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SEO Competitor Research: A Step-By-Step Guide


It’s always important to consider the strategy of your competitors in the market when you want to optimize your site. When you lag behind them and see that you are losing your positions – analyze your competitors. It will help you find their weaknesses and strengths. After that, you’ll be able to understand what approach you should take to improve your website. Even if you’re ahead of the market, you always need to do an SEO competitor analysis. It may seem pointless: why look at others when you’re doing so well? But, you may be missing strategies that help your competitors get ahead of you. You can do it yourself, or we can accomplish it for you free of charge if you order an SEO Competitors Analysis. You’ll get the results in a couple of days. If you’re set on doing it yourself, read on to find out the most important steps in analyzing your competition’s SEO strategy and how to complete them.

What Is SEO Competitor Analysis and Why Do You Need It?

Let’s say you already have a business. Everything seems to be working fine, and you have good service and average prices. Still, you lack traffic, and your rankings aren’t so great? It means your competitors are doing something extra to get more traffic and customers. You need to analyze your competitors’ strategies to get your customers back and win new ones. That’s when you need to do an SEO competitor analysis which involves the following:

  • SEO keyword competition analysis
  • Competitor backlink analysis
  • Keyword gap analysis
  • Top content analysis

The beauty of SEO competitive research is that you can see what other competitors are doing and apply it to your SEO strategy. Thus, you’ll be able to create useful content, improve search rankings, and attract more relevant traffic to your website. You need to find out who your search competitors are and which keywords they rank and receive organic traffic for to win the competition.

How to Perform an SEO Competitor Analysis

Perhaps you know what SEO competitor analysis is. But how do you do it? Let’s check out some of the essential analysis steps our Crowdo team outlined.

1. Identify Your SEO Competitors

The first step in understanding how to do competitor analysis SEO is identifying the competition. Your SEO competitors are websites that rank for the organic search queries you are also competing for. It’s essential to know who you are competing with before publishing or optimizing any pages aimed at ranking for a specific keyword. 

Knowing your competition is not that hard, but it takes some time and resources to research it. The only method of finding your SEO competitors is by analyzing the data. How do you find your website’s competitors? Start by compiling a list of 10 websites similar to yours (similar niche, size of business, and target audience). You can do it by entering your top keywords into Google and writing down the domains of your main competitors. 

For example, let’s say you have a computer retailer shop in New York and would like to see your SEO competitors. Type buy a new gaming computer into the Google search and see all the competitors on the first page of Google. Disregard directories, write down the websites of the top computer retailer shops, and you have a list of your competitors.Search for competitors through Google search

A more precise way is to enter keywords into your SEO competitor analysis tool (such as Ahrefs, SEMRush, and SpyFu) and let it do all the heavy lifting for you. 

For example, you can enter your site into Ahrefs, and the program will show you the competitors’ sites.

Competing domains overview from Ahrefs

However, SEO analysis does a better job of identifying your actual SEO competition. Once you know your competitors, you can analyze them.

2. SEO Competitor Keyword Analysis

Competitor keyword analysis means finding useful keywords for which your competitors rank high. You can use that information to outrank them and get more traffic to your website. However, keep in mind that not all keywords are suitable for that. In Crowdo, we believe that focusing on high-frequency niche-related keywords is better.

If you are new to SEO, start with a tool like Semrush or Ahrefs. You’ll find out which keywords get organic traffic. Ask yourself these questions before picking the keywords:

  • Which keywords bring traffic to your competitor that you might consider for yourself?
  • Which keywords don’t bring traffic to your competitor?
  • Which keywords is this competitor not targeting that you can target to get traffic?

For example, in Ahrefs, you can see the following data by entering “buy a new gaming laptop” in the search box.Overview Competitor Keyword from Ahrefs

If a keyword has a high search volume, it doesn’t mean that ranking highly for it will increase the search traffic. It’s better to focus on search intent – the primary purpose a user has in mind when searching. Search intent might be 

  • informational (about the weather, SEO);
  • navigational (people with this intent want to visit a specific website);
  • transactional (their purpose is to buy something at that moment);
  • commercial (intend to buy in the future and use the internet to do their research). 

Your web pages must meet the user’s search intent with high-quality content. This content must deliver relevant answers to their search, regardless of its type.

Don’t forget to pay attention to long-tail keywords in your keyword competitor analysis. Sometimes, choosing long-tail variations over one-word ones can be more practical. For example, the keyword “yoga” is returning more than 721,000,000 search results on Google. The competition is high on this one. But if you search for “yoga for beginners” or “yoga poses,” it’s clear that these have less search competition. It’ll be easier to win traffic on them. 

