How to perform a competitor analysis

Let’s face it, getting your content noticed online is becoming harder and harder. The amount of content already available on the internet is staggering and just keeps growing, making it difficult to stand out from the crowd. In fact, a study found that just one UK newspaper was publishing around 1500 articles per day!

And that’s before we even consider social media, video content, and tools like Chat GPT that allow users to generate reams of content in seconds. We’ve already discussed search engine optimization (SEO) at length and its importance for content marketing, but in this blog, we want to deep dive into an often-overlooked aspect of SEO — the competitor analysis.

What is a competitor analysis?

What is a competitor analysis and why is it important

Ok, definition time. A competitor analysis is pretty much what it sounds like — it’s the process of looking at what your competitors are doing, the keywords they are targeting, and the successes or failures they are having, then using that information to inform your own marketing strategy.

You can’t hope to play the game if you don’t know what the other team is doing and you also can’t target areas they might be missing if you’re not clued in as to what they’re up to. Performing a competitor analysis allows you to not only see what works in your industry or niche, but allows you to see where your competitors might be missing a trick.

Why is a competitor analysis useful?

Why is a competitor analysis useful?

If you jump straight into your marketing efforts without taking the time to study your competitors, you risk making the same mistakes they may have already made and corrected, or targeting keywords and strategies that are already fully saturated by other companies.

Let’s look at a couple of examples to illustrate exactly what we mean. Say you’re a business selling umbrellas and you’re looking to get your name out there. You might think it would make sense to target keywords like “umbrellas” and “umbrellas for sale US”. And you would be right.

The thing is though, if your main competitor is a gigantic company, with tons of products, and a well-established and pervasive brand, they’re likely to already have the market cornered when it comes to those common keywords. If you’re targeting the same keywords they are, then you’re not likely to have much success in getting your pages to rank. Unfortunately, it’s just a numbers game and you’re already behind.

Instead, you can see what keywords they are already ranking for, then explore other, more creative options to get your pages to rank. This might be in the form of being more specific with your keywords or just using them in different ways to help you stand out.

Another example, please. So, imagine you’re a company that sells all expenses paid trips to Hawaii and you’re hoping to get your site to the top of Google. You might think “I know, let’s do a top 10 list of things to do in Hawaii.” Great idea! Or is it?

Most of the time, yes, this is a great idea. However, if you perform a competitor analysis and find that one of your competitors already has an article like this on their site and that it doesn’t drive any traffic, is it still a good idea? Or would it perhaps be a waste of time and resources to try retreading a path that has been shown not to work?

Performing a competitor analysis before you create your marketing strategy saves time, money, and potential frustration by allowing you to focus on the things that have been shown to work and target gaps in the market. What’s that old saying “failing to prepare is preparing to fail?” This is the crux of why a competitor analysis is so important.

How to perform a competitor analysis

How to perform a competitor analysis

Right, enough waffle, let’s get into the nitty-gritty. So, how do you actually perform a competitor analysis? It’s pretty straightforward and we’ve broken it down into a handy numbered list, just for you!

1. Figure out who your competitors are and what they offer

The first step is to work out who you’re actually competing against. There’s no sense performing a competitor analysis on a coffee company if you’re selling beer. They’re not your competition, Budweiser are!

It can sometimes be tricky to figure out exactly who your main competitors are. That’s why we recommend using an SEO tool to help. Personally, we use Semrush (this isn’t an ad, it’s honestly what we use!). Semrush has a tool called “Organic Research” where you input your site and your region and it will give you a list of your top competitors. Now, you know exactly who you’re up against from an organic perspective.

Once you know who your main competitors are, it’s time to look at exactly what they’re offering. What products do they sell, how much do they charge, where do they operate, what resources do they have online? And so on. This alone provides you with tons of data to help refine your own approach, as you can see where you’re the same and where you differ, and potentially, how you can use those two things to your advantage.

2. Look for keyword gaps

Now it’s time to start looking for gaps in your keyword approach. In other words, you’re looking for keywords that your competitors are ranking for that you’re not.

Using Semrush as our platform of choice again, this can be done using the handily named “Keyword Gap” tool. With this, you can see which keywords you are ranking for and which keywords your competitors are ranking for. You can then filter this further to look at shared keywords, different difficulty levels for your keywords, and crucially, which keywords your competitors are ranking for that you currently aren’t.

By looking at the keywords you’re not currently ranking for, you can identify areas to target very specifically. As we mentioned earlier, it’s probably not worth targeting high difficulty keywords already monopolized by large competitors but there are sure to be less competitive keywords you can aim for in there somewhere.

Selecting which keywords to target is a decision you’ll have to make for yourselves using your own keyword research — a topic we did a deep dive into in a recent blog.

3. Start producing content

You’ve figured out who your competitors are and sniffed out some keyword gaps to exploit, now it’s time to get to work! The last step of your competitor analysis is to start creating your content in line with what you’ve learned.

Pretty simple, right? Well, hopefully! You can of course go into much more depth with your competitor analysis, looking at things like new keywords, lost keywords, and page analytics, but we don’t have time for that right now, unfortunately. Watch this space…

We can help with your competitor analysis

If you want an expert pair of eyes comparing your strategy versus your competitors — and an in-depth analysis that goes beyond what basic tools can tell you — then you need to be working with an agency like Scribly. Content audits and competitor analysis are our bread and butter, and we’d be happy to help you develop a strategy that gives you a leg up where it matters most. 

Book a call to chat with the team today!