Competitor analysis has emerged as an indispensable cornerstone of business and SEO strategies. This process charts the roadmap to understand competitors’ strengths and weaknesses and illuminates untapped opportunities and potential threats in your industry. In this guide you will have a full grasp of how to do SEO competitor keyword analysis.
With the digital market becoming increasingly crowded, competitor analysis is no longer just an option but a necessity. To this end, we’ve created this detailed guide to help you better understand the concept of implementing SEO competitor analysis in your strategy.
What is Competitor Analysis?
Competitor analysis is a structured approach to evaluate your competition’s strategies that determine their strengths and weaknesses relative to your own.
Whether business or SEO, a profound competitor analysis can yield invaluable insights for decision-making, strategic planning, and resource allocation.
SEO competitive analysis goes beyond identifying businesses that offer the same services or products as you. It’s a meticulous process that involves broadly assessing your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, including their SEO strategies, and employing these insights to shape your approach.
Why is Competitor Analysis Crucial?
Maintaining business relevance and staying afloat in a saturated market necessitates more than just a brilliant product or service. It requires an astute understanding of your competition.
For a better understanding, here’s why you should be analyzing your competitors:
- Identify Market Position: Competitor analysis allows you to understand where you stand in the market in relation to your competitors. By gauging your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, you can determine how your business compares and what unique value you can offer to stand out.
- Improve SEO Strategy: In an SEO context, a competitor analysis highlights the keywords, backlinks, and content strategies working for other businesses in your industry. By incorporating these successful elements into your own SEO strategy, you can improve your site’s search engine ranking and visibility.
- Uncover Opportunities and Threats: Through competitor analysis, you might discover unexploited opportunities within your market, such as a target audience that’s not being catered to or popular keywords that aren’t being adequately utilized. Similarly, it can alert you to threats like emerging competitors or shifting market trends.
- Make Strategic Decisions: The data collected from a competitor analysis can guide your business decisions, from developing new products or services to pivoting marketing strategies. You can make more informed, data-driven decisions by understanding what your competitors are doing and how audiences are responding.
- Predict Competitor Behavior: Studying your competitors can also provide insights into their future actions, such as launching new products or campaigns. Anticipating these moves can help you stay one step ahead.
Types of Competitors
Competitors are typically classified into four types: direct, indirect, replacement, and SEO competitors. Each class presents a different form of competition, and understanding the differences between them can help you refine your strategies.
Direct Business Competitors
These are businesses that offer the same products or services as you, targeting the same customer base and serving the same needs. For instance, if you operate a pizza restaurant, other pizza restaurants in your area would be your direct competitors. They’re often the first type of competitor businesses think of and the ones you need to distinguish themselves from to attract customers.
Indirect competitors offer different products or services but serve the same or similar needs as your business does. Using the pizza restaurant example, an indirect competitor might be a burger joint or a taco shop. While they don’t sell pizza, they’re still vying for the same customers – people looking for a quick, tasty meal.
Replacement Competitors(also known as substitute or peripheral competitors)
These are businesses that offer products or services that could replace or substitute yours. For instance, a pizza restaurant, a grocery store selling frozen pizzas, or a meal kit delivery service could be seen as replacement competitors. Their products or services are different, but customers might choose them instead of your business under certain circumstances.
These websites rank for the keywords you want, regardless of whether they’re direct or indirect competitors in business terms. They’re competing with you for visibility in search engine results.
Identifying Your Competitors
Identifying your competitors accurately is a pivotal step in the competitor analysis process. It provides the foundation on which you can build an effective SEO strategy.
How to Identify Direct Competitors
Finding your direct competitors requires you to:
Identify Your Market Segment
Define the market in which you operate. This includes understanding the product or service you offer and your target demographic. For instance, if you sell handmade vegan soap, your market segment might be skincare products for environmentally-conscious consumers.
Conduct Market Research
Use various sources to find businesses that operate in the same market segment. This could involve Google searches, industry reports, social media platforms, trade shows, or business directories. In the vegan soap example, you could search for “handmade vegan soap” on Google, check hashtags or posts related to vegan skincare on Instagram, or look for exhibitors at a trade show for vegan products.
Analyze Customer Choices
Look at your current or potential customers and see what other brands they’re buying from or interacting with. Customer reviews, surveys, or social media mentions can provide this information.
Use Business Databases
Platforms like Crunchbase, Hoovers, or LinkedIn can provide information about companies operating in a particular sector. Input your industry and see what other businesses appear.
Check Out Local Businesses
Suppose your business operates in a local context (like a restaurant or a retail store). In that case, your direct competitors will likely be other local businesses offering the same products or services. A simple walk around the neighborhood or a search for your product/service + your location can help you identify these competitors.
Leverage SEO Tools
SEO tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs can show you who your organic competitors are (websites ranking for the same keywords as you). While these may also include indirect competitors or businesses only slightly related to yours, they’re likely to include your direct competitors.
How to Identify InDirect Competitors
Finding your indirect competitors requires a different angle from finding your direct competitors. Here are the steps to identify your indirect competitors:
Understand Your Customers’ Needs
Indirect competitors don’t offer the same product or service as you but solve the same problem or meet the same customer needs. So, you first need to understand what customer needs your product or service clearly fulfills.
