Why conduct an analysis of competitors?
Understand how things are in the niche, go deeper into the subject matter of the client’s business, find unobvious moments that are important for this topic. The analysis is important for making strategic decisions on the project and understanding the place of the project in a niche.
Just want to warn about the risks. We will learn to read the competitor’s strategy, but we will never have accurate data about whether it works – we can only guess and test.
I will be guided by the analysis of online stores, because it is more or less easy to compare there.
1. Setting Goals
Each analysis should start with setting goals. It is important not just to write down the indicators, but to understand what they are talking about:
- in what areas you need to “pull yourself” to competitors. SEO – it’s still an integrated approach, the result depends on many factors;
- What are the successful points of the strategy of competitors can be adopted;
- what strategies competitors do not apply. This issue is especially relevant if the site under analysis is a leader in its subject matter.
For example, the following elements of the strategy can be called uniquely successful:
- creation of additional types of pages, creation of additional relinking;
- creation of additional benefits for the user: installment, credit, discount systems, free delivery;
- carrying out works to increase the feedback with the help of email-mailings after purchase.
Under successful I understand the strategies that allow the project to grow and do not contradict the requirements of search engines. For example, the strategy of spam and highlighting of keywords in the texts may give rise at first, but it contradicts the requirements of search engines and does not work in the long term.
2. Definition of sites-competitors
The second important step is to identify direct competitors.
2.1. Analyze the issue for key queries
Examine the issue for various groups of requests (high-frequency and mid-frequency) and select the resources that suit your subject and have a similar structure.
2.2. Identify competitors using Serpstat
Enter the name of the site and see the report on the competitors. Note the “General Key Phrases” column and “Visibility” column. The more common key phrases, the more likely that this site is your direct competitor, and the more visibility, the more likely that the competitor uses a reasonable strategy.
Among the selected sites, check the region and see that the structure was similar. Drop aggregators or sites with a wide range of topics.
If the site is young, the “Competitors” section of Serpstat can not be used – there will be almost no statistics or only weak competitors sites will be shown, on which there is no sense to navigate.
2.3. Take information from the client
The client knows his competitors well, so you can ask him for a list with their sites. True, it is worth remembering that this list is not final and with these companies the client can compete online, but not in offline.
3. What to analyze and how to draw conclusions?
3.1. Domain age determination
You should compare the age of the domains being analyzed – use Who is to do this . If your project is young, you need to compensate for this by working more diligently with other ranking factors. Therefore, this must be taken into account in the strategy.
3.2. Comparison of attendance
Information about attendance can be taken from Similar Web . It allows you to see the total traffic to the site (data is approximate), the percentage of traffic from the search, email, paid traffic and other channels.
What conclusions can be drawn after the comparison:
- understand whether there is much to grow in the subject;
- which of the competitors has the most traffic and from which channel;
- in the future, try to understand, due to which the 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.
If the difference between the number of pages Yandex and Google is too large, then the site contains garbage pages or other problems, because of which the site is poorly ranked by the search engine.
3.4. Exploring the Semantic Core
First of all, it is worth looking at the semantics of the analyzed site. You can do this with Serpstat:
Then look at the number of keywords that your project is ranked and ranked by competitors.
Pay special attention to those competitors who have the most words in the semantic kernel. In the future, try to understand why they have so many keywords.
Then you should download the semantics of competitors, according to which the sites of competitors are ranked, but your site is not ranked.
To do this, you must specify the domain of the competitor’s site and download unique phrases for this domain.
What conclusions can be drawn:
- which of the competitors has the most key phrases;
- whether there is much to grow in the subject;
- which pages can be added or optimized;
- what new types of pages can be added;
- in which groups of products, competitors circumvent the assortment project.
3.5. Structure analysis
Pay attention to the quality of the structure. Is the competitor tightened to create pages? for low-frequency requests? Is the structure organized logically?Does the competitor have some typical pages that you do not have? What queries are covered by these pages?
How is the extension of the structure implemented: by tags, landing pages or filters?
After the analysis, you can understand the level of optimization of the structure of the site, the potential for expanding the structure and the direction in which it can be developed.
3.6. Compare content
It is important to understand what competitors are doing in the content strategy.
To do this, we split the site into page types that are useful for promotion:
- home page;
- category / subcategory;
- goods cards;
- blog pages;
- other sample pages, depending on the niche.
3.6.1. Analysis of the content of the main categories / subcategories includes items:
- how many characters in the text;
- whether text markup is used – headers H1, H2, H3;
- whether images are used;
- whether bulleted and numbered lists are used;
- Readable whether the content as a whole;
- whether spam techniques and the occurrence of key words are used.
3.6.2. Analysis of the content of cards of goods may include such items:
- whether there are informative descriptions of the goods;
- how many characters in the description;
- Is not spam content on the cards of goods;
- whether all the characteristics are given, whether there are video reviews, reviews and other useful content for the user.
3.6.3. Exploring the content of the blog pages:
- with what periodicity the content is published;
- how many articles are already there;
- how many characters contains one article;
- write a blog for requests, just post useful content or only publish company news.
After the analysis, you can draw conclusions about which texts to order by volume, what good tactics for filling the goods card can be adopted. Is it worth blogging and how often to publish content.
