Competition is essential in business. Rivals help us define our product offer, push us to be more creative with our marketing, and can encourage the sector to grow.

And just as new entrants can learn from what their competitors have done before them, so too can you learn from your rival’s SEO (no matter who’s been in business the longest).

SEO competitor research is the process of identifying which valuable keywords your competitors rank highly for. These words and phrases will likely be ones you either rank low for right now, or don’t rank for at all. 

But that could (and should) all change…

What (and who) are SEO competitors?

Chances are, you’ve got a pretty solid idea of which businesses offer a similar product or service as your own. But in SEO, there are some hidden rivals to explore.

Imagine you’re an interior design consultant, offering virtual and in-home design advice. You may be one of the only businesses offering this exact service where you’re based, but you won’t be the only one showing up in search results. If a potential customer searches “interior design advice”, what do you think they see? Google’s results will feature businesses like yours, but also interior design blogs, magazines, and maybe even books, online courses and workshops.

Suddenly your pool of competitors just got a lot deeper. The internet is a big place, after all!

Your SEO competitors are those who turn up on the first page of search engine results when a customer goes looking for what you have on offer — regardless of whether they’re a direct rival of yours, or not.

3 ways SEO competitor research can boost your business

1. You can do it for free

Not a great sleuth? That’s okay. You don’t have to have 007 skills to figure out which keywords your competitors are ranking highly for. There are lots of online tools that put reports of your competitor’s highest-ranking keywords directly in your hands — instantly

Free SEO tools like UberSuggest and SpyFu offer detailed insight into the keywords and phrases that are driving traffic to competitor sites.

It’s that easy. No spy gadgets required.

2. You can spot new opportunities for your keywords and SEO

Returning back to our interior design example, let’s imagine by typing ‘interior design advice’ into UberSuggest or SpyFu, you’ve found that a site called ‘Decorista’ is ranking really high for that phrase.

Now, you can begin to feed into your own keyword strategy, by exploring which other keywords that brand is using to drive traffic.

Simply enter this domain in the UberSuggest or SpyFu search bar and — boom! — there’s your list on their keywords. 

Now you need to ask yourself: how many of these keywords are you currently writing content for? Chances are, there’s a few you’ve missed. 

Some you won’t want to bother with — not every competitor’s SEO strategy will be relevant to you. But ‘online interior design’ and ‘online interior designing’? Those phrases our interior designer friend will definitely want to be ranking for, if they aren’t already.

After all, blog posts and/or web copy mentioning ‘online interior design’ can more efficiently promote a virtual design advice service. Nice!

3. You can discover your competitors’ ‘content to beat’

Digging back into our SEO toolbox, Ubersuggest and SpyFu can also help you gain another competitive advantage: analysing your competitors’ top-performing content (and then doing it yourself).

Let’s say one of your competitors has a gold-standard blog post on a certain topic — it uses the exact keywords or keyword phrases you want to use, and lands right at the top of Google’s results page. How do you feel?

While on first glance you may feel discouraged, this is actually great news for your SEO strategy. Why? Because now all you have to do is look at what they’ve done, and do it better.

There’s a lot of ways of doing this. But, essentially, you want to recreate the content in a way that’s more in-depth, more helpful for the reader, and more optimised than your competitors’. 

Ready to take it up a level?

In this post, we’ve covered a lot of the theory behind SEO competitor research. But if it's all a little too technical, then we’re ready to help.

Get in touch today to set up a free 30-minute consultation. We promise to give honest advice about what you can do to supercharge your SEO standing.