SEO—Search Engine Optimization—is important for most businesses. It allows your potential customers and clients to find you on search engines like Google.
As the old saying goes, you don’t have to run faster than a bear to get away from it. You just have to run faster than the guy next to you. If you want to pass your competitors in Google, you just need to do better than they’re doing.
So, how do you find your SEO competitors? Once you do find them, how can you do a competitor analysis on your own?
Coming up with your competitors
Your goal for the entire list is 5-20 competitors. Too few, and you won’t have a good baseline. Too many, and you’ll end up with more data than what is actually useful and actionable.
First, start your research by listing competitors without using Google. List any competitors you already know of, along with their websites. Then, use local directories like the BBB and chambers of commerce. If you happen to have a phone book laying around somewhere, feel free to grab that and look in your category.
Next, search Google for your industry. If your company’s ideal customer or client is close to you geographically, you can include “near me” or something more specific like “Oklahoma City.”
If you happened to run a restaurant in Edmond, your searches might look more like this:
- Restaurants near me
- Restaurants in Edmond
- Restaurants north OKC
- Best restaurants in Edmond
- Downtown Edmond restaurants
Or, as a digital marketing agency, here are a few different searches we could use when doing our research:
- Digital marketing company near me
- Web design agency in Oklahoma City
- Marketing agencies OKC
- Internet marketing companies near me
- Social media management OKC
- Marketing firms OKC
It’s true, that list being in this very blog article could help our own SEO a little bit. Hey, we’re not above experimenting and seeing what works!
But, hopefully, you get the idea. Don’t let yourself get too caught up in searching. Once you have a good baseline of 5-20 competitors, you should move on.
Finally, be sure to include yourself in your list. The whole point is to see how you stack up against your competition and what needs improvement, so you’ll want to check your own website as well.
Check site speed
Now that you have your list of competitors, it’s time to see how they’re doing. One factor that impacts your SEO is how quickly your website loads and responds. In fact, back in June 2021, Google rolled out their Core Web Vitals update that made your website’s speed even more important.
There are a few different online tools you can use to determine the speed of both your website and your competitor’s websites.
- Google’s PageSpeed Insights
- Pingdom Website Speed Test
- Dotcom-Tools Website Speed Test
- Uptrends Website Speed Test
- Sitechecker Website Speed Test
- KeyCDN Website Speed Test
Different tools test different factors and can give you varying suggestions on how to improve. Overall, my favorite is the first on the list—Google’s PageSpeed Insights—if you’re going to just use one. After all, it’s provided by the actual search engine you’re trying to rank well on!
When you’re ready to work on your own website’s speed, check out our article, “How do I fix a slow website?“
Another critical factor of your website’s on-site SEO is content SEO. That usually takes the form of blog articles. Fortunately, that’s easy enough to measure on your competitor’s websites.
For each website, look for a menu item that says something like blog, news, articles, or something similar. In some cases, a website may show the latest few blog articles on their home page or in their footer, with a link underneath them to view more articles.
You’ll want to make a note of three factors for each competitor:
- Do they have a blog?
- How often are they blogging per month?
- How long are their blog articles?
As a rule of thumb, only look at the past year. If it’s been over a year since they’ve published a blog article, just say “no” to #1 and move on. Or, if they’ve been very sporadic, to calculate #2, you can just look at the number of blog articles in the past year and divide by twelve, and with #3, just take the total word count for the past year and divide it by the number of blog articles.
Ready to blog yourself and want to make sure there’s SEO benefit in what you write? Check out our guide, “How to optimize blog posts for SEO.”
Check social media presence
Finally, take a look at their social media presence. Start by checking their website for social links, then see if those links are actually working. You might be surprised by how many organizations have broken social media links on their websites.
If the links are broken, just go over to the social media website and see if you can find the company there.
For SEO purposes, here are the social media websites I would consider checking:
“Why not Instagram?” you may be asking yourself. Because Instagram doesn’t allow you to put links in posts, it’s not nearly as beneficial for SEO.
Of course, not all of those social media websites are good for every organization or every industry, but I would check all four regardless.
For each platform one of your competitors is on, you’ll want to look at two factors:
- Have they posted?
- How often are they posting per month?
Knowing what platforms they’re posting on and how often they’re posting will give you a good baseline of what you need to do to outperform them.
Ready to start posting on social media regularly, but not sure what to write about? Check out my book,102 Tweets. It has 102 ways to come up with social media ideas, and it’s not just for Twitter. There’s also a free sample on the website!
Other SEO factors to consider
Those three elements of your competitor’s SEO are arguably the most important to look at when doing an SEO competitive analysis, but there are a million more you could look at! If you want to get even more detailed, here are just a few other factors to check, along with one possible tool you can use for each:
- Targeted Keywords – SpyFu
- Backlinks – Free Backlink Checker from Seobility
- Code to Text ration – SmallSEO Tools Code to Text Ratio Checker
- Domain age and length of registration – Whois
Want to become an SEO superhero? How fortunate we have an ebook with that very phrase in the title! Grab a free copy of our guide, Become an SEO Superhero.
Maybe this all sounds overwhelming to you, and you’d like professional help analyzing your competitors. Maybe you already evaluated all of your competitors but now need help outperforming them.
Either way, we would be happy to talk and see if we can help. Feel free to reach out to have a conversation, and we can see whether our team is a good fit for you or not.