Marketing is about explaining to potential customers why your product best suits their needs. To find out, you need to know what your competitors are offering.
The only way to do this is to perform a competitor analysis, which is to study what your competitors are doing.
You need to create the best product and the best content possible, and knowing what your competitors are doing is part of that.
This guide includes best practices that will help you identify your competition, how they rank, and what you can do about it. And be sure to combine these tips with your favorite competitor research tools!
1. Identify your SEO competitors
You probably already know who the big players in your industry are, but can you name your main SEO rivals?
They are not necessarily the same.
In fact, you might have several SEO competitors that exist outside of your niche that you need to compete against in the SERPs.
For example, a bakery in New York trying to rank for keywords like “best bread in New York” would be competing with other bakeries for first page results.
But if this bakery was also trying to rank a useful how-to blog, it would also be competing with publishing giants like Food Network and Taste of Home.
They would have their work cut out if they wanted to break the top 10 of these SERPs!
This is true in all sectors:
Your main SEO competitors are those who rank on the first page of search for the keywords you are targeting, whether or not they are your business competitors.
If you operate in multiple niches, you may even have separate lists of competitors for each service you offer with little or no overlap between them.
Luckily, finding out who your competitors are is as simple as entering your top keywords into Google and writing down your top competitors’ domains (or entering your keywords into your competitor analysis tool and let it do all the work for you).
Even if you’re using a tool, it’s in your best interest to monitor the SERP landscape you’re entering (for example, if your target keyword is dominated by videos, you’ll probably want to think about creating video content to compete).
Pay special attention to competitors occupying the local packs and position zero as well – you definitely need to compete for those coveted spots!
2. Assess Keyword Difficulty
Before you start analyzing specific link building or on-page SEO strategies, it’s a good idea to assess the strength of your SEO competitors.
Although you could theoretically beat any competitor in any niche and for any keyword, the amount of resources it would take for some keywords makes them unachievable.
Use your competitor analysis tool to examine your competitors’ total domain strength, then analyze specific factors, such as:
Write down information and look for weaknesses that you can turn to your advantage.
The higher the difficulty of a target competitor, the stronger their SEO and the harder it will be to outrank them.
Focus on competitors with lower overall scores that rank well for niche keywords.
3. Look for new keyword opportunities
Term frequency and inverse document frequency analysis (or, because it’s a mouthful, TF-IDF analysis) can be a useful method of enriching your existing content with “appropriate” keywords. ” that your competitors are using.
This allows you to properly optimize your pages for search engines or uncover low competition keywords that you may have missed.
Simply put, TF-IDF is a measure of how often a keyword appears on a page (term frequency) multiplied by how often a keyword should appear on the page (inverse document frequency).
When you analyze TF-IDF, you might find that most of the top ranking pages for your target keywords share many similar terms and phrases.
If you are not targeting these topic-relevant terms, you should either add them to existing applicable pages or create new content to boost your relevance in semantic search.
This concept is a bit more complicated than all the other strategies we’ll talk about, but it can quickly become an essential part of creating a complete content strategy.
For example, using TF-IDF, we discovered that top-level content for the keyword “coffee making recipes” almost always contains specific information about different blends of coffee beans, roasting techniques, and types of filters.
4. Analyze on-page optimization and on-site content
Using your competitive analysis tool to analyze your competitors’ on-site SEO will give you a veritable goldmine of new information to work with.
You’ll learn how often they post content, what types of content they post, and what keywords they target.
Pay particular attention to:
- Title strategies (title length, keywords in title, appropriate title tags, etc.).
Also try to unravel their internal linking strategies. Use this information as a reference for your on-site SEO efforts.
Figure out what they’re doing well so you can learn from them, and what they’re missing so you can do it better.
When analyzing content, you’ll want to keep track of:
- Current relevance.
- What types of content or media they create.
- Video length or word count.
- The depth of detail covered.
When Googlebot crawls your website, all of these elements play an important role.
5. Dig into competitors’ backlink profiles
One of the most important parts of a competitive analysis is determining where your rivals are getting their backlinks from and using that information to build high-quality links for your website.
Dissecting your opponents’ link profiles is a great way to find new linking opportunities.
Again, you’ll need a robust SEO tool for this step – it’s next to impossible to do it manually.
6. Review site structure and user experience
If you don’t know that Google has been focused on improving the user experience, you haven’t been paying attention.
Almost every major algorithmic change we’ve seen over the past few years has focused on user experience – better mobile experiences, faster pages, and improved search results.
If your website is slower than your competitors, unresponsive, or harder to navigate, this is something you definitely need to fix. I recommend:
To see what your competitors are doing, you’ll want to take a look at their landing pages:
- Analyze their click depth.
- See if they have any orphan pages.
- Check out their PageRank distribution.
If you analyze competing sites and see that they rank well despite having an outdated website or poor mobile optimization, this is a great opportunity for you to earn real estate on the SERPs.
7. Find out how they use social media
The exact nature of how social media intersects with SEO is hotly disputed, but few optimization specialists would disagree that it is an important part of any sound SEO strategy. .
Of course, that’s because a good social listening tool does more than keep you up to date with every new chat meme your competitor tweets.
A good social listening tool allows you to:
- Increase website traffic by following unlinked social media mentions and engaging with your audience, especially when people are specifically using or searching for your product.
- Track brand mentions disabled social media platforms and do the same (a good social listening tool should be able to monitor news sites, blogs, forums, etc.).
- Monitor user sentiment.
Some easy searches you can do include monitoring:
- Which platforms your competitors use (or not).
- How often they post new content.
- How they communicate with their followers.
- What types of content get the most engagement.
You might even want to track competitors’ unrelated mentions, user reviews, and PR to see what their customers like about their product or service — and what you could do better.
8. Try to track competitor ad spend
If you’ve done everything you can to optimize your website and you’re still beaten in the SERPs, it’s possible your competitors are simply outspending and using paid traffic campaigns to drive conversions and sales.
I don’t recommend trying to match each competitor’s spend, but you might find it useful to monitor their Google Ads campaigns, promoted content, banner ads, paid posts, etc., so you can at least gauge what what other people in your niche are spending on advertising.
Now that you’ve mastered competitive analysis, all you have to do is stick with it.
Keep making small improvements, keeping tabs on your competitors, and monitoring your rankings.
Eventually, your hard work should pay off and you will start to improve your position.
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