SEO Competitor Analysis using SEMRush
Do you know that conducting SEO Competitor Analysis is something that you should be doing regularly?
While in most cases, site owners are either not doing it at all or are doing it haphazardly.
You can turn it into your roadmap of what you need to improve on your site to be as good as your competitors.
Don’t know how? Keep on reading to learn more about it.
SEO Competitor Analysis
With the help of SEO competitor analysis, you can identify the strengths and weaknesses of both your site, as well as, your competitor. Moreover, you can do it for everything, ranging from SEO to search feature wins.
With this information, you can discover areas of your weaknesses and also the areas your competitors are weak in, thus capitalizing on their weaknesses for your site and search performance.
Keep on reading.
Understanding the Importance of SEO Competitor Analysis
With the help of competitive analysis, you can take a step back and look at the overall market area, where you stan, who your competitors are, and what the search landscape looks like for important keywords.
Moreover, even if you are already ranking at the top of search results, there will always be another site that is trying to take over your rankings and capitalize on the weaknesses you have.
Your Roadmap for Success
It is important to note that with the help of competitor analysis you can use it as a roadmap.
Moreover, you can use it to improve your search rankings and the user experience for the visitors to your site.
You will always discover things about what your competitors are doing that is improving their rankings than yours.
Furthermore, you may also discover what they are doing better at certain aspects of the search results, like dominating all the featured snippets.
Or it could be having a huge number of pages that show up in people also ask.
Even if you are ranking on the top for the keywords you think are most important.
Even if they dominate in featured snippets, you are certainly missing out on a considerable amount of potential traffic.
Page by Page Details
A proper analysis will give you the opportunity to look closer at what your competitors are going on a page-by-page basis.
This will help you to identify potential gaps your site might have while comparing it to your competitors.
Maybe you would also discover that they have a blog that is doing well with how to type articles that are getting a lot of likes and shares.
Or you might find that one competitor is getting a lot of traffic through videos they are creating and sharing
While your site is lacking in that department.
Who are your Actual Competitors?
While looking at competition analysis, it is crucial that you also consider your biggest competitor.
One that might be smaller, as they lack top rankings on the “money keywords”.
Still, they might be cleaning up on the long-tail keywords or vice versa.
If you are only focusing on the money keywords, then your competitive analysis can be very irregular
Moreover, the same is also true when you by the words of your client when it comes to who their biggest competitors are.
In most cases, they focus on big money keywords,
And do not realize that there may be a competitor that might be insignificant.
However, is dominating segments of their market or the long tail.
Unless you are doing competitive analysis for a local client, always conduct your research into exactly who their reach competitors are.
Conducting SEO Competitor Analysis
After understanding the importance of conducting an SEO Competitor Analysis, let’s learn how you can do it using SEMRush.
In this section, we will learn certain important aspects of competitive analysis and how you can do it with the help of SEMRush.
Keep on reading.
So without further ado, follow the instructions below to conduct SEO Competitive Analysis.
Examining Organic Competitors for Specializations
Consider an example of a Home Depot and Lowes here.
Home Depot and Lowes are ranking number one and number two for a huge cross-section of keywords.
These keywords are related to supplies and home repairs.
However, for something more specialized, it turns out that entirely different competitors are ranking at the top for the search that is particularly around the subsets of their products.
In case, you are not examining specific areas lesser-known competitors can dominate, you are surely missing out on a considerable amount of traffic and conversions.
Things to Consider
While drilling down the above list of competitors, you can also spot the sites that are targeting a particular niche of Home Depot’s overall market area.
As the above image suggests, these are:
- Best Buy
- Bed Bath & Beyond
Even if these are not necessarily huge competitors for their business as a whole, they are still impactful for specific segments or their markets.
Thus, whenever, conducting competitor analysis, it is important not just to consider those that are competitors to your entire business model.
But also the ones that are only targeting a segment of the overall market as well.
