To find search competitors, I simply enter my own domain name into SEMrush, scroll down to the “Organic Competitors” section, and click “View Full Report.” The main metrics I use to help me choose competitors are common keywords and total traffic. Backlink gap analysis A backlink gap analysis aims to tell us which websites are linking to our competitors, but not to us. Next, head to the SEO Competitor Analysis Template, select the “Backlink Import - Competitor 1” tab, and paste in the content of the CSV file. For our clients, we typically gain a few backlinks at the beginning of an SEO campaign just from this data alone. Keyword gap analysis Keyword gap analysis is the process of determining which keywords your competitors rank well for that your own website does not. To create this report, a similar process as the backlink gap analysis one is followed; only the data source changes. Our keyword research process then aims to dive deeper into these topics to determine the type of content needed to rank well. We take this a step further during our content planning process, analyzing the content the competitors have created that is already ranking well and using that as a base to figure out how we can do it better. Using key insights from the audit to drive your SEO strategy It is critically important to not just create this report, but also to start taking action based on the data that you have collected. If we are behind our competitors in regards to backlinks, we know that we need to start a link building campaign as soon as possible.
Competitive analysis is a key aspect when in the beginning stages of an SEO campaign. Far too often, I see organizations skip this important step and get right into keyword mapping, optimizing content, or link building. But understanding who our competitors are and seeing where they stand can lead to a far more comprehensive understanding of what our goals should be and reveal gaps or blind spots.
By the end of this analysis, you will understand who is winning organic visibility in the industry, what keywords are valuable, and which backlink strategies are working best, all of which can then be utilized to gain and grow your own site’s organic traffic.
Why competitive analysis is important
SEO competitive analysis is critical because it gives data about which tactics are working in the industry we are in and what we will need to do to start improving our keyword rankings. The insights gained from this analysis help us understand which tasks we should prioritize and it shapes the way we build out our campaigns. By seeing where our competitors are strongest and weakest, we can determine how difficult it will be to outperform them and the amount of resources that it will take to do so.
Identify your competitors
The first step in this process is determining who are the top four competitors that we want to use for this analysis. I like to use a mixture of direct business competitors (typically provided by my clients) and online search competitors, which can differ from whom a business identifies as their main competitors. Usually, this discrepancy is due to local business competitors versus those who are paying for online search ads. While your client may be concerned about the similar business down the street, their actual online competitor may be a business from a neighboring town or another state.
To find search competitors, I simply enter my own domain name into SEMrush, scroll down to the “Organic Competitors” section, and click “View Full Report.”
The main metrics I use to help me choose competitors are common keywords and total traffic. Once I’ve chosen my competitors for analysis, I open up the Google Sheets Competitor Analysis Template to the “Audit Data” tab and fill in the names and URLs of my competitors in rows 2 and 3.
Use the Google Sheets Competitor Analysis Template
A clear, defined process is critical not only for getting repeated results, but to scale efforts as you start doing this for multiple clients. We created our Competitor Analysis Template so that we can follow a strategic process and focus more on analyzing the results rather than figuring out what to look for anew each time.
In the Google Sheets Template, I’ve provided you with the data points that we’ll be collecting, the tools you’ll need to do so, and then bucketed the metrics based on similar themes. The data we’re trying to collect relates to SEO metrics like domain authority, how much traffic the competition is getting, which keywords are driving that traffic, and the depth of competitors’ backlink profiles. I have built in a few heatmaps for key metrics to help you visualize who’s the strongest at a glance.
This template is meant to serve as a base that you can alter depending on your client’s specific needs and which metrics you feel are the most actionable or relevant.
Backlink gap analysis
A backlink gap analysis aims to tell us which websites are linking to our competitors, but not to us. This is vital data because it allows us to close the gap between our competitors’ backlink profiles and start boosting our own ranking authority by getting links from websites that already link to competitors. Websites that link to multiple competitors (especially when it is more than three competitors) have a much…