This month, there will be over 10.3 billion Google searches with 78% of those U.S. searchers researching products and services online.1
Are they finding your competitors or you?
Identifying your Online Competitors
You should already have an idea of who your competitors are. With that said, I am going to show you two quick ways to find more competitors or verify your existing competitors.
To start, we will perform an often overlooked simple search on Google.
For this example, our company is Vistaprint, an online printing service.
In Google, do a related:vistaprint.com search and let’s see what you get.
To keep things simple, we will select the first three companies that have “business cards” in their title tag or meta description.
So we have:
We can also use an alternative option with SimilarWeb. By adding the Vistaprint website, we see the same three competitors and several others.
Competitor Keyword Analysis
Now that we have at least three competitors to work with, let’s find their best keywords.
Head on over to SEMrush. I will stay logged out, to simulate the non-paid version, which will limit our search results to 10.
By inputting the URL of UPrinting, we can scroll down to Organic Search Positions and see the first 10 keywords they are ranking for.
Upon reviewing the list, we see some good non-branded keywords such as online printing, printing companies, and online printer.
Following the columns from left to right we can see where UPrinting is currently ranking for that keyword.
- Average search volume per month
- How hard it would be to rank for that keyword (KD)
- Average cost-per-click
- Competitive density of advertisers using the given term for their ads (Com.)
- The share of traffic driven to the website for the given keyword in the past month
- Average cost of the given keyword in Google AdWords
- Number of URLs displayed in organic search results for the given keyword
- Trending up or down during the past 12 months
- How long ago this information was updated
Pretty powerful insight for such a simple search, right?
We could continue this research by adding in Moo and 123Print to see what keywords they rank for.
I will log in to SEMrush now and do a search for Moo, so we can see the difference in keyword output for the paid version.
As you can see, you get a lot more data from the paid version of SEMrush.
Outside of the organic search results, you can also review your competitors paid search results. Here is an example from 123Print.
You should now have a nice list of keywords that your competitors are ranking for and what you can expect if you can beat them for those keywords.Learn How to Do #SEO Competitor Analysis Like a Pro Click To Tweet
Spy on Your Competitors Onsite Optimization
Now that you have a list of keywords that you would like to rank for, it is time to review your competitions onsite elements.
For this section I am going to use a tool called Screaming Frog SEO Spider. It is a free tool, that you can download for both PC and Mac.
The free version will crawl up to 500 pages of a website. There is a paid version that will crawl unlimited, should you need it.
Screaming Frog will scan many things on a site, but covers some of the most important SEO on-page elements.
For reviewing competitor sites with this tool, be sure to check out the following:
- Page titles – Does the title tag include the targeted keyword? Does it start with the keyword? Are they all unique?
- Meta descriptions – How crafty is the description? Would it entice you to click their page over others on the same page in the search results? Are they all unique?
- Heading tags – Are page titles wrapped in H1 tags? Any missing?
- URLs – Are they SEO friendly or gibberish? (e.g. page/my-product vs. page/347-pa)
By analyzing your competitors on-page SEO, you can identify how they rank or find hidden opportunities to help you outrank them.
Competitor Backlink Analysis
Up to this point, we have identified competitor keywords and on-page SEO items. Now it is time to research your competitors link profile as it is a significant piece of how well a site ranks.
One of the best backlink checking tools available is Ahrefs. It is my preferred tool of choice for checking a website’s link profile.
In Ahrefs Site Explorer, you add the domain in question and hit explore. For this example, I have used Moo to check their backlink profile.
Ahrefs has a lot of valuable options to get more granular in your analysis. You can check for new, lost, or even broken links.
They will identify the anchors, top referring content, referring IPs, and even if the referring domain is new or not.
Another powerful tool within Ahrefs is your ability to compare up to five competitors in the domain comparison module.
Here you get an excellent snapshot of everyone’s link profile. You can see the number of links and from what source.
Within a matter of minutes, you have a great list of links you can explore for your site. If your competitors all have links from the same source, you should have a backlink from that source as well.
Monitoring Your Competitors Moving Forward
Learning to do SEO competitor analysis like a pro is just a matter of using the right tools.
We used Google and SimilarWeb to help identify your competitors. SEMrush helped us with our competitor keyword analysis. Screaming Frog shouldered the load for on-page SEO review. And Ahrefs provided insight on backlinks.
So what tools can we use for diving deeper or gaining more insight moving forward?
The first recommendation is Google Alerts and Talkwalker Alerts. Getting alerts of your competitions branded terms will help you stay on top of their mentions.
Another powerful tool for tracking your competitor’s website changes is visualping.io.
You can get creative with this tool. For example, you can track a product you carry on a competitors site and receive alerts when they are out of stock.
How handy would it be to set-up a Facebook ad, targeting your competitor’s fan page, for an “out of stock” product showing you have it available?
I’m just saying…
You could even use email insights, to see and track your competitor’s emails.
Finally, don’t forget to follow their social media as well.
What is your favorite competitor analysis tool? Let me know in the comments below.