Semalt: How To Create A Winning SEO Strategy With The Help Of SEO Competition Analysis 

Indirect Competition, Direct Competition, Substitution Competition... The first step to creating a working SEO strategy is to understand the competitive environment in which you are moving. SEO competition analysis places your actions in context. Find out how to successfully identify all SEO competitors and give yourself a detailed competitor analysis!

What is the analysis of the competitive environment in SEO and what is it for?

The competitive environment analysis in SEO, like any other competitive analysis, aims to determine the conditions under which a given website operates in a specific market. In SEO, the market should be understood as a group of keywords that will meet the same search intent.

The assessment of the market and competition may, of course, involve narrowing down a specific market in more or less detail as it moves through the next stages of the sales funnel. At each stage of the buying journey, there is a different supply of keyword-appropriate content that meets the specific needs of users. Depending on the market offer you make, you will be competing with other websites.

But is there anything to tear clothes? Do you need a full competition analysis in SEO? Or maybe a quick glance at the results in the tools would suffice? SEO competition analysis is one of those things worth investing more time and attention into.

Competition analysis in SEO allows you:

Why is it worth conducting a competitive analysis? It allows you to develop an effective SEO strategy, the result of which should be obtaining a lasting advantage over the competition.

Division of the competitive environment in SEO

Generally speaking, you can consider any website that competes with you for high rankings for specific keywords to be a competitor in SEO. Competitive analysis will help you find companies that fall into the following categories: direct competition, potential competition, indirect competition and substitute competition.

However, to distinguish between terms such as substitute or direct competition, you will need to consider the user's search intent and the target audience you wish to reach for a specific keyword.

Of course, keep in mind that not all websites with which you are competing for positions on a specific keyword will be your direct competitors. Therefore, the competitive environment for SEO should be divided into two categories: direct competition and indirect competition.

Example: The phrase "Adidas shoes" has multiple search intentions. The search intention behind "Adidas shoes" may refer to various assortment groups: women's shoes, men's shoes, children's shoes. Therefore, depending on which target group you want to reach - you will be competing with other websites. While the Adidas men's footwear page will be displayed in the search results for this phrase next to women's shoe stores, they will directly reach a different target group.

Therefore, you should divide your surroundings into the following categories:
An example of an analysis of the competitive environment:
Supply on the user's shopping path: willingness to buy / getting to know a specific purchase offer.

Direct competition and indirect competition

Direct competition - in the search results it will be other travel agencies (identical phrase, identical search intention).

Indirect competition - Your indirect competition will include all other parties that do not fulfil the same intention as you. It will be, for example, a content website with an article on the subject: "A trip to Dubai - what you need to know". Just like your website is displayed in the search results for the phrase "trip to Dubai".

Potential competition

It is created by all websites with high positions for phrases that you are not currently displaying. Importantly, these phrases will fulfil the same intention as you. For example, it will be the phrase "vacation in Dubai" that meets your user's intention. 

Only you are not currently appearing on this query. This also works the other way around - your competitors are also not currently showing up for "your" phrases. However, they may intend to do so in the near future and become your direct competitors.


They consist of websites that deliver content to the same target group (people interested in travelling to Dubai). You distinguish yourself both by your search intention and by your keywords. For example, the phrase "a trip to the Arab Emirates". When you do this, you will see a list of sites offering trips to the United Arab Emirates. Some of these trips also include Dubai. However, this is a completely different market offer from your direct competition.

And now this

SEO competition analysis is your first and most important step on the way to selecting these entities. Properly performed, the analysis of the competition will allow you to accurately identify the competitive environment.

This way, you will be able to take appropriate action on a particular type of competitor:

SEO competition analysis - stages

SEO competition analysis is a multi-stage process. The process of analyzing competition in website positioning consists of the following steps:

Markets identification - determining in which types of SEO markets the website is positioned

Identification of direct competition - indication for each of the markets of direct competition with which you will compete for the same target group (which searches for phrases with a specific intention)

Analysis of competitive advantages - an indication of the so-called key success factors, and then an assessment of each competitor against other competitors to determine their advantages.

1. Identification of the markets

Start the market identification process by analyzing the visibility of the competition's website. This competition analysis is based on the identification of the keywords you are currently showing in the search results. Also, identify those phrases you plan to build your position for. Group keywords according to the product range and stage on the sales path (obtaining information, getting to know the offer, purchase, service).

Example: You have a women's clothing shop and a blog with fashion tips. First of all, list your range and the steps in the buying process that you want to achieve:
Identify your markets to compete in SEO:
A complete list of markets with corresponding keywords will allow you to identify in the next step all the pages with which you will realistically compete for search engine positions.

2. Identification of direct competition

At this stage, the analysis of the competition narrows down a bit and becomes more specific. Once you have a list of identified markets, identify your direct competitors for each of them (same phrases, same intention). Depending on what keywords you focus on, you'll be competing against different types of pages.

It is not a rule that a women's fashion blog competes only with another blog. The same keywords can also compete for an online store or a local clothing store.

You can use SEO tools to identify direct competition. In the current market, the most suitable tool is the Dedicated SEO Dashboard. It is a multifunctional tool that you can use to accomplish several tasks in SEO. With this tool, you can identify your main competitors in the right niche, their traffic-generating keywords as well as their promotion strategies. 

The result of your work should be a list of direct competitors' domains on each of the SEO markets you select. Put simply, these will be competitive websites that rank high on the keywords you choose in a specific market.

3. Analysis of competitive advantages

It is time to move on to the next layer of the "competitive analysis" exercise. For each of the markets analysed for SEO, identify the unique factors that are particularly rewarded in determining search engine ranking. In particular, consider:
The areas in which you can indicate the SEO competitive advantage of individual pages are divided into: on-site, off-site, content and behavioural factors.

An on-site area should be understood as all the technical factors that make a website search engine friendly.

The off-site area consists of all external elements related to the brand and domain.

Content is what drives the page based on the keywords you have chosen for it. So you need to consider optimising the page elements (title, meta description, headers), category and product descriptions, articles, graphics and videos. All these elements create value on the page.

Behavioural Factors:
Behavioural data is all information that search engines collect based on user experience and then use to display more relevant results.

Competitor analysis - act and win

Direct competition, indirect competition - both have their own ways of winning potential customers. Assessing the market and competition seems a very logical business move. Using competitor analysis for SEO activities is a basic step that should be done at every stage of website development.

Seemingly simple, but SEO competition analysis brings a lot of benefits. It is safe to say that the analysis of the competitive environment is an investment that returns many times over. If you dream of developing a winning SEO strategy, you must first identify the key factors in your market. This will allow you to stay ahead of the competition and implement activities leading to gaining an advantage over competitors in specific areas.

Competitor analysis is our hobby! Make an appointment for a strategic interview and we will prepare a winning SEO competition analysis for you.