Competitor Analysis for SEO in 5 Painless Steps

Doing competitor analysis for SEO is like sizing up your opponents in any race. If you entered a marathon today, would you win? Well, that all depends on your competition.

To increase your odds, you’d want the best running shoes, most technical clothes, and a strategy for pacing yourself and staying hydrated. But with so many options of shoes and books on how to win a marathon, how do you know what the best are? You comparison shop!

Competitor analysis for SEO is a lot like comparison shopping. You need to research how the top shops in your industry got their websites into SERPs (search engine results pages) and how your current competition is performing in order to see where your SEO efforts land you.

When it comes to SEO, competitor analysis and keyword research are the left and right feet of the same runner. They work together to get you to Google’s first page. This process will help you see if it’s possible to rank for the keywords you want to target and help you find new ones if it’s not.

When it comes to pagerank, Google takes into account over 200 unique factors in its complicated rating system. Let’s find out which ones your competitors are utilizing and which ones they aren’t in our simple competitor analysis for SEO.

competition seo

Who Are Your Competitors?

Step one is identifying your competitors. Try to make a list of about 5.

Find Industry Leaders

You can find the leaders in your industry by searching for your product or service in Google. For example, if you sell running shoes, search for “running shoes.” This will likely bring up brands like Nike and Adidas.

You most likely won’t be able to compete for that keyword because these well established sites have high brand authority and huge budgets. However, it will give you an idea of the look and style that customers associate with your industry.

Find Your Local Competition

Search in Google Maps for your product or service and find the top 3 results. Do they have lots of reviews? Do they include pictures and contact info? If so, set your benchmarks for reviews and photos based on theirs. If not, you’ve just found your first opportunity to take the lead.

Make a spreadsheet so you can track your competition and start inputting that data.

Use Your Toolbox

  • LinkedIn – Make sure these are your true competitors by researching company size and culture on LinkedIn. Record this information in your spreadsheet.
  • SimilarWeb – Having trouble finding competitors? Use SimilarWeb to search interests, products, and services.
  • SEMrush – SEMrush has a Competitor Analysis tool. However, it isn’t always 100% accurate. Use your judgment when selecting competitors.

How Do Your Competitors Rank?

Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could get into our competitors Google Analytics and Search Console accounts to see how they rank? Unfortunately, we can’t. But the web offers some great tools to use in your SEO competitor analysis, many of which have free trials which can tell you the basics. Upgrade to pro accounts to get deeper into competitor analysis for SEO.

Pagerank By Keyword

SEMrush has a reliable Positions Report that shows you where your competition ranks for your keywords.

SimilarWeb also offers a Search Traffic tool for ranking analysis.

Compare the data you receive from these tools against where you currently rank.

Domain Authority

Domain authority is a ranking system used by search engines that holds backlinks in high regard. Use SEMrush’s Domain Authority Report to determine the authority of your competitors and try to increase your number of backlinks. With the SEMrush Pro, you can even find which websites are linking to your competition and try to get backlinks from them as well.

Pro tip: Get links from websites with high domain authority. They are worth more in the eyes of Google. One high quality link may hold more weight than 5 low quality links.

How Do Your Competitors Get Visitors?

As with individual companies, each industry has its own culture. These cultures tend to function in unique ways when it comes to online shopping.


For example, the design industry gets more traffic from social media sites like Instagram or Pinterest as it sells visuals. A law firm would receive more traffic from referring domains or organic search than social media, as people search for the service.

This information should guide your efforts. A design company should spend more time creating high quality social media content. A law firm should try to get more backlinks and improve their onpage SEO.

Where’s Your Competition’s Traffic Coming From?

SimilarWeb offers a fantastic Web Analysis tool that gives you a clear overview of where your competitors’ visitors are finding their websites. As you probably know from your own Google Analytics account, Google divides traffic sources into these categories:

  • Organic Search – People find your website by searching for keywords using a search engine.
  • Direct – People type your URL into their browser directly.
  • Referral – Other websites link your website.
  • Paid Search – People click on one of your paid ads.
  • Social – People click on a link found in one of your social media accounts.
  • Email – People click on an email link.
  • Other

Competitor Analysis for SEO Continues…

If you find that businesses in your industry clearly receive their primary web traffic from social media, you need to create highly shareable content. This means you need to head to their social media accounts and find out what they’re posting and how their users engage with it. Don’t post willy nilly! Create high quality content that your customers are going to love.


Pro tip: On SimilarWeb, click through “Social” to get a breakdown of the social media platforms that are working best.

Use the Data You’ve Collect to Set Benchmarks

At this point, you should have a good idea of what general keywords you want and how difficult they will be to acquire. You have also seen where your domain authority stands compared to your competition.

Keyword Difficulty

Did you discover that you have no chance to rank for the keywords you wanted to target? Don’t worry! Just expand on them. You have a better chance at ranking for keywords with 3 or 4 words in them. These are called long-tail keywords.

For an example, let’s return to our running analogy. You have discovered you aren’t going to rank for “running shoes.” But can you rank for “best running shoes in Wilmington” or “high quality trail running shoes” or “best running shoes for marathon runners”? Probably!

Send your long-tail keywords through SimilarWeb and Google’s Keyword Planner. Go after keywords that have a high search volume and low keyword difficulty and get that competitive edge.

Acquire X Links Per Month

Your competition isn’t going to stop acquiring links. Based on their number of links, set a goal of getting 5, 10, 20 links per month and increase your domain authority. This will help you rank higher.

Keep Up With Your Competitor Analysis For SEO

Competitor analysis is not something you can do once and forget about. Your competition will always be improving. So should you. Winning a marathon isn’t easy. To get results, you have to put in the legwork. Pace yourself, set goals and benchmarks, and have a strategy. And never, ever, get blind sided by your competition.
Want a 360 view SEO analysis report? Take our free website audit and find out where you stand!

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DesignLoud is a web development & digital marketing agency located in Wilmington, NC. Our team takes great pleasure in teaching others how to build and market their websites to see higher returns.


  1. Gregory on May 3, 2017 at 1:29 am

    So does links from Digg and Facebook now count for SEO?
    I read they help because of the latest Google algorithm update
    Are you active on any discussion boards?

    • Tee Corley on May 3, 2017 at 9:26 am

      Hi Gregory! Links from social media sites still don’t pass “link juice” the way links from other websites do. However, social media is a powerful tool in driving traffic to your website and converting leads into customers. Social media definitely affects SEO, albeit indirectly. Thanks for reading!

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