What is an SEO Competitor Audit?
SEO competitor analysis (also known as competitive analysis or competitor audit) is all about researching and learning from your competitors when it comes to search engine optimization. Basically, it’s an SEO comparison between two competing websites.
By researching competitors in your field, you’ll understand details like their target keywords, content strategy, backlink profile and more. The insights from this competitive research can inform your own SEO strategy.
A few points you can learn:
- Find out what your competitors are doing well – can you do similar?
- Discover their weaknesses – there could be gaps for you to fill
- Benchmark your SEO performance against others in your industry
- Get a better understanding of the overall competitive landscape that you’re working in.
Why SEO Competitor Audits Matter
Your competitive analysis will provide you with valuable insights into the search landscape that you need to perform in. You’ll understand how to rank higher on search engine results pages (SERP) than your competitors.
Reviewing your competitors’ websites will spark ideas for types of content, new keyword opportunities and link building options for your business. All of this can boost organic traffic to your website and improve your search engine rankings, which in turn boosts leads, sales and revenue.
Step-by-Step Guide to Performing an Audit of Your Competitors’ SEO
That’s the theory, but how do you get started? Here, we’ll share the questions to ask and the processes to follow to perform an effective SEO competitor analysis.
Step 1: Discover Your Real Competitors
Which businesses do you see in your industry landscape? Are their familiar faces when you go to trade shows or networking events or that you hear about from clients? Maybe you know of business competitors because of their reputation locally or within the industry. Class them as your business competitors to research.
When you search for your product or services, which sites appear near the top of the page? Similarly, if you Google relevant topics for your business, which sites come up?
These are the businesses that are your SEO competitors. Their content is optimised to rank highly for those relevant target keywords. Remember, your SEO competitors aren’t only the sites that rank highly for your specific product or service. They’re also the sites that perform well for relevant information around that topic.
For example, if you sell personal training services, your competitors will include those ranking for ‘personal training in [your area].’ However, it’s also those businesses providing information around healthy eating, workouts to target particular concerns or fitness tips for specific groups.
Step 2: Analyse Competitors Effectively
Step two is about analysing your competitors’ web pages. We’re not talking about whether you like its design and use of fonts, this is about the competitor site’s content and SEO efforts.
Assess their domain authority
Check the domain authority of your competitors’ websites. There are various SEO tools available to conduct these checks.
Authority is measurement of a website’s SEO performance and quality. Authority metrics rank from 0 to 100, with higher scores being more likely to rank highly. Generally, if everyone has high scores, it’s a competitive market and vice versa. It’ll be hard to outrank competitors with much higher authority scores than your site. However, this process can help to guide you on your likelihood of ranking for particular large search volume keywords.
By sizing up the market, you can determine the best places to put in effort. Check where your competitors’ traffic comes from. Which keywords work best for them? Are they relevant to your business too?
This will also reveal which sites not to compete with. For example, if you work in a health-related field, you’re unlikely to outrank the NHS site. Similarly, sites like Wikipedia or the BBC are often top-ranking links on search engine results pages. But are they your competitors? Not really, as they don’t sell the products or services that you do.
Conduct a backlink analysis
High quality backlinks (links to your site from another site) boost your domain authority. This is another aspect to look into with competitor websites. A competitor backlink analysis checks which sites link to their content and how that changes their domain authority and ranking. Determine the number of referring domains, their domain authority and the relevance of the linked content.
It’s important that the competitors’ backlink profiles are high quality rather than ‘spam’ sites as that will be taken into consideration as a ranking factor. This competitive research will inform your own link-building strategy, such as the top pages content types for links.
Check their technical SEO
How well are your competitor sites doing technically? Look at issues such as broken links, indexability, site speed, title tags and meta descriptions. All of these factors will affect the search engine algorithms and how the site ranks.
Step 3: Prioritise High-ROI Keywords
You could identify heaps of relevant keywords for your business and many of those may be the terms your competitors rank for as well. But that doesn’t mean that you need to invest time and money trying to compete in the keyword rankings for all of those search terms. Simply prioritise the organic search keywords that will make you more profit or revenue. Here’s how:
Competitor keyword analysis: identify five to ten top performing competitor keywords. Use this to generate a ‘seed’ keyword list that relates to your business. Specify the long tail keywords that you want to be on your top-ranking pages. In turn, this feeds into your content strategy and creation.
