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SEO Competitor Analysis: A complete guide you need to know

This is a comprehensive guide for you to gain visibility in the search results by doing SEO competitor analysis.

You will learn:

  • The importance of SEO competitor analysis in SEO.
  • Know steps to analyze competitor’s SEO effectively.
  • Understand the features of competitor analysis tools. 
  • Know more about our favorite tool – RankingGap

The more relevant your content is to search queries, the better the chance of someone finding your content. For SEO, you want the keywords you use in your content to be relevant to the keywords people search in Google searches. 

Most people find these keywords at a glance after looking through the Search Engine Result Page. However, there might be one place you can overlook: your competitors’ keywords.

Monitoring and trying to be better than your direct competitors is what keeps the brand ahead. In this situation, doing SEO competitor analysis to learn more about your rivals, their strengths, the gaps, etc., is what you should try out.

SEO competitor analysis involves several steps such as competitor keyword analysis, identifying link-building opportunities, etc. 

However, before we discuss each step in detail, let’s first understand the why.

Why do we need SEO Competitor Analysis?

First of all, 92.42% of keywords get ten monthly searches or fewer. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 57% of marketing executives say on-page content development was the most effective SEO tactic. 

So if you can not find out the most relevant keywords for your content, you can not get more traffic to rank higher. 

Competitive keyword analysis helps you identify your top direct online competitors and the top keywords they are using in their campaigns. You’ll get to know what keywords or phrases rank well in search results and what they don’t. This, in turn, tells you what keyword you can try to snatch from them.

What are the other benefits you can get from doing SEO competitor analysis?

SEO competitor analysis can help you a lot of things

#1. Find out keywords you’ve omitted

You can always dig deep in your keyword research to identify the right keywords and to eventually publish top-notch content. However, this is very one-dimensional and will lead to tunnel vision.

Competitor SEO analysis is also instrumental in finding out valuable keywords that you might have overlooked in the past. Most competitor SEO analysis tools now let you compare your SEO keywords with the competitor’s to uncover the keywords missing in your campaign.

#2. It gives you a competitive advantage: 

Only by completing SEO competitor analysis, you can get an accurate idea of where they stand in their field.

Real competitive intelligence about your rivals improves all aspects of SEO. It lets you know who you ought to be looking to outrank on SERPs.

Competitor analysis can serve as a road map for what you need to do to improve your search rankings and visitor experience. You’ll always find aspects of your competitors’ websites that are superior to your own, such as them having certain topics that rank much higher than you.

#3. Discover keywords that work: 

Using SEO competitor research tools, you can find out the full list of keywords your primary competitors use, along with the number of clicks received for each keyword, and overall search volume.

There are three main elements you need to know first when doing competitor keyword analysis:

  • The difficulty involved in challenging your competitors. You can identify these through CPC, Volume, Trend, or Competitive percentage.
  • The gap: keywords that your rivals rank for, but don’t. 
  • The long-tail keywords with lower search volume. These keywords may have lower search volume, but they will be easier to rank for (and yet still deliver notable results in organic traffic.) 

How to perform SEO Competitor Analysis?

There are 3 simple steps for you to perform your SEO competitor analysis.

Steps to perform SEO competitor analysis

#1. Establish your buyer personas.

First and foremost, you need to define your audience and their needs. 

With the rise of social media and branded online communities, more people are online and active than ever before, providing more data and insights to inform your keyword research.

Especially when the market is constantly getting more competitive and finding the correct keywords is paramount, your keyword research efforts can make or break your online efforts if you can not target your right audience.

For example, if you have a dessert shop, it is common for you to target young people from 15-25 years old, who enjoy delicious treats and want a comfortable atmosphere to sit down.

Segmenting your ideal customer into specific buyer personas takes your marketing to a whole new level. When you know what your customers want, you can get the relevant keyword and go straight to their pain point.

#2. Identify key competitors:

First, you’ll need to figure out who you’re really competing with so you can compare the data accurately. What works in a business similar to yours may not work for your brand. 

So how can you do this? You can divide your “competitors” into two categories: direct and indirect. Direct competitors are businesses that offer a product or service that could pass as a similar substitute for yours and operate in your same geographic area.

An indirect competitor provides products that are not the same but could satisfy the same customer need or solve the same problem. These two terms are often misused. When comparing your brand, you should only focus on your direct competitors. This is something many brands get wrong.

For example, your dessert shop’s direct competitors are the dessert shops operating nearby. Indirect competitors are groceries that sell desserts like ice cream or cakes.

Besides finding them manually, you can use RankingGap to discover your competitors with the “Competitor Discovery” feature. 

A bubble chart will be shown, showing you competitors with different ranges of opportunities and traffic. By placing your competitors on 2 axes (opportunity and traffic), RankingGap can help you analyze and compare the different competitors much easier. 

