How to Perform an SEO Competitor Analysis

alt=""
SEO
Two people sparing in vintage photo representing a competitor analysis.

November 8, 2022

byAnkit Vora

Most of our SEO discovery calls start with:

“We want to rank at the top of Google. How can you help?”

Every business’s dream is to rank on the first page of search engines (especially Google).

Depending on your business type, industry, or product, you may want to rank for terms like“best {business type / product name / service name} in boise” or “top {business type / product name / service name} in boise.”

For example, if you run a bakery in Boise, then a few potential keywords you may want to rank for would be “best bakery in boise” or “best cookies shop in boise.” 

If you’re reading this article, maybe your competitors are already ranking at the top of Google for the keywords you desire to rank for. Maybe they have thousands of backlinks from hundreds of referring domains. And maybe they have an incredibly high domain authority and attract thousands of people to their website each month.

jackie chan wait what meme

OR!

Maybe it’s the other way around.

Maybe you already hold the #1 or #2 position, yet you’re worried that your competitors will soon outrank you.

Which category do you belong to?

Whether you want to outrank your competitors or make sure that they don’t outrank you, allow me to help.

To do this, you must allow me to help with one ask:

If you genuinely want to knock your SEO game out of the park, I want you to perform an SEO competitor analysis.

An SEO competitor analysis? 

Wait! 

what's that now grandma meme

If you’re wondering what an SEO competitor analysis is and how to perform it, you’re at the right place.

I’ve put together this blog post to help you understand: 

  • What an SEO competitor analysis is
  • How to perform an SEO competitor analysis the smart way

I’m so excited to share this information with you. 

Let’s dive in.

What is an SEO Competitor Analysis?

An SEO competitor analysis, also commonly called SEO competitive analysis, is the process of diving deep into your competitors’ SEO strategy to understand:

  • What keywords they’re targeting, and which ones they rank at the top of Google for.
  • What their top-ranking pages are. 
  • How well they are performing on search engines.
  • How many backlinks they have and which sources they’re attracting backlinks from.
  • What their website Domain Ranking (DR) is.
  • Whether they have featured snippets or not. 
  • And more!

You can use this information to build your own SEO strategy – this way, you won’t have to do it from scratch. 

For example, you can identify your competitors’ top-ranking blog posts to build your own content strategy. But there’s more to it than just covering the topics for which your competitors are ranking at the top. 

It’s equally important to look at the keywords they’re targeting in their top-ranking pages – and understand whether it makes sense to cover those keywords. 

Also, you can identify the websites they’re getting backlinks from and build your own backlink outreach strategy. 

There are so many ways you can use the information you generate. 

At redfox visual, we conduct thorough SEO competitive analysis for our clients immediately after onboarding them to understand where they currently stand compared to their competitors. We use the information that we gather to:

  • Build a results-driven content marketing plan.
  • Build an effective backlink outreach strategy.
  • Build a guest posting strategy.
  • And more!

In addition, we conduct SEO competitive analysis on an ongoing basis to track which strategies are working well for our clients and which ones are not – based on which we build a future roadmap. While these ongoing competitive analyses are not as thorough as the first one we conduct, we cover the most important parts. 

That being said, let me show you our exact process (that you can steal) to perform a thorough SEO competitive analysis.

How to Perform an SEO Competitive Analysis

To perform an SEO competitive analysis, businesses need to first understand who their competitors are. Based on this, we can use SEO tools like Ahrefs or SEMRush to identify their top-ranking pages, backlink profiles, keywords they’re targeting, and more. To help you knock your SEO competitive analysis process out of the park, I reached out to redfox visual’s SEO team and asked them to share their framework with me. You can steal it to knock your SEO competitor analysis process out of the park:

  • Identify who your competitors are. 
  • List down their DR, backlinks, referring domains, organic keywords, and organic traffic count. 
  • Review your competitors’ top-ranking pages
  • Review your competitors’ backlink profile

Identify Who Your Competitors Are

The first step is to understand who your competitors are. 

And it doesn’t have to be complicated.

But before you go ahead and use tools like Ahrefs or Semrush to perform competitive analysis, it’s important to note that there are two types of competitors:

  • Direct Competitors – They sell the same types of products or offer the same set of services that you do. 
  • Indirect Competitors – They don’t offer the same set of products or services as yours yet are ranking at the top of search engines for keywords that you want to target.

For example, let’s say you run a bakery shop in Boise and want to rank at the top for the keyword “best bakery boise.” 

I looked up the term on Google and the top-ranking pages were:

best bakery in boise search results

As you can see, TripAdvisor’s “Bakeries in Boise” web page ranks at the top for the keyword “best bakery boise.” 

But is TripAdvisor direct a direct competitor?

No!

