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How to conduct Competitor SERP Analysis for SEO

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SERP Analysis for SEO Infographic
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How to Conduct Competitor SERP Analysis - Video Walkthrough

What is a SERP Analysis?

Carrying out a SERP Analysis involves researching the top ranking websites within a Google Search Engine Results Page in order to determine if the specific keyword you want to rank for performs well.

It also gives you an insight into how to outrank your competitors.

SERP Analysis is a key element of SEO and keyword research, and has the potential to greatly increase your traffic and rankings within the Google Search Engine.

Carrying out a deep analysis of the SERPs that are relevant to your keywords is a technique to help your website become one of the top-ranking pages within the SERP.

Over half of all clicks within SERPs go to the first five results. Your goal when carrying out the SERP analysis process is to increase your ranking within organic Google search results and outrank these top-performing competitors.

The key to ranking high within search engine results is a combination of building a great backlink portfolio, including relevant keywords by carrying out keyword research, and creating outstanding content.

How do you ensure you are doing all of the above to a level that stands out from the competitors and top-ranking websites? This is where SEO Competitor SERP analysis will help.

SERP analysis allows you to determine the links, content, and keywords your competitors are using to rank so highly.

This means you can ensure you improve on these techniques and start optimizing your content to rank higher.

Why Should You Carry Out Competitor SERP Analysis?

Competitor SERP analysis allows you to make smart decisions about the type of content you should be implementing within your website.

Google SERP analysis takes the guesswork out of content creation, keyword research, and link building. The ability to analyze search results means you can identify keywords, create content and gain backlinks that have been proven to work.

Manual SERP analysis, or utilizing SERP analysis extensions, allows you to discover the SERP features that have resulted in success for your top-ranking competitors. You can then focus on building on that success.

With competitive Google SERP analysis, you can take a step back from the magnifying glass that you likely use to scrutinize your own content, and take a look at the overall market area and organic search results.

What type of content is performing well?

Why have those specific websites ended up on the first page within the SERP?

What do they have within their content that you don’t?

Competitive SERP analysis answers these questions and more.

The Importance of Keywords & User Search Intent

Before carrying out SERP Competitor analysis, you must determine the keyword that makes the most sense to analyze.

This is an important part of the keyword research process. Your chosen keyword should be relevant to your business and the type of customers you want to attract.

You also need to know the intent of the user who is searching for this keyword, as this will determine the type of content you create.

Determining user search intent is a key yet often overlooked element of keyword research. It allows you to increase organic traffic as well as your organic CTR (click-through-rate).

When searching for the keywords that you want to include in your SERP competitor analysis, novice webmasters often make the mistake of focusing on search volume alone.

A monthly volume of searches for a particular keyword does not guarantee that implementing this keyword will result in an increase in traffic to your site.

To maximize your potential of increasing traffic to your site, you should focus on the search intent of your potential customers.

Search intent is the main goal that a user has in mind when they carry out a search. 

Are they carrying out transactional queries?

Or how about navigational or informational searches?

By determining which type of search your visitor is conducting, you can ensure that your content matches your customer’s search intent.

Your content should provide them with useful, optimized information that will satisfy their query.

In order to understand the intent of your customers and effectively analyze your competitor’s content within SERPs, you have to be aware of who your ideal customer is.

Ultimately, Google cares about providing accurate and useful information to its users, and will provide them with the information that matches their intent most successfully.

The user experience is a key element of the SERP features, and will ultimately determine your ranking.

This means that carrying out the keyword research process and SERP analysis effectively can be very beneficial for your business.

Taking the time to analyze SERP features can help you to match and outdo the standards already present among competitors and help you to rank for all the keywords you could imagine.

On-Page SEO Competitor Analysis

You need to satisfy each of the pillars of SEO if you want your pages to rank successfully and produce results, so let’s start with On-Page SEO.

Choose Suitable Competitors

Once you know the keywords and search intent that are going to help you analyze SERPs, you need to determine suitable competitors to analyze!

The first step in manual SERP analysis is to perform a search using the keyword you wish to rank for. This is an important element of keyword research.

The sites ranking on the first page are those with the most page authority, and great quality backlink metrics.

When it comes to choosing suitable competitors that you should be aiming to outrank, also consider the following criteria:

  • Determine the type of content that you will be producing on your website. Will you mainly be putting out informative videos, blog posts, or perhaps different landing pages answering customer queries? You should only analyze competitors who produce content in line with your goals.
  • The type of content being produced by your competitor’s should also be of a high standard and have great page authority. You can use SEO tools like Surfer’s Content Analyzer, which is an SEO browser extension, to help you rank the quality of your competitors’ content.
  • The Surfer Content Analyzer will allow you to determine if your competitors’ content is semantically correct, of good quality and is relevant to your search terms. Read on to find out more about Surfer SEO, one of the best SERP analysis extensions on the market.
  • Consider results on the first five to ten pages within the Google search results. Websites will generally have great on-page SEO to rank this highly. You should aim to outdo them when writing your next article!
  • Exclude pages that draw the largest amounts of traffic. They likely rank so highly due to their domain authority and backlink profile.

