SEO Competitor Analysis in 10 Steps

Competitors are not only а pain in the neck but also a great source of insights to improve your SEO strategies. Conducting an SEO competitor analysis is essential, as it not only highlights areas for improvement in your own strategies but also offers valuable insights on how to surpass your competitors.

In this guide, I’m sharing the tools and tactics to help you better understand your competitors and develop a winning SEO strategy.

Competitor SEO Analysis PDF Cheat Sheet
If you need a Competitor SEO Analysis PDF cheat sheet to keep at hand, here it is.

Note: Yes, forming your own SEO strategy based on your competitors' research is a prudent approach. However, the goal is not to copy your competitors but to gain insights into what works well in your industry, identify areas for improvement, and tailor your strategy to outperform them.

1. Identify your competitors

This step requires Rank Tracker. You can download it now for free.
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Imagine entering a race without knowing who else is participating in it. It's like running blindfolded – tough to stay on track and plan your moves wisely. The same applies to SEO – you need to know your main search competitors to be sure you're doing everything right. 

You can probably name a couple of your real-world competitors right off the bat. However, the problem is that very often, your search competitors aren't the same as your physical ones. This strange but normal situation underscores the value of in-depth SEO competitor analysis.

The best way to find your digital competitors is to use the Competitor Research module of Rank Tracker. This module helps you find competitors who rank for the same keywords as your site.

  1. Launch Rank Tracker and create a project for your site.
  2. Go to Competitor Research > Domain Competitors.
  3. Enter your domain, specify your location and device type, and click Search.

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You'll see a table with a list of ‌sites similar to yours. For each one in your seo competitor analysis, you’ll also get ‌info on keyword intersection and organic traffic.

For you to have a visual representation of your competitive landscape, there is a graph on the top right. It shows the distribution of organic traffic and the total keywords across all sites from competitor analysis.


If you spotted some big players among your competitors and you doubt you can ever outperform them, don’t worry –  you still have a chance to succeed with The Ultimate Underdog SEO Blueprint

Pro tip: Segment your competitors

Each of your competitors may target different audiences, employ distinct strategies, or excel in specific areas. By categorizing rivals in your seo competitor analysis based on relevance, size, or niche focus, you can tailor your SEO efforts more effectively.

There are many ways you can segment your competitors. For example, if your business operates in industries where geographical location plays a significant role, you may segment them local vs. global.

Imagine owning a global e-commerce store specializing in handmade jewelry. Your local competitors might include regional artisans catering to specific areas, while your global competitors could be famous international jewelry brands. 

To compete with local brands, you may prioritize local SEO strategies such as optimizing your Google Business Profile, getting local backlinks, and using location-specific keywords like "handmade jewelry in London" to enhance local visibility.

Simultaneously, to outperform your global competitors, broaden your keyword optimization to capture a global audience with terms like "unique artisanal jewelry." Also, make sure you implement international SEO practices and leverage social media for a wider reach. 

You may also segment your competitors by business size and market share. Consider this example: Your digital marketing agency competes with a big enterprise with a significant market share. At the same time, it also competes with a smaller agency that focuses on local SEO for small businesses.

To compete against the big enterprise, you can target long-tail keywords or niche areas where they are not dominant. You can also build a robust backlink profile by publishing authoritative content (to compete with a big enterprise's established online presence). 

To compete against ‌smaller agencies, you can target local SEO keywords for specific geographic areas ("near me" searches).

2. Analyze keyword gaps

This step requires Rank Tracker. You can download it now for free.
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Identifying keyword gaps helps you discover terms that your competitors are ranking for, but you are not. The keywords from these gaps are your opportunities for content optimization.

It is super easy to run a keyword gap analysis in Rank Tracker. 

  1. Launch the tool and create your project if you haven't done so yet.
  2. Go to Keyword Research > Keyword Gap and add your competitors.
  3. Choose the search mode All competitors but not your site, specify the targeting settings at the top, and hit Search
  4. You will see all the keywords found and their SEO/PPC stats in the table.

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How to prioritize keywords and form a keyword strategy

Not all ‌competitors' keywords should be employed in your own SEO strategy. Some keywords you come across won't be relevant or suitable for your site. So, it is critical to carefully evaluate and add only those words to your SEO competitor analysis who align with your goals and objectives.

Make sure the keywords you found:  

  • Align with your business goals and target audience. Prioritize keywords that directly relate to your products, services, and overarching business objectives.
  • Have manageable keyword difficulty (KD). You should know what KD you can work with. There is no sense in competing for high-difficulty keywords if your current ranking keywords have a KD of 30 or less. 
  • Have a balance of decent search volume and moderate competition. It ensures that you are targeting keywords that are relevant, have traffic potential, and are feasible to rank for.
  • Have a conversion potential. Prioritize keywords that show clear search intent. This means focusing on keywords that suggest users are ready to engage with your website in a way that aligns with your business goals, whether it's making a purchase (transactional intent) or finding valuable information (informational intent).