A direct competitor we found ranking on the first page for the same keyword is:

granny c's bakery boise

So if you run a bakery in Boise – TripAdvisor isn’t your direct competitor. It’s Granny C’s Bakery.

We’re coming for you, Granny! 

How Do You Identify Direct Competition?

We do it by:

  • Brainstorming the keywords that we want to rank at the top for.
  • Using these keywords to identify more relevant keywords. 
  • Identifying the top 10 SERP results for every keyword in our list.
  • Listing down your direct competitors.

Download this template to document everything inside a spreadsheet. 

Allow us to show you our practical approach.

Brainstorm the Keywords You Want to Rank For

Again – let’s say you run a bakery in Boise. Now, the first step is – brainstorming and preparing a list of relevant keywords. Ask yourself – “which keyword do we want to rank at the top for?”   

Some relevant keywords, in our case, would be:

  • bakery boise
  • cakes boise
  • donuts boise
  • custom cakes boise
  • breads boise

Now the first step is to document these keywords. You can create a copy of the template we shared above to document your ideas. 

keyword tracking for bakeries

Now, you can use these keywords to find more relevant keywords.

How?

Use These Keywords to Identify More Relevant Keywords

Just type in these keywords on Google and scroll to the bottom, where you’ll find related keyword ideas.

We did the same and some keywords we found are:

  • french bakery boise
  • best bakery in boise
  • bakery downtown boise
  • birthday cakes boise

bakery boise searches

So, we added them to our spreadsheet.

bakery keywords

NOTE – Not all these keywords will be relevant to your business. We recommend only adding the relevant ones. 

Now, to identify more keywords, we used Ahrefs’ “Keywords Explorer.” 

We looked up these keywords in Ahrefs Keywords Explorer one by one. 

keyword explorer for google

And here are the results:

ahrefs keyword difficulty

Under “Keyword Ideas,” you’ll find ideas for more keywords:

questions related to bakery boise google search results

Select “View all” to identify more keywords.

view all keyword opportunities

This step is important. So, we recommend taking your time to find relevant keywords (ones that you want to rank for) and add them to your spreadsheet.

keyword opportunities related to boise bakery

Some keywords we added are:

  • boise bakery
  • certified bakery boise
  • bakery boise Idaho
  • gluten free bakery boise
  • boise idaho bakery

boise bakery keyword opportunities

Identifying the Top 10 SERP Results for Every Keyword in Your List

Look up every keyword in your list one by one on Ahrefs using “Keywords Explorer” tool and head to the bottom – where you’ll find “SERP Overview” for that keyword. 

Under “SERP Overview,” you can look at the top 10 SERP results for keywords. 

For “bakery boise” – the SERP overview looked like:

search results for bakery boise

Export the list of the top 10 SERP results by clicking on “Export” as displayed in the screenshot below:

search results for bakery boise

Now, from the exported file, copy the links of the top 10 SERP results and add it to the template like this:

serp results for bakery boise tracking

Do this for every keyword you’ve documented. 

List Down Your Direct Competitors

Now, individually head over to these links – and if you think they’re direct competition, document them inside the spreadsheet’s “Competitors” sheet:

competitors brainstorming keywords

We did the same and listed down the top bakeries:

competitors with urls

This is a brilliant way to identify your direct competitors.

List Your Competitor DR, Backlinks, Referring Domains, Organic Keywords, and Organic Traffic Count

You have a list of your competitors.

But now, if you want to perform a strong competitive analysis, you need to identify the ones with a strong presence. 

How to do that?

In Ahrefs “Site Explorer,” look up your competitors one by one. Note down the following information inside the template – next to their name and URL:

  • Domain Rating
  • Backlinks
  • Referring Domains
  • Organic Keywords
  • Organic Traffic

We did it for Granny C’s Bakery:

granny rolls bakery SEO analysis

We added this information to our spreadsheet:

granny rolls bakery SEO analysis

This way, you can identify your strong competitors attracting good traffic to your website. If a competitor is attracting little-to-no traffic, you can remove them from your list. 

Review Your Competitors’ Top-Ranking Pages

Once you have a list of competitors performing well on search engines, it’s time to learn more about them. In this section, we’ll learn what their top-ranking pages are.

How to do that?

We looked up Grandma C’s Bakery’s website on Ahrefs using “Site Explorer.”

And here are the results:

granny rolls bakery SEO analysis

In the left panel, under “Organic Search,” you’ll find “Top Pages.”

Click on “Top Pages” to look at their top-ranking pages.

Results:

granny rolls bakery SEO analysis

As you can see, the homepage is helping them attract the highest traffic. And it’s clearly visible that their top keyword is “bakery boise” – and they’re ranking #2 for that keyword.

