by Anton Likhnekevich - May 14, 2019

Why even conduct an analysis of competitors?

To understand how things are in a niche, to dive deeper into the subject of the client’s business, to find unobvious moments that are important for this particular subject. The analysis is important for making strategic decisions on a project and understanding the project's place in a niche.

Just want to warn about the risks. We will learn how to read a competitor's strategy, but we will never have accurate data on whether it works — we can only guess and test.

As an example, I will focus on the analysis of moving companies.

1. Setting goals

Each analysis is worth starting with setting goals. It is important not just to write down the indicators, but to understand what they are talking about:

  • in which areas you need to come closer to competitors. SEO is still an integrated approach, the result depends on many factors;
  • what successful points of competitors' strategy can be adopted;
  • what strategies competitors do not apply. This question is particularly relevant if the analyzed website is a leader in its niche.

For example, the following elements of the strategy can be called unambiguously successful:

  • creation of additional page types, creation of additional backlinks;
  • creation of additional benefits for the user: free delivery, sale coupons, live chat;
  • working on increasing reviews using email newsletters after completed purchase.

By successful, I mean the strategies that allow the project to grow and do not contradict the requirements of search engines. For example, the strategy of spam and keyword extraction in texts may give rise at first, but it contradicts the requirements of search engines and does not work in perspective.

2. Determination of competitors

The second important step is to identify direct competitors.

2.1. Analyze the issue of key requests

Investigate the issue of different groups of requests (high-frequency and mid-frequency) and select the resources that are suitable for you and have a similar structure.

2.2. Identify competitors with Serpstat

Enter a website name and see the report by competitors. Pay attention to the column “Common Key Phrases”. The more common key phrases, the more likely that this website is your direct competitor.

 

Among the selected websites, check the region and see that the structure is similar. Drop aggregators or websites with a broad theme.

If the site is young, the “Competitors” section of Serpstat cannot be used - there will be almost no statistics or only weak competitor websites will be shown, on which there is no point in targeting.

3. What to analyze and how to draw conclusions?

3.1. Determination of domain age

You should compare the age of the analyzed domains - for this, use Whois. If your project is young, you need to compensate for this by working harder with other ranking factors. Therefore, this must be taken into account in the strategy.

3.2. Attendance comparison

Attendance information can be obtained from SimilarWeb. It allows you to see the total traffic to the website (data are approximate), the percentage of traffic from search, email, paid traffic and other channels.

What conclusions can be made after comparison:

  • find out where to grow in the niche;
  • which competitors have the most traffic and from which channel;
  • in the future, try to understand how a competitor has so much traffic and connect new channels.

3.3. Number of pages in the index

The number of pages in the index can be checked using the “site:” operator.

3.4. Semantic core research

First of all, it is worthwhile to look at the semantics of the analyzed website. This can be done using Serpstat:

Then, look at the number of keywords by which your project is ranked and by which competitors are ranked.

Pay special attention to those competitors who have the most words in the semantic core. In the future, try to understand why they have so many keywords.

Then you should download the semantics of competitors, according to which competitors' websites are ranked, but your site is not ranked.

To do this, you must specify the domain of the competitor site and download unique phrases for this domain.

What conclusions can be made:

  • which competitors have the most key phrases;
  • is there a space to grow in the niche;
  • which pages can be added or optimized;
  • what new page types can be added;
  • in which groups of products or services competitors bypass the project.

3.5. Structure analysis

Pay attention to the quality of the website structure. Does the competitor bother to create pages for low-frequency queries? Is the structure logical?

Does the competitor have any typical pages that you do not have? What requests are covered by these pages?

How is the expansion of the structure: tags, landing pages or filters?

After analysis, you can understand the level of optimization of the website structure, the potential for expanding the structure and the direction in which it can be developed.

3.6. Content comparison

It is important to understand what competitors do in their content strategy.

To do this, we divide the website by page types, which are useful for SEO:

  • home page;
  • categories / subcategories;
  • service pages;
  • blog pages;
  • other typical pages, depending on the niche.

3.6.1. Content analysis of the home page, categories/subcategories includes:

  • how many characters in the text;
  • if text markup is using headers H1, H2, H3;
  • are there images or infographics?
  • whether bulleted or numbered lists are used?
  • are spam methods and keyword entries used?

3.6.2. Content analysis of service page may include the following:

  • are there informative descriptions of services;
  • how many characters are in the description;
  • are there the characteristics, video, or reviews of services?

3.6.3. Examination of blog page content:

  • how often the content is published;
  • how many articles are already published;
  • how many characters one article contains;
  • is a blog being written for particular queries? or only company news is published there?