Who not to Compete With
While identifying the competitors that may rank above you in the SERPs, but not a true competitor, and identify sites that might not be as important for you to outrank as compared to others.
Instead, look at other keywords that actual competitors are outranking you on that result in lost traffic.
Make sure that your keyword research is backing up who you believe those competitors are.
Finding Keyword Gaps
It is important to pay special attention to the keywords that you are already ranking for.
However, if you are lagging behind your competitors, particularly when you are only a position or two behind your primary competitor for a particular keyword phrase.
For instance, If we at Markfiniti was Home Depot, then we can identify some keyword phrases where we are only one position away from the top spot.
Like “swing sets” and “air compressor” phrases as in the image below, both of which have a fairly large volume.
Again, do not just look at your main competitors.
For instance, Home Depot dominates on many search terms, that other competitors also share.
It is not just Lowe’s that is earning the number one rankings, in some cases, Walmart or other companies are selling the same products.
In the case of “appliances,” none of the 4 examples we have shown are ranking number 1 for the phrase, though they are each in the top 10 or 20.
Instead, it is Sears Outlets that have the top ranking.
Therefore, you should pay attention to keywords that all your competitors are ranking for, but you are not
- Why are they ranking and not you?
- Do they have better supplementary content for those particular keywords?
- Or do they have an exceptionally high number of backlinks to those specific pages that are helping them to rank higher?
Thus, when you identify these keyword gaps, you can work on closing the pay.
What you will need to do is to have pages that target those individual keywords.
In some cases, it is an easy fix where you will just need to create content or adjust current content for the keywords and rankings will usually follow.
Discovering Popular Pages for SEO Competitor Analysis
Just like you want to know the most important keywords your competitors are ranking for, you would also like to identify the pages that are most popular.
Moreover, the things you should note are:
- Which pages are rankings for the most keywords?
- Which pages have the most traffic?
- Or Which pages have the highest percentage of their overall traffic?
In some cases, your competitors can also have a huge amount of traffic to a certain page or set of pages.
Consider the example of Home Depot as above.
The third most popular page on Home Depot has nothing to do with building supplies or construction, but rather a page about wallpaper.
Never assume that you just know what the most popular pages on any competitor sites are.
Rather research it as a part of the competitor analysis process and expect some surprises.
Identifying Strengths and Weaknesses for SEO Competitor Analysis
Understanding the differences in strengths and weaknesses between you and each of your competitors and where do they excel you are weak in can help.
While you might think that your site is the most wonderful site that exists and it is Google’s fault they are not ranking better.
You should be able to identify your weaknesses when it comes to your site and brand.
Moreover, every website has a weak point, or multiple weak points, even massive e-commerce sites like Amazon or eBay.
If you are struggling to determine where the weak areas are, ask employees what they see.
Especially if there front-facing and dealing with customers who may voice complaints.
You can also create a customer survey for this purpose.
In some cases, you need to take a step back and think about what you perceive to be your strengths and discover if these are also present in your competitor’s site.
However, they might be just a little bit better than yours.
Identify the weak points of each of your competitors and then find what you can do to take advantage of such areas.
Answer to questions like:
- How authoritative is your site over your competitors?
- Are they from a well-known brand authority?
- Do they have many important links coming into the site?
If your competitor has a much higher authority than your site then you might have a harder time beating them when it comes to highly competitive keywords.
Moreover, this is where it is essential to look at keyword gaps.
Look at these less popular terms that still see a decent amount of search volume,
Or you can look at longer-tail queries that you can target specifically, however, that they are not targeting yet.
As you build your authority, then you will start being more successful in targeting some of these more popular and competitive keywords.
Do your competitors have an excellent quality of content, or then tend to be thinner and less thorough, or are simply focusing on product pages and not any supporting ones?
Look for the areas where they are lacking, so that you can gain an advantage over them in such an area.
Look at the product pages of your competitors for e-commerce sites and drill down what is it about their pages that makes them better.
Moreover, find answers to questions like:
- Do they have links that help their customers to guide and support the product?
