The Definitive Guide to SEO Competitive Analysis

These best practice suggestions will assist you in identifying your top competitors, determining why they are outranking you, and determining what you can do about it.

Every industry benefits from strong competition. It:

  • It keeps you from becoming complacent.
  • Encourages creativity.
  • Forces you to improve in all aspects of your business, from development to sales to customer service.

It’s no different when it comes to figuring out how to outperform your competitors in search.

In this article, we’ll go over eight best practice ideas to help you identify your top competitors, figure out why they’re outranking you, and figure out what you can do about it.

Please keep in mind that no specific tools or products will be covered in this post – but please keep in mind that competitive analysis would be useless without them!

As a result, integrate these suggestions with your favorite competitor research tools.

1. Identify Your SEO Competitors

You’re undoubtedly aware of the major companies in your sector, but can you name your primary SEO competitors?

They aren’t always the same.

In fact, you may have several SEO opponents who exist outside of your niche with whom you must compete in SERPs.

For example, a bakery in New York attempting to rank for phrases such as “best bread in New York” would be fighting for first page results with other bakeries.

However, if same bakery was also attempting to rank a helpful how-to blog, they would be competing with publishing behemoths such as Food Network and Taste of Home.

If they wanted to break the top 10 in those SERPs, they’d have their work cut out for them!

This is true in all industries:

Your top SEO competitors are the ones who rank on the first search page of the keywords you’re targeting, regardless of whether they’re your business competitors.

If you operate in several categories, you may even have separate lists of competitors for each service you provide, with little to no overlap.

Fortunately, determining who your competitors are is as simple as typing your top keywords into Google and noting the domains of your primary competitors (or entering your keywords into your competitor analysis tool and letting it do all of the heavy liftings for you).

Even if you are utilizing a tool, it is in your best interest to watch the SERP landscape into which you are venturing (e.g., if your target keyword is dominated by videos, you probably want to think about creating video content to compete).

Pay close attention to opponents who have local packs and position zero – you should surely vie for these coveted positions!

2. Evaluate Keyword Difficulty

Before delving into specific link-building tactics or on-page SEO, you should examine the strength of your SEO competition.

While it is theoretically possible to outperform any competition in every niche and for any keyword, the amount of resources required for some phrases makes them impractical.

Examine your competitors’ entire domain strength with your competition analysis tool, then examine specific factors such as:

  • Domain mastery.
  • Country and age of the domain
  • Search engine indexing.
  • Listings from catalogues
  • Data on backlinks
  • Alexa ranking
  • Volumes of traffic
  • Signs of social interaction.

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Make a note of the information and seek any flaws that you can exploit.

The greater a target competitor’s difficulty, the stronger their SEO, and the tougher it will be to outrank them.

Concentrate on competitors that have lower overall scores but are doing highly for specialty keywords.

3. Look for New Keyword Opportunities

Term frequency-inverse document frequency analysis (or, for brevity, TF-IDF analysis) can be a useful method for enriching your existing content with “proper” keywords that your competitors are using and thus properly optimizing your pages for search engines, or for discovering low-competition keywords that you may have overlooked.

Simply said, TF-IDF is a measurement of how frequently a keyword occurs on a page (term frequency) multiplied by the frequency with which a keyword is expected to appear on a page (inverse document frequency).

When analyzing TF-IDF, you may learn that the majority of top-ranking pages for your target keywords use numerous similar terms and phrases.

If you aren’t targeting those topic-related terms, you should either add them to current relevant pages or produce new material to increase your relevance in semantic search.

This notion is a little more involved than the other methods we’ll go through, but it may rapidly become an essential component of developing a thorough content strategy.

Using TF-IDF, for example, we determined that high-ranking content for the keyword “coffee brewing recipes” almost always contains particular information about different coffee bean mixes, roasting procedures, and filter kinds.

4. Analyze On-Page Optimization & On-Site Content

Analyzing your competitors’ on-site SEO with your competitive analysis tool will provide you with a veritable treasure of new information to work with.

You’ll discover how frequently they publish content, what types of content they publish, and which keywords they target.

Pay close attention to:

  • Metadata.
  • Strategies for headlines (title length, keywords in the title, proper title tags, etc).

Attempt to decipher their internal connection mechanisms as well. Use this data as a starting point for your on-site SEO initiatives.

Determine what they are doing well so that you can learn from it, and what they are missing so that you may do it better.

When assessing content, bear the following in mind:

  • Relevance to the present.
  • What kinds of content or media they’re producing.
  • The duration of the video or the number of words.
  • The level of detail that was covered.

All of these factors are important when Googlebot crawls your website.

5. Dig into Competitor Backlink Profiles

One of the most significant aspects of a competitive analysis is determining where your competitors’ backlinks are coming from and using that information to develop high-quality links for your website.

Examining your competitors’ link profiles is a wonderful method to discover fresh link opportunities.

Again, you’ll need a powerful SEO tool for this phase — it’s nearly difficult to accomplish manually.

6. Examine Site Structure & UX

You haven’t been paying attention if you don’t realize that Google has been hyper-focused on improving user experience.

Almost all of the key algorithmic adjustments we’ve seen in recent years have been centered on UX — better mobile experiences, faster pages, and better search results.

If your website is slower than your competitors’, unresponsive, or more difficult to access, you must immediately address the issue. I recommend the following:

  • Increasing the crawlability of your sitemap.
  • Optimizing page performance is especially important for high-value landing pages.
  • Ensure that every aspect of your website is designed with searcher intent in mind.

Take a peek at your competitors’ landing pages to see what they’re doing:

  • Examine the depth of their clicks.
  • Check to see whether there are any orphan pages.
  • Examine their PageRank distribution.

If you research competitor sites and notice that they are doing high despite having an outdated website or poor mobile optimization, this is a great opportunity for you to gain some SERP real estate.

7. Learn How They’re Leveraging Social Media

The precise nature of how social media intersects with SEO is hotly debated, but few SEO experts would argue that it is a crucial component of any healthy SEO strategy.

Of course, this is due to the fact that a competent social listening platform does far more than keep you up to date on every new cat meme your competition tweets.

You may use an excellent social listening tool to:

  • Increase website traffic by tracking linkless social media mentions and connecting with your audience – especially when people are using or searching for your goods.
  • Track brand mentions on social media networks and repeat the process (a good social listening tool should be able to monitor news sites, blogs, forums, etc.).
  • Monitor user sentiment (hint: Google is doing this as well – and it has the potential to effect rankings!).

Monitoring is an example of simple research that you can conduct:

  • What platforms your competitors use (or do not use).
  • How frequently they add new stuff.
  • How they interact with their followers.
  • Which forms of material generate the most interest?

You should also monitor competitor link less mentions, user reviews, and public relations to understand what their customers enjoy about their product or service – and what you could do better.

8. Try to Track Competitor Ad Spend

If you’ve done all possible to optimize your website and you’re still being outranked in the SERPs, it’s possible that your competitors are just outspending you and using paid traffic campaigns to create conversions and sales.

I advise against attempting to match each competitor’s spending tit for tat, but you may find it useful to monitor their Google Ads campaigns, promoted content, banner ads, paid posts, and other advertising campaigns so that you can at least get a sense of what others in your niche are spending on advertising.


The only thing left to do now that you’ve mastered competition analysis is to stay at it.

Continue to make modest improvements, keep an eye on your competitors, and keep track of your rankings.

Eventually, your efforts should be rewarded, and you will begin to advance in your career.

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