uncategorized

How to Do an SEO Competitive Analysis: The Ultimate Guide

SEO Competitive Analysis

SEO competitive analysis is a research strategy that enables you to discover opportunities. 

The article is divided into 4 blocks:

Introduction

Identify your competitors

SEO Metrics

Backlinks Profile

Content

Paid traffic

Introduction

The competitor analysis looks through 3 pillars of SEO, technical, on-site, and off-site  and helps you:

  • Discover SEO competitors
  • Identify keywords to target
  • Uncover topics to write about
  • Find backlink opportunities
  • Learn industry trends
  • Capitalize on competitors weaknesses
  • Replicate competitors strengths

Instead of guessing:

  • Which keywords to target
  • Where to try to build links
  • What topics to cover 

You research the examples of your competitors and find the best strategies to develop your SEO upon them. 

Competitor analysis is not only a standard in SEO. Imagine you own a flower shop. In your neighborhood, there are two more flower shops that some of your customers visit. You bike to the shops and learn what their best selling products are. Then you can back and start offering similar or superior products to your customers and result in more sales and customers.

This guide will allow you to conduct an SEO competitive analysis. For better and faster, results consider using SEO tools. Most of the tools offer 7-30 days of free trials. As you will not be doing a competitive analysis daily (unless you are an SEO agency), the free trials will be more than enough for the research.

Recommended paid tools:

  • Ahrefs
  • Moz
  • SimilarWeb.com
  • SEMrush

Free Tools:

  • web.archive.org
  • google.com
  • Page Speed Insights
  • GT Metrix

To make the process easier, we have created a free template. The template is divided into five categories with respective tools to use and metrics to look for.

  • SEO Metrics (e.g., Domain Authority, Page Authority, Spam Score, Domain Age)
  • Traffic & Visibility (e.g., Monthly Visits, Keyword Trend, Organic Keyword)
  • Inbound Links (e.g., Referral Domains, External Backlinks)
  • Content (e.g., Embedded Videos, CTAs, robots.txt, Sitemap)
  • Paid Traffic (e.g., Traffic Cost, Top PPC Keywords)

How to use the template:

  • Copy the spreadsheet
  • Gather data 
  • Add data to the spreadsheet
  • Draw conclusions and learnings

I will walk you through all the steps of successful competitor research. We will do the research for the affiliate coupon industry. The hypothetical company is SkyDeals.

Identify your competitors

Your SEO competitors want to rank for the same keywords you want in an organic search.

Right off, you will have some competitors in mind (Savings, Offers). But business competitors might not be your SEO competitors.

To start, think of keywords that describe your product or service. In our case, we will go with coupons, deals.  You can add more keywords (10-20) for increased accuracy.

coupons
top coupons
coupon deals

SEO Metrics

Next, we look through some SEO metrics, including Domain Authority (DA), Page Authority (PA), URL Rating (UR), Domain Rating (DR), Spam Score (SS). In this stage, you will need SEO tools, particularly Moz and Ahrefs. A quick reminder that you can use their free trials.

Before jumping to the technical part, let’s break down the terms.

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

Similar to DA Page Authority (PA) predicts how well a specific page will rank on search engine result pages. PA ranks from 1 to 100 (the higher, the better).

URL Rating (UR) shows the strength of a page’s link profile on a 100-point scale. The bigger the number, the stronger a page’s link profile is.  It is a page-level metric and looks at both internal and external links.

Domain Rating (DR) shows the strength of a target website’s total backlink profile (its size and quality). DR is measured on a scale from 0 to 100, 100 being the strongest.

Spam Score (SS) represents the percentage of sites with similar features penalized or banned by Google. The lower the percentage, the better.

Domain age shows how old the website is. This is important to SEO because:

  • an aged domain usually means that the site is well established
  • spamming sites usually have newly registered domain names.

DA and PA

Now back to our research. To find DA and PA, look at data from Moz. Go to https://analytics.moz.com/pro/link-explorer paste a competitor’s URL, and you will get the results.

Domain Authority

Spam Score

While on the same page, click Spam Score from the drop menu on the left corner and grab the SS or visit this link https://analytics.moz.com/pro/link-explorer/spam-score.

Spam Score

Now log in to Ahrefs, Site Explorer or visit this link https://ahrefs.com/site-explorer/  for DR and UR and paste a competitor’s link.

