So, if you want to do better than your rivals, competitive analysis should be an integral part of your SEO strategy. When you identify your standing in the industry, you can reinvent your SEO campaign and emerge stronger than your competitors. But first, what is competitive analysis and what is its place in SEO?
What is Competitive Analysis?
Competitive analysis is the process of identifying businesses and companies in direct competition with your product, service or offering. From there you can evaluate how you match up to your competitors, what their strengths and weaknesses are, and how you can outperform them.
What is Competitive Analysis in SEO?
Simply put, competitive analysis in SEO is the process of identifying any related website that ranks higher than you on SERPs for search terms related to your product, service or company. Some websites that outrank you in Google will be competitors with which you are familiar. Others will be unknown competitors who aren’t in your industry but who are also writing content related to your business, product or service. Based on this definition, you can proceed to analyze the competitive landscape.
Comprehend the Landscape
Understanding the competitive landscape involves finding answers to three basic questions:
- What is my competitor up to?
- What is he doing that I am not?
- Is what he’s doing working for him?
You should begin competitive analysis before you begin researching keywords, creating content, building links or optimizing your social media efforts.
There are a few steps to completing competitive analysis in SEO. You should begin by analyzing your target competitors based on the search terms they are targeting.
This task can seem daunting when dealing with a massive site or a number of large competitors. Technology like Domain Explorer in Conductor Searchlight can give you a high level look at how all the content on your domain is performing compared to your competitors. You’ll be able to discover topics or content areas where your competitors are outperforming you, and vice versa.
From there, you need to identify areas of your content that can be better optimized to address the disparities you found in the previous step. If you’re using an SEO platform, make sure it gives you the functionality to identify how your content is performing on a large scale. If you can cluster your content by topics, personas or product initiatives, you’ll be able to understand what areas you should prioritize.
Identify Metrics of Competitive Analysis
Spend some time analyzing keywords so that you know your biggest competitors. You might discover several previously unknown competitors scaling the SERPs. So, instead of focusing on preconceived companies that you think are your competitors, make keywords your basis for analysis.
Define Channels of Competitive Analysis in SEO
Approach competitive SEO analysis using the SWOT (Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) framework. The biggest rule of competitive SEO analysis is to never assume anything. Base your SEO campaign on hard facts obtained from three main channels:
- Consider the data channels available to you to analyze the competitive landscape such as Google Adwords and Soovle, a website that queries multiple search engines ‘Suggest’ function simultaneously. Excel can be your friend in allowing you to pivot large quantities of data and mine for trends. And, advanced SEO platform tools can automate competitor analysis and discovery, deepening your insight into your competitive landscape.
- Conduct off-page and on-page analysis. This involves studying your competitor’s backlinks, anchor texts, social media strategy, tools used, content and page by page traffic figures.
- Analyze your competitor’s marketing strategies including past and present marketing programs, change in website traffic before and after implementation of marketing programs as well as the most fertile marketing grounds.
Although initially developing awareness of your competitive landscape revolves a lot of upfront effort, remember that competitive analysis is an ongoing process that should be completed on a continuous basis since the SERPs are highly dynamic.
The Benefits of Competitor Analysis
Performing competitor SEO analysis in an ongoing and deep way can give you a competitive advantage not only in your SEO efforts, but also in developing insight into your core business. An advanced SEO technology platform such as Conductor Searchlight can be a weapon in your marketing technology arsenal that can give you a distinct competitive advantage in your industry.
Competitive analysis does not typically rank high on the list of topics that are discussed in the industry. It’s not as ‘sexy’ as topics like ‘who got banned in the most recent algorithm update?’. But industry experts and search marketers themselves agree that competitive analysis is a critical part of search marketing success.