Competitor analysis is doing background research on the businesses (or websites) you’re competing with.
Tools for competitor analysis, For example, you might be an eCommerce company looking to see how you can beat your competitors and win their customers. Competitor analysis helps you do that: Spot where you can get ahead.
However, Jazz Joseph of SyncShow notes something you’ll need to remember when analyzing your competitors: “It is always important to look at your keyword competitors as well as your business competitors.”
“A company can not sell the same products/services as you and still be an SEO competitor.”
“For instance, if you sell shoes and want to rank for “best running shoes,” you can be competing with running bloggers. Yes, they are not competing with you for customers or business but they are competing on an SEO keyword front.”
The importance of competitor analysis
Wondering why you need to do competitor analysis? Patricio Quiroz of Code Authority explains: “You should be running competitor analysis regularly to see how you can gain an advantage on search engines.”
“This will give you insights on what will work for your industry and what doesn’t.”
“You can also find your competitor’s weaknesses and capitalize on them. Alternatively, you can also pinpoint your competitor’s strengths and replicate them in your own SEO campaigns.”
“Finally, you can track your competitor’s organic keywords and popular content that you could possibly rank for,” Quiroz adds.
7 Competitor Analysis Tools (and how to use them)
Are you convinced to start taking a look behind the scenes of your competitor’s business (or website)?
We’ll share the best competitor analysis tools you can use, including:
- Screaming Frog
- On-page tools
- A spreadsheet
Ahrefs is the most popular competitor analysis tool, with over 40% saying they use the SEO tool to analyze their competitors
Look for new competitor links
Ted Chan of CareDash explains how their team uses these competitor analysis tools: “We identify places that list multiple competitors that are very effective for this are backlink overlap/intersect tools. We use SEMRush and Moz, and they both have this – I also know Ahrefs is.”
“Once we identify the list, we pitch to develop awareness or win a mention/link. Since we have multiple competitors and some lists or articles will omit some, it takes a bit of tinkering with the competitor sites to get to a list that’s both narrow and exhaustive enough to talk to.”
Matt Diggity of Diggity Marketing adds another hack: “Using Ahrefs, input your competitors’ root domain name and sort their backlinks by Domain Rating.”
“Pay close attention to freshly discovered links (Ahrefs crawls sites frequently and is very accurate, so it will be your best source of this information). If you see new links pop up from domains with a high rating, make sure that the content attracting those links is not a blind spot on your own website,” Diggity explains.
“Make sure that you’ve written adequately about the subject and then do outreach to see if you can win the link instead, or at minimum get a backlink as well.”
Find their top-ranking pages for content ideas
Josh Brown of Sumo Media LLC also adds that with Ahrefs “finding your competitors most trafficked (and profitable) content is easier than most realize.”
“Inside Ahrefs, insert your competitor’s domain name, click enter, and then browse to the “Top Pages” link on the left-hand navigation.”
“Inside the “Top Pages” section, you will instantly bear witness to pure gold: their most trafficked pages with all associated keywords sorted by monthly traffic value and volume.”
Brown continues: “Next, pick the “top keywords” of interest, and compose content around them for your own site, except do an even better job than they did.”
MyRoofingPal‘s Jesse Silkoff adds: “I have come up with countless ideas for valuable new pages on my own sites by using the “top pages” view on Ahrefs. The key is to look for pages on a competitor’s site that drive a lot of traffic, with high value, and a low amount of referring domains.”
Plus, Break The Web‘s Jason Berkowitz says: “With Ahrefs, locating opportunities in which your competitors are generating traffic, yet your site has no visibility is an absolute win. The Gap Analysis allows you to dissect their page and have a baseline focus for improving the content, information, or perceived value.”
You’ve collected tons of data about your competitors’ top-performing content. But what happens next–and how can you beat them?
Mio‘s Dominic Kent says: “When analyzing what works best for your competition if it’s relevant, make it bigger and better than they did.”
“If they are top of Google for a specific key phrase or search term, make that same piece of content – but do it 10x better. Creating long-form content of shorter snippets that your competition excels in will have you ranking above them in no time.”
“SEMrush has been a game-changer for [Weidert Group] with both their Keyword Gap Analysis and Backlink Gap Analysis tools,” says Frank Isca.
“Both reports allow you to benchmark your website against a handful of competitors at the same time, to quickly see side-by-side where there are similarities or gaps in the specific keywords each website is ranking for and where specific backlinks are coming from.”