We’ll export this list and add it to our template. There are only four results here – so we’ll add all four results. However, if there are hundreds of pages, we only recommend adding up to 15 pages.

granny rolls bakery SEO analysis

Under “Keywords,” there are 39 keywords they’re ranking for. We’ll click on “39” to get our hands on the complete list.

granny rolls bakery SEO analysis

Here are the results:

see keywords that granny's bakery are ranking for

Also, under “Organic Search,” you can click on “Competing Pages” to look at all the competing pages:

competing pages for granny's bakery

 

Along with the competing pages, you can look at the:

  • Keywords unique to target
  • Common keywords
  • Keywords unique to competitor
  • Intersection gap

Similarly, you can dive deep into any competitor’s SEO profile using features like:

  • Top subfolders
  • Top subdomains
  • Competing domains
  • Content gap

You can look at their top organic keywords by clicking on “Organic keywords” under “Organic search:”

granny's bakery organic keyword analysis

You can apply filters like Volume, Position, KD, and more to identify promising keywords that you can rank for. For example, if you’re a website with a DR between 1-10, then we recommend targeting keywords with keyword difficulty (KD) as 1-15.

keyword difficulty of 15

But these keywords should have a promising intent and volume.

Here are the results:

keywords for granny's bakery

You can add these keywords to your list inside the spreadsheet.

Next, we’ll review their backlink strategy.

Review Your Competitors’ Backlink Profile

You’ll see many content marketers or so-called SEO gurus claiming – “Backlinks don’t matter.”

And yes – they’re right. 

But backlinks don’t matter isn’t the complete sentence. 

What they forget to add is “Low-quality backlinks don’t matter.”

If you want your content or web pages to rank, you need to show Google that you’re an authoritative source of information. And you can do this by building your backlink profile. 

Your website domain rating isn’t the only factor that decides how well your web pages rank. However, it’s one of the most important ones.

So, in this section, we’ll dive deep into a competitor’s backlink strategy.

How to do that?

Allow me to show you.

Remember the list of competitors we documented inside our spreadsheet?

It’s time to revisit that.

Look up competitors on Ahrefs one by one. 

Here’s Flour Child Boise’s profile:

boise cakes keyword flour child boise

The reason why we didn’t look up Granny C’s Bakery’s profile  – their backlink profile wasn’t as strong. Their DR was 0.8 – so it’s obvious they don’t have a good backlink profile. However, when compared with Granny C’s Bakery’s backlink profile, Flour Child Boise has a stronger profile. 

Why?

Their website DR is 13. 

Well – it’s not good (technically) but local businesses don’t really focus on their backlinks. So, from a local business’s perspective, it’s comparatively better.

Let’s dive into their backlink profile now.

How? 

Click on “Backlinks” under “Backlink profile” in the left panel.

backlinks selection

Here, you’ll see all the backlinks they have:

backlinks list to flour child

We’ll just see the “Dofollow” links – so at the top click on “Dofollow” links – as displayed in the screenshot below:

backlinks list to flour child

The higher the DR of the website you get link from, the stronger will be your backlink profile. So, let’s sort Flour Child Boise’s backlink profile by DR – from high to low. 

Do this by clicking on DR as displayed in the screenshot below:

backlinks list to flour child

Now, you can look at the referring pages one-by-one with a high DR. 

Learn why they’re referring them. Understand their backlink strategy.

You’ll be shocked to know that many businesses pay for backlinks. While we don’t recommend paying for backlinks, try to understand if there’s an opportunity to get a backlink from the websites your competitors are getting backlinks from.

You can also click on “Referring Domains” in the left panel to get your hands on the domains linking to your competitors rather than the individual pages.

broken backlinks option

Results:

referring domains listed

You can even use this information to look at websites on which your competitors have published their guest posts. Maybe, you can do the same.

Now, using all of this information, you can build:

  •  A results-driven content marketing plan.
  • An effective backlink outreach strategy.
  • A guest posting strategy.
  • And more!

That’s the Right Way to Perform SEO Competitor Analysis

Conducting an SEO competitive analysis is not a straightforward process. There are multiple aspects you need to focus on, like backlinks, organic keywords, top-ranking pages, and more. And based on the information you collect, you can build your company’s own SEO strategy.

And that’s how we do it at redfox visual.

Need help? Our experts would love nothing more than to assist you. 

Contact us today!

Our Services:

Other Posts You May Like:

  1. Candy & Carnage – The Rise of Halloween Marketing
  2. Our Secret to Making Great Product Videos
  3. How to Knock Your Franchise Web Design Out of the Park
  4. Why is an SEO Audit Important for Your Company?
  5. How to Market a New Local Coffee Shop
alt=""
alt=""

You’ve Got the Good Stuff. We’ve Got the Right Stuff.

Let’s start boosting your sales today!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Scroll to Top