After the analysis, it is possible to draw conclusions about what texts to order by volume, what good tactics for filling the service pages can be adopted. Should I blog and how often should I publish content?

3.7. Analysis of meta-information

Analysis of Title, Description, Keywords, H1 headers is performed by splitting a website into the same page types:

  • home page;
  • categories / subcategories;
  • service pages;
  • blog pages;
  • other typical pages, depending on the niche.

This should be taken into account:

  • do not re-spam keywords;
  • are synonyms used?
  • is there a specific structure for building meta-information, what is it;
  • whether the information about the unique selling proposition is used in the meta tags or the call to action is used in the USP; Is the USP clear?

As a result, it is possible to draw conclusions about whether competitors use spam methods, to take into the strategy good practices for constructing meta-information, to understand the level of optimization of meta-information from competitors.

3.8. Comparison of reference strategies

For obtaining the necessary data we use Ahrefs or Serpstat.

What can be compared:

  • number of referring pages;
  • number of referring domains;

After analyzing the results, it can be understood whether the sites are moving in a natural way, using a mixed approach, or spamming link building methods.

However, some links may already be rejected in the Disavow tool, so such an analysis does not show an accurate picture, but only gives a general idea of ​​the link mass of websites.

If, after analysis, it can be seen that the competitor uses a smart strategy to build up a link mass (the reference profile is varied, references to the site on third-party resources look natural and put in the topic, thematic resources), you can download domains referring to the competitor website. It is also important to see from which regional domains you should increase links, based on the experience of competitors. Then check the quality parameters of the links, sort out and get a list of domains to increase the link mass. It is important to avoid the temptation to be thoughtlessly placed where competitors are located; you should not repeat spamming reference strategies.

3.9. HTTPS

The presence of the https version of the website gives at least a small, but plus to the ranking in search engines. After analyzing the competitors, you will be able to understand whether you need to transfer the website to https. If you are still on http, then why not move to https and not get an extra plus in the ranking?

3.10. Mobile version of a website

The presence of the mobile version has long been no longer a special feature, but a necessity - to reach an additional audience of mobile users. As a result, you can better understand which of the competitors covers the mobile audience, and who miss this opportunity.

3.11. Load speed

Analyzed for typical pages, for example:

  • home page;
  • categories / subcategories;
  • service pages;
  • blog pages;
  • other typical pages.

The check is performed both for the mobile version and for the desktop version. You can use Google Page Speed ​​Insights or analogs.

Main indications are recorded:

  • optimization of mobile version optimization (N / 100);
  • optimization of the desktop version (N / 100);
  • mobile version server response time;
  • desktop version server response time.

If against the background of competitors the download speed of your site is very low, you should immediately pay special attention to this factor.

3.12. Analysis of social activity

It should be recorded indicators of the activity of subscribers in social networks. The most revealing is the number of likes/shares/comments/re-posts of blog articles. On YouTube, you can see the total number of views on the channel.

By subscriber activities and their involvement, you can see which social network should be included in the strategy if it is not already included. Especially if this channel is active with competitors.

3.13. Research of business features

A question should be asked: why does a potential customer go to a competitor? Analyze possible options.

Most popular versions:

  • a competitor is below the price;
  • a competitor has more range of services or goods;
  • a competitor has: bonuses, cumulative discounts, sales, free delivery, favorable credit terms, self-delivery points;
  • the competitor has more reviews (on the website, in Google My Business) and they are fresh;
  • the competitor has an online consultant who is constantly in touch.

As a result, you may receive ideas for the development of the marketing strategy of the project. For example, organizing promotions and other activities to engage users, participating in events as a partner for brand awareness.

At this stage, an understanding will come about the expansion of which products or services are worth considering. For example, if a client has a narrow niche, the entire range of this niche should be present. Otherwise, it will be more profitable for the consumer to order everything on the competitor's website (if all the names already exist there), and not to look for them in different stores.

You can also collect ideas to increase loyalty: for example, if competitors have information about the project team, mission and values, the creative page "About Us", information about the company's participation in exhibitions, conferences and so on.

4. Conclusion

In the SEO analysis of websites should pay attention to both the general characteristics and specific areas that are important for search optimization. Depending on the type of business, indicators may be removed or added.

Here are the basics:

  • domain age;
  • traffic;
  • the number of pages in the index;
  • semantic core;
  • website structure;
  • content;
  • meta-information;
  • link-building strategy;
  • re-linking;
  • availability of https;
  • availability of a mobile version;
  • load speed;
  • social activity;
  • features of the business.

At the start of work, such a superficial analysis is a must have for a professional SEO specialist. It shows well the features of the subject and allows you to understand the current situation.

 


Anton Likhnekevich

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