How to undertake an SEO competitor analysis


Some business owners will believe that investing in organic SEO means that they can see results straightaway.

However, for those that know a bit more about SEO, they will know that organic SEO is a slow process but can often take many months, if not sometimes years to see results.

And what stands in the way of your business ranking on the first page of Google?

Well, quite simply put it is your competitors.

To put it more precisely it your competitors ranking factors.

Now we are going to have to get a bit technical here, so if you want to grab a cuppa tea or coffee this would be the right time to do it.

Every single website in Google’s index has been indexed by Googlebot, it is Googlebot which will use the algorithm to calculate how strong your businesses ranking factors are.

Now there are thought to be over 200 different ranking factors, however these are page to your direct competitors.

Now as you might’ve guessed where this is going, the businesses that have the strongest ranking factors will rank on the first page of Google

that’s the say the businesses that have the strongest ranking factors across 200 different ranking factors will often rank on the first page of Google

The businesses that have low which ranking factors will rank lower, for example they may rank on say page 8 of Google.

This is where an SEO agency can help, they should therefore improve the strength of your businesses ranking factors, so that you can close the gap between you and your competitors.

Therefore to get your business onto the first page of Google, your business must have stronger ranking factors than the businesses that are currently ranked their, for example if your business has the ninth strongest ranking factors for that keyword, then you will rank ninth for that keyword.

However, here is where things get complicated, your competitors will have been improving the strength of their SEO ranking factors possibly for a long time, possibly for many years

so, if you are just getting started in business, you might have a lot of catching up to do.

And why do we say this?

While quite simply put, your competitors might have hundreds of good-quality backlinks, hundreds of well written content marketing, very strong on-site SEO and very strong off-site SEO.

Quite simply put the SEO company might’ve spent hundreds of hours over multiple years improving the businesses organic and local SCO.

Therefore in order for your business to overtake those businesses, your marketing agency, or your business will have to accrue stronger SEO in order to overtake those businesses.

Once more all of this work must be white hat, if the work is not white hat, then your business will most likely incur a penalty which means that your business could be removed from Google

so it’s about finding a agency which can offer you high-quality work, yet another work in another quantity to start closing the gap between you and your direct competitors.

Now before any SEO work is undertaken, the marketing agency should write a marketing strategy, yet before a marketing strategy can be written the business should undertake a competitor analysis.

What is an SEO competitor analysis?

There’s no point in going into battle with water pistols, if your direct competitors own tanks.

And this is the exact concept this should be taken when your business is about to invest in SEO.

That’s the say there will always be agencies which are willing to take your marketing budget, yet if your marketing budget is a complete drop in the ocean compared to what your direct competitors have been spending, then you are unlikely to see results.

So what’s the solution, when the solution is simple you first have to wait the competitions SEO, you have to evaluate how strong competitors SEO is, so that you can calculate how much work is needed and in what areas.

For example, the agency might see that your competitors have thousands of good-quality do follow and no follow backlinks.

These have been accrued over a very long period of time, and the backlinks come from high-quality sources.

So this is a clear indication to the marketing agency that a lot of work needs to be undertaken, they may then move onto evaluating your competitors content marketing.

The agency may see that your competitors have been writing high quality content marketing for a very long period of time, they will therefore note that a lot of time is needed in order to create high quality content marketing as well.

Finally they may evaluate your competitors on-site SEO, and see that your competitors have invested heavily in good website design, coupled with strong on-site SEO which is meant is that the business has a low bounce rate and also is optimised for a wide range of different keywords.

So what does all this mean?

When it simply means that you are going up against strong competition, and therefore the marketing budget must reflect this.

If it does not reflect this, then the marketing agency may cut corners, if they cut corners which is strongly not advised, then they may not follow white hat methods, if they do not follow white hat methods then your business could incur a penalty

Why is it important to undertake an competitor analysis

it is important to undertake a SEO competitor analysis, quite simply because you need to know how strong your direct competitors are.

For example, a business that has a very limited marketing budget, can often not go up against businesses that have invested heavily in SEO

that’s not to sound defeatist, it is in reality being realistic, because if the business needs hundreds of good-quality backlinks then this will mean hundreds of hours if not thousands of hours will be needed.

