SEO Guide: 10 Stages of Competitor Analysis

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SEO Guide: 10 Stages of Competitor Analysis

Competitor analysis is an important stage of website promotion. It should be performed at the very beginning of a project to investigate the strengths and weaknesses of competitors. Competitor analysis will help you understand how you can overtake competitors in organic search engine results.

Stages of Competitor Analysis

  1. Creating a list of direct competitors
  2. Analyzing the structure of competitors' sites
  3. Content analysis
  4. Analyzing the keyword list
  5. Analyzing loading speeds of competitors' websites
  6. Checking websites for usability on mobile devices
  7. Analyzing internal linking blocks
  8. Analyzing the profile of backlinks
  9. Enhanced structured data audit
  10. Usability analysis.

Let's take a look at each stage in more detail.

Step 1: Creating a list of direct competitors

To find competitors, search for several keywords important to your site and see which websites appear in the top 10 search results. For example, if you sell bicycles, you might try the keyword phrase ‘buy bicycle’:

keyword phrase

Try using Netpeak Checker’s top 10 search results scraping tool to speed things up:

Top 10 search results parsing using Netpeak Checker

Websites that are boosted by Netpeak Checker's organic output could potentially be your competitors.

You can also find your competitors in search results using popular online services:

  • Define competitors with Ahrefs. To do this, go to Site Explorer → Competing Domains → select a country:

    Competitor definition on Ahrefs

  • Determine competitors in Serpstat. To do this, go to Competitors → select a country → sort the list of websites by relevance:

    Determination of competitors in Serpstat

  • Competitor search using Similarweb. To do this, enter your website in the search bar → go to Competitors:

    Competitor search using Similarweb

Important! It’s crucial that you manually check the relevance of each competitor. For example, if you sell only mobile phones, then you should exclude large marketplaces that sell food, clothes, or other goods in addition to phones. These websites may have high positions for certain search queries (usually high-frequency queries) but they are not your direct competitors. They may cross paths with you in organic search, but they do not directly compete with you.

Step 2: Analyzing the structure of competitors' sites

Analyzing the structure of competitor sites allows you to determine the types of pages that are on their sites that are not on yours. Creating similar pages on your website will expand its semantic core and increase your presence in search results.

You can get a list of pages using Netpeak Spider:

collect results in Netpeak Spider

You can also get a list of website pages by analyzing the XML sitemap. This can be done in Netpeak Spider too:

analyzing the XML sitemap in Netpeak Spider

The entire structure can be presented conveniently in a Google Sheet:

google sheets

Step 3: Content Analysis

Content is the reason a user visits a website. The more relevant content is published on a resource, the more targeted traffic it will see. Content comes in many forms, including:

  • News or articles
  • Products or services
  • Video, audio, or graphic files

When analyzing the content on competitors' websites, you should take note of:

  • Topics that competitors write about
  • The volume of the text (as a rule, this is the number of characters or words in the text)
  • Text structure (second- and third-level headings – H2, H3)
  • Marked and numbered lists in the text
  • Links to authoritative sources
  • Quotes from experts, eyewitnesses, political and public figures, opinion leaders

You can use Serpstat’s online tools to gather the most effective pages of your competitor's website:

collect the most effective pages of your competitor's website using the Serpstat

If you need to check the popularity of a list of pages, you can use Netpeak Checker and the Serpstat API:

check the popularity of a list of pages

Step 4: Analyzing the keyword list

The semantic core of a website is the set of all search queries for which the website is displayed in organic search results. As a result of competitor analysis, you can get a list of search queries that bring traffic to competitors but not to you. This can be done using Serpstat’s online tool:

form a list of search queries for which they receive traffic

The search queries you find can be used to create new content and optimize what you already have.

Step 5: Analyzing loading speeds of competitors' websites

Search engines use the loading speed of a website’s pages as a metric when evaluating the quality of the site. If your website loads faster than your competitors’ sites, you’re in good shape. If not, you should optimize your website’s speed. You can measure the loading speed of a website using the free online service Google Pagespeed ​​Insight. Simply enter a URL and press Enter:

measure the loading speed of a website

You can only check one website page at a time. If you need to check the download speed of a whole list of pages, you can use Netpeak Checker with Google Pagespeed API integration:

check the download speed of a whole list of pages with Netpeak Checker

During the analysis, you should pay special attention to the following Page Speed Insight indicators:

  • CLS is the unpredictable shifts of website layout blocks that occur during its loading
  • LCP is the loading speed of the largest blocks and elements on the page
  • FID is the waiting time before the first interaction with the content
  • Speed Index is the average time during which the visible parts of the page are displayed

Step 6: Checking websites for usability on mobile devices

As the number of users with mobile devices increases, search engines pay more and more attention to a website’s ease of use on a smartphone. If competitors’ websites are convenient to view on a mobile phone but yours isn’t, this is a serious drawback for your site that should be addressed as quickly as possible.

