To outperform your competitors on the SERP, get more traffic, conversions and more leads, you must first study your competitors thoroughly. In this way, you will be able to know the strengths and weaknesses of your SEO strategies and develop your own action plan, taking into account the current state of the market in your niche.
Here we present the details of what constitutes a complete SEO research of your competitors and how to do it with modern tools.
What is a competitor analysis?
Competitor analysis in SEO is a detailed study of different aspects of the health of your competitors' websites. This type of analysis involves checking competitors’ positions in search results, their traffic, CTR, top pages in SERPs, keywords that work best for them, domain authority, backlinks and much more with the help of professional tools.
Who should conduct a competitor investigation?
Whether choosing a niche for your new business or deciding on a new business vertical, you need a thorough analysis of your potential competitors. If you already have a business but aren't 100% satisfied with the results or want to change pricing, marketing, etc., you also need a new competitor analysis. That's why competitive analysis should be done by small business owners, founders, and managers, as well as marketing and SEO experts.
Why do you need to monitor the competition?
Competitor analysis helps to promote a product in the market effectively. Competitive analysis shows:
- who is your real competitor;
- what strategies your competitors are using;
- how your competitors are doing;
- what are the main sources of traffic to your competitors' website;
- how your competitors use advertising tools and what their budgets are;
- what direction should you take to increase market coverage and profits;
- how to differentiate yourself from the competition and highlight your advantages;
- how to demonstrate product exclusivity and attract an additional target audience.
By knowing everything about your competitors and their online promotion strategies, you can create your own strategy and make it more successful.
What does a good competitor SEO analysis consist of?
When researching your competition, note the following data:
- Organic traffic;
- Changes in ranking;
- Organic keywords (well performing, new and missing);
- Top pages in organic search with percentage of traffic;
- Semantic comparison;
- Paid traffic volume and total cost of traffic;
- Keywords for paid advertising;
- Top pages in paid search;
- Domain and page authority;
- Number of backlinks and referring domains, etc.
Seems like too many metrics, right? Fortunately, professional tools allow you to analyze your competitors' SEO performance with just a few clicks. One such tool is SE Ranking. They offer an all-in-one competitor research tool that is very easy to use. Both SEO experts and business owners can use it to check other website traffic, keywords, paid campaigns, and more. Therefore, below we present all the steps of a complete competitive analysis with examples of the referred platform.
So let's move on to our step-by-step guide for a complete competitor analysis.
Step 1. Identify your competitors
So the first thing you need to do is identify your competitors. Sometimes these companies are far from the companies that first come to mind. In fact, all competitors can be divided into three groups:
- Direct competitors compete directly for your customers.
- Potential competitors sell the same products or services and target the same types of customers, but they don't work in your market area. For example, if you sell books in Rio de Janeiro, a bookstore in Salvador will be your potential competitor.
- Indirect competitors are companies in the same category, but their products or services are different from yours. For example, you sell drama books and your indirect competitor sells children's books.
Think about this list when identifying your competitors. Also, pay attention to scale, marketing budget, and traffic when listing your competitors. They should be more or less on the same level if we compare these parameters.
But how do you find your competitors? You can start with the SE Ranking tool we've already mentioned. Your competitor research tool automatically generates a list of organic competitors based on the keywords they use and their traffic volume. Some of them may be your direct competitors.
In addition, the tool also shows paid competitors: those using Google Ads. In fact, the competitive research report is divided into two main parts: organic and paid.
If you don't have a website yet but would like to know who your potential competitors are, you can use another SE Ranking module called Keyword Research Tool. Enter your initial keyword (e.g. “Café Curitiba”) and you will see the top 100 SERP pages for this query, as well as other related and similar keywords, as well as the search volume for each.
This same tool will also help you find your direct competitors based on your target keywords. Simply specify the words geographically or think about purchase intentions when searching for competitors using specific queries. If you just write an informational query, you're likely to see informational articles and websites, and that's not what you're looking for.
So, as a result of step 1, you need to make a list of your competitors that you will look at more closely in the next steps.