Domain’s Age

The last step is checking the domain’s age. Go to free site http://web.archive.org/ and paste a competitor’s link and look at the first date when the domain was saved.

Doamin's Age

Traffic and visibility 

In this section, we analyze a website’s traffic and visibility.  We will be concentrating on studying the company’s visibility in organic search and analyzing traffic.

Two new tools will be used: SEMrush (free 7-days trial) and SimilarWeb.

For this section, we will look at another competitor of SkyDeals: bradsdeals.com.

Monthly Visits and Monthly Unique Visits

We start by looking at Monthly Visits and Monthly Unique Visits. Compared to Monthly Visits, Monthly Unique Visits assess the actual reach of a website. Comparing these two metrics allows an understanding of repeats vs. new visitors.

To get this information, go to Similar Web and paste the website link.

Monthly Visits

Traffic Trend

Are you going up or down? By analyzing Traffic Trend, you see the movement and action trends of your site visitors. 

To get traffic trend go to SEMrush Domain Overview of visit this link https://www.semrush.com/analytics/overview

Traffic and Keyword Trend

In this case, it is mostly up and down. 

Next, we look at Keywords Trend.

Right below the Traffic Trend is Keywords Trend. It shows changes in the number of organic keywords the competitor has positions for. Data is available for keywords ranking in Top 3, 4-10, 11-20, 21-50, 51-100.

Traffic and Keyword Trend

It is also worth researching keywords type: branded vs. non-branded. Branded keywords include the company’s name or product name, whereas non-branded do not reference a brand name or any part of it (including any misspellings). 

As a rule of thumb, you strive to have equal distribution between non-branded and branded keywords with a slight dominance of non-branded keywords. This type of distribution suggests you have a powerful brand presence, as users are searching for you directly while you also are attracting solid organic traffic from keywords related to your product and service as people are actively searching for answers. 

In the case of SkyDeals’s competitor, the keywords are divided into:

Branded vs Non-Branded Keywords

Like in the case of Traffic Trend, here too, we have up and downtrend.

Total Organic Keywords

In the same Domain Overview section, we can see Total Organic Keywords. Organic Keyword attracts free traffic through SEO. The more organic keywords you have, the better, because more people will discover you through search engines.

Organic Keywords

Now we study competitors’ top keywords.

Analyzing your competitors’ top keywords will give you ideas for homepage content and future blog posts.

Go to Ahrefs site explorer ahrefs.com/positions-explorer/ and click on organic keywords from the left navigation.

Take note of top non branded keywords.

keywords

Find the Top Pages 

Researching competitors’ top pages will result in articles ranking for a ton of keywords and bring the most traffic to the website.

Then we can write better content pieces around the same topic, aka skyscrapers technique, and earn traffic.

Go to Ahrefs site explorer ahrefs.com/positions-explorer/ and click on Top Pages from the left menu.

Top Pages

Organic traffic value and estimate

This is the estimated monthly traffic cost from all keywords a site is ranking for if paid via PPC. 

To gather this information, you need to paste competitors’ URL Ahref’s site explorer https://ahrefs.com/site-explorer/

Traffic Value and Estimate

Ranking keywords

Find keywords that your competitors are ranking on Google. This will give you ideas about your keyword research and what to include in your blog posts. This is important because if you are in position 4 to 10, you are getting traffic but not a lot.  With a little optimization, you can move up in rankings. 

Go to https://ahrefs.com/site-explorer, and from the left corner, click on organic keywords. 

Click on position and mention the 1 From tab and 3 To tab. Repeat for From 4 To 10 and From 11 to 100.

Take notes of the number of keywords.

Keywords

Referring Domains and External Backlinks

Referring domains are the total number of unique domains linking to your target. And external backlinks total the number of links from other websites pointing to your target.

These metrics can be found on Ahrefs, Overview sections https://ahrefs.com/site-explorer/overview

In the case of Slickdeals, another competitor of SkyDeals

Ahrefs

.edu and governmental links 

Mant governmental and .edu links rank well. However, you should not spam the webmaster of these sites because google will not count spammy links.

These links can be found in the Overview section of Ahrefs Site Explorer.

This is the edu and governmental backlink profile of Slickdeals.

edu and gov links

Content 

To complete this section, you will SEMrush from paid tools. The rest of the research will be done using free tools, google search, or website.