If the business simply has not got the marketing budget for thousands of hour’s worth of work, then they are unlikely to overtake the competition

High-value products, or highly competitive business sectors, often mean that these businesses will be investing heavily in organic SEO.

This means that they will have invested heavily to get their business onto the first page of Google, but it often means that they are also willing to invest heavily in order to retain apposition within the organic results, and not to let other businesses overtake them easily.

Therefore if an agency states that they can do the work on a small marketing budget, then it has to be asked whether or not they are using “white hat methods”, if they are not using white hat methods then the business could incur a penalty.

How it can help to create your digital marketing strategy

Often when a business start-up, it needs to generate sales straightaway, now you have to keep in mind that organic SEO takes a long time regardless of how much marketing budget you have.

Therefore undertaking an SEO competitor analysis, will allow you to weigh up roughly how long it will take the marketing agency to get the business, onto the first page of Google’s organic results

now, if the agency believes that it will take a very long time, you may wish to come up with a strategy way you can use say pay per click to also generate sales.

That’s the say for some digital marketing agencies they take a blended approach, where they use pay per click in order to generate sales immediately, if they are also working at the same time to improve the businesses organic.

Therefore an SEO competitor analysis is not just about weighing up your direct competitors organic SEO, it is coming up with a strategy of how the business can generate sales while the marketing agency is working hard to improve the businesses organic SEO.

Overall your competitors look to be following white hat SEO methods?

Now, first things first, before you start evaluating your competitor’s organic SEO, and weighing up how much work is needed, you have to make sure that they are using “white hat” methods

There is absolutely no point whatsoever in evaluating your website, with another business’s website, if the other business is not using white hat methods.

That’s because, if your competitors are not using white hat methods then they could incur a penalty and they could be removed from Google

so we would only recommend that you evaluate company websites that are using white hat methods.

What are SEO keywords?

Okay, this is one of the first tasks that our marketing agency will carry out

that is working out which keywords your competitors have optimise their company website for.

For example, let’s say that you run a large car dealership, and you are competing with other large car dealerships within the area.

If you have noticed that your direct competitors have optimise their websites for car brands.

And this makes a lot of sense, because the car brands that they have optimise their website for are also the vehicles that you sell, and are your bestselling vehicles.

Therefore you may wish to also optimise your website for these car brands.


How do you work out which keywords your competitors have optimised their company website for?

Well, a digital marketing agency might look at the businesses source code, you may also use an SEO to to evaluate which titles, meta descriptions, meta titles, anchor text and also backlinks the business are using.

This will then give a good idea which keywords the businesses optimising it website for.

For example it can be a range of car brands, it could be car dealership plus the name of the city, it could be garage plus the name of the city, you then have to work out which keywords should be focused on first.

For example will it be too difficult to try and optimise for the main keyword, will this take too much time?

Would you prefer to optimise the website for a long tail, so that you can start generating sales quicker?

The competitors that you are comparing against do they rank for a range of different keywords

sometimes, some agencies start to evaluate the competitors SEO based on one main keyword, however as any good digital marketing agency will know it’s far better to optimise the website for a range of different keywords.

Now what do we mean by this, well let’s say for example that you sell electrical goods online.

It’s all well and good optimising your website for washing machines, but if you also sell let’s say televisions, dishwashers and also fridge freezers, which were not concentrating on optimising for these terms, then you may generate more sales for washing machines but not the rest of the items.

Therefore your marketing agency has to take a diversified approach, that’s the say they had to optimise the website was many different keywords as they can.

This is so that it increases your chances of generating more sales across a range of products rather than just concentrating on one product group like washing machines


What is the search volume?

Also you may have some agencies stating that they have got your business onto the first page of Google, in just a matter of weeks, now this is all well and good but if the search volume is low, meaning that nobody is searching for that term then what’s the point?

Let’s return back to our example of the car dealership, you may sell one particular car brand in a high volume, yet the agency has not got your website to rank for this term plus the name of your city.

Instead they’ve got your website to rank for “we are a car dealership that stocks brand X of car”

well as any business owner will know, that is unlikely to be searched for because it is such a long sentence that nobody is likely to search for it so it will have a very low search volume or no search volume at all.

