If you want your business to be commercially viable, you should be online: when people look for something, they use search engines. The higher your website is in the search results, the more chances a user will choose it. To come to the top, you need to know how you can ‘overtake’ your competitors.
In this post, I’ll tell about the stage of site optimization some people neglect. As a result, they lose traffic they could get. The main aim of competitive analysis is to collect and review information about rival companies. This will give you a clue to making your product, service, or marketing stand out.
The following article will help both new websites and those which are mature enough to find new ways of gaining popularity on the Internet.
Why you need a competitor analysis?
To be ahead of your rivals, you should know their strengths and weaknesses. Due to this, you’ll be able to enhance their ideas and create something entirely new. It’s an essential process in SEO.
After conducting competitor analysis, you’ll certainly not:
- overlook really significant ranking factors;
- create useless content.
But you will:
- prevent possible mistakes;
- come up with magnetic ideas;
- discover important issues you didn’t pay attention at.
Of course, before getting to this analysis, you should find out who you compete with.
Who are your search competitors?
You may think that you know who your closest competitors are. But it’s easy to be mistaken. Market players are replacing each other extremely fast, and it may count against you if you aren’t observing the current situation.
New companies appear, some leaders leave the top or even stop functioning. These changes should influence your further actions.
Some people use Google search or interview their sales department looking for rival firms. If there’s a wide range of categories on your website, it’s quite challenging to collect accurate information by yourself. The quickest way to do it is to use such SEO tools as Serpstat, Ahrefs, SEMrush.
Let’s look how Serpstat copes with this task. All you need is enter the URL of your site and follow the pattern shown on the picture below.
The service builds up the list of search competitors taking into consideration keywords your website and the competing ones use in SEO. At this stage, you can see both your common semantics and those words your domain is missing.
5 Keys to Efficient Analysis
Knowing who the rival firms are — is a good start, but it’s not enough. Here are the further steps you should undertake to get a great result:
- Research keywords.
- Analyze backlinks.
- Audit meta tags and content.
- Consider usability and structure.
- Check traffic sources.
Step by step, you’ll come close to a perfect business strategy.
1. Research Keywords
To begin with, define the semantics your competitors use to rank in the top of search engines. Surely, you’ll find out that there are lots of opportunities for you to widen the keyword pool of your website.
As you’re already at Competitors page, choose the site with the highest Relevance and click on the number at Missing Keywords column. Try to identify the words which are relevant to your content and think whether you can add them to your semantics.
It’s much more convenient and productive to compare your site with two other close competitors at once. Before doing this, find the sites with the closest subjects to your one. Then go to the tab Domain vs. Domain and enter the chosen domains (or click on those from the list below).
You get the whole information about the common and missing words of all three domains. If you click on the area where both of your competitors intersect, you’ll see the list of keywords you may also use.
2. Analyze Backlinks
Despite Google is told to be reducing the backlinks impact on website’s ranking, SEO specialists still talk about the importance of external backlinks. Indeed, some competitive niches almost don’t give you a chance to improve your site’s search visibility without a proper backlinks profile.
The answer to where you could place your links may be easily found during competitors’ backlinks analysis. I highly recommend you to use SEO tools for this purpose.
All three services I mentioned can analyze sites’ backlinks profile. I’ll show you the way SEMrush does it: enter the domain of a rival you want to analyze in an input field and go to Backlinks.
You don’t need all the information given to you at this page for competitive analysis. The data worth paying attention to:
- The number of referring domains and web pages.
- The web pages themselves.
- Distribution of anchor texts.
If you have the same audience as your competitor, you’ll find link opportunities for your backlinks profile.
3. Audit meta tags and content
A meta tag is a text snippet which describes page’s content. It’s the first thing users look at deciding whether they should go to your page. If you enter one of your keywords in the search field, you’ll see lots of examples of your competitors’ meta tags.
You can also use SEO tool for more information on tags. For example, Serpstat will provide you with data about meta tags used in adverts. Go to Keyword Research, enter the keyword and click on PPC Research > Ad Example.
Analyzing competitors’ content, you’ll come up with ideas on improving the information they give to create your topics.
This part of competitive analysis requires your efforts most of all: it’s better to check competitors’ content by yourself. What are the features of high-quality content?
- It should be created for a user, not for search engine.
- Unique content, which is more useful than at other sites.
- Articles are easy to read.
- The information it gives is complete.
- It’s popular in the media.
- Designed properly.
- Other sites share it.
- Its pages rank in the top.
One more significant factor is social media sharing statistics. The more useful the content is, the more shared it becomes. You can use Buzzsumo to find out which of your competitors’ posts are the most popular.
Knowing these data, you’ll decide upon the topics your readers are interested in.
Once you’ve learnt how to analyze your competitors’ sites, you’ll be able to follow the same pattern auditing your website.
4. Consider usability and structure
Thanks to analyzing the site’s structure of your competitors, you’ll get ideas of new sections for your site.
You’ll see which pages your competitors consider important if you look at the hierarchy they set up at the site. Think, why they pay so much attention to the specific pages. Maybe, search engines index them better due to such a structure?
Remember to examine whether your competitor’s site has a mobile version — nowadays, people surf the Internet mostly using their smartphones. If you still don’t have it, what are you waiting for?
5. Check traffic sources
It’s easier to realize what you should aim at when you’re aware which sources exactly drive you the best traffic.
To know which channels have the potential for you, just find the information about traffic sources of your competitors.
SimilarWeb will help you with it: you can either follow the link or download its browser add-on. The service provides information about competitors’ traffic and shows where this traffic comes from.
There are three main things you should remember after reading this article:
- Even if you think you’re aware of all your competitors, observe the changes in the market constantly.
- Analyze your competitors to come up with ideas for improving your blog and not to make mistakes.
- To get a visible advantage, take all five steps of analysis consistently.
Inna Yatsyna - a content marketing specialist at Serpstat, an all-in-one SEO platform. She's fond of writing useful articles and helping people. Also, Inna is a passionate lover of travelling, growing home flowers, and big dogs.