The success of your business rests on how well you can set yourself apart in a marketplace that is—let’s face it—full of million-dollar ideas. Knowing how you stack up against your competition is the best way to truly gain a durable competitive edge in your industry.
How, you ask? The answer: SEO espionage.
Any good detective is both analytical and creative in gathering intelligence. In the business world, this is where SEO competitive analysis comes in.
Wondering how to do a competitive analysis in SEO? We’ll dive into how you can leverage this powerful tool to get a serious leg up on your competition.
What Is SEO Competitive Analysis?
Competitive analysis is the process of analyzing your top competitors’ products, sales, and marketing strategies. The purpose is to use their tactics as a base expectation for your own brand and marketing strategies—and find ways to improve on them.
How to Conduct an SEO Competitive Analysis: Your 6-Step Guide
There are a lot of different steps you could take to complete a competitor analysis. This basic yet essential guide can simplify the process and help you outrank your competition.
Download the guide here and use the space provided to write down notes for each step.
1. Identify Your Competitors
Chances are, you could probably do a quick brainstorm and identify at least three Goliath competitor companies within your industry. To determine how your company measures up, conduct a bit of online research for data to back up your suspicions. You might find that companies that are highly competitive in sales are below you on search rankings.
What To Do
Start by searching some general keywords in Google relevant to your business. For example, if you own a high-fashion swimsuit company, you might search for “fashionable swimwear” or “high-end swimsuits.”
Look where you show up in the search results compared to your competitors. Who comes before you? How far down the search results page is your company? Make a list of companies performing better than you. These are your competitors.
2. Determine What Products They Offer
Now that you have a decent list of companies, you can narrow them down according to their products. If they seem to fit a different niche than you, like selling swim shoes instead of swimsuits, they are indirect competitors. Essentially, they’re a lower priority.
Concentrate on your direct competition. Understanding how one competitor markets their products should give you better insight into how you should market your own.
What To Do
Take a full inventory of at least two competitors’ products. Your product-based SEO competitive analysis should make note of a few things:
- What do their products cost?
- What is their pricing strategy online compared to a brick and mortar?
- How do they try to differentiate their products from other competitors’ products?
- Do they deliver their products?
- Who might they be trying to reach with their products?
- Are you offering products they aren’t?
- Are there things neither of them offers but should consider?
3. Compare Keyword Rankings
Now it’s time to get into keyword specifics. There are two basic steps to proper keyword analysis:
- Make a list of relevant topics you want to cover.
- Find keywords that fit into each of those topics.
What To Do
Once you have some keywords you want to target, search those on Google and Bing to see how your competitors fare with them. How are they using those keywords in their web content? Are the results from a blog or a webpage?
You can also take time to find keywords your competitors aren’t yet ranking for. Additionally, note any product, industry, or customer questions for which you can’t easily find an answer. Answer these questions to get a foothold on search engines.
Keyword Research Tools
To get serious about keyword research, you have to go deeper than the general search inquiries we made in the first step. That’s where these keyword research tools will come in handy:
Use these tools to see how competitive a particular keyword is to rank for. You can also find long-tail keywords that are easier to rank for, which can start scoring you points toward a higher ranking on Google.
Make a list of what topics you want to rank for.
Now that you have your topic ideas think of keywords that fit into those topics. Use the online tools provided above to find out each keyword or phrase’s volume and ranking difficulty to determine which keywords you should target.
4. Analyze Their Engagement Levels
Because there are so many ways your competition can communicate with customers, you’ll have to be all over the board to see how customers are responding.
Social Media Channel Checklist
Use this list to make sure you’ve really checked all of your competitors’ channels:
What to Do
Check all of their social media channels and blog pages and look for the following:
- The average number of likes, comments, and shares
- The tone of the comments from customers (positive or negative)
- Which topics seem to be more popular
- Which channels have the best engagement
- How your competitor categorizes their content
From there, you can determine what kinds of content work better than others to save yourself time and money in your marketing efforts.
5. Conduct a SWOT Analysis
A SWOT analysis can be used to determine the best opportunities within a business venture. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. One of its most useful applications is for SEO competitive analysis.
What to Do
Go through each section of the SWOT analysis for each of your main competitors—and do the same thing for your company. You may have to do some extra digging, but discovering the advantages will be worth it. Use these questions to guide your competitor analysis:
- How is their business different from yours?
- What unique resources do they offer?
- What is their unique selling proposition?
- What skills do their employees have that your company lacks?
- What positive things do their customers say about them?
- Do they have a solid customer base?
- What expertise do they lack?
- How does your company fare better than theirs?
- What are some negative things customers are saying about their company?
- Are there positive industry trends their company could benefit from?
- Is there a niche market they are currently not targeting?
- Could they get more customers by offering something more?
- Is their target market changing in a beneficial way?
- Are there other potential competitors?
- Are their employees happy?
- Is their website safe to put information in?
- Is their target market shrinking?
Once you have this outlined, you can compare your strengths to their weaknesses and vice versa. This can give you a clear idea of what areas you should improve first.
6. Act On What You Learn
Now that you have all this information, what do you do with it? The purpose of a competitor analysis is to remove blind spots and help your organization to step up its SEO game.
Here are some actionable tips to help you get started:
- Make a list of key takeaways. Think of new strategies, ideas, and opportunities you can glean from the information you’ve found.
- Prioritize actions according to ROI. What are the things you can do that will bring the greatest results? What are some low-hanging fruit tasks that will improve your business?
- Think of your company goals. Do you want to beat a specific competitor? Or do you simply want to make a name for yourself in the market? Your goals will inform what you should do with the information you gather.
- Discuss findings with your team. Avoid putting all your findings on a single, massive document, never to be looked at again. Company improvements should be a constant discussion among your team.
- Try and take on the bigger picture tasks before the smaller improvements. Chances are, those high–concept changes will take a lot of time to effectively implement, so get started as soon as possible.
- Create a fact sheet about your competition’s strengths and weaknesses. This simplified list of findings from your SWOT analysis makes for an easy reference when pitching your strengths—and implying your competitors’ weaknesses—to new clients.
- Organize your findings by how they fit into your strategy. Make a spreadsheet that shows common patterns and traits about your competition. For example, maybe all of your main competitors have high rankings, but only one has impressive engagement with their audience. Take note of these patterns so you can be hyper-aware of them.
Expert SEO Competitive Analysis at Your Fingertips
Even when you’re at the top of your industry, you can’t remain stagnant. Competitor analysis is a powerful way to command your place in any market—and hold your spot at the top.
Ready to get started? Download the complete worksheet to get ahead of your competition. For help with any stage of the process, contact Big Leap’s SEO experts for support in building and executing your strategy.