Surfer Content Analysis

As we mentioned above, Surfer SEO operates a content analysis extension, which generates a score for your content based on its SEO performance.

Not only can you analyze your own content, you can also analyze the content of your top-ranking competitors.

It allows you to check out the other metrics that are key to the SEO of your competitors and gain even more keyword ideas.

By analyzing your competitors’ content, you can understand how they are gaining traffic and engagement, and the level of traffic and engagement you should be seeing within your own site.

To further analyze the content created by your competitors, you should note the type of content they are producing. This could be any of the following:

  • Blog post
  • Video Tutorial
  • Webinar
  • Infographics or visual aids
  • Case study
  • Interview
  • Ebook or written guide
  • Interactive content
  • Long-form article
  • Podcast
  • Featured snippets
  • Question and Answer boxes

This allows you to determine the type of content users within your market respond best to.

How well the competitor’s content matches up with user search intent is also crucial.

Importance of User Experience

Search engines like Google want to provide the best user experience possible, and will push content that is useful for their users.

By producing content that is comprehensive and answers your visitor’s queries in a format that they will engage with is a recipe for great content.

Long-form articles and guides give you a great chance to improve your traffic and outrank your competitors.

You can use a SERP checker or SERP analysis tools to check out the SEO metrics and on-page settings of your competitors’ content, like the keywords they implement and the quality of content they create.

However, there is a lot of value in thoroughly reading their content yourself and making an assessment of their standard.

This allows you to accurately compare the quality of their content and keyword research with your own and see where you may be able to improve.

Off-Page SEO

Once you’ve got some awesome and useful content put together, it is time to drive traffic to it, and backlinks from Off-Page SEO can help here.

Competitor Backlink Analysis

Off-page SEO involves the actions taken outside of your own website that have an effect on your position within SERPs.

Your backlink profile is an important element of your off-page SEO, and allows you to increase your domain authority page by page within your site.

Creating great content is always going to be a key factor in the ranking of your website.

However, gaining credible backlinks from high authority domains is a tried and true method of increasing organic traffic to your site when a user performs a Google search for your relevant keywords.

The more trustworthy your website appears to Google, the more likely they are to push your content to their users.

Your backlink profile remains a top three Google ranking factor. This means if your competitors have a great backlink profile, they are going to outrank you within SERPs.

This is why analyzing the backlinks of your competitors is a great help when it comes to improving your own backlink profile.

Using one of the many available SEO tools to uncover the backlinks of your competitors can give you a jumping-off point to tweak your backlink portfolio, and show you a roadmap of where to go next.

Not only should you analyze the quality of your own backlink profile, you can also use SEO tools and Google extensions to determine the backlink portfolio of your competitors.

The competitor analysis you carry out should cover a broad range of social metrics and link metrics. This allows you to determine the strongest parts of your competitor’s backlink profiles.

To appear within the top five search results pages on Google means that your competitors will have spent a lot of time and resources building up this backlink profile.

Luckily, you have access to SEO tools that allow you to uncover this backlink profile and see how you can use it to your own website’s advantage.

Backlink Analysis Tools

A key metric that you should aim to discover is where your competitors are gaining backlinks from. Juicy SEO tools like Link Explorer by Moz, or Semrush’s Backlink Checker, can help you in your SERP Analysis. However, our preference for backlink analysis is ahrefs.

Use these tools to discover which relevant niche websites your competitors are receiving backlinks from and then develop a competitive strategy to fill any gaps in that profile.

A quick tip is to compare your competitor’s backlink profile with that of your own site, and discover how your competitor is outranking you within Google search in this aspect.

This is a great way to discover opportunities to adapt your own backlink strategy to improve your page authority and ultimately your position within Google SERP.

You can utilize techniques we’ve previously discussed to obtain backlinks that will help you to rank for your desired keyword.

It’s also important to consider that not all links are considered equal. Bad backlinks can actually damage your SEO performance, so it’s essential that you minimize their presence.

Notice Link Patterns

Another quick tip for analyzing your competitor’s backlink profile, is to take notice of any existing patterns within their links.

What are the main sources they obtain links from?

What type of content do these sources provide?

What was it about your competitor’s blog post that caused them to create a link back to that specific URL?

If your competitor is ranking higher than you, you should attempt to create a similar pattern within your backlink profile and put one of these juicy SEO tools to use.

Competitor Keyword Analysis

Keyword research is an important part of off-page SEO that should not be overlooked.

Analyzing competitor keywords is also a key element of manual SERP analysis which can help you to increase your organic traffic.

Competitor keyword research gives you a great insight into the SEO strategy of your competition. You can use their SEO decisions to inform your own, and make sure you’re making smart SEO choices.