 Overview Competitor Keyword yoga from Ahrefs

Overview Competitor Keyword yoga for beginners from Ahrefs

Choosing keyword variations can take some time. But luckily, doing an SEO competitor analysis with an SEO tool can make your job easier. Make sure you’re analyzing your competitors for short keywords (the popular ones) and the longer ones that need less effort to rank for. 

3. SEO Competitor Backlinks Analysis

At Crowdo, we firmly believe that high-quality and credible backlinks are essential to any successful SEO strategy. An important step in your SEO competitive analysis is searching your rivals’ backlinks data, i.e., where they get them from. Studying their link profiles is an excellent way to find new link options. You’ll need a powerful SEO tool for this one because doing it manually is almost impossible.

We often use Ahrefs in our work. Take uber.com, for example. Enter it in Ahrefs and see all the backlinks for this website.

Uber backlinks overview from  Ahrefs

You can also look at broken backlinks.

Uber broken backlinks overview from  Ahrefs

Backlinks determine a website’s trustworthiness. They are among Google’s top eight search ranking factors. If search engines see that your website can be trusted, you’ll rank higher in search results and gain more traffic. Naturally, if your competitors’ list of backlinks is bigger, you’ll have difficulty outranking them. Thus, improving your backlinks profile should be a priority for you – analyzing your competitors’ backlinks can be very helpful. It’s called SEO link gap analysis.

Use Ahrefs to find which relevant, high-quality sites your competitors are getting backlinks from. Remember that not all links are good for your website. The bad ones can harm your SEO performance, so try to avoid them.

Referring domain overview from Ahrefs

Useful methods to catch up with your competitors and strengthen your backlinks profile:

  • Monitor your competitors’ link-building activities. You can match their strategy and build trustworthy links to your website. These sites can be a great asset to your SEO strategy.
  • Claim unlinked mentions to your brand by contacting site administrators to insert a link to your website.
  • Ensure all backlinks to your website link to the most relevant content.

4. Technical SEO Competitor Analysis

Let’s turn our attention to technical SEO auditing. Like keyword analysis, the technical part is essential to any SEO competitor analysis strategy. Examine the technical details of your website and compare it to your competitors when performing an SEO audit.

It would help to check the following technical factors:

  • Page speed. It’s a ranking factor affecting conversion and behavioral indicators. If a page has a slow loading speed, the site loses a significant number of visitors and positions.

You can check the site speed at https://www.webpagetest.org/, for example.

 Overview  check the site speed at webpagetest

  • Responsiveness. If the site is poorly adapted for smartphone screens, it harms its ranking. In the worst-case scenario, you can lose about half of your site’s traffic.
  • The presence of duplicate content and pages. This happens quite often and may lead to a steep drop in positions. You can check for duplicate content on https://www.siteliner.com/, for example.
  • The presence of duplicate content and pages
  • Internal relinking and redirects. Links affect both the usability and allocation of PageRank. If they are not placed correctly, many pages can remain at the bottom of SERP. Redirection is the act of forwarding one URL to a different URL. Redirecting a page usually means you are giving the page a brand-new URL. Redirects are critical to any successful website, but people often disregard them.
  • URL and breadcrumb structure. Study your competitors’ pages to see their URL structure and breadcrumbs’ usage. One important aspect of your pages’ URLs: they should be coherent, error-free, and user-friendly. Use breadcrumbs to improve the user’s navigation experience. These two aspects can help your website become more SEO-friendly.
  • Meta tags. These are special HTML tags that are designed to provide more information (metadata) about the content of a web page. Simply put, it is a description of the website’s pages.

Google is extra-focused on improving user experience. Better mobile experience, site structure, faster pages – all these should be part of your SEO strategy. If your competitors have a faster, more responsive site, you’ll only have to lose from this.

5. Content

Content is among the crucial aspects of your SEO competitor analysis. Your competitors’ content can help you and your SEO strategy. You have to examine their most popular content and use their strategies to improve yours. Providing a better content experience for your website’s users should be your priority.

We recommend using two key methods to outdo your competitor’s content:

  • Locate and fill content gaps. You need to study existing popular content on any of your competitors’ topics and discover gaps in that content that you can improve in yours. By gaps, we mean outdated content that lacks facts or important details or is hard to comprehend for users. 

You can find gaps in content using Ahrefs, for example.