Total indexed pages 

If a page is indexed, it means that the search engine indexed it, and it can appear among the search results for the related queries.

To find the total number of indexed pages, run this command on google site:example.com.

In the case of Ahrefs, another competitor of SkyDeals, the command is site:ahrefs.com and the results.

indexed pages

Robots.txt and sitemap

Robots.txt is a text file webmasters create to instruct web robots (typically search engine robots) to crawl pages on their website.

To check whether the website has robots.txt, write the domain of the website and add /robots.txt

In the case of Ahrefs, the link looks like this: ahrefs.com/robots.txt.

Robots.txt

Sitemap

A sitemap is a blueprint of your website that helps search engines find, crawl, and index your website’s content.

If there is a sitemap in robots.txt, this will help search engines to find pages on your site.

In the case of Ahrefs, they do not have a sitemap.

404 pages 

A 404 page is what a user sees when trying to reach a non-existent page on your site. Custom 404 pages will help your human users who end up visiting a page that doesn’t exist. You can either directly allow them to go to your homepage or any other website page.

To find if the site has a custom 404 pages, write the site’s domain and then something in lorem ipsum. 

For example, in the case of The Krazy Coupon Lady, the link is https://thekrazycouponlady.com/lkjhgf.

404 page

Active Blog Section

Look and see if the site has an active blog and is producing relatively content.  

You can check this by either going to the blog and seeing how frequently they are posting.

For example, SlickDeals has an active blog.

slickdeals

Images, Videos, and Other Notable Content 

Next, you need to know how many images, on average, your competitors post in their content. This will give you an idea of what is trending.

Look through a few blogs and average out the number of pictures.

In the case of Slickdeals, I look at five blogs, and on average, they post 6 images per article.

While looking through the articles, find out whether they have embedded videos. 

slickdeals blog

While researching, the content sections also pay attention to other notable content such as infographics, white papers, statistics, etc.

Ahrefs posts infographics and statistics.

Also, keep an eye on CTAs, are they clear and engaging enough.

Here is an example of CTA from Ahrefs:

CTA

Page Speed Insights

PageSpeed Insights reports on the performance of a page on both mobile and desktop devices.

The score runs from 0 to 100. A score of 90 or above is considered acceptable. 50 to 90 is a score that needs improvement, and below 50 is deemed to be inferior.

To get the report, go to https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/ and paste the competitor’s domain.

Here is the score for mobile

mobile speed score

And for Desktop

desktop speed score

Average Page Load Time

Website page load time is when it takes for someone to see the content after they’ve landed on a webpage. Google mentions, “at Google, we aim for under a half-second.” The rule of thumb is faster the page loads, the better.

To find a competitor’s load time, go to https://gtmetrix.com/ and paste the competitor’s website.

page load time

Traffic source

The last metrics in the content is section is to understand where the traffic comes from: 

  • product/service 
  • blog content

Go to Ahrefs site explorer, paste the website link, and click top pages from the left navigation.

traffic source

As you can see in the case of Ahrefs, they are getting traffic both from blog posts and from their products. 

In this section, we will only use SEMrush and will research another competitor of SkyDeals Mailshake. 

Traffic, Cost, Keywords

You need to identify the traffic, cost, and total keywords of Mailshake in the paid search. Go to the SEMrush Overview section, and from the left navigation, click on Advertising Research or visit  https://www.semrush.com/analytics/adwords/positions/

The result can be found on the first page.

paid traffic

Top PPC Keywords

If your competitors are paying for a keyword, then it is profitable! You can use them for organic ranking.

To find the keywords, go to the Advertising Section of SEMrush and scroll down to Paid Search Positions. Take note of the top 5 keywords.

ppc keywords

Ad copies

Competitors’ Ad copies can help you write titles and descriptions. It can also shed light on the keywords they use. 

To find the Ad copies, click on ad copies while on the Advertising Research section;

ad copies

Take a note of 2 or 3 ad copies for future reference.

Summary

SEO competitor analysis allows you to quickly understand the organic landscape, how your current competitors are performing, and where there are pockets of opportunities for you to compete.  

It is one of the first steps to building out and defining your SEO Strategy. 

What other data do you normally like to research and see when you are trying to build out your SEO Strategy?  Feel free to comment below. 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Add Comment *

Name *

Email *

Website