Competitor Analysis

Before you begin your SEO campaign, one of the first things you have to do is analyse the competition. You have to know who you’re up against and where their strengths and weaknesses are, or else how will you know where the gaps are that you can fill?

By understanding who your competitors are and what they offer, or even what they stand for, puts you in a better position to prioritise your SEO efforts. That and it will ensure you remain innovative and interesting to your audience, because it will force you to think creatively on how you can do better in every facet of your business.

Essentially, by conducting competitor analysis, you are gaining important insights into which tactics within your industry work best, and which your audience don’t appreciate. You need to know this information in order to bolster your keyword rankings, as well as establish the best way to put together an effective SEO campaign for your business. 

By conducting a thorough competitor analysis, you will figure out where your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses lie, meaning you can see where you can outperform them and what resources you will need to do this.

How to identify your SEO competitors

Chances are you already know who your main SEO competitors are simply by typing your industry and niche into Google and see who ranks on page one. But are they your main SEO competitors? Probably not. 

Because it’s more than likely that you have SEO competitors outwith your niche who you will also need to compete with in the SERP. 

Basically, your top SEO competitors will be those businesses that rank on page one of the search results for the keywords that you’re planning on using, and don’t worry if those businesses don’t appear to be in your industry. 

There are two ways to identify your SEO competitors – 

  1. Enter your keywords into Google and check out the top results
  2. Enter your keywords into a competitor analysis tool (we’ve listed some great ones below) and let it do the work for you

As a side note, if you do use a competitor analysis tool, make sure you also monitor the SERP, because you want to know what your competitor’s SEO weapon of choice is if you hope to compete ie blogging, white papers, video content etc. 

Don’t forget, if you’re a local business to check out the local results too, because you’ll especially want to compete for the top places locally. 

How to beat your SEO competition

Now that you know who your competition are, you’ll want to do some more digging to figure out how to beat them in the rankings: 

    • What keywords do they use – by establishing what keywords your competitors use, you can figure out whether you stand a chance at beating them to those keywords or not. Whilst you can, theoretically, rank for any keyword you want to, the odds are the most popular keywords will be out with your resource capability, namely your time and budget. 
    • What keyword opportunities are open to you – of course you want to use the popular keywords in your content, it will help the search engines index your pages after all, but that doesn’t mean you’ll rank for those words. But by ensuring you’ve covered all the bases with the top keywords means you might find some less competitive keywords that you might otherwise have missed by skipping straight to the obscure, niche keywords. 
    • How is their on-site SEO – by analysing your competitor’s on-site SEO efforts will give you a lot of information that you can put to good use, namely how often they publish new content, what type of content they publish and most importantly, what keywords they’re targeting. The areas you want to pay most attention to include the metadata and the headlines, in particular the length of their chosen titles and what keywords they include in the title of their content. Check out their internal linking efforts too, and see where they’re missing a trick or where you can perform better.
    • What does their content look like – when you’re checking out a competitor’s content make sure you look at whether their topic choices are relevant to your audience, what type of content they’re creating and sharing, how long their videos are or how long their articles are, and to what depth they’re going into when covering these topics. You want to know all of this so that you can better what they’re doing – it will work to your advantage when the Google spiders come crawling your site to index it. 
    • What is their backlinking like – you’ll most likely need to draw on an SEO tool to help you with this one because doing it manually will be incredibly hard. But by finding out what your competitor’s backlink profiles look like will allow you to see where the linking opportunities lie. 
    • What is their UX like – Google has prioritised the user experience of late, so use that to your advantage. All of Google’s main algorithm updates have focused on enhancing the UX ie their mobile first campaign or prioritising page speed, for example. If you know that your competitor is weak in these areas, pounce. 
      • Ensure your website is optimised to enable the spiders maximum crawl depth
      • Ensure your main landing pages are as fast as they can be.
      • Make sure your entire website is built with the end user in mind – simplicity is key here.
    • What are they doing on social media – social media is one of the easiest ways to connect with your target audience, so check out what your competitor’s strategy is on social media. 
        • Do they engage with their audience? 
        • Do they encourage content sharing? 
        • Find out what platforms your competitors AREN’T using, and dominate those.
        • Publish content more frequently. 
        • Communicate more often with your followers. 
        • Answer your followers questions. 
        • And focus on giving your audience the type of content they most frequently engage with. 

7 Best SEO tools for conducting competitor analysis