3.7. Meta-information analysis
Analysis of Title, Description, Keywords, H1 headings is done by breaking the site into the same page types as when analyzing the content strategy:
- analysis of the main page;
- analysis of categories / subcategories;
- the analysis of cards of the goods;
- analysis of the pages of the blog;
- analysis of other sample pages.
In this case, you should consider:
- Whether there are no oversampling of keywords;
- whether synonyms are used;
- Only generation templates or manual meta tags are used;
- whether there is a certain structure for building meta-information, what it is;
- Whether information is used about a unique trade proposal in meta tags, whether the motivation for action is used in the TSS; Is UTS understandable?
As a result, you can draw conclusions about whether competitors use spam techniques, take good practices in the development of meta-information, understand the level of optimization of meta-information from competitors.
3.8. Comparison of Reference Strategies
To obtain the required data, we use Ahrefs or Serpstat.
What can be compared:
- the number of referring pages;
- the number of referring domains;
- Anchor list (as it looks: natural / unnatural);
- the regionality of referring domains as a percentage, the most frequently used domains.
After analyzing the results, you can understand whether the sites are advancing naturally, using a mixed approach or spamming link building methods.
However, some links can already be rejected in the Disavow tool, so this analysis does not show the exact picture, but only gives a general idea of the reference mass of sites.
If after the analysis it is clear that the competitor uses a clever strategy to increase the reference mass (the link profile is diverse, the references to the site on third-party resources look natural and are put into the topic, the thematic resources), you can download the domains referring to the competitor site. It is also important to see from which regional domains it is worth building links based on the experience of competitors. Then check the link quality indicators, weed out and get a list of domains for increasing the reference mass. It is important to avoid the temptation to be thoughtlessly placed where competitors are located, it is not worth repeating spam reference strategies.
3.9. Analysis of linking
The main types of pages are analyzed. It should be determined whether manual re-linking is used in the texts on the category pages, re-linkingfrom pages of cards to the pages of filters, additional cross-linking units for cross-selling: “with this product they buy” or “in the package is cheaper.” Other types of linking can also be used, which potentially increase the weight of the promoted pages.
The presence of https version of the site gives at least a small but plus to the ranking in the search engines . After analyzing the competitors, you will be able to understand whether you need to transfer the site to https. If still still on http, then why not be the first to move to https and not get an additional plus in the ranking?
3.11. The presence of the mobile version of the site
The presence of a mobile version has long been not a token, but a necessity – to cover an additional audience of mobile users. As a result, you will be able to better understand which of the competitors covers the mobile audience, and who misses this opportunity.
3.12. Multiregionality and multilanguage
You should see if the competitors have other language or regional versions of the site, as well as individual pages for regional inquiries.
Regional versions of the site or pages for geo-requests may be the reason for greater coverage of key queries.
3.13. Download speed
Analyzed for typical pages, for example:
- home page;
- category / subcategory;
- goods cards;
- blog pages;
- other sample pages.
Verification is performed for both the mobile version and the desktop version. You can use Google Page Speed Insights or analogs (for example, GTMetrix , WebPageTest ).
The main indications are recorded:
- percentage optimization of the mobile version (N / 100);
- percentage optimization of desktop version (N / 100);
- Mobile server response time;
- the response time of the server of the desktop version.
If the speed of downloading your site is very low compared to competitors, its increase should be made a priority.
3.14. Analysis of social activity
It should record the indicators of subscriber activity in social networks. The most indicative is the number of likes / shapers / comments / repost articles in blogs. On YouTube, you can see the total number of views on the channel.
By activity of subscribers 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 among competitors.
3.15. Research of business features
The question should be asked: why does a potential client go to a competitor? Analyze possible options.
The most popular versions:
- the competitor is below the price;
- the competitor has more assortment;
- the competitor has more buns: bonuses, cumulative discounts, promotions, free delivery, favorable terms of lending and installments, points of self-export;
- the competitor has more reviews (on the site, in Google My Business ) and they are fresh;
- a competitor has an online consultant who is constantly online.
As a result, there may be ideas for the development of the marketing strategy of the project. For example, the organization of shares and other activities to involve users, participate in events as a partner for brand promotion.
At this stage, understanding will come, which products should be considered for expansion. For example, if a customer has a narrow niche, the entire range of this niche must be present. Otherwise, it would be more profitable for the consumer to order everything on the competitor’s website (if there are already all the names there), rather than looking for them in different stores.
You can also collect ideas for increasing loyalty: for example, if competitors have information about the project team, mission and values, a creative page “About Us”, information about the company’s participation in exhibitions, conferences and so on.
4. How to structure the results of analysis of competitors
I recommend creating a spreadsheet by breaking it into main directions. Indicators can be either in numbers or in text: notes, conclusions.
How it looks in practice:
But each time I look at the table inconveniently, so I recommend in simple Google Docs to write conclusions on the results of analysis of each direction in the format:
- [a few words about the situation now];
- [what needs to be done to overtake competitors].
It is worth noting and those points where the leader is your project – you need to know your strengths.
In general, the analysis of sites should pay attention to both general characteristics and specific areas that are important for promotion. Depending on the type of business, indicators can be removed or added.
Here are the basic ones:
- domain age;
- number of pages in the index;
- the semantic core;
- Site structure;
- reference strategy;
- availability of https;
- availability of mobile version;
- multiregionality and multilanguage;
- download speed;
- social activity;
- features of business.
At the start of the work, such a superficial analysis is a must have for a specialist. He shows well the features of the subject and allows you to understand the current situation.