Any business is based on healthy competition – that is not surprising. There won’t be any development and forward movement without competition. Competitors inspire you to work harder to beat them and become a leader in the niche.
Despite this fact, your competitors can be an excellent way to dive deeper into different aspects of marketing and skyrocket your business online.
In this guide, I will cover a detailed process of doing a competitor analysis and growing your brand online.
Let’s get straight to the point!
Start with Identifying Your Primal Competitors
Your first step is to identify your competitors (the main ones of course.)
To do this, you will have to think a bit about how your potential customers will search for the service you offer.
I believe it would be much better to provide you with an example of the entire process.
Let’s assume that you’ve created an excellent service for website building. You need to push it up on Google. How to do it then?
You can do this in two ways.
The first one is to go to Ahrefs Keywords Explorer tool and put a keyword that people might use to find your service. In this very case, I am going to search for “website builder software.” Afterwards, click on “Also rank for” option. Now we can see that one of the given results is a keyword with the highest volume. This keyword is “website builder”:
Since it has a pretty solid DR score (84), it is going to be a bit challenging to rank for this keyword. Nevertheless, this should be your priority to stick to this keyword if you want to skyrocket your website.
Your next step is to go back to Google and see who ranks for the keyword “website builder.”
I marked with a frame those websites that use ads for pushing their business up online. But we are interested in those sites that get more “organic traffic.” Now let’s see some key stats for our main competitors
Key Stats for Your Competitors
It is utterly important to know how strong is each of your competitors’ websites in terms of metrics and stats.
The best way to get the data about all the competitors domains is via using Ahrefs Domain Comparison tool.
Here we are interested in such elements as ‘Domain Rating’ and the amount of ‘Referring Domains.’
The higher Domain Rating score a given website has, the better it ranks in search and the bigger authority it has. A number of Referring Domains is an indicator of a website’s power as well.
Do an Analysis of Competitor Link Growth
Competitor link growth is a kind of an instant chase. This chase revolves around the referring domains – the more of them you have, the better it is for your website.
If you see that some of your competitors increase the number of referring domains up to 100 per month, thus you must beat this result. And remember that you should never rest on your laurels!
To stay tuned of new referring domains your competitors get, you can run a ‘New referring domains’ report at Ahrefs.
Just in a few seconds, we can see that your assumed competitor squarespace.com got 21,189 new referring domains for the last three months. Now, let’s count how many new domains this website gets per month on average. It is 7, 063 new domains. Impressive, isn’t it?
Also, I recommend you to view the changes in a link acquisition curve. Check out the ‘Referring Domains’ graph and compare how the things have been going on during a certain period of time.
Here is a graph of a link growth that squarespace.com experienced for the past year. It looks like the growth has been consistent.
But let’s compare squarespace.com with the other competitor, wix.com. You can see an unexpected spike in the link growth since the middle of October.
This case points out to using some active SEO campaign. We should study it a bit closer.
Go back to ‘New referring domains’ report and select a period when this spike has been noticed. In our case let’s take the middle of October.
You can export this report for your in-depth personal analysis.
The primary step is already behind. We have identified your main competitors, analyzed some key stats. Now let’s take a look at the situation with their traffic.
I am interested in a few core positions here, like:
- Where do the competitors get their traffic?
- What are the leading countries that provide the traffic?
- What are the websites that provide more referrals?
- Other key stats and total monthly traffic
The best way to get this information is to use the Similarweb tool.
Let’s proceed with one of the competitors I’ve mentioned above.
The overview page gives us general information about the traffic, like total visits, average visit duration, pages per visit, and bounce rate.
However, I would like to cover those aspects that I’ve talked about at the beginning of this section of the post.
Where do the competitors get their traffic?
Similarweb gives us the stats from the main sources, like:
- Direct sources (bookmarks, clicks from messages, etc.)
- Referral sources (when users click on your website using links on other web-resources)
- Search sources (traffic from Google and other search engines)
- Social sources (traffic from social media platforms. Like Facebook, Twitter, etc)
- Mail sources (clicks on your site from emails)
- Display sources (traffic sent from other domains via a known ad-serving platform)
What are the leading countries that provide the traffic?
If you want to know the countries that are the leading sources of the traffic for your competitors, Similarweb can provide you with this data as well.
You can see the exact locations visually and get the percentage ratio for each country.
What are the websites that provide more referrals?
You might want to find out the names of the websites that bring more traffic to your competitors. Similarweb can tell you this, check it out.
Other key stats and total monthly traffic
Similarweb allows you to do a comparative analysis of up to five competitors in a single click. Just choose (or add) a competitor you like and run the process of investigation.
Afterwards, overview a report.
Analyse Organic Traffic
This section of the post will give you a more detailed approach to the process of analyzing of organic traffic. Here I advise you to use Ahrefs Site Explorer tool.
Go to ‘Organic search’ report and pay attention to such stats as:
- Total number of organic traffic per month
- Total number of keywords
- A breakdown of organic traffic by country
Now let’s see the example of these stats.
What are we going to do next?
Right, we should identify the competitors’ keywords that drive more traffic to them. It is easy to do this by running ‘Organic keywords’ report. Let’s take a look.
You can see that your competitor has 36, 886 keywords it ranks for. If you want to find the juiciest keywords, you can order the report by total search volume.
Please note another significant metric – SERP features.
‘Organic keywords’ from Ahrefs can give you an insight of what SERP features your competitor occupies with a specific keyword.
Let me show you an example.
Your competitor squarespace.com ranks in a few SERP features with a couple of keywords.
Needless to say that your competitors can rank for the keywords that you missed. In other words, you might have a desire to identify these keywords.
‘Content gap’ tool is handy for this. You can find it within Site Explorer tool in the left column. All you need to do is put up to ten competitors’ domains and point out your one. The rest will be done by the tool.
Let’s see the results. It looks like there are lots of content gaps here.
Your next step is to pick up keywords and use them to your benefit.
This is the final stage of the whole competitor analysis strategy. Now we are going to talk about content analysis.
Our core positions here are:
- The most visited content
- The most shared content
- The most linked content
Again we will use Ahrefs Site Explorer tool.
Go to the ‘Top pages’ report firstly. See what piece of content has the highest search traffic and what keywords are used there.
The post that has a position number one brings 865 organic search visits per month and ranks for 14 keywords. By the way, you can view these keywords as well.
Your next step is to see what is the most shared content a particular competitor has. Run ‘Top content’ report and pay attention to the content that rocks throughout social media platforms.
You can click on a particular social media icon you are interested the most to see the exact content that got more of exposure.
This data can give you a subtle hint where to tweak your content. Keep up to date the pieces your target audience wants to read.
Of course, you might want to find out what content is the most linked. It is pretty easy to do it with the help of another report you can get using Ahrefs Site Explorer tool. This report is called ‘Best by links.’
It looks like we found a post that has backlinks from 54 referring domains. It goes without saying that you can have a close look at the domains that are on this list. Just click on the number of the referring domains and get what you need. Afterwards, apply your link-building campaign as you want and beat your competitors.
To Sum up
If you want to outrank your competitors, you must know everything about their strategies. Thus, a competitor analysis is a must process that you should do on a daily basis.
I’ve just told you how to spy and get the information regarding competitors’ activity with the help of two tools: Ahrefs and Similarweb.
I hope you’ve found these tactics useful and take some of them on board.
P.S. Don’t shy away from commenting and sharing this post.
Sergey Aliokhin is a Marketing Manager at Ahrefs. Apart from working at Ahrefs he likes spending his time with family, studying martial arts and plucking fat bass guitar strings