How To Nail Competitor Analysis

Written By Andi Wilkinson. Updated 27th March 2019
Creative Director of Made By Factory. UX Designer & SEO Nerd, Andi is also a board member of Manchester Digital, and speaks and writes on a variety of web-related topics.
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Do you feel like you’re doing all the right things, but you can’t get a heads up on the competition, then it could be your competitive analysis isn’t being carried out correctly.

Unless you’re lucky to be so niche, no one else does what you do; then you are going to have competition. There is nothing wrong with a little healthy competition. It can force you to do better in all aspects of your work, from the quality of the product or service you provide to your customer service and satisfaction.

You might sell a great product but if your competitor has more information than you, price comparisons or better delivery then customers are ultimately going to go elsewhere.

The good news is, though, for all the websites out there, most of them aren’t paying particular attention to getting their SEO strategy right. That means a few tweaks in the right direction can be everything in moving you towards that coveted spot at the top of Google.

Heres how to put together a robust competitive analysis for your digital presence.

Identify your SEO Competition.

You may know who you are competing against in the physical space, but do you know who is beating you in Search Engine Results Pages? (SERPS)?

Quick and free tools such as UberSuggest can quickly give you a handle on whom your SEO competitors are. They may be entirely different. They may not even be in your niche.

A clothing store trying to rank for its product line may be competing with other clothing stores, but their blog could be competing with numerous style magazines, both have different challenges when it comes to ranking.

so in short, your top SEO competitors are those people who show on page one of the search results for your keywords even if they aren’t your business competitors.

It is possible you have two or three areas of business too. We recently completed a project for a Yoga and Wellbeing Studio, that offers both classes for the body and coaching for life and business. It would be fair to say each area within this business would have distinct sets of competition.

Make sure you pay attention to those competitors who occupy the local map spots and the position zero spots too. These are spots you should try to aim for if you can!

Look at your competitor’s SERP listing.

When looking at where you rank for a specific keyword, looking at the SERP results above, you can provide an insight into their strategy. Look at their headline and description. Is that content better optimised for those keywords? We have found even a minor tweak in this area can bump you up a few spots, even a few pages.

Look at your competitors Websites.

You can use an online tool such as SEMRush or SpyFu to analyse what’s happening with your SEO competitor websites. You can learn things like how often they add new content, the health of their website, what keywords they are using, what are their internal linking strategies? What kind of content do they create and how much detail are they going into?

Semrush has an in-depth content analysis tool, that looks at the top-ranking articles for your keyword. If your page contains 500 words and the top page has 1500, there’s work to be done.

Look at competitor site structure and UX Design
Google is highly focussed on UX, especially mobile experience and page speed. If your website is slower to load than a competitors, doesn’t have mobile-friendly pages, then you are unlikely to outrank them.

Google Search Console (formerly webmaster tools) can quickly tell you whether your site’s pages are mobile-friendly. There’s also Pingdom’s speed test and Google’s page speed test that provide insights into page speed on desktop and mobile. For a more in-depth look at page speed, check out this article.

It is possible you will do your competitive analysis and see that your competitor is ranking well despite having a poor mobile presence or a website from 1992. Don’t despair. This is the perfect opportunity to do better.

Backlinks are still one of the top-ranking factors on your Google site. Look at where they are earning their backlinks and then use that information to garner similar backlinks for your own organisation.

How do you check your link profile?
There are some great places to do this, such as:

Moz’s Open Site Explorer
Majestic SEO

2. Look at their Social Media

Though no one seems to know for sure, exactly how social media affects your SEO, one thing all SEO’s agree on is that it is essential to track it. Using a tool like Semrush can allow you to track your brand mentions and other mentions on social media and monitor those of your competitors.

With your competitors look at: how often they are creating and publishing new content, their tone of communication with their followers, How much engagement they are getting. (Facebook pages allow you to track your competitor facebook pages and compare growth and engagement)

3. Keywords

Remember it’s possible’ to outrank anyone in any niche, but the sheer volume of resource that can take for some makes it seem like an impossible task because it’s not feasible. When trying to outrank a competitor for a specific keyword, it’s worth looking at a few things.

Use your competitor analysis tool to look at your competitors’ total domain strength and then analyse specific factors, such as:

Domain authority.
A search engine ranking score developed by Moz that predicts how well a website will rank on search engine result pages (SERPs). A Domain Authority score ranges from one to 100, with higher scores corresponding to a greater ability to rank.

Domain country and age.
Older domains tend to rank better than newer ones.

Other factors are listing in directories, backlink data, Alexa rank, the amount of traffic you get & your social media profile. If a competitor does better than you in most of these areas, then outranking them could be difficult. So what can you do?

One idea is to look for niche keywords and outrank competitors with lower-scoring domains.

Try to Track Competitor Ad Spend
Maybe you’re doing all the right things, and your competitors still outrank you. It may be possible they are just outspending you, both for SEO and Paid Ads. The flip side is something’s clearly working, or it may be (and this is something we see every day) that your ad spend isn’t being utilised as well as theirs. We have quadrupled profitability and maximised visibility on accounts that were spending, but much of that spend was being wasted due to poor optimisation. The good news is you don’t always need to spend more to make a lot more profit.

Speak to us today for a comprehensive look at your ad accounts and SEO, and let’s see if we can make your money do a lot better for you