A how-to on effective competitor analysis

The why, what and how of effective competitor analysis

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It’s easy to get wrapped up in your own SEO strategy, but if you really want to be successful it’s vital to look at the bigger picture. Even if your business offers a service that’s relatively niche, zoom out and you’ll see that your brand is just a small part of its industry and contends for digital real estate with both local and national competitors.

Once you start to gain a better idea of the businesses that make up your industry’s presence online, the need for effective competitor analysis becomes clear. A solid understanding of what is and isn’t working for key competitors within your field is a great place to start to help improve your own digital strategy.

Continue reading to discover the ins and outs of this cost-effective SEO strategy.

What is competitor analysis?

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Competitor analysis is simply the process of analysing the digital profile of your competitors. The aim is to develop a deeper understanding of what does and doesn’t work within your industry, shaping your own digital presence in the process.

Competitor analysis can be as in-depth as you see fit, however a few key factors to take into consideration include:

• Keyword targeting

• Quality and length of written content

• Average search rankings

• Engagement rates

• Content structure and imagery

• Backlink profiles

The benefits of competitor analysis

Competitor analysis is a cost-effective tactic that will help highlight the strengths and weaknesses of your key competitors. From identifying content gaps that exist within the industry to giving some context to your own performance, the benefits of engaging in effective competitor analysis include:

• Gaining an insight into the performance of your competitors and understanding more about their SEO strategy

• Learning more about your industry as a whole, including what works and what doesn’t within the digital sphere

• Putting your own SEO performance into perspective and establishing new ways to improve moving forward

• Understanding more about your target audience and analysing their online behaviours and processes

Competitor analysis: a simple how-to

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By definition, competitor analysis is all about getting to know the brands that are directly competing for the same business as yours. We recommend looking at between five and eight key competitors – but any more than three is useful. Competitors can be identified as a result of your existing knowledge of the industry, or through tools that offer features relating to competitor analysis, such as SEMRush. (See more on tools to use below.)

First, analyse their strengths. Discover what’s working for the brands that currently rank highly within your sector and develop your SEO strategy to incorporate these.

Next, identify their weaknesses. Perhaps the brand ranking first on Google is particularly good at targeting keywords with a high search volume, but the content itself performs poorly at encouraging user engagement and conversions. Conversely, your primary competitor may have produced some great quality content that engages the audience, yet doing the same thing and building a stronger catalogue of backlinks could see your business overtaking them in Google rankings.

Once you’ve identified the individual strengths and weaknesses of your competitors, the final step is to collate your findings and make observations about the industry as a whole. Are there any specific gaps that you’re in a position to fill? Take the role of the consumer and ask exactly what information they’re likely to be looking for. If it isn’t currently provided, or the existing knowledge could be improved upon, this is the kind of content you’ll want to focus on creating in the immediate future.

The right tools for the job

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The breadth of tools you use are largely dependent on how in-depth you want your analysis to be. Looking at how well your competitors are ranking for specific keywords is as simple as performing a basic Google search, which is also the method to use if you’re interested in discovering how the quality of their landing page content stacks up against yours.

When it comes to delving deeper into the metrics and analytics however, there are a number of tools out there that can help to do the job. SimilarWeb gives good insight into site performance and traffic, enabling you to see which pages are performing well and exactly which channels users are reaching that content through. You can also benchmark your performance against other similar websites.

SEMRush is a valuable tool that provides data on competitor keyword rankings and performance. MOZ Pro and Majestic will provide information on the backlink profile of your competitors.

To discover more about how competitor analysis could boost your SEO efforts, get in touch today.

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