Top 9 Steps To An SEO Competitive Analysis(In 2023)

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Hello there!

In the constantly evolving world of online marketing, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) remains a crucial factor for success. 

SEO is optimizing your website to increase its visibility for relevant searches, thereby improving your website’s ranking on search engine result pages (SERPs). 

A better ranking means more organic traffic, which, when effectively managed, can lead to higher conversion rates and increased revenue. 

However, understanding your competition becomes necessary as the internet becomes more saturated with businesses vying for the top spots on SERPs. 

That’s where SEO competitive analysis comes into play.

SEO competitive analysis involves studying your competitors’ practices, strategies, and tactics to improve and refine your SEO strategy. 

It offers a roadmap to uncover opportunities and reveal threats before they become problematic. 

This isn’t a one-time task—it requires constant monitoring and adjustment in line with changes in the digital landscape. 

According to a study by BrightEdge, 68% of online experiences begin with a search engine, underscoring the importance of maintaining a high ranking on search results. 

In such a dynamic environment, understanding your competition’s SEO strategy gives you a strategic edge, allowing you to respond to changes rather than react proactively.

In this post we will cover THE 9 steps necessary to perform a high level competitor SEO analysis.

Here we go!

Step 1: Identify Your Competitors

Question mark

The first step in conducting an effective SEO competitive analysis is identifying who your competitors are. 

While you likely have a sense of who your direct business competitors are, it’s important to remember that your SEO competitors may differ. 

Your SEO competitors are websites that rank high on the SERPs for keywords that are relevant to your business, and they may include firms in a similar or even different industry.

To find your SEO competitors, start by listing the keywords that are important to your business. 

Then, search for these keywords and note the websites that consistently appear on the first page of the results. 

These are your top SEO competitors. 

You can also use tools like Google’s “related searches” function to identify potential competitors:

For instance, if you run a vegan bakery, you might list other vegan bakeries as competitors, general bakeries, grocery stores that sell vegan products, and even bloggers who post vegan recipes.

Several digital tools are also available to help you identify your SEO competitors. 

SEMRush and Ahrefs, for example, offer features for competitor identification. 

With SEMRush, you can enter a domain and see which keywords it ranks for and its main organic competitors. 

Similarly, Ahrefs also allows you to enter a domain and see who its competitors are based on their common keywords.

Identifying your SEO competitors is crucial in developing a robust SEO strategy. 

According to a study by MarketingSherpa, 61% of marketers believe SEO is fundamental to their digital marketing strategy but also one of the most difficult to execute. 

This statistic underscores the need to have a clear understanding of your competitive landscape to navigate the complexities of SEO effectively. 

By identifying your competitors, you can gain valuable insights into their tactics and strategies, which can, in turn, help you shape your SEO strategy more effectively.

Step 2: Analyze Competitors’ Websites & SEO Structure

Website Design Wireframe

Analyzing a competitor’s website is crucial in an SEO competitive analysis

This lets you understand their strengths and weaknesses and identify opportunities to outperform them. 

By studying the features contributing to their high ranking on search engine result pages, you can adapt and enhance your SEO strategies.

Start with their website structure and user experience (UX). 

A well-structured website with a positive UX is user-friendly and favored by search engines. 

Analyze how their site is organized, how easy it is to navigate, the intuitiveness of the layout, and the site’s load time. 

Look also at their content – is it engaging, helpful, and frequently updated? These elements contribute significantly to SEO performance. 

For example, if a competitor’s blog posts are consistently ranking high, consider their content’s length, quality, and format and how you might create content that offers even more value.

SEO tools such as SEMRush and Moz can provide a wealth of data for this type of analysis. 

These tools allow you to conduct a site audit, examining site speed, metadata, and URL structure. 

For example, with SEMRush, you can explore the top pages of your competitor’s domain, analyze backlinks, and uncover critical phrases driving traffic to their site. 