So therefore the marketing agency has achieved somewhat of an empty victory.

Therefore it’s not just about getting your business onto the first page of  Google, it’s about making sure that your business get onto the first page of Google for the keywords that are more likely to generate your business more income.

Now of course these keywords will have a lot of competition, that’s the say a lot of other businesses will also want to rank for these keywords, that is why you must set a realistic marketing budget with your marketing agency make sure that enough work can be implemented every single month to improve your businesses SEO for those keywords.

The alternative to this is an SEO agency that just get your business to rank on the first page of Google for long tail keywords which have a low search volume and may not generate the amount of sales that your business had hoped for

Does the design of your website need to be improved?

Organic SEO is not just about improving the businesses on-site and off-site SEO, it’s also about website design, that’s because if the website design is poor, in that the website is difficult to use then your business is likely to have a very high bounce rate.

Now what do we mean by this, well your agency might succeed in getting your business onto the first page for various car dealership terms.

Your car dealership sells thousands of different cars, yet what is the point in being ranked on the first page of Google, if your business then has a really high bounce rate?

And that really high bounce rate might because by poor website design.

Therefore the SEO agency may recommend that certain elements of the design is improved, for example the main menu might need to be improved or allowing more options for your customers to sort products might be needed.

For example by using split testing, your web design agency may notice that by allowing your customers to better sort the range of cars that you stock, that the bounce rate drastically decreases and your sales go up.

So the point that we are trying to make here is that it’s not just all about improving your businesses organic SEO, sometimes it’s about improving the design of your website as well.

How many good quality backlinks have your competitors got?

This is a important factor that your agency must consider, that is how many backlinks have your competitors got?

Now it’s not just about the number of backlinks, it’s about how many high quality backlinks your competitors have.

As if your business has low quality backlinks then this could mean that the penalties incurred.

Therefore the backlinks need to be built in a white hat way and they need to be high quality

Have your competitors been building backlinks for a long time?

If your direct competitors have been building backlinks for a very long time, let’s say your direct competitors have been building a lot of high quality do follow backlinks for say the last eight years, then your business will have a lot of catching up to do.

This means that you may need a SEO agency that employs a lot of backlinks builders, that are able to build backlinks in a white hat way.

That’s because your competitors might have thousands of do follow high quality backlinks, and in order for your business to overtake those businesses, your business might need thousands of good-quality backlinks as well

Does the anchor text look naturally written?

Does it look like your competitors have naturally written anchor text?

You might be wondering what anchor text means, well anchor text is simply the text that you click on in order to follow a link.

Now it is not recommended that you keep using anchor text as the words that you want your business to rank for, as this is likely to cause a penalty.

This is why your SEO agency should work out which keywords that your competitors are using in the anchor text

this can sometimes give your marketing agency an idea of which keywords the business is focusing it SEO efforts on

Are there are a mixture of do follow and no follow backlinks?

You should aim to have a mixture of “do-follow” and “no-follow” backlinks.

All of the backlinks, regardless of whether they are no follow or do follow should be built in a white hat way and this should be high quality.

If the backlinks are high quality, and they will send link juice which can help to improve your businesses organic SEO.

Would it appear that he freelancer or a an agency has been building backlinks in a white hat way?

You have to employ an agency that is committed to building backlinks in a white hat way, if you do not build backlinks in a white hat way in your business could incur an algorithmic penalty.

Your business could also incur a manual penalty.


How many do-follow backlinks have your competitors got?

You have to consider how many do follow backlinks your competitors have, for example if they have thousands then you will often need a lot of time from your marketing agency in order your business to build thousands of good-quality backlinks.

Again it’s worth reiterating the point that all backlinks should be built in a “white hat” way.

How long does it appear that your competitors have been investing in organic SEO?

Your agency should have a rough idea of when your competitors have started investing in SEO, for example when did they first start publishing content marketing, when did they first start building high-quality backlinks, when did first start building business citations?

Then this will give you a rough idea of how long the business has been investing in organic SEO

if the business has been investing for a very long time, let’s say for the last nine years, then obviously your business will have a lots of catching up to do

How many no follow backlinks have your competitors got?

some marketing agencies make the mistake of thinking that the business should only build do follow backlinks, that’s the say the should also build no follow backlinks, that’s the say you should have a mixture of do follow and no follow backlinks

how long has your competitors been publishing content marketing?

