How to Research Your SEO Competitors & Beat Them

SEO competitor concept image of two professional boxers boxing on black studio background

We need to know what our allies are up to, but the real priority is keeping an eye on those we are battling against. While our SEO competitors aren’t exactly the “enemy,” we are still fighting them for rankings. If we want to beat them in the competitive world of search results, we need an intelligent competitive research strategy. Here are 4 SEO research tips to follow as you build your own tactics.

Chief Marketing Officer analyzing his competitors strengths & weakness on an iPad
Knowledge is power. Analyzing your competitors’ strengths and weakness should give you an idea of the activity in your industry.

1) Get to Know the Competition

The first step in beating in the competition is to know who they are. You may have a vague idea, but you need to do your due diligence and really get to know their behaviors. Take some time to do keyword research to find out who is competing in your space. After you’ve compiled a list, start following their online activity. What kind of content do they post? What kind of engagement are they getting on their posts? Where are they in web rankings? Once you’ve identified patterns, successes, and failures, you’ll have the information you need to take the best pieces of your competitors’ strategy and use them to build your own strategy. Your competition might expand beyond those companies who offer similar products and solutions. Any company that competes with you in search results with similar keywords should be considered in your SEO Analysis.

2) Don’t Get Lazy

Once you’ve completed your SEO competitors analysis checklist, you can’t put it away and forget about it. Just as your digital marketing strategy is constantly evolving, so are the strategies of your SEO competitors. Make time to review your checklist and examine how the competition is behaving. It’s an iterative process and one that must be completed regularly and thoroughly. The digital marketing world is always changing, with new players entering the market and irrelevant players being phased out. Don’t let yourself become the latter.

3) Measure Your Own Success

Business analyst reviewing SEO competitor data on a mobile phone
Don’t be afraid to imitate the success of your adversaries. Put your own spin on it.

Don’t forget to include your own SEO performance metrics in your competitive analysis. Do a side-by-side comparison to see how you rank. What is your average position? Keyword distribution? Average visibility? Compare short-term metrics against long-term metrics and identify patterns (good and bad) to help you better refine your future SEO tactics. Repeat this analysis on a regular basis to track your efforts over time.

4) “Borrow” Great Ideas

One of the biggest payoffs from a detailed competitor keyword analysis and SEO checkup is that you can adopt the activities that are working well for your SEO competitors and make them your own. Don’t stop there, however; look for ways to improve on them and gain an edge in the market. Hone the right keyword list based on search volume, relevance, and profitability. It should be part of your regular marketing routine to measure performance and seek ways to perform incrementally better every day.

With a combination of good, old-fashioned manual research and applying the right SEO competitor analysis tool, you’ll have the information you need to rise to the top in SEO rankings. Remember to identify all of the competitors in your market (not just those who sell the same products and services as your company), periodically reassess their activities, and adapt successes to build your own wildly successful strategy.

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Eric Steiner

Eric Steiner graduated with an MFA in professional and creative writing from Western Connecticut State University in 2014. He's worked on a number of professional writing projects with clients such as Pearson Education,, and Michael Mailer Films. Giving brands a voice is his passion.

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