Besides, pay special attention to seasonality or the trending nature of the keywords you’ve found. Prioritize keywords that align with seasonal trends or current industry buzz – to capitalize on timely opportunities.

3. Check competitors' traffic sources

It’s crucial to understand where most of your targeted audience hangs out. And competition traffic research is an obvious shortcut here.

The first thing to pay attention to while conducting your SEO competitor analysis is the source of the heaviest traffic to your rivals' websites.

For starters, you can track your competitor's traffic sources with Similarweb

  1. Go to the platform and enter your competitor’s domain. 
  2. Then, scroll down to the Marketing Channels section. You will see the overview of where the site's traffic comes from and identify what sources bring the most of it.
  3. Check each of your major competitors in the same way. If the numbers more or less repeat across most of them, this is the industry's average. This way, you can easily predict your own traffic potential. 

If you want to get insights into paid traffic, you can use SpyFu.

By the end of your research, you will be able to identify where most of your rivals get steady traffic from and add it to your seo competitor analysis.

How to use the competitors' traffic insights in your strategy

Well, there are no tricks here – the heaviest source of competitors' traffic will also point to where you should direct your efforts.

Say your competitors get the most of their traffic from social media. Go and check their accounts manually — maybe Instagram (X, Reddit, TikTok, or any other) is the key to success in your industry. Or vice versa, online platforms may bring your competitors little to no traffic. In this case, social media should not play a significant role in your marketing strategy.

Anyway, study all the sources to find any neglected opportunities – who knows, maybe you'll spot the goldmine. 

4. Track competitors' SERP features 

This step requires Rank Tracker. You can download it now for free.
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Tracking competitors' SERP features helps you understand which content is being spotlighted in search results. And since featured snippets may bring even more traffic and enhance brand awareness in the meanwhile, getting one should become a goal. 

By the end of your seo competitor analysis, you'll get insights into how to optimize your content to win SERP features.

Here is what you need to do:

  1. In Rank Tracker’s Tracked Keywords module, click Show Competitors and make sure the Google SERP Features column is added to your workspace. Download Rank Tracker
    The Google SERP Features column will show all the features found on the results page for your keyword. The ones your site owns will be highlighted in green. In the Google Rank column, you will see the icon of the feature your and your rivals' sites were found in.
  2. When you see that a competitor has a featured snippet for one of your keywords of interest, go to search and check that snippet out. 
  3. Then, go to the page itself and analyze the content structure and format that secures the featured snippet for the competitor in question. It may be bulleted and numbered lists, tables, direct answers to questions, or structured data

How to steal SERP features from your competitors

Optimize your content for SERP features based on successful patterns you just observed.

Let's say you're running an ecommerce website that sells athletic shoes. During your analysis of competitors' SERP features, you notice that one of your main competitors consistently secures featured snippets for queries like "best running shoes for beginners" and "how to choose the right running shoes." You analyzed the structure of the competitor's content and noticed that they use bullet points, concise answers, and clear headings.

Based on these insights, you may decide to develop detailed guides that cover topics like "Choosing the Perfect Running Shoes: A Beginner's Guide" and "Top 10 Running Shoes for Beginners in 2024." You may also optimize your own content by structuring it in a way similar to that of your competitor.

If your competitor's featured snippets include images or tables, consider incorporating similar rich media into your content.


Not so long ago Google started to shut down how-to and FAQ rich results, so optimizing for them is no longer worth the effort. And when Google Search Generative Experience rolls out, there is a possibility that other SERP features, such as featured snippets or local packs, will also become redundant. So, keep an eye out. 

5. Analyze your competitors' on-page SEO

By analyzing competitors' on-page SEO strategies, you discover their sites’ weaknesses and strengths and learn how to optimize your own site to compete with them. To do that, you need to analyze their:

  • meta titles;
  • H1s;
  • meta descriptions;
  • URL structure.

You will have to check these factors page by page. Simultaneously, pinpoint what your competitors do better than you. Maybe, they put all their keywords at the very beginning of each title, and you don’t. Or maybe they use short and clear URL slugs while you put every particle and article in it like this” “how-to-do-an-seo-competitive-analysis”. 

Read more about on-page SEO factors in our article On-Page SEO Factors (Guide & Optimization Checklist).

How to form an on-page SEO strategy based on findings

Analyze what you've learned and build your own strategy.

Tip: You need to compile all the information about your rivals in the most easy-to-understand way, so we recommend creating a comprehensive SEO competitor analysis. This will help you make decisions based on data, rather than solely on speculation.