Your business should be publishing high quality content marketing, that’s the say the work should have a high word count, it should also be high quality and written in a white hat way.

For example if your direct competitors have been publishing content marketing the say the last nine years, then you will know that your business will have a lot of work to do.

For example, a solicitor’s practice might be publishing content marketing three times a month, and you may notice on average that your competitors have been doing this for the last nine years, therefore your business will have a lot of content marketing to be writing and a lot of catching up to do, however this must be done in a white hat way

Have your competitors got in low bounce rate?

Your business should constantly strive to lower its bounce rate.

Do the backlinks look like they’ve been built in a white hat way?

You should evaluate whether your competitors have been building backlinks in a “white hat” way, we say this because during a link analysis, your agency should be able to say whether the backlinks are quality or not.

Your business should only obtain high-quality backlinks, you should not obtain low-quality backlinks as this could mean that your business incurs a Google penalty.

How have your competitors improve their on-site SEO?

How have your direct competitors been improving their on-site SEO.

Let’s say for example that your business sells electric bikes, how have your competitors been improving their on-site SCO to better optimise the company website for electric bikes

For example, having been optimising the website for different electric bike brands, have they been writing a lot of content marketing which answers questions that your business is often asked.

For example, a lot of people might ask what is the range of electric bike, before the electric bike needs to be recharged?

You might write a piece of content marketing that receives thousands of organic visitors, they may read this article and then look at the electric bikes that you sell and they may make you purchase from your company.

Therefore content marketing can help to improve your businesses sales, so you should evaluate how your competitors have been writing their content marketing.

For example have your competitors been using content marketing which has written text and also includes YouTube videos?

Does your business wish to use YouTube videos?

Will using YouTube videos how to reduce your businesses bounce rate?

Does your business wish to use split testing?

Your web design company can help you to use this to see whether adding YouTube videos helps to reduce your businesses overall bounce rate


Which titles have your competitors been using on each page?

Meta titles and meta descriptions

How have your competitors been writing their meta titles and meta descriptions for each page.

Has a meta title and meta description been written that every single product page?

Evergreen content marketing

How good is the businesses “evergreen content marketing”, has it been written in a white hat way?

Could your business publish better quality “evergreen content marketing”?

when your competitors publish a blog post what is the word count of the content marketing?

When your competitors write a piece of content marketing, what is the word count, are they writing content marketing which has over say 3000 words on average, should your businesses content marketing be the same length.

However we have to say it’s not all about word count, the content marketing must be well written and it must be high quality.

What do we mean by high quality?

What we mean by high quality is that it must be useful to your customers, it must not just focus on improving your businesses organic SCO, it must instead answer a question that your customers frequently ask your business.

For example, in the case of electric bikes, you might get asked do electric bikes need to be maintained often?

You may therefore wish to publish a lengthy article which explains how to properly maintain your electric bike, this article might get a lot of organic visitors.

This article might be so good that it attracts a lot of do follow high quality backlinks, these backlinks might help to improve your businesses SEO.

Does the content marketing look like it is being researched?

If the business has invested in cheap SEO, then often the content marketing will only have a few hundred word count, and not be researched.

However if the company has gone to a respected high quality SCO company, then they are likely to write a long article which is being researched, which will include anchor text backlinks to sources from where the information has been sourced.

For example, the article might be about the “bestselling electric bikes in the UK”, then the publisher might include a link to a newspaper article which has stated what the bestselling electric bikes are, therefore it shows that the article has been researched, and that the author has published a link to where it has obtained their information

Content marketing

The businesses content marketing must be high-quality


the online marketing agency may recommend that new pages are added to your website in order for you to improve your organic SCO

Are your competitors using social media?

Are your competitors using social media, if so, does your business want to also use social media?

Are they using Facebook?

Are you using Facebook?

Are you using Twitter?

Are your competitors using Twitter

How often are your competitors updating their website?

How often do your competitors update their website in terms of adding content marketing?

We are a white hat Cardiff SEO company, if your business requires WordPress web design or help to improve its organic SCO then why not give us a ring