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How to Use Competitor Analysis to Improve Your SEO

Many people view their competition as simply something that needs to be defeated—yet in certain circles such as sports, the competition can actually be used as a great source of learning.

Athletes often spend hours studying their competitors' performances trying to learn from their strengths and weaknesses. Small business owners that adopt this approach to competitors can also benefit significantly, especially in terms of SEO.

SEO can be one of the most important factors that determine a company's success and it's amazing how much you can improve your own rankings by analyzing your competition. In this guide, we'll several strategies that agencies and marketers can use in order to gain valuable insights into their competition and improve their own organic rankings.

Analyze the Competition's Keywords Using a Keyword Rank Tracker

First off, take the time to analyze your competition's keyword strategy in order to identify search terms that may represent a new opportunity. AgencyAnalytics offers a rank tracker tool and other SEO reporting tools that help you determine which of your keywords (and your competitor's keywords) are ranking well and which are not:

Google ranking report
SEO competitor report

It's important to note that keyword research is both an art and a science. That said, it's virtually impossible to understand exactly how Google will rank a particular page. So while studying a competitor's SEO strategy is certainly worth pursuing, keep in mind that rankings fluctuate constantly this should never be the only thing you learn from the competition.

Evaluate the Competition's Top Pages' Data

There are many different kinds of "Top Pages" data and each can be helpful in improving your SEO analytics. You can analyze top pages by links, social shares, organic traffic, total traffic, and so on. Look at which content has been the most successful and what hasn't performed as well.

Try to find any gaps in their strategy and then brainstorm ways you can fill them. Perhaps they had some successful posts a few years ago but haven't taken the time to update them—this is a great opportunity that you can capitalize on by giving the same ideas a fresh twist on your blog.

The key here is just to analyze all their top page data and do your best to learn from their success and their shortcomings, while still tailoring your marketing strategy to your own unique audience.

Use Your Competitors for Content Ideas

High-quality content is incredibly important for a site's overall SEO and one of the best ways to get ideas for new articles is by looking at what your competition is publishing. See what they're writing about that's doing well, and while you certainly don't want to copy their work, you can use it as a source of inspiration for your own content calendar.

You'll want to make note of which posts have been liked and shared the most. Also, ask yourself if they're having a lot of success with videos, infographics, or blog posts? This could potentially be an indication of other media formats you can incorporate into your content strategy. Finally, consider how they're promoting their content and if there are elements that you can incorporate into your own strategy. Are they utilizing their social media platforms? Email marketing? Syndication and guest posting?

Many people argue that you should spend as much time promoting your content as you do creating it, and analyzing your competition's promotional strategy is a great way to get started.

Study the Competition's Social Media Presence Using a Social Reporting Tool

Social media marketing can also play a huge role in search engine optimization as they're often the best way to promote new content, reach your target audience, and drive web traffic (all of which will positively impact your rankings). After analyzing the competition and developing your own plan, it's also key to track your results with a social reporting tool to ensure the strategy is playing out as expected:

Social media dashboard

A social media dashboard or report makes it easy to track each platform's growth over time so that you and your clients can see exactly where traffic and conversions are coming from, and which areas may need improvement.

After you've developed your initial social media strategy, your competition is a great place to learn from and improve your own results. See which platforms they focus on, the posting frequency they use, and analyze how well each performs. Also, look at how they're using social media to represent their brand, and most importantly, how their followers are responding.

Once again, while it's encouraged to look to the competition for ideas and to learn from their mistakes, you'll ultimately need to create your own social media marketing strategy that fits your own unique brand personality.

Website Design & Site Audits

Website design and site optimization affect search performance in a number of ways, including bounce rates, conversion rates, time on site, and more. It's worth spending some time analyzing your competition's websites to see how they're designed and whether or not they're optimized to best meet customer needs.

In addition to analyzing the competition's website design, you can use an SEO audit tool to optimize your client's on-site performance. For example, our site auditor automatically scans for over 40 technical issues that can affect search performance, including:

  • Missing titles

  • Duplicate content

  • 4XX errors

  • 5XX errors

  • And more

Each of these technical issues is then sorted based on severity and also summarized into a single site score.

Site Auditor report

Competitor Analysis Tools

In addition to periodically running a site audit, our competitor analysis tool allows you to analyze a competitor's SERP results and website authority.

As you can see below, the Competitor dashboard in AgencyAnalytics provides several key SEO metrics including:

  • Trust Flow

  • Citation Flow

  • Indexed Pages

  • Linking Domains

  • Backlinks

  • Keywords in the Top 10

SEO competition report

These competitive analysis reports can also be a great way to upsell clients on specific marketing strategies that other sites are using.

Don't Forget about Guest Posting

After going through the steps discussed above to analyze the competition and improve your own SEO performance, another strategy you can use is to guest post on other websites in the industry.Often, this is best suited for other websites that are not direct competitors, but that offer some complementary product or service. Guest posting is a great way to get your business in front of a new audience while also increasing your own domain authority with a backlink.

The Takeaway

In the process of optimizing your client's site to rank in search engines, one of the best strategies is to learn from existing competitors. In analyzing their SEO and social media marketing strategies, you can quickly learn what type of content may resonate well with your own audience. Of course, you'll always need to add your own unique spin to the content you create, although competitors can be a great source of inspiration for your own marketing strategy.

Written by

Joe Kindness

Joe started his career as a developer and since has created many internet businesses. He has now moved on to the position of CEO and has enjoyed all the challenges it has brought.

Read more posts by Joe Kindness ›

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