Your competitors are pretty well covered from an SEO standpoint. They have links, the basic on-page stuff like H1s and other meta-data, structured data, and they’ve even got a few trusted sources of backlinks. Their site is probably ranking in positions that you can see every day.
That’s why SEO competitor analysis and doing a complete audit of your competitor’s site are essential. To help you out, we curated a complete SEO competitor analysis checklist for 2021.
The Definitive SEO Competitor Checklist
Here’s the complete SEO competitor analysis checklist:
1. Define your competitors
When you know who your competitors are and what they offer, you can set your prices and strategies competitively. Besides, you can find out whether the new businesses that enter your market and the current competitors hold any threat. Knowing this will help you to be realistic about how your business will fare.
There are two main competitor categories that you should focus on. The first category is direct competitors. They are brands in your sector who market similar products and services like yours. Indirect competitors are those who solve the same customer pain points as you but in a different way.
Your target audience will also be the same as your competitors. So, in a way, you’re also doing audience research.
To find your competitors, you can use SEO tools, such as RankActive’s Top Analyzer.
You will be able to discover your competitors for any keyword, language, and location.
2. Identify competitors’ keywords
Mastering SEO is a necessity whether you are a professional marketer or a budding online entrepreneur. And keywords serve as the lifeblood of SEO.
Here is an example of how the SEMRush keyword research tool works to help you spot competitor keywords fast and easily.
You can use either keyword or URL to search and filter options to get results by country or geographical area. You can also specify PPC keywords that match and study domain analytics data for all the websites. For this example, they have identified CMI’s top competitors.
Now, let’s say you analyze CMI’s organic keywords within the US from Google.com data for desktop searches. Not only can you change the location, but you can also choose either desktop or mobile traffic data.
If you want to see how CMI compares with publishers that are similar to them when it comes to organic keywords in relation to their organic search traffic, you can study the graph that the tool generates.
And to know how CMI’s competitors rank for their keywords, you will find the data in the Organic Competitors report as shown underneath:
Likewise, you can find your competitor’s average organic position in the SERP, approximate search volume, keyword difficulty, average CPC, traffic share driven to the site by a keyword, costs, and more.
3. Examine your competitor’s content
A planned content marketing strategy can bring more conversions, help you build stronger customer relationships, and boost your website traffic, among others.
And a well-planned content strategy begins with examining your competitor’s content.
Examining your competitors’ content type, how often they post, and how they brand the content will help you discern what’s working out for the top leaders in your niche. If it’s working out for them, it will work out for you as well since you also have a similar niche and audience.
When you visit your competitors’ sites, ensure you study these features:
- The keywords and themes used in the main heading. Using SEO to promote content is a strategy that many marketers use.
- The branding level in the content.
- Call-to-Action within site.
- Content style such as Product pages, Resource Tools, Blogs, Case Studies, and more.
- The structure of internal linking and link anchor text.
Studying these will help you craft a new content strategy that can outperform even your competitors.
4. Analyze their on-page SEO tactics
To rank higher on prominent search engines, optimizing on-page SEO is crucial since on-page is one of Google’s primary ranking factors.
When optimizing on-page SEO, you will be focusing on optimizing SEO elements like content, title, title tag, images, URLs, and rich snippets.
Here are all the on-page SEO elements you should examine:
Google will examine these SEO factors to comprehend what info the pages bring and, consequently, how to index them.
Luckily, you can use automated tools like ScreamingFrog SEO Spider to crawl and analyze your competitor’s site.
The tool allows you to monitor SEO elements, including title tags, meta descriptions, headings and subheadings, redirects, structured data, site structure, and more. You can even monitor their important pages and discover how they are optimizing them.
5. Gain traffic insights
To gain your competitors’ traffic insights, you can again use free SEO tools like SEMRush. Simply enter your competitors’ website URL to discover the keywords fetching organic traffic to their website. But unless you use a paid version, you can do only limited searches and get limited results.
With the SEMrush Traffic Analytics tool, you can also examine:
- Desktop and mobile traffic
- Traffic sources analytics
- And User behavior stats.
All the data collected will help you to break down your competitor’s digital marketing strategy and approximately calculate a prospective partner’s capabilities. And these two stats, when used in tandem, can help you make winning pre-sales pitches.
For instance, by studying audience behavior, you can get a glimpse into your competitor’s traffic quality and conclude the efficiency of their activities. You can analyze visits, unique visitors, pages/visits, average visit duration, and Bounce Rate.
If your competitor’s total traffic is growing, the bounce rate is rising, and the number of Pages/Visits is declining, it is probably because they are getting poor quality or irrelevant traffic.
