In case you don’t know this yet, your search engine positioning determines just how popular your business is online. If people can’t find your website, it’s almost as if your brand doesn’t exist in the digital space.

Let’s back these claims with some numbers. Of all trackable organic website traffic, 53 percent is generated via search engines. In addition, the first Google result for a keyword of preference sees a 32 percent click through rate (CTR) on desktop and a 26.9 percent CTR on mobile.

An astounding 68 percent of online activities start with a search engine and 75 percent of Google users will never click past the first page of results. This is why you need to have your website optimized and positioned well for the keywords that make the most sense within the specific industry.

Competitor analysis and keyword research are vital for optimizing your search engine performance. But what techniques hide behind those terms? How do you master keyword ranking approaches in a world that’s so highly competitive and dynamic?

What Is Competitor Analysis?

SEO involves a lot more than the work you do on your own website. That’s because your pages don’t operate in a vacuum. Your performance is linked to the performance of other similar websites. This is why you need to do competitor analysis and discover “weaknesses” your strategy could exploit.

Put in simple terms, competitor analysis refers to researching the keywords and phrases that other industry representatives are optimizing their websites for. You can be doing keyword competitor analysis alongside exploration of other relevant strategies like link building and online reputation monitoring.

Competitor analysis gives you a good idea about what’s going on in the sphere. You can easily pinpoint popular keywords and the ones that lots of websites are struggling to rank well for. By knowing these keywords, you can choose alternatives and niche phrases that will help you increase keyword ranking.

The Benefits of Competitive Analysis

Doing keyword competitor analysis and overall SEO strategy competitor analysis will reveal a couple of important things.

The competitiveness of a keyword depends on its popularity among industry reps and the level of overall competitiveness in the industry. Thus, you can easily identify new trends, customer requirements and areas that leave room for growth in the digital realm.

Doing competitive analysis will result in a number of key benefits as far as your digital marketing strategy goes:

  • Improved search engine traffic volume
  • A higher return on investment
  • An opportunity to build your niche reputation within an industry (especially if you offer somewhat specialized solutions)
  • A chance to outperform some of the strongest competitors in the field without having to spend a lot on marketing
  • Overall strengthening of your digital reputation and online brand

Essentials for Successful Keyword Competitors Research

All of this sounds great but can you do keyword analysis like a pro without having access to specialized tools and resources?

The short answer is yes.

Here are the key steps you’ll need to undertake in order to gather essential intelligence:

  • Identify your biggest competition: before moving on to keyword research, you have to know which websites act as your biggest competition in the respective realm. Luckily, you can count on Google and social media for this purpose. In addition, you already know some of the businesses attempting to attract the same clients as you, whether locally or nationally. Add them to your research list before moving on to the next step.
  • Do keyword research: this is the heart and soul of competitive analysis. The aim of this step is to identify the keywords that competitors have managed to optimize their websites for. There are several tools you can use for this purpose. Through Google Alerts, you can explore content that has achieved good rankings for the keywords that you’re interested in. Alexa allows you to find out what competitors are doing. You simply need to enter the URL of a competitor’s website and you’ll receive a ton of valuable information about their search engine performance (including the keywords that they’ve achieved good positioning for). SpyFu and Semrush are two of the other must-try tools if you want to gather enough intelligence related to competitor search engine performance.
  • Use the information to finetune your content creation and online reputation establishment efforts: now that you know where competitors are excelling, you can come up with a better content creation strategy in order to target the right keywords. It’s up to you to determine whether you’re going to attempt ranking for some of the most popular industry keywords or if you’d try carving out a very specific niche. The first approach can give you higher search volume (but you’ll need to put a lot more effort into making it happen) while the second one will facilitate SEO efforts and give you access to a very targeted audience.

Competitor Analysis Is Great for Targeting Paid Search, As Well

Organic keyword ranking isn’t the only opportunity worth exploring, especially if you’re carrying out a large scale marketing campaign at the moment.

Paid search allows you to target some of the popular industry keywords that you’ll find difficult to rank organically for.

Chances are that some of your competitors are also investing in paid search to enhance their SEO strategy. It’s a good idea to explore the paid keywords that they’re using in their advertising endeavors. Next, you can pinpoint more affordable keywords for your campaigns (the cost of paid search depends on the popularity of keywords) while attempting to target high volume keywords organically.

Usually, a hybrid approach that uses PPC campaigns and organic SEO is a great opportunity to kickstart the popularity of your online presence.  Ultimately, you should have a list of keywords to target organically and a separate one that may be useful for paid search. Employing these keywords in content creation efforts, as well as pinpointing weaknesses in the SEO of competitors (poor backlink strategy, low content quality, a poor user experience, fairly low online reputation) will allow you to make the most of your online presence and outreach efforts.