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:
- identification of current direct competitors
- adding a few new items in the category of "indirect competition"
- learning about the advantages of the competition (strengths of competitors)
- learning about your own advantages (identifying competitors' weaker points)
- benchmark with competitors (evaluation of the current competitive profile of your website)
- indication of opportunities and threats arising from the competitive environment
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:
- direct competition - same phrases, same intention
- indirect competition - same phrases, different intention
- potential competition - different phrases, the same intention
- substitutional competition - different phrases, different intention
An example of an analysis of the competitive environment:
- You run a travel agency offering tours to Dubai
- you position yourself on the phrase "trip to Dubai"
- you satisfy the intention of "buying a trip to Dubai online"
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".
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:
- Direct competitors - learn about their strengths and weaknesses, check what elements in SEO you need to strengthen in order to be above them (the most basic competition analysis - analysis of competitive advantages)
- Indirect competitors - check which keywords related to your search intention are displayed by direct competition, find a space for website development with keywords from another stage of the purchasing path (e.g., content development by the stage of users' interest, knowledge acquisition, post-purchase information)
- Potential competition - do keyword analysis, check what additional phrases can be displayed and how strong the competition is there, optimize your website with new keywords or consider creating dedicated subpages for specific phrases
- Substitutes - follow trends in substitutes' phrases, analyze whether they are taking over part of your market, analyze their impact on your industry
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:
- assortment: dresses, skirts, women's blouses, women's pants, women's jackets, women's underwear
- stage on the shopping path: obtaining information (fashion tips on the blog), getting to know the offer (product categories with a description of the category), purchase (product subpages with specific products)
- market №1 - obtaining information about dresses - phrases: when the dress is too tight, what kind of dress for the wedding
- market №2 - getting to know the offer of women's blouses - phrases: elegant women's blouses, black women's blouses
- market №3 - purchase of a product: women's pants - phrases: women's pants Adidas originals bk0004.
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:
- geolocation - the power of ranking factors will be distributed differently depending on the country in which you will position yourself.
- search engine - the share of search engines will be distributed differently on various foreign markets. Remember that different search engines place different power on different SEO factors.
- industry - what industry you operate in will translate into what SEO elements you should strengthen. Search engines index thematically a set of individual phrases and then assign them different values (example: medical industry and algorithm update based on EAT).
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.
- site architecture
- the power of internal linking
- site (avoiding duplication, thin content)
- header structure
- charging time
- mobile version
- crawl budget
An on-site area should be understood as all the technical factors that make a website search engine friendly.
- domain authority
- brand strength
- number of backlinks
- structure of anchor texts
- thematic nature of the links
- diversification of link sources
- domain history
- authority of the page / authors (in accordance with ETA)
The off-site area consists of all external elements related to the brand and domain.
- optimized title
- optimized meta description
- optimized headers
- optimized alt tags
- valuable content on the website (length, quality, phrase saturation)
- valuable elements on the website: graphics, films, PDF
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.
- CTR in search results
- bounce rate
- fulfilling search intentions
- UX on the site
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.