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Useful SEO Competitor Analysis Checklist

If you are interested in learning more about Search Engine Optimization, you should definitely look into the various ways of performing an SEO Competitor Analysis. This analysis will help you better understand the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors and this valuable information will be the needed input which will help you create your own SEO strategy.

What is an SEO Competitor Analysis?

An SEO Competitor or Competitive Analysis is the process of identifying the strengths and weaknesses of your competitor’s SEO performance and using them as examples to make smart decisions for your own SEO strategy. By performing this analysis, you will discover all the gaps present between you and your competitors.


Why doing a Competitor Analysis is Important in SEO?

Running a competitor analysis is critical because it allows you to better understand the current market, competitors, and how the current situation works for the specific keywords you might want to focus on.

Even if your website is already ranking high in search engines such as Google, you should focus on monitoring your SEO performance to make sure of keeping it and not losing it to competitors.


SEO Competitor Analysis Checklist of Activities

  1. Identify your Competitors

When executing an SEO Competitive Analysis, finding out who your competitors are and what they offer will help you better understand and plan your own strategy competitively. Plus, you can also check if the new competitors entering your market might become an actual threat. Knowing this will help you make more realistic decisions when it comes to SEO.

In order to understand who they are, you should look at websites that sell the same products or services as you in the same markets as well. These are your direct competitors and they might be ranking for the same keywords you are planning on targeting. Furthermore, you should try to categorise them in order to understand better their influence over your target market. These are four types of competitor categories:

  • Niche competitors: these are usually newer companies with a smaller audience and slower growth.
  • Flourishing Competitors: these are usually new companies with a smaller audience but are growing quickly.
  • Market Leaders: these are bigger companies that are growing rapidly.
  • Established Competitors: these are older companies with an already strong and established audience.

Another important factor is to analyse if the website you are focusing on competing with on certain target keywords is actually relevant. For example, websites such as Wikipedia and various digital newspapers might be ranking for certain keywords you are targeting but keep in mind that they have a much higher domain authority than you and are not to be considered your actual competitors. Focus instead on direct business competitors and try finding keywords which increase your likelihood of ranking higher on the SERP.

Furthermore, you should brainstorm a few keywords you might want to target for your own SEO strategy and type them in the SERP (Search Engines Results Page) where you will see the main competitors for those keywords. Some of them might not even be in your niche, focus on the ones that are.

A great way to understand better who your competitors are is by using a free tool such as “Ubersuggest” and typing in one of the main keywords you brainstormed before. By doing so in the “Content Ideas” section, a list of links and domains ranking for that keyword will pop up. With this method, you will clearly see the best-ranking websites/competitors for that specific keyword.

The following image shows a clear example of the kind of insights you will gain by using this method. By typing the following keyword in the Dutch market, you will see our website ranking in the third position of the SERP.

Uber Suggest Usability Example

2. Check their Websites

Once you chose 3 to 4 competitors’ to focus on, a good idea would also be to analyse their websites in order to understand better what they are focusing on and how they present their products and services to their target audience. Basically, just try to get a feel of their branding and website design.

If you are looking into having a deeper view of your competitors, analysing more specifically what their strengths and weaknesses are is a great idea. This will help you improve your decision-making process when it comes to your SEO strategy. In order to understand better the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors, you should look at the following factors:

  • Authority: if a competitor has a higher authority than you do, it will definitely be harder to outrank them for certain keywords. Instead, focus on finding less competitive terms which have a good amount of search volume. Slowly, you will build more authority and the likelihood of successfully targeting those harder keywords will increase.
  • High-quality Content: review your competitor’s content precisely to spot their strengths and weaknesses. Check if any gaps are present and use them in your favour.
  • e-Commerce: in case they have an e-commerce store, look at the way they built their product pages and also look for gaps between your website and theirs. Check factors such as internal links leading to explanations of the products, suggestions of similar products, product reviews and how easy is the buying process compared to yours.

3. Find out their Target Keywords

By finding out the keywords your competitors are targeting, you will be able to:

  • Compare your content to your competitors and this will help you improve yours by taking into consideration their strategies.
  • Fill the content gaps between your competitors’ keywords and the ones you are not ranking for. This will help you understand which keywords to target and create content around.

