Competitor research is a powerful way to learn more about what’s working for your competitors and discover new opportunities that you can take advantage of. Crucially, it can help to remove much of the guesswork and empower businesses to focus on SEO activity that already works for keywords they’re targeting.
How do you find competitors for SEO research?
The first step is to establish which keywords you are targeting and then find the websites and pages that are already ranking for them. The way you go about doing this will depend both on the size of your website and how many keywords you are targeting.
Small websites aiming at a local market can manually search for target keywords to discover which competitors are already ranking for these terms. You can then collect a list of websites to research for each keyword you want to rank for.
Larger websites that need to research a high volume of different keywords or target a large market would benefit from using SEO software tools to discover competitors.
There are lots of great SEO tools on the market, and some of them make discovering relevant competitors as simple as inputting your domain.
How do you do SEO competitor research?
Most websites can benefit by researching competitor links, keywords, and content.
Links are an important ranking factor. Competitor research can help to show which websites are linking to your competitors and provide detail right down to the specific page and the anchor text that is being used for the links. This is a great way of coming up with specific link building ideas based on what is already working for your competitors.
Some SEO tools come with link gap analysis features that can quickly show websites that link to your competitors but not to your website yet.
Keyword research and selection is the foundation of most successful SEO campaigns. SEO competitor research can help you discover which keywords your competitors are focusing on. This can provide ideas for areas of focus and help you discover any long-tail keyword opportunities that you can target.
Some SEO tools have features that quickly show high-quality keywords your competitors use but you are not yet ranking for. As with all SEO research, though, it’s important to stay focused on keywords that are both useful for your business and realistic for you to rank for.
Competitor research can help to identify the specific landing pages that your website will be competing with for the keywords you are targeting.
When researching the content of these pages, you can analyse:
- How the content is structured.
- How they engage with the topic and any keywords they are focusing on.
- How they use images and other media.
- The way that they use structured data, FAQs, and any other on-page optimisation strategies they are using.
Researching competitor content can help to show what they are doing well and also identify opportunities that may exist for you to address topics from a different angle or in greater depth.
In addition to the above, there is also a lot of additional information you can get from competitor websites more broadly, including:
- How their websites are structured.
- How they group content together in silos.
- The services they offer and the language they use to describe them.
- How they use video, images, audio, and other media across their websites.
- How they are using structured data sitewide.
The type of competitor research you do will be heavily influenced by your industry and how closely your business mirrors your competitors. In addition to looking at local businesses who you are directly competing with, don’t be afraid of researching similar businesses in other countries. If you do look abroad, make sure you stay aware of any language or cultural differences.