SEO is the Mt. Olympus of blogging. It is the final destination in your blogging journey to get that most coveted rank of number 1 spot in the search engine results pages or SERPS.
And one of the best things you can do to hit this goal is to do SEO competitor analysis. It is an action where you analyze what makes your competitor stay on top of the search engine results.
The steps are:
- List your competitors
- Analyze their profiles
- Check their top-ranking keywords
- Dig into backlinks
- Visit their social media pages
Today, we will take a look at each step. While you can do this for free, you will get better results if you use paid services like AHREFS and SEMRUSH.
In this tutorial, we will focus on free tools.
List Your Competitors
Who is your competitor?
Your competitor is the company that belongs to the same industry or niche as yours. Now, the reality is that there can be thousands of them, it is best to pick only one or two.
If you analyze ten of them, you will be overwhelmed with the sheer amount of data that you have to deal with. SEO competitor analysis of this magnitude must only be done by professionals, but they are going to cost you money.
Finding your competitor is easy. Just go to Google and type your keyword. If your website is about ‘golden retrievers’, then use that in your search phrase.
Since you are looking for a competitor, you want to use broad keywords. Do not use blog titles or headlines, as this can lead you astray. The problem with doing this is that one website may rank for a specific article, but that does not necessarily mean that it is your competitor.
Once the search results are in, open the top three websites, and then check what they are about. If they belong to the same niche as you do, then they are your competitors.
The key here is to find competitors who are ranking high in Google for your niche. This is important because these websites are doing something with their SEO to rank number 1 for a broad keyword. That is what you want to do, too.
Pick one or two competitors only, and then move to the next step.
Analyze Their Profiles
To analyze the profiles of your competitors, you need an SEO tool. This has a cost, so you have to make do with free ones like Ubersuggest by Neil Patel. You can also use Alexa, but you will not get the full analysis unless you pay for the premium version.
Let’s use a theoretical example. Let us say that we run a niche blog about ‘golden retrievers’. If you type ‘golden retriever’ in Google, the top two sites that we see are Dogtime.com and VetStreet.com.
While there are other top pages such as Wikipedia and Twitter, these two are not our competitors.
So, what we have to do is to head on to Ubersuggest, a free SEO tool, and then type the domain name of the competitor so we can analyze its profile.
The first one we will do is Dogtime.com.
Once the results are in, you can scroll down and see the website’s top pages. In this case, the first entry shows us the top article for this website. From this analysis, we can see that the top article has:
- 1.6 million views
- 144 backlinks
- 2,317 Facebook shares
- 650 Pinterest shares
The next step in this analysis is to click on Keywords at the left side of the panel. As you can see from the screenshot below, the website is ranking so high in the following keywords:
- france bulldog
- bulldog french bulldog
You can also see the positon of these keywords, and all these three are at position number 2. You can also see the estimated keyword difficulty under the column called SD.
SD stands for SEO Difficulty. The higher the number, the more difficult it is to rank.
Now, what do we make out of it?
For one, you can start using these keywords on your website, or you can start looking for another competitor that you want to beat.
The value in this exercise is that now, you understand the content of your competitor. It is up to you, really, if you have to up your ante and compete with these giants, or look for another site whose content you can compete with realistically.
Check Their Top-Ranking Keywords
Earlier, we showed you how to check for the top-ranking keywords. But this time, what we will do is to scroll down further and see if we can use keywords that they rank for, which is relevant to our niche site about golden retrievers.
If you scroll down for the keywords from the same window, you will see that the website also ranks for the following keywords:
- golden retriever – 550,000 search volume in a month; competitor ranks number 2 with an estimated site visit of 89,100 and keyword difficulty of 50
- dog breed – 450,000 search volume in a month; competitor ranks number 1 with an estimated site visit of 136,800 and keyword difficulty of 49
You can scroll down further to find more information. This time, we will click on the keyword ‘golden retriever’.
Once the tool is done analyzing, you have to move your focus to the right side of the page. Here, you will find out that dogtime.com only ranks number 2 for this keyword, and AKC.org is number one. With dogtime.com, it has 458 backlinks, 89 on domain strength or DS, and 1,319 social shares.
With this information at hand, you can now create more articles with the following intentions:
- Drive more backlinks to articles that use these keywords
- Generate more social shares
Get Keyword Ideas
From the same tool, you must click on keyword ideas to the left. Once you get there, you will see a list of keywords that you can use to help your website rank and fight your competitors.
The trick here is to focus on your niche. In this case, we will search for ‘golden retriever’ to find what keywords can help us rank higher.
Based on our findings, there are 517 keyword ideas that the tool recommends. The top one is ‘golden retriever’, which has an average monthly search volume of 550,000.
Next, we can see that the CPC or the cost we will have to pay if we advertise using that keyword is about $0.67 per click, and then the Paid Difficulty or PD is only 10.
PD refers to the difficulty of the competition for that keyword if you use it to advertise.
The SD of 50, or SEO difficulty, is acceptable. What this means is that it is not too saturated a keyword to use.
As you can see, keyword research is a data-driven action. The results can be overwhelming, but you can drill it down to small actionable steps. It is a little ambitious to beat dogtime.com if you are a new blogger, but with this activity, you know what is driving their traffic, and how many people are sharing their content.
From this analysis, you can create a plan about keywords and articles that you have to write. These keywords and article titles are proven to have an audience. And if you write to them, it would be easier for people to find you online because there is a demand for your content.