How To Carry Out Competitor Keyword Research

When it comes to competitor keyword analysis and how you can use it to aid your keyword research, you should consider the following elements:

  • When performing keyword research, part of your analysis should consider the ranking difficulty. How much competition do you face when trying to rank for a given keyword? What kind of content are your rivals producing using these keywords, and why is it gaining traction? Take into consideration the monthly search volume and search intent behind these keywords.
  • During your keyword research, you should identify the keywords that your competitors are ranking for where you aren’t. Determining the gaps in your keyword strategy can be very helpful when it comes to moving up in Google search engine results rankings.
  • During your competitor SERP analysis, you should also identify keywords that your competitors may have overlooked. This will give you another opportunity to gain keyword ideas. The competition surrounding these keywords may also be less, and they may provide good organic traffic opportunities. This is one of the most effective keyword research techniques.

Technical SEO

Another core element of SERP competitor analysis is technical SEO.

Optimizing your technical SEO, along with performing competitor keyword research and generating great content to rival competitors are the key techniques to improving the ranking of your web pages.

The first step in analyzing the technical SEO status of your rivals during a SERP analysis, is to perform a technical SEO audit of your own site.

You must review your own website’s SEO metrics before you can compare these details with that of your rivals.

This allows you to fix any technical SEO issues that would see your position fall within Google SERP.

Internal Links

Internal links are a key element of technical SEO.

Internal links are links pointing to other pages within your site, from your root domain.

They help the search engine to gain information from your webpages and decide where to rank your site within the SERP.

Using relevant and descriptive anchor text when placing your internal links is a best practice technique when it comes to your SEO.

Anchor Text

You can also use your anchor text as an opportunity to include related keywords within.

By linking to high-quality pages within your site that you want to rank for can help to increase the search authority of these pages.

By analyzing the internal linking techniques of your competitors, you can determine the best-practice methods for ranking within SERPs for your related keywords.

Emulating the internal linking patterns of competitors and outperforming them with this technical SEO technique is crucial to improving your keyword ranking.

Remember that Google doesn’t like ‘non-descriptive’ anchor text, such as ‘click here’, ‘learn more’, etc. Have a look at the screenshot below.

Website Structure

Your website structure has a great impact on the experience of users who visit your site.

Not only does website structure influence the experience of your visitors, it also has bearings on the experience of search bot crawlers.

Competitor websites with a sophisticated, concise backend will always outperform a website that makes it difficult to crawl their content.

During the SERP analysis process, take into consideration the layout of rival websites.

What is the user experience like, from the home page right down to specific landing pages? How do these competitors improve the experience of their users?

An effective website will implement a clear internal linking structure, use relevant keywords and produce engaging content.

You should attempt to outperform your competitors when it comes to the structure of your website and ensure that it is optimized for search engine bots and organic traffic.

Other Technical SEO Elements

Other elements of technical SEO, like page loading speed (which you can check using PageSpeed Insights), mobile-friendliness and SSL certification are important to consider when it comes to outranking your competitors.

Performing a SERP analysis on rivals should take these factors into consideration when it comes to technical SEO.

In order to outrank your competitors, it is important to take a holistic view of your website and consider its performance from all angles.

Keep your user’s experience at the front of your mind at all times.

What are your competitors offering that you are not? Where are your competitors falling down with their SEO? How can you improve on these SEO metrics?

To have a chance of success at outranking your competitors, ensure you break down the SERP features into clear categories according to their SEO functions.

Use SERP analysis tools to determine the elements of your competitors’ websites that you should attempt to improve upon.

Summary

As we’ve discussed, the importance of SERP competitor analysis should not be underestimated. SERP analysis should also not be considered a once-off practice to improve your website.

You may consider carrying out SERP analysis by using a Google SERP analysis tool at minimum once per year.

This analysis should include keyword research. The frequency of this may be increased depending on the size of your website and the level of organic traffic you receive.

In order to remain competitive, you should keep a constant eye on your rivals and the content they are producing.

As your competitor changes with the times, you should at the very least ensure you are not being left behind. Ideally, try to be ahead of the pack.

Carry out analysis within the SERP of the content that is produced within your niche, and consider the experience of your visitors within your website on a continuous basis.

This type of competitive overwatch should include keeping an eye out for new and relevant keywords, new pages, or an increase in search features such as featured snippets.

As competitors evolve and search results with the SERP continue to change, keeping a close eye on your rivals through competitive analysis means you will continue to match or outperform them in terms of search results rankings.

A healthy relationship with your rivals will encourage you to improve your website’s performance and help you to improve the experience of your website users.

SERP competitor analysis is ultimately a method of improving the experience of these visitors. The only way you can outperform your competition is to stay on top of the decisions that they are making.

When it comes to SEO, SERP competitor analysis is also a great way to determine the SEO decisions your rivals are making.

The first step of the process involves identifying suitable competition and discovering their SEO processes.

A SERP competitor analysis helps you to explore and identify all avenues of their SEO, including relevant keywords, backlink profiles, and the technical setup of their website.

Keyword research and backlink analysis can be combined to gain a more comprehensive overview of your competitor’s SEO decisions.

Access to this information is a surefire way of improving your own SEO.

It allows you to uncover a road map for improving your content, discovering new keywords, and uncovering more backlink opportunities.

SERP Competitor Analysis remains a key method of improving your own SEO, and ensuring you outrank your competition.

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