By clicking on a specific competitor, you can also get information about your competitors, including the common keywords, the estimated volume of web traffic, and the percentage of keywords on the first page of SERP.

#3. Use a competitor keyword analysis tool to explore what the competition looks like:

Keyword competition analysis is the process of evaluating how the top rankings fare when it comes to the most important SEO factors, including their use of specific keywords.

As long as people use words and phrases to search for things online, keywords will always be relevant (and I don’t see this going away anytime soon). When it comes to keywords, what’s changing is the types of keywords you use and how they fit into your overall marketing strategy.

You may think that there are many steps to do when searching for the relevant keywords. But there is a simple way to do this: by doing a competitor keyword analysis.

How these tools support SEO Competitor Analysis

  • See your Keyword Rankings: The feature helps you see your ranking progress and impression share in a glance. 
  • Complete Keyword Ranking Profile: Not just the keywords that you’ve known, It also shows you the ranking of keywords that you may not be aware of.
  • Spy on your SEO Competition: You can keep track of every website in your SEO niche. Catching changes in rankings and content over time with some report features is easy.
  • Research Competitors SEO Keywords: Search for a competitor. Download all their ranking keywords for a thorough analysis. It’s that simple.

While using a tool to analyze competitors’ SEO, the basics are about finding the common and the gap between you and your rivals. Then how can you do that?

 Let me show you 2 detailed use cases of doing SEO competitor analysis with RankingGap: find the common, find the gap, and eventually finding the opportunities in your keywords.

RankingGap - one incredible SEO competitor analysis

Use case 1: Find common keywords that you and your competitors ranked

Starting with the most straightforward way of performing keyword research tasks with RankingGap, you want to know what keywords both you and your competitors share.

First, you need to create a project by inserting your domain and your competitors’ as well as picking your location and language setting.

Once you’ve generated your project, go to the “Common” keyword view, which you are already on by default.

In that tab, you’ll see a list of keywords with your competitors’ ranking positions as compared to yours.

RankingGap - one incredible SEO competitor analysis

In the columns, you can see keywords displayed, ranking of you and all our competitors. 

Of course, not everyone shares the same ranking. If you rank lower than your competitors, you need to note those keywords.

However, to choose the right keywords to optimize, you also need to consider other characteristics like CPC, Volume, SERP feature, or competitive.

Use case 2: Discover the gaps in your competitor’s strategies

After finding out common keywords, you might think about the gaps. The keyword views “Missing” and “Gap” in RankingGap can help you identify the bridge from your competitors’ keyword strategies to yours.

The “Missing” keyword view not only shows you what you are lacking or running behind in your website’s keyword strategy, but it also shows the weakness of your competitors.

RankingGap - one incredible SEO competitor analysis

For example, how low domain A  is ranking for a particular keyword as compared to domain B and C. Why is domain A ranking lower? Is it because of the content?

Secondly, the “Gap” keyword view lets you tap into the keywords you don’t have and keywords that some of your competitors are missing as well. 

RankingGap - one incredible SEO competitor analysis

Through RankingGap, you can see many things to create your marketing strategy. Nothing can be better than knowing your competitor’s weaknesses or threats to compete against. 

You’re way ahead of them in the SEO game if you think about it. When you have less competition for a keyword, that’s where you can aim your following content at.

Use case 3: Strengthen Your Winning Keywords.

You know the things in common and the gap with your competitors. Now is the time for you to look at your keywords.

You first need to check the keywords your site already ranked for by checking it out at the “Unique” keyword view.  Then you’ll notice that some keywords are performing well but still can be improved. 

By choosing the star, you can pin the keywords that you are paying attention to (like pinning your favorite tab in Chrome)

There is one tip for you: Target keywords that rank from 4th to 10th with a minimum search volume of 1000.

It is also worth checking out keywords ranked on the second page (position 20th). Some keywords actually rank at the top of the second page. So, with some optimization, you might be able to move them to the first page of the SERP!

So those were the three everyday use cases to perform an excellent SEO competitor analysis. RankingGap actually can help you with a lot more features. For example, discover your competitors with high-low assessment, filter your results to analyze data, etc.


Finding keywords are no longer simply about using keyword research tools. Getting them from your competitors should be one of your key strategies.

SEO competitor analysis should be an ongoing and ever-evolving part of your job as a marketer.

Old keyword need to be reevaluated, even if you are currently ranking for it. This is especially true when it comes to competitive keyword with high search volume, you don’t want to be losing them over to your competitors without you noticing. You can use something like RankingGap to know your enemy and improve your own SEO.

About Claire Le
A dog lover and a travelholic. Interested in digital marketing and content creating.