Step 2. Know your traffic sources
Now that you have a list of competitors, it's time to thoroughly examine your SEO strategies. Let's start with traffic, as this metric indicates the brand's audience volume and potential customers. This is what you should study about each competitor using the different sections of the SE Ranking Competition Research tool:
- Estimated traffic. Analyze the volume of website traffic over the last few months and pay attention to traffic fluctuations. Analyze which changes the site presented at each moment.
- Traffic sources. It can be organic (SEO-oriented), referral (from third-party websites), paid and direct. Also, some users come to your website through email and social media marketing campaigns. Pay special attention to the sites with the highest proportion of organic traffic, as they do the best SEO. You can learn from them about keyword usage.
- Traffic cost. If businesses are promoting through Google Ads, you'll see the cost per click as well as the traffic volume for each page promoted through paid ads. By analyzing this metric, you can better plan your own advertising costs.
- Keywords that drive traffic to the site. Research the top keywords your competitors are getting the most traffic for. In the SE Ranking Competitor Research tool, you can find this data in the Organic Keywords and Paid Keywords sections.
Step 3. Spy on the competition's organic keywords
Now, let's dive into the competition's organic keywords. Your task is to analyze the keywords that generate the most traffic for your competitors, because if they work well for them, they might work well for you.
You can use the Rank Changes section of the Competitor Research tool to track new, lost, improved, and devalued keywords used by your competitors. You'll find complete information about your rankings, search volume, traffic estimation, CPC and an overview of search results by country.
There is actually a lot of information and you can click on each keyword your competitors are using to see the top 100 results for that keyword as well as all the basic metrics. This will let you know the keywords that work best for your competitors as well as the ones that don't and the queries where competition is very high and where the SERP is already filled with big brands and websites.
Step 4. Find Content Flaws
By analyzing your rivals' keywords, you can get more ideas for your own semantic core, as well as compare the keywords you and your competitors use. Also, you can detect some keywords that you missed and that other competitors are already using successfully.
To perform this search in the Competitor Research tool, go to the Competitor Comparison tab, choose two competitors and your own website, and compare semantics.
The “ Common ” tab will show the keywords that everyone uses.
The “ Missing Keywords ” tab will show you queries that your competitors use but not you.
You can sort all keywords in these tabs by search volume, CPC, competition level, and total number of pages present in the SERP. This will help you to analyze these questions and decide whether they are relevant to you or not.
Step 5. Take advantage of content opportunities
By analyzing your competitors' content, you can find out which topics they cover and which they don't, so you can outperform them by writing engaging content about a topic your competitors haven't written about yet.
Also, by looking at your competitors' top pages in the SERP, you can find out which articles rank well and which keywords they rank for. You can start writing an article on the same “current” topic with the same keywords, but make it even more interesting, longer, and better structured.
You can use the SE Ranking keyword research tool to see who is at the top of the search for any keyword and examine your top pages, especially those on your blogs. Then analyze the keywords and article length of those pages, this will give your SEO copywriter work!
Step 6. Trace link profile history
Backlinks are still an important component in ranking your site in 2021 . The trick is to get backlinks only from trusted sources with high trust domain. Looking for backlinks on these sites can be very long and tiring, so analyzing your competitors to find sites to build links to is not a bad idea. In fact, if you have a list of sites your competitors get backlinks from, you don't have to look for donors on your own; its rivals have already done most of the work.
However, there are a few points you should pay attention to:
- Quality of backlinks. Websites get a lot of backlinks from different sources, but not all of them can be considered good. The main SEO metric here is domain trust. Generally, a donor is considered weak when they have a trusted domain less than 40. This could be because they have low quality backlinks or because they are a young site still working on improving domain trust. So if you want to analyze potential competitors (newcomers), manually check your site link profile to see how it improves your link profile.
- No-follow backlinks vs. do-follow. Nofollow tags are typically used for paid backlinks and their only benefit is that they can attract leads (traffic) and increase brand awareness. When examining the donors your competitors get backlinks from, pay special attention to those who post links without the “nofollow” tag.
- Missing backlinks. If, when comparing your competitors' link profiles with yours, you realize that if they all get links from a site like example.com, you can be sure that you're missing an opportunity, as this site definitely collaborates with companies like your.