Suppose your competitor's product page excels due to a combination of perfectly optimized meta title and description. Your strategy could involve enhancing your product pages by investing your time and effort in the same SEO factors.

This step requires SEO SpyGlass. You can download it now for free.
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Running a competitor backlink profile analysis will help you understand how strong your competitors are and how hard you should work on gaining the needed domain strength. Plus, you'll be able to boost your link-building strategy by identifying backlink gaps. 

Use SEO SpyGlass to analyze your competitors' backlinks:

  1. Launch the tool and create a project for one of your top competitors. The first thing you will see is the Summary of their backlink profile.

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  2. Identify the total number of backlinks and the domain strength of your competitor and compare the numbers with yours. 
  3. Assess the diversity and quality of linking domains, as it's them that make up your competitor’s domain strength. 
  4. Analyze the anchor text distribution to understand the context of backlinks.
  5. Go to Domain Comparison > Link Interaction, specify your competitors, choose Prospective domains in the menu on the left, and check linking domains your competitors have but you don't.

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To get a more detailed picture of competitors’ authority, you can also track their brand mentions and citations. You can use tools like Google Alerts or Awario to monitor your competitors' brand mentions on autopilot. So, don't forget to track mentions in your SEO competitor analysis. With the growth of E-E-A-T, it's very important factor.

Everything is straightforward here. If your competitor has a strong backlink profile with a significant number of high-quality links from reputable websites, your strategy should involve:

  • identifying similar authoritative websites in your industry,
  • reaching out for collaboration or guest posting.

Pro tip

Find competitors' broken pages for broken link building

You can make a great opportunity out of competitors' broken pages with backlinks. 

When a competitor's page with valuable backlinks becomes broken or unavailable, it opens a door for you to swoop in and reclaim those lost link opportunities. Therefore, don’t forget to document all broken links in your SEO competitor analysis. Remember, a holistic approach is the key to optimizing your website.

By identifying and reaching out to website owners linking to your competitor's broken pages, you can offer them an alternative – your own relevant and high-quality content. 

This strategic approach not only helps you gain authoritative backlinks but also assists webmasters in maintaining a seamless user experience by replacing broken links with valuable and functional resources.

Read more about it in our guide, Ultimate Guide to Finding Broken Backlinks.

7. Analyze competitors’ technical SEO

This step requires WebSite Auditor. You can download it now for free.
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You may think that everybody does the same things for technical SEO, and there is not much to discover and learn from tech SEO competitor analysis. We all watch out for:

  • Website speed and performance
  • Mobile responsiveness
  • Indexation issues
  • Canonicalization and redirects 
  • Schema markup
  • SSL and security 

It's true. But still, analyzing competitors' technical SEO allows you to pinpoint specific elements affecting competitor website's performance. These insights will help you identify and rectify gaps or issues in your own technical SEO strategy.

You can study competitors' technical SEO in WebSite Auditor:

  1. Launch the tool and create a project for your competitor's site.
  2. Go to Site Structure > Site Audit and check all the technical issues the site has and the factors your competitor nails.

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  3. You can also move to the All Resources module for a more convenient look at both internal and internal resources found on the website (HTML pages, scripts, CSS, Images, Videos, etc.,) along with the details for each (its content type, status code, robots instructions, and others).

Tip: Want to audit the specific pages in your seo competitor analysis? Try List Mode in WebSite Auditor. Read more about this new feature and how to use it in our guide List Mode: New Workflow in WebSite Auditor.

How to form your own technical SEO strategy based on findings

Consider a scenario where your main competitor shows a perfect technical SEO strategy:

  • The competitor maintains fast page load times, a crucial factor influencing Core Web Vitals and therefore, both UX and rankings. 
  • Their commitment to effective mobile responsiveness aligns with mobile-first indexing requirements and ensures consistent user-friendliness across devices. 
  • The competitor employs schema markup, which enhances its visibility in search and potentially leads to higher click-through rates. 
  • A secure SSL connection further instills user trust and contributes to the overall positive impact on search rankings.

Inspired by these correlations, your technical SEO strategy may involve a comprehensive audit of your own website, with a focus on areas where the competitor excels. 

And if it happens that your competitors aren't good at technical SEO, do your best anyway - you will be rewarded with higher rankings. 

8. Run content gap analysis

Identifying content gaps helps spot topics that your competitors have already covered, but you haven't.

