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Full Guide to SEO Competitive Research
(with hot-new SEO PowerSuite features inside)

Competition research is one of those necessary but time-consuming stages of an SEO campaign. And SEO PowerSuite has always had impressive competition analysis functionality, but with the 3 new competition research features and the step-by-step guide we've prepared for you today, your SEO competitive audit gets even more profound and effective.

Why leave your traffic, users and conversions to competition? Download the fresh version of SEO PowerSuite to get access to the new features and follow the guide to learn how to outrank any website messing up on your way to Google's top!

Identify, analyze, and beat your biggest SEO competition

At the start of an SEO campaign, thorough competitive analysis is critical to give you an understanding which keywords you can realistically target; and if your site is ranking pretty well already, it's important that you inspect your top competitors' SEO strategy to find their weak and strong points — and use both to your advantage.

1 Discover your strongest competitors
(NEW: Automatic competitor suggester in Rank Tracker)

2 Measure each competitor's SEO strength
(NEW: Competitor analysis data in Rank Tracker's Domain Overview dashboard)

3 Compare your link profile to competitors'
(NEW: More SEO factors added to SEO SpyGlass's Project Comparison module)

4 Uncover competitors' on-page strategy

1. Identify your top SEO competitors
Discover your major competition for target keywords

Most probably, you already have an idea of who the big players in your niche are. But your main business rivals are not necessarily your SEO competitors (they could be targeting other channels than organic search). When it comes to SEO, your only competitors are the ones who rank in the first search result pages for your top keywords.

Checking Google results for all your keywords and compiling a list of sites that come up a lot is incredibly time-consuming. This is where competitive intelligence tools come in, like SEO PowerSuite's Rank Tracker.

What's new? Rank Tracker's just-added functionality does all the tedious work for you. All you need to do is enter your keywords, and Rank Tracker will quickly look through the results in your target search engine and identify your biggest SEO competitors — domains that show up most frequently in top 30.

Show how-to

1. Open or create a Rank Tracker project for your site, go to Preferences -> Competitors, and hit .

2. Enter your keywords, one per line (if you already have a list of target keywords in your Rank Tracker project, you can simply copy and paste those), and hit Next.

3. Select the search engine to look for competitors in, and click Next once more.

4. Rank Tracker will now look through the top 30 results for all keywords you entered and put together a list of domains that come up most frequently. In a minute, you'll see a list of 30 domains sorted by their Visibility in search results for your target keywords. Choose the competitors you'd like to add to the project, and hit Finish.

That's it — you've added your top SEO competitors to your Rank Tracker project. From now on, every time you check rankings, competitors' ranks will be updated along with your site's positions. This will let you quickly spot any changes in competitors' visibility and see how your website is performing in comparison.

2. Assess competitors' SEO strength
Instantly see how much effort beating each competitor requires

Before you get down to analyzing competitors' SEO specifics, like keyword use on a particular landing page, it's a good idea to measure their overall SEO strength and estimate the work required to beat each of your competitors.

What's new? The latest version of Rank Tracker offers a handy way to compare your site's key SEO stats against competitors' right in your project's Domain Strength module.

Show how-to

In your Rank Tracker project, simply go to the Domain Strength module.

Here, you'll find an in-depth comparison of your site with the competitors added to your project. Start with the actual domain strength value to see if competitors' domains are generally stronger than yours.

Below, you'll see a breakdown of important SEO stats to help you find out which SEO factors add up to competitors' strength, and which ones make up their weaknesses. These factors include domain quality metrics, like Domain Strength, Domain Authority, and PageRank, internal domain info, like domain country and age, indexing in search engines, catalog listings, backlink data, and social signals.

Use this data to see in which aspects you're stronger than your competitors, and which ones you need to work on in order to keep up.

3. Examine competitors' backlinks
Analyze and compare competitors' link profiles

Backlinks are perhaps the strongest indicator of a site's authority to search engines. Backlink research is a crucial step in competitive analysis — it will help you develop a link strategy, estimate the time required to build a comparably strong link profile, and spot valuable backlink opportunities within competitors' profiles.

What's new? SEO PowerSuite's SEO SpyGlass lets you quickly compare up to 5 link profiles against important backlink factors in its Project Comparison module. In the latest version of SEO SpyGlass, you'll see new factors added to the comparison to make it more comprehensive: Domain Strength, Domain Authority, and Domain PageRank.

Show how-to

1. Create an SEO SpyGlass project for your website, and then create a project for up to 4 of your main competitors, one by one.

2. Open the project you've created for your own site, go to the Project Comparison module, and click . Select the projects you've created for competitors and hit OK.

You'll now see an in-depth comparison of your link profile and the profiles of your competitors. Check out the overall rating of each profile at the bottom, and see exactly what it is that makes a given competitor stronger than you — you'll likely need to work on these aspects first.

In the example above, the project site is clearly stronger than its competitors in terms of domains linking from homepage, top country, as well as anchor text and URL diversity. But you'd probably want to focus on the total number of backlinks (particularly dofollow links) and linking domains, diversity of IPs and C-blocks in your link profile, trying to get more backlinks from top level domains, and growing the proportion of text links in your profile.

Tip: SEO SpyGlass' Project Comparison also lets you quickly get a list of domains that link to your competitors but don't link to you. You can then easily export this list so you can reach out to competitors' partners and see if there are link opportunities available. For instructions on how to do that, see Step 1 in our Link Building Guide.

Having compared competitors' backlinks to yours, you should have a clear understanding of where you'll be directing your backlink strategy. Links take time to build, so this has to become your long-term commitment if you're serious about outranking competition.

4. Uncover competitors' on-page tactics
Examine competitors' on-site efforts and see how they compare to yours

Unlike backlinks, on-page SEO is quicker to implement. You could literally revamp your landing pages in a day using the insight you get from analyzing competitors' pages — and this quick change is likely to bring tangible results sooner than any other.

WebSite Auditor's Content Analysis offers all the info you need to optimize any given page for your target keywords. Additionally, it offers a breakdown of the on-page strategy of your top SEO rivals, letting you see the contents of your competitors' HTML tags, and keyword use by page element — so that you can see what's working for them and utilize those tactics on your own pages.

Show how-to

1. Run WebSite Auditor and open or create a project for your site.

2. Go to Content Analysis and select a landing page you'll be optimizing (if you're not sure where to start, it's a good idea to optimize your homepage first). Enter your target keywords and choose your target search engine.

3. Once WebSite Auditor has completed the analysis, check the crucial Content optimization factors on the left for any errors () or warnings ().

4. Select one of the factors with an Error or Warning status (if any), and go to the Competitors tab to see how competitors are handling this particular aspect of SEO.

If there's a tangible discrepancy between how different competitors use keywords and you're not sure what to base your on-page strategy on, it's a good idea to use Competitor Average as a reference.

If you've followed the 4 steps above closely, you should now have a clear understanding of who your main SEO rivals are, and what kind of SEO strategy each of them is pursuing, both on- and off-site. You should also see exactly why your competitors are presently ranking higher than you, and what steps you need to take in order to change that.

One toolkit.
Full-cycle SEO and competitive research.
  • Identify your top SEO rivals
  • Determine competitors' SEO strength
  • Compare your link profile to competitors'