Before forming an SEO Strategy, it’s crucial to conduct competitor analysis first. After all, without understanding who you are up against, it’ll be difficult to find the right keywords and SEO strategy to beat them. So let’s get right to it:

A SEO competitor analysis framework typically consists of four stages: competitor identification, competitor validation, competitor comparison and keyword selection.

1. Competitor identification

If you’re starting with SEO or want to reevaluate your competitor landscape, the first step in your competitor analysis framework is to identify your potential competitors. Don’t just take a look at your fiercest rivals that you’re already aware of. You should also consider any other companies, organisations, websites or apps that appear in the top search results for your current keywords, the ones that are relevant to you and your industry you’d want to target. Additionally, include the best ranked sites from your industry field in your review. Keep in mind that what you’re trying to achieve in this step is to find as many potential competitors as possible. The filtering for relevancy and validity will be taken care of in the next step.

2. Competitor validation

After you’ve found your potential keyword competitors, it’s time to analyze them and do an initial filter to select the ones that are most relevant to you. Find out the existing keywords that they rank for, and then do same the process for your own company. Identify which competitors perform well in search engines and share the most relevant ranked keywords with you. These will be your main competitors that you’ll evaluate in more detail, and which you’ll benchmark your SEO performance against in the future. Use the insights from this step to complete your list of potential target keywords, and leverage tools like Google Keyword Planner to identify new keywords that you and your competitors might have missed and or aren’t ranking for yet.

3. Competitor comparison

The next step in your competitor analysis framework is to launch an in-depth and detailed analysis of your validated competitors by using your potential target keyword list and comparing your business against your SEO rivals. Take a look at keyword types, relevance, search volume, numbers ranked and ranking positions. Evaluate ranked pages popularity by checking domain authority, page authority, external links, especially links volume, anchor texts and external followed links volume, as well as checking the volume of linking domains and followed linking domains. Finally, analyze ranked content’s relevance, optimization, search engine snippets, format and social metrics.

4. Keyword selection

The data you gathered in the previous step will allow you to now select and prioritize your target keywords according to highest search volume, relevancy and profitability. To ensure the best results for your SEO efforts, try to divide your target keywords into short-term and long-term goals in your SEO process. If you’re more or less starting from scratch, prioritize keywords that are less competitive, for example long-tail keywords, and where your content and SEO popularity could be strongest. As your SEO performance gathers pace, you can start to switch focus to more competitive keywords with high search volume.

Summary

A competitor analysis framework is a great way to leverage competitor intelligence in order to optimize your SEO strategy and target keyword priorities. By identifying and validating your biggest SEO competitors, you can launch full-scale keyword and SEO analysis that will allow you to make effective strategic choices. Since completing an entire and thorough competitor analysis manually isn’t really viable, make sure to use digital tools to speed up and automate the process.