For complete information about your competitors' link profiles, access the SE Ranking - Backlink Checker tool. This tool analyzes links from every possible angle. Simply enter your competitor's website address and you will get complete information on the following metrics:
- Domain Authority;
- Page authority;
- Number of referring domains;
- dofollow and nofollow relationship;
- Anchors of the main domains of reference;
- Main backlink anchors;
- Sponsored Backlinks;
- New and lost backlinks, etc.
When analyzing your competitors' backlinks, try to figure out their strategy. Pay attention to how often they get new backlinks and how authoritative your donor domain is. Determine which sites your competitors get the most backlinks from and which anchors they use. Save your best backlinks to create your own backlink strategy and make it more effective.
Step 7. Examine the page structure and UX
UX or user experience and page structure play an important role in positioning as they refer to behavioral factors. Comparing your competitors' similar pages will help you understand some issues that cause your competitors to rank better than you. It will also be useful if you are developing your website structure and design and want to improve it further.
Here are some areas to pay special attention to in terms of structure:
- Titles and meta descriptions. These two constitute the snippet that appears in the search results. Analyze the keywords that your competitors use in their titles and descriptions, as well as their length and whether they are attractive or not.
- H1 and other headers. Google loves well-structured pages, so pay attention to your competitors' page formatting and text, how many levels of titles they use, and whether they use keywords in them.
- Bread crumbs (Breadcrumbs). Breadcrumbs are part of the navigation scheme that shows users exactly where they are and highlights the hierarchy of pages. Current localization makes navigation easier for users and SEO, reducing bounce rate. So remember that your competitors use breadcrumbs and your appearance. -** URL structure**. Pay attention to the nesting levels of the URLs and whether your competitors use friendly URLs instead of hard-to-understand combinations of letters, numbers, and hyphens. As for UX, look at the overall architecture and navigation of the site. Test your competitors' website load speed and responsiveness on mobile devices – these factors are becoming increasingly important for SEO, especially now that the next Page Experience update is near.
Use SE Ranking's on-page SEO audit to check how well a webpage is optimized for a given query. You'll see details about the title, meta description, URL structure, keyword density, total number of keywords, top queries, and more. This will help you work better on your pages and avoid making the same mistakes your competitors might.
After performing the necessary page checks, browse your competitor's website pages on your own. Compare your site's structure and sections with your competitor's to identify differences that could affect your site's ranking and see what's missing.
Step 8. Find Paid Keywords from Competitors
Even if you don't intend to run paid ads yet, knowing your competitors' PPC keys can be very helpful in developing your marketing strategy. Imagine that your competitors are paying for impressions of certain keywords. In this case, they are probably quite profitable and you can use them to rank in organic search or, conversely, avoid them if the CPC is too high and you are not ready to pay more than other competitors.
To track the keywords your competitors are using for paid ad campaigns, go to the Competitor Research tool, enter your competitor's address, choose the Paid Traffic Research section, then the Keywords section. There you will find the complete list of keywords the company is running paid ads with, as well as their search volume, positions (and their changes), competition rates, promoted page URLs, etc.
Step 9. Analyze PPC Ads
Let's continue analyzing the competitor's ads. One of the biggest challenges for any business is creating ad copy, as it needs to be short and engaging. Companies test different ad variations, and sometimes even modifying a word can dramatically increase CTR and lead to higher conversions.
Studying your competitors' ads can help you write your title and description tags. You will understand which offers work best, what information should be specified in the snippet, etc.
To thoroughly study your competitors' ads on Google Ads, you just need to use the SE Ranking competitive research tool. In the Ad History section, you will see the following information:
- Traffic received from ads for each keyword and its share of traffic;
- The number of ads that include a given keyword;
- Search volume;
- Cost per click;
- Full ad texts in different time periods.
Competitor research allows you to legally obtain a lot of information about how your competitors are promoting themselves online. This is very important if you are considering starting a business in a specific niche, changing verticals or improving your current results.
Thanks to modern tools like SE Ranking , you can study your competitors' online presence from literally every angle, from traffic volume and source to full analysis of paid ads, their copy, and the months they launch those. adverts. This allows you to better plan your own promotional activities and avoid mistakes based on competition experience.
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