When it comes to digital marketing and SEO there are so many different strategies and best practices to consider that it can be hard to know where to allocate the most effort and resources. Whether you’re just starting out your SEO campaign or just want to come up with an updated strategy, doing competitive analysis can help spark new ideas and give you more insights on what it’s going to take to be successful in your market.
Competitive analysis is important because it gives you data and insights as to what sorts of tactics and strategies your competition is using in order to outperform your site. If you’re stuck trying to figure out which tactics are best moving forward, doing a competitive analysis can help you lay out a strategy by identifying what sorts of resources will be needed, and how difficult it will be to outperform your competition.
While it may seem like there’s an obvious answer here, it’s important to be selective when choosing which sites you’re going to be analyzing. One of the easiest and most important ways for marketers to identify competition is to simply ask the client (or business owner) who their competition is. Once you get their list back, again, be selective on which sites you choose to research and make sure each site has enough information that will be helpful to you. Another easy way to identify competitors is to search for a specific keyword you’d like to rank for, and see which sites are ranking for that term and what pages are showing up on the SERP. Once you’ve identified the top sites/pages that are ranking for that term, you can do a deeper dive into what sorts of tactics that page is utilizing that are causing it to outperform your site.
After you’ve identified the competitors’ sites you want to analyze, it’s time to start digging into the data. While there are a lot of things to look at when analyzing a site or page such as UX, layout, design, etc., the next section will break down a few of the ways to dial in on hard data.
A great place to get started is to look at your competitors' keywords and identify what pages are ranking for each specific term. For example, let’s say that you want to rank for the term “men’s running shoes.” Using Ahrefs’ Keyword Explorer tab, you can type this term and it will generate the top 10 results for this term, as you can see below:
From here, you can see an overview of the top three sites ranking for this term, how many keywords they’re ranking for and what their top keyword is for that specific page. You can dive even deeper by clicking on the number of keywords to show us what specific terms that page is ranking for. This is a great way to give you new keyword ideas and variations of keywords you want to target, while also giving you the difficulty ranking and traffic a page is getting for a specific term.
Without having quality content on your site, outperforming your competition is going to be nearly impossible, so analyzing content is key.
On a basic level, having content on your page helps Google determine what that page is about and allows you to target keywords, but it also does much more than that. Content helps those users at the top of the sales funnel looking for trusted information about a product or service. If the user finds content relevant and helpful to what they’re looking for, chances are they will stay on your site longer and their likelihood of converting will increasef.
To ensure your content is optimized for both of these goals, Google recommends creating content that meets the following five criteria:
Source: Google Support
Another key thing to look at when analyzing a competitor’s site is their backlink profile. Not only will this help give you an idea of how many backlinks you may need to outperform a competitor, but it also is a good starting point to find websites that will help you achieve these backlinks by looking at referring domains. Tools like Ahrefs will break all of this information down for you.
Competitive analysis should always be a part of your digital marketing strategy. It’s a great way to strategically map out an SEO campaign and give you insights into what sort of resources it’s going to take to outperform your competitors. If all of this data and insights about your competitors is readily available - why not use it to your advantage?
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Andrew is an SEO Specialist at Hawke.