Identify Alternative Solutions
Consider all the other ways customers could meet these needs. For instance, if you’re a gym owner, your direct competitors are other gyms. Your indirect competitors, however, might include home workout programs, outdoor sports clubs, or diet programs – all alternative ways people might choose to get fit.
Conduct Market Research
Use market reports, consumer surveys, and other industry research to find other solutions customers turn to. Online forums and social media can also be helpful for this.
Analyze Customer Behavior
Observe closely where your customers spend their time and money using something other than your product or service. Are there common trends or activities that could be seen as indirect competition?
Use Business Intelligence Tools
Platforms like Google Trends, SEMrush, or Ahrefs can give you insight into what else your customers might be interested in, helping you identify potential indirect competitors.
Check Complementary Products
Sometimes, indirect competitors can be found among businesses offering products or services that complement yours. For instance, if you’re a wedding photographer, businesses offering photo album creation might be considered indirect competitors, as they’re another way couples could choose to capture and cherish their wedding memories.
How to Identify Replacement Competitors
Finding replacement competitors involves understanding your industry, market trends, and customer behaviors. Here’s how you can find them:
Understand Your Product/Service
To identify potential substitutes, you must deeply understand the problem that your product or service solves. Once you know this, it becomes easier to formulate how a customer might alternatively solve the same problem.
Research Consumer Behavior
Take some time to learn about your customers and their behaviors. Surveys, customer interviews, and product usage data can all provide insights into what alternatives a customer might choose instead of your product.
Analyze Market Trends
Keep an eye on market trends and emerging technologies. Innovations often lead to new substitutes. For instance, streaming services like Netflix and Hulu have become substitutes for traditional cable television.
Look at Indirect Competitors
Often, indirect competitors can act as replacement competitors. For example, a person needing a caffeine boost might substitute their usual morning coffee (direct competitor) with an energy drink (indirect competitor).
Monitor Social Media & Forums
Social media channels and online forums can be a goldmine of information on what alternatives your customers (or your competitors’ customers) might consider or currently use.
Use SEO & Business Intelligence Tools
Tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs, or Nielsen provide data that can help you assess potential substitutes in your market.
How to Identify SEO Competitors
Follow these steps to find your SEO competitors:
Identify Your Keywords
The first step is to determine which keywords are vital to your business. These should be terms that are relevant to your products or services and that your target audience is likely to use when searching for what you offer.
Use an SEO Tool
The next step is to plug these keywords into an SEO tool like SEMrush, Ahrefs, Moz, or Google Keyword Planner. These tools can show you which websites are ranking highly for these keywords. Those websites are your SEO competitors.
Analysis of Top Pages
Analyze top search results for your relevant keywords to understand what kind of content is ranking well. It could be blog posts, product pages, or informational articles. Understanding the type of content can provide a direction for your content strategy.
Use your SEO tool to check the backlink profile of your SEO competitors. This can give you insights into their link-building strategies and help you identify opportunities for your own backlink efforts.
Identify Common Competitors
If multiple competitors rank highly for your target keywords, they’re likely your main SEO competitors. Make a list of these competitors for further analysis.
Evaluate Their SEO Strategy
Look at your competitors’ sites to understand their SEO strategy. This includes keyword usage, meta tags, URL structure, site speed, and mobile optimization.
SEO is a dynamic field, and rankings change frequently. Analyzing your competitors once is not enough; you should monitor them regularly. This can help you remain adaptable and responsive to any changes.
Turning Competitor Analysis Data into Action
After conducting an in-depth competitor analysis, the next step is to convert the gained insights into actionable strategies.
1. Learn from Competitors Strengths and Weaknesses
A thorough review of your competitor’s strategies allows you to identify their strengths and weaknesses. Their strengths can inspire you to adopt similar tactics while understanding their weaknesses can help you exploit opportunities they may have overlooked.
2. Adjust Your SEO Strategy Based on Competitor Analysis
Armed with the understanding of your competitor’s SEO strategy, you can refine your own to outperform them. This may involve adopting new keywords they’re ranking for, reworking your content to outshine theirs, or improving your technical SEO to match or surpass their standards.
3. Implement New Keywords Based on Competitor Actions
You can expand your keyword strategy to include these terms by identifying the keyword gaps in your competitor’s strategy as well as their keyword rankings. This will help you widen your reach and rank higher for those keywords.
4. Modify Content Based on Successful Competitor Content
By studying your competitor’s content, you can identify what engages your target audience. This information can guide you in creating or modifying your content to be more appealing and valuable to your readers, aiming to outperform your competitors.
5. Build a Backlink Strategy Influenced by Competitor Backlink Profiles
Understanding your competitor’s backlink profile provides insights into their link-building strategies. With this information, you can build a robust backlink strategy to gain backlinks from high-authority websites.
6. Address Technical SEO Gaps Found in Competitor Analysis
By examining your competitor’s technical SEO, you might discover areas where your website falls short. Addressing these gaps can improve your website’s performance, usability, and ranking.
Incorporating competitive analysis into your regular SEO practices can bring many benefits, including improving your search engine rankings. You also get to know your competitor’s strategies, their strengths and weaknesses, and identify growth opportunities.
We encourage you to leverage these insights to refine your SEO strategy continuously. Keep reading our detailed guides to stay updated with industry trends and maintain a competitive edge in this ever-evolving digital marketplace.