Overview Content Gap from Ahrefs

  • The ‘Skyscraper’ technique. First, you need to find content that has backlinking potential. Then make that content better than that of your competitors. Better means more comprehensive, detailed, and up-to-date content. The third step is reaching out to site owners who have already linked to similar content.

Use BuzzSumo or Ahrefs Content Explorer to find your competitors’ most popular content.

Overview Ahrefs Content Explorer

There are several content elements you should take note of when you’re optimizing your content:

  • Content format
  • Titles
  • Placement of keywords on the web page
  • Page structure, for example, the information architecture and headings
  • Use of images, videos, and other media files
  • Use of bullet points, infographics, Q&As
  • The presence of structured data
  • Frequency of publishing

Google is rolling out an update about Human-first content. Essentially, websites with content written for search engines will have to lose from this. For example, you search for something online and stumble upon content that ranks well but is not very helpful. Frustrating, right? 

Focus on meeting the user’s search intent and providing high-quality and informative content rather than gaining search and traffic volume for your keywords. If you do that, you’ll increase the search rankings, drive more relevant traffic to your web pages and gain more leads. Position yourself as a more reliable source of information than your competition and ensure that your readers know about it.

How to build human-first content – Google’s advice.

✅️ The content should be useful for your target audience.

✅️ The content should show direct experience and depth of knowledge from using your services or products.

✅️ The content should leave the user feeling they have learned enough about the topic to help them achieve their goal.

✅️ The user must enjoy the content they read.

Google’s latest useful content update will affect all niches since it will be distributed sitewide.

6. Website traffic statistics

Proper evaluation of website traffic and analysis of this data will help to find problems in your promotion strategy. You’ll also be able to increase its effectiveness. You should always analyze the web resource traffic. Whether it’s an online store or an ordinary webpage, it doesn’t matter. You can use Google Analytics for that.

Site traffic statistics provide information about:

  • visitors to the site;
  • the actions performed by them on the site;
  • how the site works;
  • the results of the optimization and promotion of the site;
  • distribution by channels and estimation of the share of each channel in traffic;
  • users’ time on the page and the bounce rate;
  • types of users’ devices and their location;
  • comparison of page traffic with previous periods.Overview Website traffic statistics from Google Analytics

7. Popular pages on your competitors’ websites

We all know how important the role of landing pages is. They are not only capable of getting traffic but also of successfully converting it. Sometimes, it is enough to see how a successful competitor solves a similar problem to do a task. You must understand which pages on competitors’ sites are the most successful. It’ll allow you to create similar landing pages on your site and solve several important tasks:

  • identifying topics for articles that can bring in good traffic;
  • finding topics that have viral potential in social networks;
  • launching a site with the most promising content;
  • identifying interesting queries and adapting your pages to them;
  • making a content plan for several months ahead;
  • creating new sections on the site and new entry points by expanding semantics.

Before you start searching, you need to know what to look for. Examine the pages with the highest visibility in organic traffic, the ones generating the most traffic, and the URLs with the most backlinks.

Overview Popular pages on your competitors' websites from Ahrefs

8. Site’s position in Google’s Search results

In search promotion, it is important to study changes to understand whether the work was effective and how to adjust your strategy. Pay particular attention to checking the positions of the site. Monitoring allows you to analyze the effectiveness of the implemented strategy. We believe checking the site’s position in Google is necessary for everyone.

Regular monitoring makes it possible to assess how certain actions have affected the site’s ranking in the results. Also, the analysis will show answers to the following questions:

  • why positions have collapsed;
  • what place in the search engine ranking each page has for selected keywords;
  • what steps boost the rating, and how quickly it happens.

If the site is promoted correctly, its position in SERP will grow. But sometimes, the opposite happens. The reasons may be in the filters from the search engines and other factors. In any case, you need to check the site’s position to detect problems in time and fix them.

You can check positions in Google using keywords.

Overview organic keywords from Ahrefs

9. Competitors’ DR (Domain Rating)

Domain Rating, or DR, shows the strength of the link profile of a particular site. Thus, our SEO specialists use this value to quickly determine a particular site’s “link weight” and compare it with others. If site A has more DR than site B, it means that the link profile of site A is stronger than that of site B. Does this mean that site A should be higher in search results than site B? Not necessarily (although more authoritative sites usually have more DR). The highest value for DR is 100. The higher the value, the better. Sites with links from many websites have higher authority. Especially if the links come from sites that themselves have high authority.

You can check Domain Rating in Ahrefs.

