steps you can take to turn your own visitors into paying customers.
  • Social signals – Social signals are a webpage’s collective shares, likes and overall social media visibility. This could be things like Facebook and Twitter likes and reposts, story mentions on Instagram, or pins on Pinterest.

3. Seek out new keyword opportunities

To enrich your existing content, you should be aware of new keyword opportunities by examining the types of keywords your competitors are using. This is what’s known as term frequency-inverse document frequency analysis (or TF-IDF analysis for short).

This is a measurement of how frequently a keyword appears on a page multiplied by how often its expected to appear. This allows you to optimise your pages for search engines, as well as to discover low-competition keywords by targeting topic-relevant terms.

To incorporate these terms into your on-page SEO, you need to either add them to existing and relevant content, or else to create new content which will boost your relevance in the semantic search.

4. Analyse on-page optimisation and on-site content

By understanding your competitors’ on-site SEO strategy, you can use this information to learn about the types of content they’re producing, including which keywords they’re targeting, as well as how frequently they’re uploading to their website.

Amy Leach, Organic Lead, says:

“This is where things like metadata and headline strategies come in. Metadata summarises basic information about data into one of three categories, descriptive, administrative or structural. This allows users to find relevant data more easily by narrowing down the search by summarising what the content is about in the SERP.”

Similarly, a headline strategy is the creation of a concise and relevant headline to clearly convey what the source is about. A successful headline will take into account length, keywords, and proper tags.

5. Examine Site Structure and UX

Like any good SEO specialist or businessperson will tell you, when it comes to optimising your website for search engine rankings, one of the most important things to keep in mind is the user experience (UX).

With the rise of mobile devices to carry out online searches, user experience,  has become even more important in recent years. A central part of your SEO competitor analysis should be how accessible and usable their websites are, both for mobile and desktop. This includes things like maximising site speed by compressing images, and incorporating an easy-to-use search function.

To maximise your site’s crawlability and not get left behind by your competitors, you should be looking at optimising your sitemap. This is a file where you provide information about the pages, videos, and other files on your site, including the relationships between them. By including this data all in one place, Google crawlers can more easily and efficiently crawl and index your site for more rapid rankings.

In order to enhance UX, you should also be building each and every element of your site with user intent in mind. This allows you to create content that matches the intent behind the most popular keywords to appeal to a more specific customer demographic more likely to yield profitable results for your business.

Competitors complete your SEO strategy

While it can sometimes feel frustrating if you’re not yet in the top ranking spot within your industry on SERPs, its important to remember that competitors can help you develop the most effective SEO strategy by providing insight into optimisation techniques as well as a list of dos and don’ts. This enables you to create the best possible version of your site and to have other companies to help you keep the pace.

If you’d like to learn more about how competitor analysis can help your company’s SEO strategy, get in touch with us today!

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