Similarly, Moz’s ‘Link Explorer’ allows you to examine the link profile of any site, helping you understand its linking strategy:

A study by Forrester found that 53% of all site traffic comes from organic searches. 

This statistic underlines the importance of SEO and the need to fully understand what’s driving the success of top-ranking websites in your sector. 

A thorough examination of a competitor’s website gives you insights into their SEO strategies and reveals opportunities to enhance your own.

Step 3: Investigate Competitors’ On-Page SEO

SEO or search engine optimization

Analyzing on-page SEO is crucial to SEO competitive analysis

On-page SEO refers to all the elements within a webpage that can be optimized to improve its visibility in search engine rankings. 

By scrutinizing your competitors’ on-page SEO, you can understand their tactics to achieve higher rankings and then devise your strategies accordingly.

When assessing on-page SEO, focus on keywords, metadata, HTML tags, URL structure, and internal linking. 

Look at the keywords your competitors are targeting. 

Are they using long-tail keywords or shorter, more general ones? Examine their metadata – title tags and meta descriptions – to see how they entice users to click on their links. 

HTML tags, including header tags and alt tags for images, are also crucial for SEO as they help search engines understand the content:

Moreover, a well-planned URL structure and internal linking can boost a page’s SEO by distributing link equity throughout the site.

There are many tools available to analyze on-page SEO. 

SEMRush’s On-Page SEO Checker is a versatile tool that provides actionable recommendations based on your keywords’ top 10 real-time competitors. 

It analyzes keyword use in the title, meta tags, body, and more. 

Similarly, Moz’s On-Page Grader tool can help you understand how well your webpage is optimized for a particular keyword and provides actionable tips for improvement.

According to Ahrefs, the first ranking page on Google gets up to 32.5% of the average traffic share, emphasizing the significance of on-page SEO to rank higher. 

By critically analyzing the on-page SEO of your competitors, you can draw valuable insights and craft superior SEO strategies to enhance your rankings.

Step 4: Check Competitors’ Backlinks

seo, search engine optimization.

In SEO competitive analysis, backlink analysis holds significant importance. 

Backlinks, or inbound links, are a signal of trust from other websites, and search engines like Google consider them while ranking websites. 

A website with high-quality backlinks from reputable sites often ranks higher. 

By analyzing your competitor’s backlink profile, you can identify which domains are linking to them, the quality of these links, and potential link-building opportunities for your site.

When analyzing your competitor’s backlinks, take note of the number of total backlinks, the diversity of linking domains, and the quality of those domains. 

Consider the anchor text used in those links, as it can give you an idea of the keywords your competitors are targeting. 

Additionally, examine the type of content earning them backlinks to inform your content strategy.

Several tools can assist you in backlink analysis. 

Ahrefs offers a comprehensive backlink checker tool, providing detailed information about backlink profiles, including the top referring domains, the most linked-to pages, and the anchor text distribution. 

Another helpful tool is Moz’s Link Explorer, which offers a complete profile of a website’s backlink data, including the domain authority of linking domains and the inbound links’ anchor text.

According to a study by Backlinko, the number of domains linking to a page correlates with rankings more than any other factor, underscoring the importance of backlink analysis. 

By understanding your competitor’s backlink profile, you can devise a targeted link-building strategy to enhance your SEO rankings.

Step 5: Examine Competitors’ Content Strategy

Analyzing document content

Content is king in the realm of SEO. 

Analyzing your competitor’s content strategy is fundamental to SEO competitive analysis

A solid content strategy can boost a website’s search engine rankings, improve its backlink profile, and enhance user engagement. 

When dissecting your competitor’s content, please pay attention to the types of content they publish (blog posts, infographics, videos, etc.), the topics they cover, and the depth of their content. 

Check if their content is original and fresh and how often they update it.

A competitor’s social media profiles also offer great insights into their content strategy. 

Social media activity can hint at which content types and topics resonate most with their audience. 

Look for the content they share, the engagement each post gets regarding likes, shares, and comments, and how they interact with their followers. 

