Competition analysis forms an integral and important part of SEO. You need to look for your competitors’ weaknesses and strengths as much as your own, to be able to outrank them in the SERPs.
However, before we delve deeper into how to go about performing competitor analysis, you need to understand why the process is of paramount importance.
It helps us understand the potential of our keywords and topics based on the authority of other top ranking pages.
It also provides us with an insight into the gaps, if any, in these top ranking pages so that we can make use of that.
It helps us understand how we could optimise and enhance our website for it to make it to the top rank with our target keyword.
You can make use of this information to create content for your website that has better chances of ranking. With such superior quality of content and backlinks, Google will start ranking you in its search results for many other long-tail keywords even if you do not target them directly.
So now that we know why competitor analysis is essential, we shall now see how Ahrefs could be used to go about the process.
Check for Unbeatable Rankings:
You need to start the analysis by checking if the top ranking pages are government pages or those of big shot organisations. These pages are extremely difficult to outrank because they are most relevant pages for that specific search keyword. For instance, keywords like airforce and military have tremendous competition not just from the government pages, but also from several others. Therefore, maybe it is advisable to avoid these niches and move on to something that has a better chance of ranking.
Check for the Page Authority and Backlinks:
Since we have used Ahrefs as the working SEO tool to perform all the research, it is important that you understand what URL Rating (UR) and Domain Rating (DR) means.
URL Rating (UR) gives us an understanding of how strong a specific URL is based on the number and quality of links pointing to it.
Domain Rating (DR) gives us an understanding of how strong a website is based on the number and quality of links pointing to it.
However, the only thing that you need to be bothered about as of this moment is the UR of the page for your target keyword. Therefore, what you have to do is place the URL of the top ranking pages one by one in Ahrefs and check for its UR. The other metric that you have to look for is “Referring Domains”. Take for instance the keyword vegan diet. Once you type the keyword on Google, you will get a number of results. Start the analysis by placing the URL of the top ranking sites in Ahrefs. You could also look for the details of backlinks on the right hand side of the screen on Ahrefs.
As can be seen, the first site has a UR of 43 and a solid figure of 307 for “Referring Domains”. Also if you check, out of 307 Referring Domains, 78% is DoFollow. Therefore, this site looks a tad difficult to outrank.
This is the thus, the first step to pick up the hint of competition by subjecting every top ranking site to the same process of analysis.
Check for On-Page Optimisation Factors:
Analysing the On-Page Optimisation factors is essential if you need to outrank other pages in your niche in the SERPs. If you find that a certain page has made it to the top ranks of the SERPs without having a proper On-Page Optimisation, you need to seize the opportunity and optimise your page without further ado.
Here are the things that you need to look for while optimising your page-
Page Title, Target URL, Meta Description-
Your page title, as well as its URL must have your target keywords for the niche. It is also important to remember that the meta description strongly influences the Click-Through-Rate (CTR) and thus, needs to be paid attention to.
H1 and H2 Headlines-
Your H1 headline, that is, the main headline must contain your target keywords. Besides the H1 headline, at least one of the many H2 headlines must also contain the target keywords as they make for strong on-page ranking factors.
Your H2 headlines should have LSI keywords, which are nothing but keywords related to your target keywords. You can look up for LSI keywords generating tools on Google. Most of them are free which makes the process of scouring for these keywords easier.
The introductory paragraph sets the tune of the rest of the content which is why it is always an effective ranking strategy to have your target keywords placed somewhere within the first paragraph.
It is important to check for the number of times your competitor has used the target keywords in their content. It is definitely a metric that can be taken advantage of and used in improving the content of your page.
Alt-Tags in Images-
While using images to support your content, make sure that you use Alt-Tags with them. Most of the pages do not use them while publishing content with images. You can use this to turn the tables to your favour and outrank your competitors.
Internal Links and High Authority External Links-
Using internal links that sits well with your content can dramatically improve your website’s ranking. Also, using high authority external links make for an important criteria that Google checks while ranking your page.
Tweak Your Content:
Well-written and crisp content is crucial for your page to obtain backlinks from high authority pages. Therefore, while framing the content for your page, look into the following aspects-
Length and Format of the Content-
Google always prefers a thoroughly researched and extensive content when it comes to ranking. A well-framed content, with segregated headlines and paragraphs, has value for its reader and thus, is an essential factor for ranking.
Grammar of the Content-
Your target audience will leave the page if your content has poor sentence structure and grammatical errors. However, that does not mean that you need to use esoteric words and phrases. Make sure that your content conforms to the rubrics of grammar and has a good structure, lest the bounce rate shall shoot up.
It is great if you could support your content with relevant pictures or videos. Analyse your competitors’ pages and find out how many images or videos they are using, so that your content can outnumber and thus, outrank them.
Analyse every aspect of your competitor’ page to find out where it lacks. Once you find out these gaps, it will be easier for you to fill in and thus, move up the SERPs.