For the most part, unless your business is in a very niche market, you’ll usually have competition with other companies that offer similar products and services that you do. Whether you’re a large-sized company or a small local business, it’s vital for you to be able to beat your competition in order to achieve commercial success and competitor analysis is the perfect strategy for you to get ahead.
Competitor analysis is an essential and necessary part of a successful SEO strategy, which is concerned with understanding what your competitors are doing, what kind of threat they pose to you and what their strengths and weaknesses are. The whole idea of collecting this data is for you to build your own SEO strategy based on this, using your strengths against your competitors’ weaknesses and identifying potential gaps or opportunities to gain more online visibility for your business.
If you’re worried about how to conduct competitor analysis thoroughly and efficiently for the best results and insights, then don’t worry. We’ve comprised a step by step process of the 5 stages of competitor analysis to ensure you get the most out of your competitor research.
Why is it important to know your competitors?
As we touched upon briefly in the introduction, competitor research is essential as it allows you to understand what your competitors are doing, in what ways are they successful or not successful and helps you find opportunities for your content to get ahead of the competition, which can be tough otherwise.
Competitor research is essential for SEO as you want to ensure that your approach is going to be successful, especially if you're going to be investing a lot of your time, money and effort into it. By identifying the strategies, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of other businesses who are also providing the same goods and services that you are, you’ll get a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t, as well as getting a better understanding of which techniques aren’t worth spending any time on.
For instance, if the competition has an excellent backlink profile, high domain authority, provides long-form content and is ranking in position 1 for a keyword, then competitor analysis will show you that it’s a waste of your time and efforts to target that keyword but may help you to identify easier opportunities to rank high in the SERPs.
The 5 stages of Competitor analysis:
Step 1: Identify your competitors
Your first step is to identify who your competitors are. Now, this may sound a bit like stating the obvious, but it is the first necessary step for any competitor research process.
Who are my competitors?
The best way to find your competitors is to head to Google and type in some of the goods or services that you provide and see what results Google comes up with. You want to be looking for brands and businesses who offer the same or similar products and services that you do, and these will be your competitors.
It’s good practice to start out with a list of at least 5-10 competitors, as although this may seem like a lot of results to conduct your research with, ultimately, you’ll find that you get the best results.
Step 2: Take a look at your competitors’ content
Once you have identified who your competitors are, your next step is to take a look at the type of content that they are producing and ask yourself the following questions about their content:
- What type of content are they producing? – Is it a blog post, home page, product page, news article, list article, video?
- What is their content like? – Is it well written? Would the user get all the information they needed from that page? Does it provide a good understanding of the search intent? Does it provide good UX? Is the content long form or short form? Could you produce more content on the subject?
- Do they have external links? – What type of pages are they linking to? Do these pages have high authority? How many times do they link out to external sources? Do you think these links are adding to the authoritativeness of the page?
- Do they have internal links? – What type of pages are they linking to in their site? Is there a hierarchy of pages? How many internal links do they have?
- Keywords – What keywords are they targeting? What’s the keyword density of these keywords? What keywords are they ranking for? How easy would it be for you to outrank them for these keywords? Are there any good keyword opportunities there?
- What type of media is on their site? – Do they provide a tool or a calculator? Do they have their own images or do they use stock images? Do they have videos in addition to written content? Are there infographics?
Step 3: Analyse their SEO strategy
After analysing their content, you probably have a good idea of how your competitors are using content in their SEO strategy, but your next step to take is to take a closer inspection of what your competitors SEO methods are. This will help you to find the reasons behind their success and their weaknesses, so you’ll know how to compile your own methods.
- You should take a look at the following aspects of their SEO:
- Keywords they’re targeting
- Keywords they’re ranking for
- Search volume and difficulty of those keywords
- The content they’re producing
- The length of the content
- Whether they have any related questions or featured snippets
- How many backlinks do they have?
- Who do they have backlinks from?
- Whether you could get similar backlinks
- Do they have high domain and page authority?
- Is their content high quality and authoritative?
Step 4: Identify their strengths and weaknesses
Your next step is to consider your competitor’s strengths and weakness for you to understand how you should approach your SEO strategy. Consider how you could use your competitors’ strengths to your own advantage by employing SEO techniques that they have used, which has benefited their own success.
For instance, have they created great resources such as all you need to know guides and infographics on a subject that lots of people have linked out to and has boosted their page authority? Or have they created high-quality long-form content with lots of images and video on a targeted keyword which has ranked well despite having low domain authority and only a few links to the page?
And therefore by identifying your competitor’s weaknesses, you’ll know how to develop your strategy which will use it to your advantage and give you the opportunity to outrank them.
Consider whether they are they a lower authority than you but ranking high for a competitive keyword and whether you could you use your authority to your advantage? Would you be able to outrank them with your authority if you created a page targeting the same keywords? Or are they a high authority page with poor content? Could you produce a better page and outrank them that way? Consider these options.
Step 5: Create a content plan based on your analysis
Once you have collected your data from your competitor analysis, your final step is to create a plan on your content strategy based around the information you found from your research.
You now have all the information you need to go and create a tailor-made SEO strategy that will be sure to both outsmart and outrank your competition for optimal success.