11 Oct '22

To increase a website’s visibility in organic search, you must outrank the competition, those sites ranking above yours when someone searches for what your business offers. To find ways you can do that, you need to know who you’re competing against for the top spots. A competitor analysis will give you insight into both.

In this guide we will provide tips to help. You will learn how to identify your organic competitors and how to find opportunities to outrank them. Putting these tips into action, you will begin to see your website’s visibility grow, and with it your business.

Your Organic Competitors May Surprise You

local 3 pack screenshot

You may think you know who your competitors are, but your direct competitors, the businesses offering the same type of products or services as you to the same targeted audience, are not the only ones you’re competing against for visibility in organic search results. When people search for what your business offers, the search engine results pages, or SERPS, will likely include a blend of different types of competitors.

For instance, a multifamily firm might only consider comparable apartment properties located near theirs to be competitors. They probably wouldn’t think of apartment listing websites such as Apartments.com to be competitors, but when someone searches for “luxury apartment rentals,” those listing sites, along with Google Maps Local 3-Packs, usually fill the top SERP.

In a Google search for “digital analytics agencies” we found Forthea ranking #1. While a couple of other digital agencies ranked for answers to “People also ask” questions, other top-ranking sites included the Digital Analytics Association, a nonprofit organization, and Agency Spotter, an agency discovery and review platform.

Neither of those two would be considered competitors of a digital agency with an analytical approach, but agencies looking to increase their visibility in that SERP would still be competing against them for the top spots.

SERP screenshot

Ways to Identify Organic Competitors

There are multiple ways to identify your organic competitors, some more efficiently than others. Try different ones to see what insights they provide.

Websites Google Considers “Related” to Yours

You can quickly get an idea of what domains Google categorizes as similar to yours, and are likely competitors, using the “related” advance search operator. Google search operators are special commands used to refine or better target searches. To use the “related” operator, simply type related:domain.com in Google. You can search with your own domain as well as top competitors to find others.

While this type of search provides insight into domains Google considers similar to yours, those domains could be very different from ones ranking for keywords you want to improve your visibility for in organic search. To identify those organic competitors, you can use the manual process, available tools, or a combination of both, which is recommended.

The Manual Process of Identifying Organic Competitors

One way to identify your organic competitors is to perform manual searches. Search Google using a few keywords you want increased visibility for and make a list of the top-ranking pages for each. As you search, you will likely find some competitors consistently ranking on page 1. Those will be some of your stronger competitors.

Keep in mind that results for Google search queries vary based on searcher location and other personalization. If you want to see search results for another location, use a tool such as BrightLocal’s free Local SERP Checker.

While this manual process helps you identify your organic competitors, you want to rank for more than a few terms. Dominating in search requires ranking well for many keywords (think in terms of topics), and manually performing these searches for a multitude of keywords would be very time-consuming. Thankfully, there are tools available to help you identify the competition faster, and more efficiently.

Tools for Identifying & Analyzing the Competition

You can find many free and paid tools that scrape Google search results to find your organic search competitors online. These tools also help with analyzing those competitors so you can opportunities to outrank them. Below are a few of the top tools for finding and analyzing the competition:

  1. Moz’s free Domain Analysis SEO tool. Simply enter your domain in the search bar and the tool will perform a domain analysis. Scroll down the page to see “Top Search Competitors,” domains that compete for the same keywords as the domain you entered, ranked by their visibility in search.
  2. SEMrush’s Organic Research Competitors Report. SEMrush, a powerful toolkit, provides a wealth of data to help identify and outrank your competitors. While you must sign up for an account to use SEMrush, and the free version is limited, it is worth it. Under the “Competitors” tab of the Organic Research Competitors Report, you’ll get a list of competing domains ranked by competition level, the number of keywords the domains have in common, and more.
  3. SpyFu’s SEO competitor analysis tool. As with SEMrush, you must sign up for an account to use the tool’s paid or limited free version. You’ll get a list of domains competing for the same keywords as your domain, or the one you enter in the search bar, and can see common keywords for each of those competitors, along with other data.
  4. BrightEdge. An enterprise level SEO platform, BrightEdge only offers paid plans as well, but it is well worth the cost, if it’s in your budget. With a BrightEdge account, the platform will show you what competitors rank for the keywords and topics (keyword groups) you track. The platform will also provide recommendations to help you beat those competitors, and so much more.
  5. Ahrefs. While Ahrefs only offers paid plans and its biggest strengths are in backlink data, the platform can show you the top-ranking pages for any of your keywords and help you analyze those competitors. The backlink data will be helpful, too.

How to Outrank Your Organic Competitors

If you want to outrank the competition in organic search and increase your site’s visibility, find out why they’re ranking well, what they’re doing, and do it better.

Perform a Competitive Analysis

The tools listed above, as well as other tools, manual searches, and website audits, can all help you perform a competitive analysis to identify each of your top competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. As you go through the process, you will find answers to the questions above and more.

Study the pages ranking above yours. Find areas you can improve upon and begin working on them. Be the best resource Google can provide when searchers look for products or services your business offers, and your efforts will be rewarded.

Identifying your organic competitors and outranking them is a not an easy task. It requires a significant investment of time and work. But the rewards can be substantial. As your content begins to dominate search results, your business will grow.

Want help increasing your visibility in search? Contact Forthea!

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About the Author Terri

Terri Stevens loves to travel, especially aboard cruise ships (floating casinos!), and spends free time with family and enjoying the outdoors.

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