Search engine optimization (SEO) is an ever-evolving strategy. What worked years ago likely won’t work today. And what works today may not work tomorrow.
That’s why keeping up with the latest SEO best practices is critical. It’s also important to closely monitor your competitors and learn from their actions.
Analyzing and reacting to competitors’ SEO is known as competitive insights for SEO. It’s one of the most effective ways to improve your SEO and organic search rankings.
What Is Competitor SEO?
In the quest to rank higher in search engines, one of the most valuable activities is researching and analyzing your competitors.
Competitor SEO, sometimes called comparative SEO analysis, means studying the websites currently outranking you for important keywords. The goal is to understand why they rank well and uncover opportunities to overtake them.
You gain useful intel by thoroughly examining competitors’ on-page optimization, backlinks, content, and overall SEO strategy. Essentially, your rivals are conducting free research for you!
Follow this 10-step guide to overthrow your competition with competitor SEO in 2023:
1. Find Your Competitors
The first step is identifying who your main SEO competitors are. These are websites targeting the same keywords as you in your niche.
Start by looking at who ranks above you for important target keywords. To generate this data, you can use tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs, or Google Search Console.
Look beyond domain names, too. Two sites may be targeting the exact keywords but on different landing pages. Identify specific competitor pages.
2. Discover Their Backlink Profile
Backlinks remain one of the most important ranking factors in 2023. Study how your competitors are building links through:
- Link building tactics – Guest posts? Resource pages?
- Link building sources – What sites are linking to them?
- Link profile metrics – Total links? Domain authority? etc.
Again, SEMrush, Ahrefs, Majestic, or Moz SEO Tools can provide this data.
3. Analyze Their On-Page SEO
Optimizing on-page SEO factors properly will earn you rankings. See what your competitors are doing with:
- Page titles and meta descriptions – How compelling and keyword optimized are they?
- Headers and content – How prominently placed are target keywords?
- Page speed and technical SEO – Is their site fast and mobile-friendly?
Use ScreamingFrog or Google Lighthouse to analyze pages.
4. Check Their Local SEO Signals
For local SEO, look at how competitors optimize:
- Google My Business listing – Complete and optimized? Lots of photos/posts?
- Local schema markup
- Citations and directory listings
- Reviews and reputation management
Moz Local, BrightLocal, and Yext can help analyze local SEO competitors.
5. Review Their Content Strategy
You can learn a lot about content optimization from competitors:
- Publishing frequency – Daily? Weekly? Monthly?
- Content types – Blog posts? Videos? Podcasts?
- Content topics – What subjects are they targeting?
- Content promotion – Are they distributing content?
BuzzSumo can analyze competitors’ content.
6. Check Out Their Social Media Presence
A strong social media presence boosts SEO through backlinks, engagement, and authority building.
Research competitor social accounts and strategy on:
Use FollowerWonk, BuzzSumo, and social media analytics to compare.
7. Monitor Their Paid Search Efforts
What PPC keywords are competitors targeting? This shows what terms may be worth bidding on.
You can see competitors’ text ads by actively searching Google and Bing. Or use tools like SEMrush PPC research and SpyFu to analyze paid search accounts.
8. Keep Tabs on Their Site Changes
The best way to see competitors’ SEO strategy is to monitor their site for changes regularly.
Set up automated change detection alerts in SEMrush, Ahrefs, or Moz. Watch for changes to:
- Title tags and meta descriptions
- Content and backlinks
- Ranking fluctuations for target keywords
9. Check Google Search Results
Analyze Google search results for your most important keywords. Are competitors showing up here? What needs to change to outrank them?
Sort results by the past month to see recent changes. Use advanced search operators to filter and compare.
10. Learn, Improve, Optimize!
The final step is acting on everything you’ve learned about the SEO competitor analysis.
Identify opportunities to:
- Strengthen technical/on-page optimization
- Earn more backlinks
- Improve content strategy
- Leverage social media and local SEO
- React to their paid search efforts
Keep optimizing your SEO strategy based on what’s working for the competition. Stay one step ahead, and you’ll rank #1.
Competing in SEO doesn’t mean “copying” competitors. However, analyzing what top-ranking sites do right does give incredible insight into current best practices.
Use these 10 tips to research competitor SEO, then make data-driven decisions to overtake them. With this process, you’ll outrank the competition and achieve higher organic search visibility in 2023!