In order to be the best in any industry, you need to know what you are working against. Without careful analysis, you will never know if you are better or worse than your competitors. This is where competition research and analysis comes in – it allows scope for a data-driven strategy that is designed to get your website to rank first.
In this blog, we provide a step by step guide for conducting competitor analysis and share some free tools that you can use to get started.
After reading this blog, you will be able to:
- Find out who you are competing with.
- Content that ranks best in your niche.
- Strengths of your competitors that you should learn from.
- Weaknesses of your competitors that you should exploit.
What is Competitor Research?
As the name suggests, SEO competitor analysis is the process of studying and analysing the strategies used by your competitors. The following can be a part of competitor analysis:
- Keywords and content gap analysis.
- Backlink analysis.
- Highest and lowest ranking keyword analysis.
- Domain traffic analysis.
The different subsets of competitor analysis provide insights into the SEO strategy used by competitors. The idea is to learn what is working and what isn’t from your competitors.
Why is Competitor Research Important?
Here are some of the benefits that you can expect from competitor analysis:
- No need to start from scratch: If you are just starting out, it might be difficult for you to assess the content you should produce right on. Through competitor analysis, you can learn what has worked or not worked for your competitors. This will give you a good list of content ideas to start.
- Find growth opportunities: Competition research is a great way of finding growth opportunities in terms of content and keyword gaps. Without analysis, it will be impossible for you to know such gaps that you can easily capitalize on.
- Implement data-driven strategies: Through competitor analysis, you will implement strategies that are backed by valid industry data. Let’s say you are thinking of writing on a particular keyword. With competition research, you can determine the amount of traffic and CPC attached to that keyword. This will be instrumental in validating your decision.
- Learn best practices: Think for yourself, why should you limit your website to the ideas you have when you can exploit the ideas that everyone in your industry has? Through competitor analysis, you can learn the best practices that have been implemented by your competitors and use them for your success.
How to Conduct Competition Analysis?
Step 1: Find Your Real Competitors
The first step is determining who your real competitors are. It’s important to note that every website that ranks above yours is not a competitor. For a website to be a competitor, it should be in the same niche as yours.
The best way to determine this is simply to run a few Google searches on your target keyword. Look at the top 5 websites that show up for these keywords. Here, you might need to filter the results to find your true competitors.
For example, let’s say you run a marketing agency and one of your target keywords is “small business”. If you run a search for this, you will find websites such as Forbes and Wikipedia ranking on the first page. However, these are not your competitors. Instead, your competitors will be other marketing agencies.
Step 2: Conduct Keyword Analysis
Once you have a list of competitors, it’s time to analyze the keywords used by them. It’s important to determine the keywords they are ranking for so you know what works best in your industry.
Along with this, you should look at some of the highest and lowest ranking keywords for your competitors.
This will help in identifying relevant keywords and finding the gaps in your content strategy. Let’s say your competitor has produced content on a keyword with SERP rank 1. If you have not created any content on this keyword, then you should change that.
Further, take a look at the keywords for which your competitors are ranking low. Try to understand why they are ranking low and turn this into a growth opportunity for your website.
Step 3: Conduct Backlink Analysis
Backlinks are very important for ranking high on Google. Google views backlinks as external votes are these and have a huge impact on the SEO score of a website.
You should study your competitors’ websites and determine the total number of backlinks, the increase in backlinks per month as well as the number of backlinks for the highest-ranking content.
Along with this, you should also determine if your competitors have any superfans. Superfans are such domains that regularly link to your competitors’ websites. As you will be producing content in the same niche, it is likely that such superfans will be willing to link to your content.
Step 4: Study Monthly Traffic
Studying the monthly traffic of your competitors’ is very important for determining their growth. This will also give you a better idea of where you should be.
Apart from the overall traffic, you should look at the traffic coming to specific pages. If you are creating content that is specific to a particular region, then you should analyze the traffic from each region.
Studying traffic is a great way of determining any change in trends. Let’s say you find that a page was getting 10,000 users per month last year but that has come down to 100 per month now. This provides invaluable insight into the user search intent and should direct your content strategy.
Step 5: Find Out Broken Links
Broken links are terrible for SEO. The good news is that the more broken links on your competitors’ websites, the more scope for growth for you.
