A Guide to Analyzing Competitors’ SEO

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Competition is important for every industry, it fosters creativity and innovation. However, every business wants to come out on top of all the others. In the field of SEO, there are so many different key performance indicators that businesses should know about and work to stay on top of.

Pinpoint Competition

To find out who your business’s competition is, you’ll have to some keyword searches on your own. The websites that consistently come up on the first page of the respective search engine you use, are considered your SEO competition. They are ranking high for the keywords you want to be on top of and they must be doing a lot of things right to earn the first-page status.

Analyze Keywords

One of the focuses of analyzing keywords is figuring out how difficult they are. What that means is how likely (or unlikely) is a user going to type that keyword. Most businesses would want to go for the easier keywords, but they might not tie into the branding and marketing goals. At worst the business starts showing up on search engines for irrelevant searches which works against the overall SEO.

Looking at the kind of language competitors would offer clues on what to use on your own website.

Evaluate Popular Pages

The popular pages on a competitor’s website contain a lot of valuable information. They indicate which ones have the most keywords and which ones are getting the most traffic. You may think you know what the popular pages are on a website, but double-checking can lead to some surprising discoveries containing valuable information to use for your own website.

Study Backlink Growth

Backlinks are a strong factor in SEO because they contribute to what is known as Domain Authority. If other websites share links to your own website, that implies it has some level of authority in the particular industry. The greater the number of high-quality backlinks to your website, the higher your Domain Authority is. High-quality backlinks can be from major news organizations or other high-profile sites related to your industry. Getting on those types of websites requires having excellent content, a well-defined user experience, and a robust business strategy.

As those factors move up, so does the website’s ranking on search engines. Looking at how competitors fair in this aspect should offer a roadmap for your own business.

Observe Site Structure and UX

Most search engines have shifted a lot towards user experience and the structure of websites. Mobile-friendly and fast-loading websites will see steady improvements in the search engines. Competitors with faster to crawl sitemaps or faster page speed will overtake your business’s rankings should the website falter in this arena.

Reviewing how they are able to achieve these milestones should provide valuable insights on how to replicate those effects on your website.

Review External Channels

While the name of SEO implies the focus is solely on search engines, you can’t neglect external channels like social media and other platforms. Reviewing how the competition publishes content, gets linkless mentions, and review how they interact with their following can factor in. It’s been reported that in recent years, search engines have been trying to calibrate the user-perception of a company into the rankings so taking a page out of their social media strategy can go a long way to getting a boost.

If you need help analyzing competitors’ SEO, Runningfish and we’ll be happy to help.

Common Questions

How can I efficiently gather and analyze data on my competitors’ keywords, popular pages, backlinks, site structure/UX, and external channels? What specific tools or methods are recommended?

To efficiently gather and analyze data on competitors’ keywords, popular pages, backlinks, site structure/UX, and external channels, utilizing popular SEO software tools is recommended. Tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush, Moz and others allow you to enter competitor URLs and get deep insights into their organic keyword rankings, top pages by traffic, entire backlink profiles, technical site audits for UX factors like page speed and mobile-friendliness, and they monitor social media and other external channels.

All-in-one SEO suites make the data gathering and analysis process much more streamlined compared to trying to manually review all those areas. They provide benchmarking metrics, visualizations of the data, and allow you to track competitors over time. While they require a paid subscription, the time savings and depth of competitive intelligence they provide makes investing in one of these industry-leading toolsets very valuable.

What are some examples of metrics or benchmarks I should look for when evaluating competitors in areas like domain authority, page speed, crawlability, etc.? What constitutes “good” performance?

When evaluating competitors in areas like domain authority, page speed, crawlability, and other SEO metrics, it’s important to look for indicators of strong performance. For domain authority, scores in the 60s and above from tools like Moz or Ahrefs suggest a very authoritative site. For page speed, aim for load times under 3 seconds on both desktop and mobile – tools like Google PageSpeed Insights can check this.

For crawlability, you want a well-structured site with an easy-to-crawl architecture and an XML sitemap to guide search engines. Look for technical issues like 404 errors, redirect chains, and duplicate content issues. On the content side, analyze competitors’ highest-trafficked pages to understand what resonates with their audience in terms of topics, formats, comprehensiveness, and more. Keeping an eye on benchmarks in these key areas can highlight where competitors are outperforming you and indicate areas for improvement.

How can I best incorporate the competitive intelligence gained into an actionable SEO strategy for my own website? What are the priorities in terms of areas to focus on improving?

Once you’ve gathered competitive intelligence across areas like keywords, backlinks, site structure, and external channels, it’s important to incorporate those insights into an actionable SEO strategy for your own website. Start by prioritizing the areas where your competitors are strongest and you are weakest – these gaps likely represent your biggest opportunities for improvement. If competitors have much higher domain authority driven by a abundance of high-quality backlinks, make link building a key focus. If their site structure and technical optimization is far superior, prioritize updating your site’s architecture and addressing issues like page speed. Analyze the content and topics their most popular pages cover to inspire your own content strategy. Use their social media and external channel presence as a model for expanding your own brand awareness efforts. By systematically addressing the areas where competitors are outperforming you based on the data, you can methodically improve your own SEO standing over time.