- Do they have lots of how-tos?
- Are they suggesting relevant similar predict or products that are often bought together with it?
- How are they showing their ratings and reviews for the products?
- How easy is it to make a purchase versus yours?
For everything that they are doing better than you, make sure to add it to the list of things that you need to change on your site.
Technical Issues for SEO Competitor Analysis
It is important to note that you should also look for technical issues on the site of your competitors that might be hindering their search performance.
Moreover, if you are both suffering from the same technical SEO issues or having coding issues, then it often makes it harder for Google to crawl pages effectively.
Thus, making those improvements to your site can also result in more visibility.
Make sure to check page speed as well.
As your site gets larger, it can be bogged down by legacy code or large scripts that can also slow down the site.
Mobile Moreover, visit each one of your competitor’s sites and navigate through their popular sections or pages.
In some cases, you can spot certain shortcomings in the mobile site of your competitor that you can take advantage of.
Therefore, when you have a technically sound website, it is easier to focus on other issues with ranking winks, like improving content.
Internal Linking Issues
Internal linking and hierarchy of your website can help Google when it comes to crawling, indexing, and ranking.
Moreover, site architecture is a crucial aspect of SEO and like technical issues, if your site suffers from a lack of robust internal linking structure, you can take advantage of that.
If their suit is strong, and yours is lacking, then you should make it a priority to fix it.
However, if they have an entire section or subsection of the site that is not adequately linked internally, consider promoting your similar content to take advantage of those weaknesses.
Pro Tip Frequently losing ranks can be attributed to technical or poor internal linking.
This makes your site less Googlebot-friendly meaning it is not necessarily from a Google algorithm change.
Lost and Declining Keyword Rankings
It is important to make sure that you research any keywords that your competitors have recently lost.
Thus, focusing on the highest search volume.
Moreover, you can also look at the pages that your competitors ranked for in the past.
Also, see if there is a reason why there is a wide range of issues.
Competitor Lost Rankings When your competitor has lost rankings for specific keywords, it can be easy to capitalize on.
Furthermore, you can also find such losses in the SEMRush Organic Research Tool.
Make sure to have a look at where they are declining in the search rankings.
This can present some opportunities when your competitor is not even noticing.
New Keyword Ranking
Looking at new keyword rankings is another important aspect of competitor analysis.
However, you should do it regularly for general SEO purposes.
You would always want to know any new pages or new rankings that your competitors are earning.
Thus, it is an easy way to see anything new they are focusing on.
Moreover, for an eCommerce site, it can be an insight into any new products or product types that can potentially become popular that you want to know about.
As you can see in the above image that one word that stands out here is “bidet” which is seeing a huge surge in popularity.
As we research further, we noticed that it is ranking for “how to use a bidet” which then links through to products.
What Exactly is Ranking? It is important to understand not just the keywords but the page type ranking as many can make the wrong assumption that they might be ranking for a product page.
This can also help to know if you are adding your own competing pages.
Thus, focus not only on the product pages but also on how to type pages as well.
Analyzing On a Page-by-Page Basis
After identifying specific keywords and search results, you need to start on a page-by-page basic comparing to the ones of your competitor that are outranking you.
Let’s discuss them as follows:
Titles While Google does rewrite title tags, it is simply adding the site name to the title tag.
Or you can put emphasis on the particular keywords being searched for if Google considers the page relevant for the keywords but are not in the title.
Make sure you are taking the title tag either directly from the page itself or the sone Google is showing for the particular keyword search without “site”.
Meta Description Tag While Google may or may not use the description set in the meta-description tag.
However, it is also important to consider what is in the description tag for analysis purposes.
While sometimes you may find them useless because it is a generic description tag, sometimes it can be worth noting.
Mata Keywords Tag Tese can give you insights into the keyword your competitor is using for the page or the site overall.
H1s and other Headings Google gives weight to stages, however, make sure to use real stages and not define headers via CSS.
