Chris Buckley - MD of Pixel Kicks - discusses competitor analysis
In the latest in my series of articles that are all about helping you get your business to the top of Google, I tackle competitor analysis…
Great, so you’ve got your set of keywords which have been fine-tuned & expanded as necessary. You’ve also given your site a comprehensive audit and are now ready to start checking out the competition.
So how should you go about this? As in the previous steps, we’ve broken this down for you into various sections each with instructions and tips alongside them.
Create a list of competitors and record the following domain metrics
First of all, you’ll need a list of domains that you want to compare. To start with we assume you’ll probably know of a few off by heart so mark these down (in a spreadsheet, of course). Next, head off to Google and do a search for your main keywords, marking down a few more domains that you find on the first few pages.
To expand this list further, you can again use SEMRush under the “Organic Research” page for your own domain name. This is the process we mentioned in the first Keyword Research section, and if you head to the “Main Organic Competitors” section you’ll find a list of suitable domains there.
Got a list of around 10 or so? Add columns to your spreadsheet for the following, and record the following metrics using tools such as Moz Link Explorer & Alexa.
- Domain Authority – Moz
- Page Authority – Moz
- Linking Domains – Moz
- Inbound Links – Moz
- Spam Score – Moz
- Alexa Rank – Alexa
- Domain Age – use any number of free domain age checkers. Essentially this is just a whois lookup
Link Explorer is free for the basic metrics above, but if you have a paid for version you could add further columns for a whole host of link information. See the full list of Moz’s Links API Response Fields here for an idea of what you could record.
Do a keyword audit of each competitor’s domain
For this step, use the same SEMRush “Organic Research” search for each domain, and you’ll be able to see the “Top Organic Keywords” listed. Cross-reference these with your own keyword lists, and use them for content ideas.
Do a backlink audit of each competitor’s domain
It’s SEMRush time again. This time you’ll want to run a “Backlink Audit” in the “Link Building” sections. You’ll be able to see a list of your competitor’s linking domains, along with their toxicity score.
Throughout this series we reference SEMRush a number of times, though if you prefer you can use other apps such as Ahrefs, Moz and Majestic.
Do a content audit of each competitor’s domain
Performing a full content audit for each of your competitors can be a fairly time-consuming process, but if done correctly it can help formulate a perfect content strategy for your own site.
Some tips we have include:
Create a scorecard for what you’re going to be comparing – this will help you choose how to review each competing website
Run a crawl of each domain – how many pages do they have? how does their on-page SEO stack up?
Breadth, depth & formatting – length of pages, content type, aesthetic appeal, aimed to their target audience?
Quality & consistency – ease of reading, spelling & grammar, do they attribute posts to multiple authors or a single entity? Does all their content have a consistent tone of voice? Do any common themes tie their content together?
Publishing frequency – how often do they update their blog for example? Are their articles mainly evergreen?
UI – how is the usability of their site? do the pages load fast? Do they have regular calls to action?
BONUS 1: Use something like BuzzSumo to see a snapshot of your competitor’s main pages and see how they’re performing socially.
BONUS 2: CognitiveSEO’s Site Explorer is another useful tool that visualises a website’s pages & backlinks. Sometimes having a different view on data can help introduce new ideas.