Furthermore, it is also critical to analyse the Keyword Difficulty of the term you finally end up choosing to compete for. These are specific factors that will help you better understand how to choose the right keywords:

  • Domain Authority
  • Indexing in Search Engines
  • Backlink Data
  • Traffic Volume
  • Social Signals
  • Domain Country/Market

Are you interested in understanding how Keyword Research works? This article provides a useful keyword research template and various tips and tools you might want to implement in your SEO strategy such as performing a keyword gap analysis that will help you reach your goals.

4. Analyse their Content Strategy

By having a planned content marketing strategy the likelihood of bringing more conversions increases alongside building better customer relationships and boosting website traffic. In order to create a great content strategy, you should first analyse your competitor’s content.

Analysing your competitors’ type of content, the frequency with which they post, and the way they are branding will help you understand better what actually works and what does not for your specific niche. Since you provide similar products or services as your competitors, taking into consideration their strategy when creating your own is a smart choice. If it works for them, it might also work for you.

When analysing a competitor’s website, take these factors into consideration:

  • Content Lenght: having longer content than your competitors might help you rank higher in the SERP. Anyways, high-quality and relevant content is also a critical factor to take into consideration, length is not enough. You should write relevant content and target the right keywords.
  • Keywords and themes they use for their website
  • Branding level of the content
  • Call-to-Action efficiency within their site
  • Internal Linking Structure
  • Their Content Style: Blogs, Case Studies, Product Pages.

Understanding more about these factors will help you create an effective content strategy which will help outperform your competitors.

5. Analyse their On-page SEO

In order to rank higher on search engines, optimizing your on-page SEO is critical since this is one of the most important ranking factors according to Google. When focusing on On-page SEO optimizations, these factors will have to be taken into consideration:

  • Content
  • Headings
  • Images
  • Url Structure
  • Title Tags and Meta Descriptions
  • User Experience

Google will analyse these factors when looking at your competitors’ websites. That is the reason why you should understand more about this SEO strategy and implement it better than your competitors on your own website. Are you interested in learning more about On-page SEO? Then look no further, this article on On-page SEO will help you gain more insights in the topic.

6. Find your Competitors’ Traffic Insights

In order to discover your competitors’ best-performing keywords, you should analyse their traffic data. There are several tools that can be used for that reason, if you would like to know more about them, you should read this article about Keyword Research.

Those tools will give you the chance to know more about insights about keywords your competitors are ranking for. For instance, you will find out about the search volume, keyword difficulty and more. Thanks to these factors, you will be able to make better decisions regarding the way you should plan your strategy.

Moreover, a great way to also analyse your competitor’s traffic is by looking at their featured snippets. A featured snippet is a short description appearing on top of Google’s search results page that rapidly answers a question. This is content automatically pulled by Google from a website. Being able to be featured for certain information when a user is looking for a quick answer will lead to a boost in traffic.

That is why it is a great idea to check your competitor’s snippets and understand why Google chose their information instead of someone else’s. Finding out such crucial information might help you decide on a plan of action that could lead to being featured in a snippet.

7. Check their Backlinks

Backlinks are connections between one website to others and analysing your competitors’ backlinks data might help you understand the chances you have of outranking them for specific keywords. But what is really important, is increasing your own rankings in the end.

Since building links is not an easy task, it would be a great idea to start by checking your competitors’ backlinks first. while checking their backlink profiles on tools such as Ahrefs and Semrush, you should look at the following factors:

  • Domain Rating of your competitors’ and yours to see how far apart are you in terms of authority links.
  • Analyse the source of these links to understand their link-building strategy better.
  • Understand which anchor texts are being used often. These could help you better understand which keywords they are targeting.

A great strategy is using a tool called Ahrefs in order to find content gaps between the keywords your competitors focus on and your target keywords. This tool will help you understand which keywords can be considered to be a great opportunity for your search engine rankings success.

Are interested in finding out more about link building? Then look no further, the following article about Digital PR explains more about links and how you can benefit from working on increasing their number and quality.