It is important to note that Google uses heading for featured snippet usage and other features.
Breadcrumbs / URL Structure Utilizing breadcrumbs and a strong URL can help Google to understand the hierarchy of the content within the site and rank accordingly.
While it should be a part of your overall competitive analysis, it is important to look at how it relates to specific pages.
Analyzing Backlinks for Competitor Analysis
It is an important part of competitive analysis.
When a competitor has a significantly better backlink profile, especially high-quality backlinks then it means that you will have a harder time competing against them.
Moreover, it is important to distinguish between high-quality links and low-quality backlinks.
Google changed how they handle low-quality links with the Penguin update, if you see your competitor with a high number of low-quality links, then they will not be helping them.
However, make sure to not follow in their footsteps as it can affect your SEO.
High-Quality Backlinks Focus on high-quality backlinks like the ones from important news sites, high-profile sites, or experts in the market areas.
Consider the questions like:
- Are they receiving press in major news organizations? if so, is there any way you can also do the same?
- Is there a recommended source of high-profile buy non-commercial sites in your industry
How you can get yourself to be a part of those recommended resources?
Nofollow vs. Follwed Backlinks Make sure to check these backlinks as well.
They can be an important source of traffic that you build brand awareness, increase traffic, and result in a conversion.
Backlink Gaps Make sure to look for important gaps in your backlinks.
Especially the links that multiple competitors have from the same page or sire.
However, do not forget to check the backlinks to strong internal pages of your competitors.
In most cases, the homepage is the most important one when it comes to competitive analysis.
However, links to internal pages can also be important.
Some of their strongest performing internal pages can have incoming links that are a major factor in those rankings too.
Analyzing Types of Content
In order to stack up with different kinds of content to your competitors. look at the supporting content each competitor has.
Moreover, look at how week they are ranking in comparison to yours.
This includes news, blog articles, help/support/how-to content, videos, images. etc.
Check anything that can be considered content that is ranking in the search results.
Identify areas where you lack as compared to your competitors
Identify whether they are publishing blogs regularly, are making videos, infographics, popular live streams, or podcasts.
When you identify these, you can explore whether you need to add these types of content.
Choosing a Featured to Focus on
If we decide that the most important search feature for Markfiniti s featured snippets
We will then look at the competitors and identify their snippets.
Then, look at the URL the snippet links to and is if we have a comparable URL that we feel a good fit for taking over.
How you can tweak each page os Google would select it as a featured snippet?
Consider the following data from Home Depot.
You can see a list of things that stand out.
While Home Depot has a lot of featured snippets, they are missing out on a majority of other features.
Therefore, look at your competitors to have a look at how they handle different parts of Google search results.
Steps to take after Major Algorithm Changes
Whenever there is a major change in Google Algorithm, it is important that you go back and reevaluate your most important keywords.
- Are you retaining your rankings?
- Did anyone of your competitors come out of nowhere and are suddenly ranking at the top for your keywords?
- Did another competitor completely drop out of the space and you can capitalize on that?
Competitive Analysis is never complete
While doing an in-depth analysis, take time to analyze every aspect of all the sites in your market area, and do not forget that it is a continuous process.
As things change, with algo updates, site migrations, new pages, and new search features, it is important to revisit and see what has changed.
In some cases, it is not even that your competitors are changing thins to make them rank higher.
It could be something that they were doing better all along, but Google slightly tweaked something to reward.
With competitive analysis, you can identify whatever it is your competitors are doing and then make the changes before an algorithm change happens.
Depending on factors like the size of your site and the number of active competitors, you might want to rerun a competitor analysis every 6 months to 1 year. Parts of you should perform it every month to remain competitive. Thus, keeping an eye on the changes can make you react effectively to the strategies quickly.
Whether it is watching for new pages, new keywords, or a rise in search features, SEO Competitor analysis is never technically complete. As your site evolves, so do the search results, thus keep an eye on your competitors with competitor analysis to stay one step ahead of them.