Competitor analysis is an essential element of all marketing activities, and SEO is no different. It allows you to spot flaws in your performance, identify opportunities in the market and learn from your rivals’ successes, letting you incorporate the best practices into your own strategy. This takes the guesswork out of your project planning.

So, what are the key steps involved? We’ve broken them down to help you conduct your own SEO competitor analysis.

Identify competitors

Before you can do any analysis, you need to be clear on exactly who your competitors are. When it comes to SEO, these are the sites that are competing for the same keywords as you. Make a note of the other domains that are ranking for your primary keywords, as these are the sites you’ll want to compare your own strategy to.

This can often leave you with a long list, so it’s wise to whittle it down so you’re just focusing on your most relevant, closest competitors. Consider which ones have the most keywords in common as you and which are ranking in the highest spots. Of course, you’ll also want to think about which sites have products and services that are the most similar to your own, so that you can base your strategy on a company that’s comparable.

Conduct keyword gap analysis

The next step is carrying out a keyword gap analysis. At its heart, this is essentially just looking at which keywords your competitors rank for that you don’t. This lets you identify which other keywords you should be targeting, allowing you to integrate them into your strategy and increase traffic.

However, be sure to check that a keyword will be relevant to your site before attempting to optimise your content for it. Some keywords that work for your competitors may not be a good fit for you, so remember to take this into account.

Technical SEO

Another crucial stage is to assess your competitors’ technical SEO performance. You can take advantage of any weaknesses you find here by providing a more effective alternative on your own site. Some of the key elements to look at include page speeds, broken links, uncrawlable pages and duplicate meta descriptions.

Checking these and ensuring your pages don’t have the same issues could help you to draw visitors to your site instead of your competitors.

Analyse their content

After this, it’s time to start reviewing your competitors’ content. Dig out some of their top-performing pages in terms of traffic, backlinks and organic position, then analyse how they’re presenting their content. What information does it contain? How is it structured? Is it long form or short form?

Look at things like what sort of images and videos they’re including (and how many). You can also review the type of pages they’re producing. Are there a lot of product pages, blogs or guides? Finally, be sure to look at how they are using the keyword as well and whether they’re using any secondary keywords. Take all of this on board and consider if there’s anything they’re doing that you should be replicating on your own site.

Backlink analysis

Finally, take a look at how they’ve been acquiring backlinks to see if there’s anything you can replicate. Investigate which sites are linking to your competitors that aren’t linking to you and consider if there are any that you could target yourself within your outreach strategy. Make a note of why these sites are linking to your competitors and use this as part of your own approach.

Remember that some sites will be easier targets for links than others, so try to pick these out and focus on them first.

Need a hand?

Completing a competitor analysis is a thorough and in-depth process. If you need more expertise to help guide you through, contact our knowledgeable team to find out how we can support you. Alternatively, head over to the It Works blog to discover more digital marketing insights.