“This can quickly provide insights into new keywords you haven’t considered utilizing or ones you should shy away from if they’re being overused by your competitors.”
“And the backlink insights can quickly help you compile a shortlist of new link building opportunities that your competitors have already sniffed out.”
Luke Wester also uses the SEMRush tool at Miva “to look at your competitors’ keyword and backlink profiles. This will show you the gaps where your site needs to produce content in order to compete in the SERPs. This will also help you target the right sites when earning links.”
SEOBook‘s Aaron Wall adds:
“Inside SEMrush there is a feature for historical data which allows you to look up the historical performance for websites that are currently penalized or offline. Their data goes back to early 2012, so it is pre-Penguin.”
3. Screaming Frog
Filip Silobod of Honest Marketing thinks that “using Screaming Frog on a competitor’s website especially for eCommerce and filtering them out by their product title. You will see their meta title, description, what does it lack so you can differentiate your message in the metadata.”
Roman Kim of The Sleep Judge adds:
“Everyone is using XML Sitemaps to submit their URL to Google for quick and efficient indexing, with modified dates attached.”
“This standardized format also makes it super easy to identify new content coming out of any website for the purpose of monitoring competitor activity. You can either browse these sitemaps manually or have them crawled with automated tools like ScreamingFrog.”
Brian Jensen of Congruent Digital summarizes:
“Run a crawler like Screaming Frog through a competitor’s website to get a feel for how they are optimizing their website.”
“More specifically, look at their H1, title tags, meta descriptions, the schema markup they are using and the types of content they are investing in.”
“This combined with other types of competitive analysis will help paint a more complete picture of your competitor’s strategy,” Jensen says.
“Our best tip to perform competitor analysis is to look at how prospects are finding them online,” writes Giselle Bardwell of Kiwi Creative.
“Our favorite tool for this is SpyFu, which allows us to get a look at their website, the keywords trailing back to their content, and their overall SEO growth.”
“What we find is that the overwhelming majority of prospective customers research businesses before reaching out; so piecing together data that allows you to get a holistic view of what those prospective customers will see when they research your company or your competitor is absolutely crucial to your business success.”
“We also recommend including “share of voice” or “digital mindshare” in your competitor research to further understand any weak points and start shifting momentum toward your brand.”
“There are so many competitive tools out there that help you dive deeper into what your competitors are up to digitally, but my number one tip is to not underestimate the power of actually reviewing the SERPs for competitive queries,” writes Rachael Cecko of Lake One.
“Google is always coming up with ways to enhance the search experience for users (image packs, multimedia, etc.) and not all of them are documented by third-party tools.”
“Are you showing up or is a competitor? Check things out in the wild.”
Darren Taylor of The Big Marketer also uses a Google product for competitor analysis–this time,
“If you want to get an idea of competitor mentions, exposure and the intention of competitors, you can get an alert from Google.”
“When your competitors create new content, or if someone mentions their business you can analyze their mentions and see if you can capitalize on them too! They are really easy to set up and can open up SEO opportunities and content ideas.”
6. On-page competitor tools
You might be questioning whether there are any free tools you can use to analyze your competitors’ websites.
Luckily, there are:
Google PageSpeed Insights:
Tarun Gehani says Pure Visibility use this tool “to see how the competition stacks up in terms of page loading speed, which can directly influence keyword rankings.”
Andrew McLoughlin of Colibri Digital Marketing says: “It’s always useful to take a look at their mistakes and how they resolved them.” Tools like this let “you explore earlier versions of a competitor’s site to chart the changes and improvements they have made, to avoid making the same mistakes.”
7. A spreadsheet
Who says you need expensive software for competitor analysis?
“[YesCycling] has a nice spreadsheet file with our top 20 competitors, and we analyze them weekly for new blog posts, new backlinks, etc,” Alek Asaduryan explains.
“Normally we do it on UberSuggest or on Ahrefs if we have it paid for the month. Apart from that, we check weekly their websites for big design changes and new ideas which we can implement as well.”
“We check the social networks as well just to be in touch with everything our competitors work on right now.”
OvalEdge‘s Sharad Warnshney adds:
“With all the tools available on the market, it is too easy to get lost in the ocean of data that you can quickly collect while analyzing your competition.”
“You should better focus your efforts and get a very distilled and precise set of characteristics to look at by putting yourself in the shoes of your target audience, focusing on their pain points and solutions that can help them from the very beginning.”
“This approach will allow you to set an effective framework for your analysis, and you will end up comparing apples to apples and looking only at the tools that make the difference in this precise setup.”