A Concise Introduction to Competitor Research

search marketing

Often overlooked, competitor research should be a key part of your SEO strategy. Analysing the top-ranking pages and websites that the search engines find most relevant for your target keywords is a very important strategy in your SEO and online marketing campaign.

Who Are Your Competitors?

Your competitors are those websites that offer the same services as you, and are ranking organically for the same keywords you want to rank for. So, let’s assume you are a Northampton based boudoir photography business that offers boudoir photoshoots through your website.

Since you can only offer your services within the Northampton area, the competitors you should be concerned with are those websites that are ranking on the first page of the search engines for keywords like “boudoir photography northampton” or “boudoir northampton”. Competitor analysis can uncover why those websites are ranking high on the search results pages, and how you can improve your own competitive advantage.

Search engine algorithms are a closely guarded secret, and Google is known to use over 200 ranking factors when analyzing a site for organic search. For each ranking factor, it’s practically impossible to know exactly what the search engine considers to be a “perfect” score. But by continually analyzing the top ranking pages, you can get meaningful clues because they are the most consistently ranked sites for top keyword categories.

As far as competitor analysis is concerned, it is not always straightforward to identify your true competitors. This is because you cannot consider top ranking pages in your niche as competitors if those websites have been able to successfully establish a great level of trust with Google over the years. What makes this difficult is that Google tends to relax the rules for trusted, well-established domains.

This means that once a website has established trust with Google, they will not be subject to the same scrutiny as a relatively new website. This means they will be able to get away with certain SEO practices that could earn a newly established site a penalty.

Searching For Linkbuilding Opportunities

To search for potential link prospects on Google, simply do a search for a keyword that a potential buyer to your stie would typically use to search for content about your site’s topic. This will bring up the top ranking sites in your niche, which are not necessarily your competitors. But resarching the backlinks of those top ranking sites can lead to a goldmine of link building opportunities for your business, which you wouldn’t otherwise have been able to discover.

Generally, the fastest way to increase your organic ranking is to try to get links from the same sites that are linking to the top ten search results of your target keywords.

Using Ahrefs

Ahrefs is one of the best tools that you can use to quickly find websites that are linking to top ranking sites in your niche, which include your competitors.

  1. Go to the Best Pages by Backlinks report
  2. Set Http to 200. This will give you a list of pages on your competitors’ website that have generated the most backlinks.

Link Intersect

Ahref’s Link Intersect tool allows you to easily find sites that link to your competitors’ pages, but don’t link to you.

Ahrefs Link Intersect

Make sure to strip the protocol from each url when you add them to the tool. Use the prefix setting for better results. This will give you the websites that have linked to your competitor, but haven’t linked to you, which will be perfect outreach targets.

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