You can spot your missed content opportunities by taking the following steps:

  1. Compile a list of competitors' top-performing content with Rank Tracker's Top Pages module.

    Download Rank Tracker

  2. Cross-reference this with your own content to identify gaps in coverage. You can use ChatGPT to have it done faster (just make sure you know how to create the right prompts).
  3. Evaluate competitors' content for depth, accuracy, and engagement metrics.
  4. Identify areas where you can improve the quality and relevance of your content.
  5. Explore the types of content your competitors produce (e.g., blog posts, videos, infographics). This way, you can identify opportunities to introduce new content formats or improve existing ones.
  6. Analyze the intent behind competitors' content and assess how well it matches user queries.
  7. Identify gaps in addressing different stages of the buyer's journey or varying search intents.

How to adapt your own content strategy

These identified gaps are your new content ideas. However, remember: You shouldn't try to copy your competitors' content but show your unique expertise to provide value in areas where competitors may fall short.

Say, your competitors in the beauty industry consistently produce blog posts and videos on skincare routines but lack in-depth guides on ingredient analysis. Your strategy might involve creating comprehensive guides that analyze popular skincare ingredients, their benefits, and potential side effects.

9. Analyze competitors' PPC campaigns 

Though it may not be immediately obvious, improving your SEO competitor analysis can be achieved by examining their PPC. Analyzing competitors' PPC campaigns helps you understand their paid advertising strategies, keywords targeted, and ad creatives.

With the info at hand, you can calculate if you should invest in advertising more or put all the stakes on SEO.

Here is how it's done:

  1. Use tools like SpyFu to analyze competitors' PPC campaigns. Here, you need to check high-performing keywords, ad copy, and landing pages.
  2. Make sure these paid clicks will have a positive ROI for you. In other words, see if you can afford to buy clicks and stay afloat. 
    Base the calculation on the two metrics: the revenue per client and the conversion rate of the paid ads' traffic. Eventually, the cost per click must be lower than the revenue per client multiplied by the conversion rate.
  3. Now, knowing the cost per click you can afford, your next step is to go and check the actual click costs in your industry. If you've been using Rank Tracker for keyword research, you can use the tool for ‌PPC analysis as well.

    Download Rank Tracker

How to use the competitors’ PPC insights

Here, everything is easy as ABC. If there are traffic-bringing keywords you can afford — then you launch an advertising campaign. If there are no affordable keywords with traffic potential — you have to find other traffic sources. That is it.

For example, you are running an ecommerce business specializing in artisanal coffee products. You discovered that one of your key competitors is successfully running PPC campaigns targeting high-performing keywords like "craft coffee beans" and "artisanal coffee blends." The ad copies emphasize unique flavor profiles and sustainable sourcing, contributing to a high click-through rate.

Upon evaluating the CPC that your business can afford, based on an industry average revenue per client of $30 and a 10% conversion rate from paid ads, you calculate that a click must cost $3 or less for a profitable outcome. So, you may come to the conclusion that the actual click costs for relevant keywords in the coffee industry align with your affordability threshold. This way, you can get a lot of traffic without draining your budget.

10. Track competitors' social media

Social media is important for SEO, believe it or not. Social signals, such as likes, shares, and comments on social media platforms, can impact a website's credibility and visibility in search results.

Tracking competitors' social media provides insights into effective SMM practices. With them under the belt, you can optimize your own social media strategy and maintain a competitive edge. 

Here is what you need to do:

  1. Compile a list of social media platforms used by competitors.
  2. Evaluate the frequency and consistency of their presence on each platform.
  3. Analyze key engagement metrics such as likes, shares, comments, and follower growth. You may use tools like Keyhole to spy on your competitors on social media. 
  4. Identify patterns in engagement across different platforms.
  5. Examine the types of content competitors share, including images, videos, blog posts, and promotions.
  6. Identify popular topics in their shared content.
  7. Observe if there's a connection between competitors' social media engagement (likes, shares, comments) and improvements in search engine rankings.
  8. Don't forget to add everything to the seo competitor analysis.

How to build your own SMM strategy

Obviously, you should focus your efforts on ‌platforms where your competitors are present.

For example, your competitor in the tech industry consistently engages with its audience on Twitter (now X) and LinkedIn through a mix of industry insights, product updates, and engaging polls. Your strategy may include focusing on these platforms, too. 

However, you still should be in constant search for new platforms and opportunities. Experiment with new social media and the types of content. This way, you may attract even more people.


When you embark on a new journey for your website, it's wise to conduct a SEO competitor analysis. Why reinvent the wheel when you can learn from those who have already succeeded? 

By analyzing your competitors' strategies, you gain actionable insights for optimizing content, targeting the right keywords, securing valuable backlinks, and more. All of that will help you set a clear path to success in your industry.

Don’t forget to download a PDF file with all the SEO competitor analysis research steps for quick reference. 

Now, how about having some fun and gossiping about our competitors (while sharing some tips on spying on them) in our private Facebook group?

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