How to Perform SEO Competitor Research

It’s no secret to any business owner, marketer or SEO professional that the most important resource for digital marketers is data. How else can you help your clients or company grow? How do you know if your campaign is working? How can you track success? How can you improve on what works and stop doing what doesn’t work anymore? These are questions that need answers, and these answers come in the form of data.

This leads us to one of the most important topics SEOs talk about: competitor research. If you don’t know who your competition is, how can you hope to beat them in rankings, social media engagement or conversions? How will people even find out about your company when they are searching for something that you offer? The data found through this analysis can help you determine how to beat your competition, but only if you know what you are doing.

The first step you need to take is to conduct a thorough analysis of the SEO landscape surrounding the business industry that your client or company operates within. This entails looking into your client’s competitors, their strategies and tactics being used, tools being used, their strengths and weaknesses and so on, allowing you to create a benchmark for future competitive research

So, how do you go about doing this? These are the steps detailed below.

Step 1 – Perform Competitive Keyword Research

In order to conduct keyword research, you first need to know what keywords your competitors are targeting. How do you find out? Using the Google Keyword Planner, go to Discover New Keywords, and then click ‘Start’ with a website tab. Type in the website of a competitor.

From here, you should see a list of keywords that other companies like your clients target for their business.

This allows you to analyze how useful certain terms/phrases are for your search volume and competition level. You can use these insights later on to track progress with organic SEO efforts over time, and uncover new keyword opportunities.

Step 2 – Track Your Competitors’ Keywords & Content

Google Alerts allows you to create email alerts for brand mentions, blog posts, competitors and search engine results.

With this, you can track which keywords are working well for your competition, what content they are creating based on the keywords that are working best for them, paying close attention to their success rates throughout time to see whether or not certain strategies are worth adapting versus dropping.
It’s also a good idea to use Google Analytics to track where your traffic is coming from online, allowing you to uncover new websites that link back to you.

Step 3 – Perform Content Analysis Of The Competition

seo competitor analysisPerforming content analysis will allow you to determine the topics that your competition is writing about as well as how often they publish original content versus repurposed content (looking at top performing pieces of content).

Use a tool like BuzzSumo – grab a list of competitor URLs – and type in keywords related to your industry, filtering by articles only. This will give you an insight as to what type of topics are being covered, how often they are published, and how well the content is performing in terms of social shares, backlinks and general engagement with users.

How can this data be useful? You can use this information later on during the on-page SEO portion of your competitive research when determining which keywords to target for your website(s).

Step 4 – Analyze Website Structure

Looking into page structures allows you to uncover new content opportunities that may not have been available before. How do you go about doing this? Use a tool like Screaming Frog (paid, with good documentation on how to use) or Xenu’s Link Sleuth (free, but much less support) to see which URLs exist across all websites.

By looking at the URL structures, you can tell if certain content is missing now or was previously available. You can use this information to determine whether or not it’s worthwhile creating additional pieces of content for your website.

Step 5 – Perform On-Page Ranking Factors Analysis

Performing on-page ranking factors analysis will allow you to understand how well the competition has optimized their pages for search engine ranking purposes. How do you conduct analysis? Use a tool like DeepCrawl (paid) or SiteBulb Crawler (free). This will give you insight as to which types of on-page SEO are present and whether or not they are helping or hurting the website.

You can use this information when determining which on-page SEO strategies to apply for your future content pieces in order to give them a better chance at ranking well within search engines.

Step 6 – Analyze How Social Media Is Being Used

Social media is very important as your company’s reputation can make or break the success of any campaign. BuzzSumo can help here, as well as Sprout Social. Both can give you insights into a competitor’s social media presence and sentiment. Or, you can easily do it yourself by subscribing to your competitors’ feeds and videos.

Bringing It All Together

It’s important not to spend too much time worrying about what other websites are doing and how you compare with them; it is more beneficial to focus on becoming an expert in your own field and trying your best to outdo yourself with each new piece of content that you release and work towards building up a strong online presence over time.

If all of this seems overwhelming, you can very easily and affordably offload the work to a professional company like Sympler. With many years in the field and many successful campaigns, partnering with someone who knows the ins and the outs of SEO and online marketing may be the most cost- and time-efficient way to manage your digital marketing.

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