This analysis can guide you in developing a social media content strategy that strikes a chord with your target audience.

Various tools can help you perform content analysis. 

BuzzSumo is a fantastic tool for discovering the most shared content across social media platforms for a particular topic or website. 

It can also help identify key influencers in your industry. 

Screaming Frog SEO Spider is highly recommended for a deeper analysis of your competitors’ on-site content. 

It’s a website crawler that collects critical on-page data, helping you find gaps and opportunities in your content strategy.

Content is so crucial to SEO that, according to the Content Marketing Institute, 72% of marketers reported that content marketing increased their leads and engagement rates. 

By understanding your competitors’ content strategy, you can make informed decisions about your own, providing value to your users and improving your SEO.

Step 6: Assess Competitors’ Online Reputation and Reviews

Business graphs and statistics review

Reputation analysis is a pivotal part of a comprehensive SEO competitive analysis. 

A business’s online reputation reflects its credibility, trustworthiness, and overall quality. 

Positive reviews and testimonials can significantly influence consumers’ decisions. 

At the same time, negative feedback can tarnish a brand’s image and negatively impact its SEO. 

Looking into your competitor’s reputations gives you insight into their strengths and weaknesses, helping you identify opportunities to improve your online standing.

When examining a competitor’s reputation, look at online reviews, ratings, and comments. 

Consider the tone of reviews and how they respond to praise and criticism. 

Keep an eye on the channels they are using, too. 

Are they engaging with their audience on social media, review sites, and websites? 

Observing these factors will offer valuable insights into how you can manage your reputation.

Numerous tools can facilitate reputation analysis. 

Google Alerts can help you keep an eye on your competitors by sending email updates whenever their names or keywords related to them appear online. 

ReviewTrackers is another helpful tool. 

It allows you to monitor and analyze reviews from various platforms in one place, providing actionable insights to improve your customer satisfaction.

Reputation truly matters in the digital age. 

According to a BrightLocal study, 82% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses, and the average consumer spends 13 minutes and 45 seconds reading reviews before making a decision. 

Therefore, understanding your competitor’s reputation can help you plan strategies to improve your online standing, boosting your SEO efforts.

Step 7: Analyze Competitors’ Local SEO Strategy

magnifying glass with local seo alphabet words.

The importance of local SEO analysis in an overall SEO competitive analysis cannot be overstated. 

Local SEO boosts visibility for businesses that serve their communities face-to-face, such as brick-and-mortar stores or service-area companies. 

Analyzing your competitors’ local SEO strategies can give you insights into how they target and reach local customers, allowing you to refine your strategy and overtake them in local search results.

When analyzing your competitors’ local SEO methods, consider important factors, such as their Google My Business profile, incorporation of local keywords, reviews from customers, and local backlinks. 

A properly optimized Google My Business profile can enhance a business’s presence in local search results and on Google Maps.

Noticing how your competitors use local keywords can help you create content that attracts the local audience. 

Also, local reviews and backlinks signal to search engines that a business is locally relevant, boosting its local SEO.

Various tools can assist in local SEO analysis. 

Google’s own Google My Business is an essential tool for managing your business’s online presence across Google, including Search and Maps. 

Meanwhile, tools like Moz Local can help monitor your local search performance and manage your online reputation.

Local SEO’s impact is considerable: according to Google, “near me” searches have grown by over 250% in recent years:

Therefore, understanding your competitors’ local SEO strategies will equip you with actionable insights to win the local search game and drive more foot traffic to your business.

Step 8: Utilize Competitive Analysis Tools

Analysis Brainstorming Business Working Report Concept

Competitive analysis is a cornerstone of a successful SEO strategy, and using the right tools can make this process more effective and efficient. 

Utilizing these tools is crucial for analyzing your competitors’ tactics. 

Examine their backlink profiles and keyword usage to identify their strengths and weaknesses. 

This information is essential for refining your SEO strategies and gaining a competitive advantage.

By leveraging these insights, you can make informed decisions that drive your website’s visibility and ranking on search engines.

One powerful tool for competitive analysis is SEMRush

It offers comprehensive insights into your competitors’ SEO strategies, including their organic search rankings, paid advertising efforts, and backlink profiles. 

However, a common mistake when using SEMRush is focusing too much on the raw data and needing more on the trends. 

While knowing where you stand compared to your competitors is essential, it’s equally important to understand how you and your competitors are moving. 

Therefore, monitoring these metrics over time is crucial to recognize patterns and trends.

Ahrefs is another robust tool that helps with competitive analysis. 

It excels at backlink analysis, enabling you to explore who links to your competitors. 

However, one mistake some users make with Ahrefs is paying attention to the quality of backlinks. 

While it’s easy to get impressed by the sheer number of backlinks a competitor might have, remember that not all backlinks are created equal. 

The relevance and authority of the linking websites matter a lot in terms of SEO value.

Moz provides a suite of SEO tools that includes features for keyword research, link analysis, and rank tracking. 

A common pitfall when using Moz is failing to utilize its Keyword Explorer tool fully. 

Rather than just identifying the keywords your competitors rank for, you should also explore the keyword suggestions provided by Moz. 

This can uncover relevant long-tail keywords that your competitors might still need to target, offering opportunities for your content strategy.

The SpyFu tool allows you to “spy” on your competitors’ keywords for SEO and PPC campaigns. 

A common error with SpyFu is focusing solely on the competitors you already know about. 

One of SpyFu’s strengths is its ability to identify competitors you may need to be aware of based on shared keywords.

Finally, the tool SimilarWeb provides insights into competitors’ traffic sources, popular pages, and audience interests. 

However, don’t take the traffic estimates at face value, as these are just estimates and may need to be more accurate. 

It’s best to use this tool to gauge general trends and patterns.

In conclusion, these competitive analysis tools can provide a wealth of information. 

Still, they are most effective when their data is contextualized and integrated into a broader SEO strategy. 

Avoid these common mistakes to maximize their potential and stay ahead of your competition.

Step 9: Formulate Your SEO Strategy Based on Analysis

Business people planning strategy

Having conducted a thorough competitive analysis, you’re now equipped with a wealth of insights to drive your SEO strategy. 

One of the most crucial steps is understanding how to utilize these insights effectively to enhance your search engine performance. 

For instance, if your analysis reveals that your competitors consistently rank for specific keywords you’re not, this could indicate an opportunity for your business. 

Developing content that targets these keywords could help you gain visibility in these areas. 

Here’s an example: Watchfinder used competitive intelligence to shape its keyword strategy, resulting in a 42% increase in visibility.

Understanding your competitors’ backlink profiles can also be invaluable. 

Suppose reputable websites are linking to your competitor’s content. 

In that case, this suggests that they’re producing high-quality material that’s respected in your industry. 

You can then produce similarly high-quality content and reach out to these websites for backlink opportunities. 

A study by Backlinko found that the number of domains linking to a page correlated with rankings more than any other factor, underscoring the importance of a strong backlink profile.

Insights gained from your competitors’ on-page SEO, such as meta descriptions and title tags, can also provide a roadmap for your optimization. 

If your competitors’ pages consistently rank higher than yours, closely examine their on-page SEO and consider how you can improve your own. 

For example, if their meta descriptions are more compelling, work on crafting narratives that are equally enticing to click on.

Remember, SEO competitive analysis is not a one-time process but a continuous one. 

The digital landscape and your competitors’ strategies are constantly changing. 

Regularly conducting competitive analysis lets you stay updated with these changes and adjust your strategy accordingly. 

This can involve anything from updating your keyword strategy in response to shifts in market trends to improving your backlink profile by targeting new, high-authority domains. 

Keeping your finger on the pulse of your industry’s SEO trends ensures your strategy is always one step ahead.

That’s it for this one! Got questions? Reach out to us here

Till next time!

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