The hub and spoke content marketing model is a smart SEO strategy here. It’s a way of creating a user-experience that drives people down a rabbit warren of related content. We’ve all fallen for this trick, consuming video after video on YouTube or TikTok or moved from one article to another on a website, almost unconsciously as we follow link after link.
You create a hub web page around a specific topic. That’s the topical search term that you want to rank well on and be considered an authority on. The spoke pages are supplementary, related content that link from the hub page. This content marketing strategy can increase keyword rankings and website traffic, as well as metrics like conversions, leads, and sales.
Target audience search intent: picture your ideal customer and put yourself in their shoes. Which specific keywords or terms would they enter into a search engine? Thinking about their search intent is a really valuable process as it keeps your focussed on the most relevant and appropriate target keywords for your business.
High volume terms aren’t necessarily the high priority, and they can be very hard to attain. Those more niche and specific keywords that are super relevant to your business and target audience are the better ones to go after. They’re usually lower volume too, so there’s less competition.
Keyword gap discovery: competitor keyword analysis can highlight gaps in your competitor’s SEO strategy. If you identify relevant keyword gaps, you can assess whether they’re potential opportunities for you to fill. This gap analysis will help to find specific keywords to target. You may also spot content gaps in your competitors’ output which you can fill with optimised, high quality content.
In short, successful competitor analysis SEO campaigns reveal gaps between the target audience and the competitor’s content. That could be a keyword gap or a low-competition keyword that you can target.
Step 4: Develop and Implement a Content Strategy
Once you’ve conducted your in-depth competitive analysis and keyword research, it’s time to work out how you’re going to incorporate those top keywords on your website. Before you start writing blog posts, it’s important to define a robust content strategy. This will extend beyond web pages and will include other content like social media posts and infographics, newsletters and emails or other digital marketing campaigns.
1. Start your content strategy by linking your keyword list to topics. Aim for at least two pieces of content each month – an amount that you can stick to and produce consistently. So, if you’re a personal trainer who wants to work with time-poor parents, you could define informational blog content around express workouts and results-driven personal training.
2. Do a Google search for your selected terms. What are the results? Note whether they are mainly informational blog posts, products or service pages. Also, who’s ranking for that term? Is it similar sized competitors to you, or the big players? Understanding that competitive landscape, will help guide you over the best pages to optimise for your selected search term.
3. Blog posts play a different role to product or service pages, particularly on e-commerce sites. Make sure to optimise service pages and product pages for transactional searches. Remember the user’s search intent again. Are they looking for a product or service to solve a problem, or for some specific information and inspiration? Remember the reason for whichever content page you’re creating – to inform, promote or sell, for example.
Step 5: Monitor and Measure Your Performance
You’ve spent time doing keyword research, competitor analysis and devising a content strategy. You’ve implemented on-page SEO factors like title tags, meta descriptions, headings, content and keywords. But you can’t simply set and forget. It’s important to monitor and measure the results of your SEO efforts. Then you can assess the effectiveness and make any necessary adjustments for continuous improvement.
Analysis tools: SEMRush, AHref, Moz are some of the best known SEO tools. We recommend you pick one tool and stick with it so that you get consistent results and are monitoring like for like. At MGXDigital, we use https://www.advancedwebranking.com/
Conduct checks consistently: monthly checks and reports are a good way to evaluate change. You’ll see what progress has been made and also areas that may need to be adjusted.
Have patience: much as you may want to, you won’t see results overnight. Things can take time especially when you’re starting out. Have a little patience for the first couple of months at least.
If you’re having trouble with performance, get in touch! We’re happy to help.
Leveraging Competitor Insights for SEO Success
An in-depth analysis of your competitive landscape provides you with a solid foundation to build your SEO strategy upon. It’ll reveal areas that your competitors do well, and that you can emulate. Then there’ll be content and keyword gaps that they’ve overlooked, and you can use that to your advantage. It’ll spark ideas for new keywords, engaging content and opportunities for link-building.
By thoroughly reviewing your competitor websites and SEO strategies, you’ll gain valuable knowledge of your industry and the business landscape that you’re competing in. All of these insights will inform your decision-making when it comes to SEO, content and attracting your target audience.
How we can help with your competitor audit
This competitor audit process takes time, and we’re well aware of the many demands on your time. That’s where we can help. With years of SEO experience to draw upon, you can trust the MGX Digital team to deliver results. Let us do the in-depth research required for a competitor audit, then together we can work out the best strategy to move your business up the search engine rankings.
Get in touch to find out more.