Search engine optimization doesn’t exist in a bubble. For every strategic move that your brand is making, countless others out there are doing the same — or taking it one step further and knocking your website out of the SERPs.
So, how can you ensure that your marketing team is doing enough to keep up with (and eventually beat) your biggest competitors in organic search?
By using SEO competitive analysis.
In today’s guide, we’ll share everything you need to know about this SEO process, including:
- What SEO competitor analysis is
- Why it’s so important for your marketing strategy
- And how to analyze your competitors’ content for better performance
As a bonus, we’ll also offer a free, downloadable SEO Competitor Analysis Template for your marketing team’s use.
Let’s get started.
What is SEO Competitor Analysis?
In simplest terms, SEO competitive analysis means looking at competing brands’ performance, comparing it to your own SEO strategy, and creating an optimization plan for moving forward.
This competitive analysis can be as simple or as complicated as you want. However, the more data you have, the more comprehensive your understanding of your competitors will be — and the better strategy you can create for beating them at the SEO game.
Here are just a few metrics to consider when completing an SEO competitor analysis:
- Organic traffic
- Direct traffic
- Organic keywords
- Referring domains
- Bounce rate
- Content publication frequency
- Annual revenue
- Organic conversions
- Target keywords
- And more
The more paid SEO tools you have at your disposal, the more metrics you’ll be able to compare (more on that below).
Still, even the most basic metrics can help you see how your site and your competitors’ websites stack up and give you the foundation to improve your organic marketing efforts.
Why It’s Important for Your eCommerce Site
Here at Inflow, we’ve worked with dozens of eCommerce businesses over the last 15 years, and SEO competitor research is a critical part of our onboarding process.
In our experience, we’ve often found that the brands our clients think are their competitors aren’t actually the brands they’re competing against in the SERPs. Without the knowledge of a competitive analysis, online stores can waste valuable time and money targeting irrelevant competitors, leaving their actual competition to continue climbing up the search engine rankings.
For this reason, we recommend running regular competitive analyses. That way, you’ll stay on top of current SEO trends within your industry and know where you need to step up your search engine optimization efforts to keep competing.
How to Do an SEO Competitor Analysis
In this section, we’ll detail the basic steps involved in analyzing your SEO competitors. As we’ve mentioned above, you can go into as much depth as you’d like when it comes to this analysis; our guide will simply serve as a starting point for your digital marketing team.
Of course, if you’d rather have an expert conduct an in-depth SEO competitive analysis for you, our team at Inflow is always happy to help. Contact us anytime to request a free proposal for your site.
Until then, download our SEO Competitor Analysis Template and follow our step-by-step guide to DIY your analysis process.
The video below is hosted on YouTube. If you need assistance with viewing the video, please contact [email protected].
Step 1: Choose Your Tools.
First, let’s talk about the tools involved in an SEO competitor analysis.
The more SEO tools you have access to (and the higher your subscription level), the more data you’ll be able to gather on your competitors.
At a minimum, we recommend the following:
(These are also the tools you’ll need to use our SEO Competitor Analysis Template.)
Similarweb offers many key data points for free, including total monthly site visits, bounce rate, audience demographics, and more. If your team is limited by budget, this is a great tool to gather some top-level data for both your own site and your competitors.
To take your analysis a step further, we recommend using a paid keyword research tool like Ahrefs or Semrush. These will provide more detailed data, including top pages and backlink analysis.
Step 2: Understand Your Site’s Performance.
Now that you have your tools in place, start with your analysis foundation: your website performance.
Choose the data points that are most important to your team, and write those down. These will be the comparison points for your competitors.
Your data points should be those numbers that best encompass your site’s organic strategy and performance, such as:
- Organic traffic
- Content frequency
- Referring domains
- Annual traffic and revenue
In our template, this data is displayed on the “Overview” tab as a quick summary of your analysis. More detailed data points (like dofollow vs nofollow links, referring URL ratings, and other backlink profile information) are located in the second tab.
You can also easily add more data points to this template by creating new rows. For example, if your team is concerned with specific keyword rankings, you can add a line to track metrics like search volume, search traffic, and more.
Step 3: Choose Your Competitors.
