Conducting an SEO competition analysis can be a comforting experience.
No matter if you want to get into an industry or improve your organic ranking, there are no silver bullet strategies. Regardless of how many frameworks you learn or what instructions you follow, the SEO game will always be unsafe.
But in the vast sea of search options, SEO competition analysis gives you direction.
Here you can find out which type of content is best suited for your target group. It can reveal ways to achieve these coveted rankings. And it can help you prioritize your long list of SEO / content tasks.
The first step? Identify your competitors.
It sounds simple, but starting your SEO competition analysis with the wrong goals can mislead the whole process.
Understand the focus of SEO competition analysis
The line between competitive analysis and SEO competition analysis is often blurred.
Especially for internal marketing teams who want to improve the ranking, it can be difficult to break out of the traditional mindset of competitive analysis. If someone had asked you to name 5 competitors for your company, you would have no problem deleting a list.
Much of the business success depends on leadership’s ability to position your brand against competitors in your market. They need to know the advantages and disadvantages of their products, their pricing structures, the strengths and weaknesses of their business, and why customers would choose them.
All of this information is invaluable for building an effective marketing strategy.
However, this is not entirely relevant for the SEO competition analysis.
Your traditional business competitors are not necessarily the same as your search competitors. There will certainly be overlaps, but SEO competition analysis needs to expand the scope.
Business Competitors vs. Search competitors
Step 1 of the SEO competition analysis is to identify your competitors. But you have to recognize the difference between business and search competitors beforehand.
Business competitors are companies that sell products and services similar to yours. A search competition is much more about who ranks for the keywords with which your brand is to be linked.
You don’t just compete with a handful of the other most popular companies in your market. And you don’t just compete with similar companies in your region.
Search competitors cover a wide range of people and brands that are adjacent to your business (regardless of the industry you are in). From individual thought leaders who cover your most important issues to industry publications and brands under your industry umbrella with a different niche, you have to compete with everyone for placements.
If you limit the focus of your SEO competition analysis to business competitors only, you may miss important opportunities to improve the ranking and reach your target group.
The degree of overlap between your business and search competitors depends on the keywords you are targeting.
SEO competition analysis for awareness or conversion?
There is no single way to analyze your search competitors. And there’s no reason why you can’t do multiple analyzes to cover a variety of marketing goals.
Most SEO competition analysis starts with conversion-focused keywords. You start with a keyword that reflects your brand’s product or service. If you are in cyber security? Maybe it’s a next generation firewall. If you are a marketing agency? Maybe it’s an “agency for digital marketing” with a possible location modifier.
Regardless of what you sell, conversion-focused SEO competition analysis is about getting your search intent at the end of a decision-making process. What terms do your potential customers search for when deciding on your product or service?
A conversion-based approach can result in significant overlaps between your business and search competitors. However, the one or two surprising search competitors you discover can make all the difference in the results of your analysis.
Conducting an SEO competition analysis for the awareness phase is slightly different. Your target group is currently looking for educational resources. This means that your keyword goals are wider than your product-specific ones.
Search and business competitors are beginning to split here. However, if you consider search intent, you can rate a larger number of search competitors to control your overall content creation processes.
Turn SEO competition analysis into a content roadmap
The actual process of identifying your competitors isn’t necessarily complicated. As long as you follow an evidence-based approach rather than gut feelings, you should be able to get your SEO competition analysis on the right track.
You don’t even have to have a powerful SEO tool to do this first part. A simple Google search for your target keywords shows you who your search competitors are.
For example, if you start a business that sells next generation firewalls, you may start with a simple search for next generation firewalls.
If you ignore the AdWords results, the featured snippet, and the Wikipedia entry, we can do the following:
Providers such as Cisco, Palo Alto Networks, Imperva, Checkpoint and Fortinet are your main competitors in the search for this product-oriented keyword.
With these brands as a base, you can do an SEO competition analysis that you know is focused on your organic search goals.
What you should look for in a competitive analysis
You took the time to identify the right competitors. What now?
A comprehensive SEO competition analysis can provide all kinds of insights for your marketing strategy. This is the time when you want to use an SEO platform (We are part of AhrefsHowever, you can do this with the tool of your choice.
Within an all-in-one SEO platform, you can search for organic search information on four keys to content success.
1. Backlink options
Backlinks play an important role in SERP rankings. Use your search tool to evaluate referring domains and understand which websites are linked to your competitors. Try to identify ways to get your own backlinks. Take a close look at websites that refer to your competitors multiple times.
2. Broken links
Part of creating 10x content or following skyscraper technology is writing something better than the top ranked websites. But who should you contact to link to this content? If you find broken links to competitor content, you can start a conversation about linking to your own pages.
3. Organic keywords
You started the analysis with at least one start keyword and can now expand this list. See which keywords your competitors are ranking for and start brainstorming content ideas for all phases of the funnel.
4. Top content
It’s not just about which keywords your competitors rank for. When you know which competitor sites are most popular for search traffic, you can determine your content strategy. At the very least, it can be helpful to prioritize projects that are already on your list.
SEO competition analysis is far more effective if you have a solid list of search-specific competitors.
If you only work with gut feelings, you may be performing SEO tasks that do not have the greatest impact on your business.
Don’t just blindly think of content ideas. An effective competition analysis provides you with a basis of good ideas on which you can build with thought leadership and original keyword research.
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