If you are a SaaS business, it is also good to learn about the SaaS customer lifecycle and how SaaS brands can optimize for each funnel stage.
6. Check competitor backlink profiles
One of the most innovative ways to start a link-building campaign is to analyze your competitor’s backlink profile. Since building links is not easy, it is a great idea to imitate your competitors initially.
For instance, if you look at Glassdoor’s backlinks, it has more than 520 million from 109,000 domains. When it was launched, it had more than 3 billion backlinks from more than 260,000 domains. The magical growth in backlinks occurred as they were focused on creating data-driven assets that impressed, stroked egos, and offered journalists something to speak about.
To check out your competitor’s backlink success, start by getting a copy of your competitors’ link profiles. Since most of the sites will usually have hundreds of backlinks, begin with your two biggest competitors.
Backlink analysis tools, such as Moz’s Open Site Explorer, will come in handy here.
Moz’s Open Site Explorer has a backlink feature. You simply have to enter the URL you want to get links from:
Once you have the results page, scroll down to Inbound Links heading. You will see the list of the backlinks:
Ahrefs’ Backlink Checker is another excellent option to check competitor’s backlink profiles. It also has a feature that allows you to set up backlink alerts. You will get a weekly email with the fresh backlinks of your competitors, helping you stay up-to-date with your contenders.
You will also be able to find your competitors’ recurring link sources:
You can either get those link sources or get the entire link profiles to use for your own website.
Focus on these areas while checking their backlink profiles:
- Your competitors’ domain rating and yours to get an idea of how close or far you are with your competitors concerning links and authority.
- Check from which websites they are receiving links to get a hint of their link-building strategy.
- Check out which anchor texts are used often. Apart from being significant ranking factors, it lets you know which keywords they are trying to rank for.
- Find out the pages that are frequently linked to. These will be their top performing pages too.
- Plus, examine their link velocity and how many backlinks they are getting monthly. You will be able to step up your game in case they are performing better.
You could also use a link tracker to monitor your own links. There are plenty of link trackers out there that can help you to perform several things apart from tracking your links, including A/B split testing, fraud detection, and bot filtering, traffic filtering, social media campaign tracking, and more.
7. Look into their link acquisition strategy
Now that you have examined their backlinks data, you can implement them as well. Use Link Intersect tools to discover sites that are linking to your contenders but are not linking to yours.
Try to find out how they were able to acquire links from these sites. Take a guest post, for instance. If the site from which they got a link accepts contributions, you can contribute there as well. Or, if they have reached a press release published on a site, you can follow a similar route.
However, don’t simply rely on link-building services or emulate black hat SEO tactics, such as paid reviews. It’s not worth the investment and might even backfire on you later on.
8. Dig into their ads and social media tactics
Apart from the SEO competitor analysis, finding out your competitor’s ads and social media strategies is also crucial. Without a proper social media strategy, it will be difficult for your business to connect with your customers, boost brand awareness, and improve your leads and sales.
Social media is where your audience spends their time and offers up so much potential for marketers. You will most probably be having the same target audience as your competitors. If you think the content they share on social media will attract your target audience, ensure to replicate the process as well.
Ads are excellent for copywriting. They give your competitors access to the top of the search results right away. And if you even manage to come up with an eye-catching, keyword-rich meta description, you can steal clicks away.
9. Bridge the gap and stay ahead
Your business will succeed only if you keep innovating, fulfilling your customers’ needs, and bringing a solution to pain points. If you cast your net wide, you will have a more competitive advantage.
Suppose you have a handicraft supplies store. In that case, though, you can’t possibly compete with the supermarket when it comes to price; you can find out things like how your customers value items made locally or products sourced ethically from your experience data.
Or you can study your competitor’s on-page SEO strategies to find out their important pages and learn how they are optimizing these. By tracking how your competitors are attaining success, you will be able to target your offering and make your business stand out.
You can also create reports to keep track of your current SEO standing using tools, such as Whatagraph.
The SEO tool allows you to track organic traffic, clicks, impressions, CTR, and other pertinent SEO metrics. All of your data can be automatically combined in one place by integrating your current SEO tools with Whatagraph.
Boost Your Rankings in Search Engines With Competitor Analysis
This was the complete SEO competitor analysis checklist you need to consider in 2021. This way, your competitors are indirectly helping you shape the way you structure your plans, campaigns, and strategies for the current and future search marketplaces.
While doing competitor analysis, you should always take a look at your competitor’s website, paying particular attention to their content, keyword research, and link-building efforts. And the goal isn’t to completely mimic your competitors. The goal is to monitor which competitors are succeeding and how they’re doing so – and then implementing the same factors in your own strategy but in your own way.