Overview Referring pages from Ahrefs

10. Other Points to be Analyzed

After studying your competitor’s organic traffic, pay closer attention to the SERP features for which your rivals rank.

Featured snippets show up for about 19% of search queries, and they get about 9% of clicks from the results on the first page.

Use Ahrefs Site Explore to find out which featured snippets your competitors have. If your competitors rank for many featured snippets, there is a chance that you might do the same. It’s not always the first ranking page that owns the snippet. From our experience, around 60% of featured snippets come from pages that rank in positions 2 to 5.

If you can make it to the top 5, you’ll have a good shot at owning the snippet.

Overview Organic Keywords from Ahrefs

Social media doesn’t directly affect ranking results. But your links on social platforms increase brand awareness. As an indirect factor, social media can have the following effects:

  • Accelerates the rate of distribution of your content;
  • Increases the relevance of your publications, thus attracting traffic;
  • Has a positive impact on brand awareness, credibility, and reputation;
  • Improves local ranking results.

So, it would help if you studied which platforms your competitors are using. Also, how often they publish new content, and which types of content are the most popular.

Another good point to analyze is your competitors’ advertising campaigns, such as Google Ads, banner ads, and paid posts. You’ll be able to optimize your semantic search, identify your competitors’ most relevant keywords and improve your landing pages.

SEO Tools for Competitor Analysis

In the digital world, finding out what your competitors are doing can be easy. But, the entire process, from evaluation to implementation, may not be so simple.

Let’s take a look at some competitor monitoring tools we think can be useful for you.

Semrush – a set of tools for analyzing search results, contextual and media advertising, backlinks, keywords, product listings, etc. The service also searches for competitors in social networks and determines their positions in search engines. There is a wide range of tools for comprehensive analysis.

Ahrefs – Ahrefs is a powerful search engine. It analyzes billions of web pages daily and indexes millions of websites. Thus, the amount of traffic information this service has is huge. It can give you the information you need to attract traffic and compete against competitors.

Ahrefs is unique because it can gather very useful data about a website from many points of view. Even if you’re not an SEO expert, you won’t have a hard time figuring out how it works. The service makes it very easy to filter and organize information and find the metrics for the specific periods you need.

SimilarWeb – This tool will help you determine how many people visit your competitor’s site and where those users come from. You’ll understand which interaction channels your brand should focus on as you plan your content marketing. Similarweb generates detailed and insightful reports on a site’s content marketing strategy. It includes a full description of traffic, users’ geographic location, and all standard metrics such as page views, session duration, traffic sources, bounce rate, etc.

Majestic – The service specializes in checking backlinks and analyzes up to five competitor domains simultaneously. The information obtained gives you an understanding of what the link profile of your site should be. This is important because link data affects your search engine ranking.

SpyFu – Used to identify the most profitable keywords in your competitors’ paid and organic search campaigns. With SpyFu, you can track your competitors, learn from their mistakes, and take advantage of their weaknesses.

BuzzSumo – Helps you keep track of popular content shared on social media. You can use it to keep track of your competitors by finding out which types of their content have received the most social shares. You can search both by URL and by content niche. It also generates detailed reports on your competitor’s content performance. They show where your competitors are succeeding by analyzing average shares across the network, content format, length, and publication day.

We recommend making a summary table for SEO analysis of competitors that includes backlinks, keywords, traffic, Domain Rating (DR), and Ref. domains to have a good visual representation and see how your website measures up. It’s convenient and will allow you to look at the differences between your and competitors’ websites.

Here is an example of such a table:

DomainDRTrafficKeywordsRef. domainsBacklinks
Instafollowers.co709727921195522571544780
Buzzoid.com7139615310939149112927
you3711011349812513

Have Questions or Want a Free SEO Competitor Analysis Report?

With huge experience and knowledge in the field, Crowdo can help you analyze your competitors and make a strategic plan to outrank them. We have access to many competitor analysis services, such as Ahrefs, Semrush, SE Ranking, and others.

When we take on a project, we examine it with attention to every detail and choose the best strategies to deliver desired results. Our clients provide great feedback on our work because we care about them and their business. Sometimes, we over-deliver; that shows how much we want our clients to succeed. We keep up to date with the latest updates and techniques in the SEO field so we can put our clients ahead of their competitors. Our results speak for themselves. 

Are you ready to beat your competitors? Order a free SEO Competitor Analysis from us. Let’s take on a path to success that will completely change your business, making it better and more profitable.

Have questions? Reach out via our messengers – we’re here to help!

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