As we’ve mentioned above, don’t choose your SEO competitors based solely on branding and sales information.
Because we’re looking specifically at search engine optimization here, you need to identify your organic competitors. That’s the only way you’ll improve your SERP rankings and organic traffic.
You can typically find these competitors by:
- Reviewing the SERPs for valuable and top keywords
- Using Similarweb’s “Competitors” tool
- Searching the “Related:” operator in Google Search
If you see certain brand names or websites pop up frequently, it’s a good bet that you’re looking at your biggest online competitors
That’s not to say you shouldn’t include other competitors in your analysis, too (for example, those that your stakeholders have identified and are most concerned about). Try for a balanced approach of including each — letting you compare to your “benchmarks” while also giving you online competitors to strive for.
If you need help, follow our guide for finding your SEO competitors now.
For simplicity’s sake, we recommend limiting your list to around five to 10 websites.
Step 4: Gather Data on Your Competitors.
Using the data you gathered for your site as a benchmark, gather the same data for your competitors’ sites, as well.
Many key SEO metrics are made publicly available, which makes this step fairly easy. (But remember that every data point you discover for your competitors means that your competitors can find the same for your site!)
As you gather this data on your competitors, make notes on any interesting trends you’ve noted. Has a competitor failed to publish any blogs or social content in a few months? Does a competitor have a substantial list of high-quality referring domains? Are there different types of content from competitors that you can fold into your content strategy?
These are all factors you’ll consider in your next and final step.
Step 5: Compare the Data.
Once you have all your data, it’s time to get dirty with some detailed analysis.
Start by looking for any major discrepancies in metrics (whether good or bad for your site).
For example, if you have thousands more views each month than your competitors, that’s a sign that you’re doing something right. If, on the other hand, you see a certain competitor’s domain is bringing in way more search traffic than you, make a note to evaluate their site in further detail.
Similarly, if your competitors’ backlinks are from higher-domain-authority sites, that may indicate it’s time to improve your link-building strategy.
You may be surprised at the trends this data reveals. As mentioned above, you may discover that the brands your stakeholders are most worried about aren’t really your competitors from an SEO standpoint — and that you should instead be focusing on other websites’ content to boost your own organic performance.
Step 6: Create an Optimization Strategy.
Finally, it’s time to put the data to use — with a revamped search engine optimization strategy.
Sometimes, you’ll find that your website is massively outperforming your chosen competitors. (If so, congrats!) Even in this situation, you’ll probably still glean some new tactics and strategies from your competitors’ SEO data.
For example, if a competitor is getting backlinks from university sites, you could start pitching your products or a sponsorship from similar sites to get the same kind of high-quality backlinks.
In most cases, though, an SEO competitor analysis will reveal plentiful opportunities for improvement in your strategy — whether that’s clear discrepancies in traffic, backlinks, publication schedules, or more. See where your competitors are currently winning, and create a plan with your SEO team to meet that brand at the top.
After all, only by knowing where you and your competitors are at now can you figure out where you’ll go in the future.
If you’re having trouble analyzing this data or creating a plan of action, consider bringing an SEO marketing agency aboard. They’ll use your data and their expertise to connect the dots and give you some improvement opportunities to pursue.
Start Your SEO Competitive Analysis Today With Our Free Template
No matter how detailed it may be, an SEO competitor analysis is a great tool for understanding the current competitive landscape and identifying opportunities for your brand.
We encourage you to run these analyses frequently (perhaps twice a year) to stay on top of any emerging trends among your competitors (not to mention Google’s algorithms) and to keep your own website content up to speed. While it will take some time to do, this kind of analysis is often worth its weight in gold.
If you’re ready to start your competitive research today, our template is here to help. Download it today to begin gathering your competitors’ data, comparing tactics, and building a better SEO strategy for the future.
Download Our SEO Competitor Analysis Template Now.
Rather have an expert do it for you?
Contact Inflow’s SEO team today for a free consultation and proposal built around your site’s specific needs, wants, and budget. We include an SEO competitor analysis for every new client, and we’d be happy to give you the same, too.
Until then, start DIYing your journey with our template and these additional resources: