It’s Not Your Site, It’s Your Competitors: How to do Better SEO Competitor Analysis in 2020

A healthy amount of competition can bring out the best in people. The thought of winning or losing can give you enough endurance to last the entire match or the confidence we...

Fiona Gurtiza
Fiona Gurtiza February 5, 2020

A healthy amount of competition can bring out the best in people.

The thought of winning or losing can give you enough endurance to last the entire match or the confidence we need to fight off our fears, for instance.

Determining how to one-up your competitors in the internet marketing world is no different. Competition encourages innovation, prevents complacency, and pushes you to do well in every aspect of your business.

But when it comes to SEO, the competition isn’t just a contest between you and your industry rivals. It’s never been about stealing their thunder. After all, outranking your competitors only motivates you to be better than everyone else.

The true essence of competition, on the other hand, aligns your focus so you can see your goals with better clarity. And it encourages you to consciously strive to achieve those goals so you can grow your brand and blow the competition out of the water.

Getting Your Head in the Game

SEO is competitive by nature. After all, you’ve probably considered these goals at some point while creating a marketing strategy:

Conducting a competitive SEO analysis offers these benefits and more. By taking a closer look at significant players in the industry, you’ll know how you fare against them and capitalize on opportunities for growth.

Know Where You Stand

Just like any business, your goal is to rank higher on the search engine results, spend less, and claim the largest ROI. The best way to do that is by getting your head in the game and knowing where you stand.

Ask yourself: What resources do you have at your disposal? How much progress have you made in terms of improving rankings? What else can you do to outrank the competition without going beyond your budget?

Addressing these factors allow you to pinpoint opportunities that maximize your ROI. And this makes it easier for you to single out high-ranking keywords and grow your traffic by leaps and bounds.

Maximize Your ROI

A foolproof way to yield the highest ROI is by adopting a cost-effective mindset. Consider this example: You’re on a limited budget, but you’re intent on using smart keyword research techniques to get a leg up on the competition.

Targeting niche audiences is one way to help maximize your ROI. For one, it helps you create a hyper-focused brand that translates to a big win. Narrowing down your keywords, after all, allows you to connect with new customers, build relationships with existing ones, and align your offers with customer needs.

Remember: a focused brand is a successful brand. It all boils down to keyword research.

Building on Competitor Success

Conducting a competitive analysis isn’t rocket science. In simple terms, it involves paying attention to detail so you can bring out the best side of your brand.

By definition, SEO competitive analysis is a powerful research strategy that helps you uncover opportunities for growth. It involves researching the links, keywords, and content of the people in your industry so you can reverse-engineer their success and optimize your own strategy.

Using this approach means you won’t have to start from scratch. Instead, you can use what’s already working for other brands as a starting point then build upon that success.

When done right, it helps you answer questions like who your competitors are, what keywords you should target, and what topics your content should cover.

Define Search Competitors

This step is a no-brainer: Before you conduct a competitor analysis, you’ll need to know who you’re up against.

The easiest way to single out the biggest players in your industry is by entering your target keywords into Google then writing down the domains of those that appear on the top of the results page. For better accuracy, use a competitor analysis tool and it’ll do all the heavy lifting for you.

Consider splitting your competitors into two tiers: realistic competitors that you can overtake over the short-term and more ambitious ones that take sustained effort for you to outperform.

The idea is for you to monitor the whole SEO landscape. Take note of competitors dominating local search results and featured snippets since they’re the most coveted spots.

Conduct Keyword Gap Analysis

The next step is for you to conduct a keyword gap analysis. This process involves identifying your competitors’ highest performing keywords.

Some important points to consider when choosing your keywords include:

But you or your competitors can rank for thousands of keywords, so manually identifying gaps can get tedious. But with a keyword analysis tool like Moz you can gain competitive insights.

The trick is for you to find out what keywords your competitor is winning at, then optimizing your own page to target those search terms. Done successfully, you can craft clearer messages and fine-tune your content to match customer intent.

Assess Site Structure and UX

If Google’s major algorithm changes have taught us anything, it’s that the search engine has been hyperfocused on improving user experience.

After all, the biggest algorithm changes have led to significant improvements in UX, including improving user navigation, mobile-user functionality, faster loading times, and improved search results.

So if your site takes a while to load, you’ll need to optimize your sitemap and page speed while ensuring that your site is designed with user intent in mind.

Take a closer look at what your competitors are doing and assess different UX elements such as click depth and their PageRank distribution.

Identify Top-Performing Content

Performing keyword research is a great way to develop content ideas. You can take this one step further by assessing competitor content.

Unlike keyword research, identifying their top-performing content is straightforward. Your competitors’ SEO is a veritable goldmine of info that you can use to your advantage. Unravel their internal linking strategies by paying attention to the following:

All of these factors play a significant role when Google crawls your website.

More importantly, you’re interested in content that earned the most links. After all, links are one of the biggest ranking factors. That’s why it makes sense to focus on topics that your customers are interested in.

But crafting new content goes beyond simply recreating high-ranking content. You’ll have to significantly improve it through additional features like data and visuals.

Overall, the goal is for you to provide your readers with greater value.

Conduct Link Gap Analysis

Link gap analysis works the same as a keyword gap analysis does. It all boils down to identifying links from competitors that you could use to grow your own website.

Good links can be difficult to obtain, however. But intelligence and data can guide you in finding useful links.

Tracking down sites that link to your competitors is a great place to start.

In theory and practice, websites that link to your competitors have already demonstrated an interest in your niche. If you can prove that your content is better, then you have a higher chance of earning a link, as well.

And it doesn’t end there: conducting gap link analysis helps you shoot two birds with one stone. After all, sites that link to your competitors makes it easier for you to find relevant pages to get links from.

Understand Searcher Intent

Driving traffic to your site doesn’t just mean selecting the right keywords. It also involves knowing what the intent behind each search term is.

If you want to understand what your audience is searching for, you’ll need to get inside their minds to know what their wants and needs are.

Start by searching for your target keyword on Google. Let’s say you want your keyword is” chocolate chip cookies.” The search results will mostly consist of recipes, rather than the history of the pastry, pronunciation of the word, and use in pop culture.

From those results alone, Google already tells you that to satisfy user intent for the search query, you’ll need to craft content that focuses on how to bake chocolate chip cookies. It would also help to include a video demonstrating how to bake chocolate chip cookies on your site.

Constant Improvements, Long-Term Results

Some people confuse smart SEO research with copying the competition. But it’s more than that: it involves leveraging competitor data and using it to enhance user experience.

But as your site changes and grows, you’ll need to keep tabs on the competition and update your website every now and then. As long as you make constant improvements, you’ll rise to the top quickly enough.

Need help giving your web presence a solid boost? Get in touch with Growth Rocket today.

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