You can check competitor websites for mobile optimization using the Mobile Friendly service:

check competitor websites for optimization for viewing from mobile devices

Step 7: Analyzing internal linking blocks

Internal links lead from one page of a website to another. When internal links are present, resources are scanned by search bots and search weight is distributed among pages. It’s worth linking one page to other relevant pages that could help visitors or that contain similar content and complement the page.

You should compare which internal link blocks competitors have and compare them with your website’s blocks. For example, if your competitors have a block with a list of new blog posts, and your website does not, then it’s very likely that search bots will find, scan, and index their posts faster than yours. As a result, articles written by competitors will be the first to appear in search results and will rank higher than yours. The same goes for product pages and other content.

The most popular internal linking blocks include:

  • Navigation menus with lists of categories and subcategories
  • Block with breadcrumbs
  • Lists of similar publications or products
  • Lists of the most popular publications or products
  • Blocks with recently added posts, etc.

Some sample link blocks on eBay:

link blocks on the popular eBay online store

You can find all competitors’ internal links using Netpeak Spider:

internal links of competitors in Netpeak Spider

Step 8: Analyzing the profile of backlinks

External links are an important factor that affect the promotion of a website in search results. The more authoritative sources link to your website, the more it will attract the attention of search engines.

When analyzing the link profile of competitors' websites, you should pay attention to the following indicators:

  1. Domain Rating (DR) is an online Ahrefs metric that shows the authority of a website's backlink profile. DR is measured on a logarithmic scale from 0 to 100. The higher the number, the better it is.
  2. Number of donors is the number of other websites that link to your site. The more, the better. However, it’s also worth considering the authority and quality of the linked sites. It’s better to have 10 links from authoritative sources than 100 from low-quality ones.
  3. The number of links is the total number of all links that lead from other websites. It’s recommended to place 1-2 links on each donor. If one donor has too many links to your website, search engines could perceive this as an attempt to influence search results.
  4. An anchor list is a set of anchors of all links that lead to your website or the website of competitors. The number of unanchored links should be at least 20-30%. If all links have keywords as anchors, this will lead to spam in the link profile and be a red flag for search engines.

When analyzing the link profile of your competitors, you can find authoritative resources where you should also post links to your website.

Links to competitors can be found using online services:

  • Ahrefs → Site Explorer → Overview:

    Ahrefs → Site Explorer → Overview

  • Serpstat → Backlink analysis → Backlink dashboard:

    Serpstat → Backlink analysis → Backlink dashboard

You can check the number of donors and links of direct competitors in bulk using Netpeak Checker along with Ahrefs and Serpstat APIs:

check the number of donors and links of direct competitors using Netpeak Checker

Step 9: Enhanced structured data audit

Advanced data micro-markup divides site page code by data types. With it, you can indicate details from a product page, such as the description, price, availability, and rating. For a planned event, you can specify the date, venue, program, ticket price, etc. Each type of content has its own dataset.

With micro-markup, you can display an advanced search snippet that contains additional information about a page, making it more compelling to users and increasing CTR. Here’s an example of an extended snippet formed using the Product, AggregateOffer, and AggregateRating structured data:

an advanced search snippet

You can check the types of structured data that are on competitors' websites using Netpeak Spider:

check the types of structured data in Netpeak Spider

Step 10: Usability analysis

Usability is the convenience of a website for users. This is a fairly broad metric that can look different for different types of websites, content, and target audience segments, but it has a direct impact on the user experience. The more user-friendly a website is, the more search engines will value it.

When analyzing the usability of competitors, you should pay attention to the following:

  • The user's path to placing an order (for commercial websites)
  • The location of all important blocks and buttons for users
  • The location of important information for users

If you manage to make your website more user-friendly than your competitors', you have every chance of overtaking them in search results.

Conclusion

Competitor analysis takes a lot of time and resources, but it allows you to gather all the necessary information that will help you overtake your competitors in search results. The analysis should be carried out in sequential stages, and it’s best to compare all the data you gather in organized tables. This will allow you to more clearly see the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors, and to determine the most effective way of developing your project.