Start by finding out all the broken links on your competitors’ websites. Next, try to determine the nature of content that was available in such links. If you don’t have similar content already, then this is the time to create it.
Once you have a list of broken links, you should also find out the number of backlinks to such pages. You can reach out to the owners of the pages providing backlinks and let them know that the link is broken. If you have similar content, there’s a good chance they will be willing to replace the broken link with a link to your website.
Step 6: Create a Content Plan
At this stage, you should have a good idea of what your competitors are doing along with what’s working for their website. Now, it’s time to take this data and create a content plan.
The content plan should focus on all the gaps that you have identified in your own website. If you find that your competitors are receiving a lot of traffic from a few keywords, then prioritize creating content on such keywords.
Your goal should be to provide better and more valuable content than your competitors. For this, keep in mind the number of backlinks, broken links and blogs on your competitors’ websites.
Step 7: Monitor and Improve
Competition research is an ongoing process. As your competitors update their websites with more content, there will be a change in the data you have collected. Due to this reason, you need to regularly monitor your competitors.
As with any other long-term strategy, you will have to update your content plan regularly.
Conducting competitor research can be extremely technical and tool heavy. Ideally, you should hire SEO experts to conduct meaningful competition research and analysis for you.
Free Competitor Analysis Tools
Now that you know how to conduct competitor analysis, let’s look at some of the tools that you can use to get started for free.
Similar Web is a great tool for understanding the traffic going to your competitors’ websites. All you need to do is enter the link of your competitor’s website and Similar Web will share data relating to its global rank, country rank and category rank. You can edit the country and category.
Along with this, Similar Web also provides a detailed analysis of the traffic and the keywords used by your competitors. For example, you can see how much traffic is coming from social media or the top keywords used by your competitors.
Open Link Profiler
Open Link Profiler is one of the best free tools for conducting a backlink analysis of any website. You can enter any website and it will provide detailed insights into the number of backlinks, unique links, dofollow links, internal links and anchor text.
Along with this, you can also access the Link Manager for free. This will notify you of any new backlinks to your website.
BuzzSumo is a great tool for conducting keyword research in your niche. You can use a keyword in your niche and find out which keywords are ranking highest in that category. This will help in ensuring that you create content on all the high-ranking keywords.
Along with this, you can also enter the website link for any competitor website and find out the keywords used by them. This will give you a list of their top performing keywords. You should make sure that you are creating content in all such keywords.
Website Grader is developed by the marketing giant, Hubspot. It grades the websites of your competitors and provides a score based on overall optimization. This includes their page title, meta descriptions, headings and sitemap.
For each of the sub-categories, Website Grader shares whether the competitor has optimized it or not.
The idea behind the site is to grade any website for free and then provide actionable points on how to improve it. You can also grade your website and see how well it stands against your competitors.
Searchmetrics is one of the best tools for conducting overall competition research. With the free version, you can get detailed analysis into your competitors’ websites including the keywords used by them, their SERP rank, the SEO value, top and lowest ranking keywords.
The comprehensive data is very valuable for understanding how well your competitors are doing. You can use their top-ranking keywords to create content for your own website. Further, you can take a look at their low performing keywords and see if you can create better content.
Along with this, Searchmetrics provides excellent information on the monetary value of the website. If your goal is to monetize your website, then you should take a look at your competitors’’ CPC and SEO value to find scope for improvement.
Competiton research bridges the gap between what you think will work and what is actually working. Properly competitor analysis provides a potential for laying down a data-driven roadmap instead of simply shooting in the dark.
Here’s a quick rundown on the different steps involved in conducting competitor research and analysis:
- Step 1: Google your target keyword and find out your true competitors.
- Step 2: Analyze the keywords used by your competitors and find keyword gaps in your website.
- Step 3: Look at the number of backlinks and superfans of your competitors to see where you can improve.
- Step 4: Study the monthly overall traffic as well as the keyword which are bringing the most traffic to your competitors’ websites.
- Step 5: Find all the broken links on your competitors’ websites and create content that was probably available in such pages.
- Step 6: Based on the data, create a content plan for your website.
- Step 7: Regularly monitor your competitors and update your strategy for long-term growth.
For your ease, we have created an SEO checklist that you can use for conducting technical SEO for your website. You can find the Google sheet here. You can also download the Excel version:
– Practics.in team
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