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How Well Do You Know Your Competition?

How Well Do You Know Your Competition?


To begin any competitive website analysis, start by turning inward and really looking at your website.

What do you sell?
What service do you provide?
What message are you trying to convey to potential customers?
What do you want to be seen for on the web?

Answer these questions and you will have a clear idea of what you are targeting before you begin to select keywords for your website.

Keyword Research

It is important to spend a good amount of time investigating what keywords are most valuable for your site. Without having an idea of your ideal keywords, your competitive website analysis will have no clout. To do this, look for keywords with high search volume and few competing pages. The Google AdWords Keyword Planner particularly comes in handy for this research.

To begin, search for terms related to your product or service. The keyword planner will then pull in related keywords with search volume numbers, among other statistics. The main figure you want here, though, is the search volume. Select the keywords that most closely resemble what you are targeting and then export those keywords to a spreadsheet. For best results, make sure that you are using the exact match filter. Next, use Google to find the number of competing pages also targeting these keywords. Open the Google search bar in your internet browser and then type allintitle: followed by the first keyword you selected.

Google Search Bar

This will then pull up all of the pages with that term in the title. The number of pages that return is the number to enter for the amount of competing pages. Next, you need to determine the competitive ratio. This can be done by dividing the search volume of a keyword with the number of competing pages. The goal here is to find a keyword with a lower number of competing pages, but a high competitive ratio. Once you find a selection of keywords that accurately describe your business, have an advantageous competitive ratio, and can be worked into the copy of the website, you have found winners.

Keyword Research

Who Are Your Competitors?

To establish an effective online strategy, you need to analyze the other major players in the field. First, though, you need to know how identify these competitors. While you may already know some top competitors, there are likely several others contenders fighting for a spot on the prized first page of Google results. You can use several tools to determine your top online competitors.

One of the simplest ways to do this is by searching for relevant keywords and seeing which sites appear in the top positions in search engine results pages (SERPs). Make sure, though, that you browse in an incognito window so you receive accurate results. Once you have a general idea of what you are competing with, you’ll want to run through their sites and list potential pros and cons. In your analysis, look for things like these:

  • How do your competitors emphasize their services and their overall value?
  • How do their prices compare to yours? Is there a large discrepancy?
  • How do their products look, how are they laid out on the site, and how detailed are their descriptions?
  • Do they use calls to action, how often, and where do they do this on the site?
  • What is their shopping cart experience like?
  • Is their site mobile friendly?
  • How extensive is their social media presence?
  • Are they asking for email signups?
  • Do they have a blog?

There are also competitors that you do not have a lot of information on, which is where certain SEO tools can come in quite handy. SEMRush is a valuable resource for determining websites and pages that are ranking for specific keywords. This will provide you with an idea of which competitors have targeted keywords that you may be going after.

Furthermore, in order to do a comprehensive competitive website analysis, you’ll need to determine the authoritativeness of your rivals. To determine this, there a few factors to consider including domain age, total number of unique linking root domains to the site, and the domain authority of the site. All of these things can be discovered using a resourceful tool from Moz called Open Site Explorer.

Moz Open Site Explorer

Plug in the competing site’s URL and the Open Site Explorer will retrieve crucial information including the domain authority, the number of unique linking root domains, top pages, most commonly used anchor text, and much more. An important note is that domain authority will be a relative figure and that you will want to focus your efforts on those sites with a close or lower domain authority.

Dive Deeper With Page Comparisons

Once you have an idea of exactly how challenging it will be to compete with your rivals, you’ll want to dive further into their sites. SEO Book is a tool that allows you to compare your site to a competitor’s on a page level. This tool enables you to easily compare page titles, metadata, and common phrases. In addition, tools like Marketing Ninja’s Side-by-Side Comparison Tool will retrieve information such as number of words on a page, keyword density and more.

Alexa is another handy tool for comparing market influence. By simply entering your website URL or your competitions, Alexa will return bounce rate figures, daily page views, demographics, and more. This is a great tool, however, take the numbers with a grain of salt as they get their data from those who have installed their toolbar for Chrome, Firefox or IE.


SEO Book’s Rank Checker plugin is another tool to gauge your site’s rankings to your rivals. Rank Checker allows you to plug in URLs from multiple sites to view what keywords those sites are currently ranking for, and lets you see their position in Google, Yahoo, and other search engines.

After assessing the competition’s websites, you’ll need to analyze the data that you have gathered as well apply the same objective tests to your own site. Gather all of the information you have acquired to better optimize your own site and take down your competitors in the areas that they are weak. These useful tools can go a long way to determining how you stack up against the competitors out there vying for the same space in the SERPs, and clue you in on what steps need to be taken to effectively compete. To outsmart and outlast your current competition, contact Forthea to get you headed in the right direction.

Natalie Hoben
Natalie is a digital marketing specialist at Forthea. Natalie is a proud Texas Aggie (in a sea of Houston Cougs) and a huge fan of the Texans, Red Wings, coffee.


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