Your competitors, despite being annoying, of course, are a great source of information. Don’t hate them, use your competitors – they will help you rank higher. 

This article will teach you SEO competitive intelligence (CI). You’ll learn how to find your SERP competitors, analyze them, and use the knowledge gained to develop an effective SEO strategy.   

The tools that will be used in this guide: 

  • Rank Tracker 
  • SEO SpyGlass 
  • WebSite Auditor 
  • Similarweb.  

Steps to do SEO Competitive Research

Find your SERP Competitors 

A rule to remember: your niche competitors are not the same as your SERP competitors.  

The first ones are your competitors in the real world, while the second ones are your competitors in Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.  

It’s not always that they are the same guys.  

Sure, your direct competitors will be among your search competitors. However, there will be others – those who target the same keywords but don’t offer the same/similar product or service.  

Imagine you own a dental clinic. Your niche competitors will be other dental clinics (direct) and probably drug stores that sell pills for tooth pain and other dental care products (indirect). Your SERP competitors may include some of those niche ones plus blogs of dentists, dentistry news magazines and publications, dentistry tools shops, etc.

You can find all your SERP competitors manually by entering your seed keywords one by one into a search bar and looking through SERPs. Those who are above you in search results are your rivals.   

A much quicker option is to use a tool like Rank Tracker. It’s a keyword tracking tool that can help you do comprehensive SEO competitor research.  

Launch Rank Tracker, go to Competitor Research > Domain Competitors, and type in your domain URL. 

The tool will show you the websites that have the highest number of keywords intersecting with yours. These are your search competitors.

rank tracker

Finding SEO competitors with Rank Tracker

One more way to check your SERP competitors is to go to Target Keywords > Rank Tracking, click a keyword, and switch to the SERP Details tab.

SERP Details with Rank Tracker

Checking out SERP Details with Rank Tracker

This tab will show you the top 10 SERP pages for a given keyword, as well as how these pages’ positions change as time goes by.

How to use this knowledge

In theory, you can outrank any of your SERP competitors. However, not each of them is worth competing with.  

If it’s Wikipedia, Amazon, Etsy, or other big sites that outrank you, then it may not be the best idea to try beating them, especially if your website is relatively small. Outranking those giants will cost you too much time, effort, and money. 

Instead, I suggest focusing on competitors that you can catch up with within the relatively short run. For that, you need to proceed to the following steps.  

Estimate how intense the Competition Is 

Now you have your list of true SEO competitors and are ready to learn how well they perform in search results. It will help you estimate how much resources it will take to compete with them.  

There can be many ways to see how good your SERP competitors are, but for starters, let’s check out competitors’ domain strengths.  

It is not something you can calculate manually, so you will need special SEO tools. The issue is that each of them calculates domain strength differently. The metric name also varies: for Ahrefs it’s Domain Rating, for Moz Domain Authority, for SEO PowerSuite Domain Strength. 

However, their essence is pretty the same – these metrics show how likely a site is to rank high in search results. 

Let’s not switch to other tools and continue using Rank Tracker. Open the Domain Strength section and specify the competitors you want to analyze. 

Choosing competitors for Domain Strength analysis

Choosing competitors for Domain Strength analysis

The tool will show the domain strength scores for you to compare. 

Domain Strength analysis with Rank Tracker

Domain Strength analysis with Rank Tracker 

How to use this Knowledge

The bigger the difference between you and your competitors is, the harder it will be for you to draw level with them. So, it’s wise to focus on the closest competitors whose domain strength is not too big in comparison to yours. They are much easier for you to catch up with. 

Study Competitors’ Organic Traffic  

Let’s now look into your competitors’ organic traffic. It will give you an idea of how large their audience is, how steadily your competitors’ traffic grows or declines, and what user experience they provide in general. 

Let’s use Similarweb for this kind of analysis. This tool provides all the details of your and your competitors’ traffic: total visits, device distribution, traffic and engagement over time, traffic channels, etc.  

Go to Acquisition Channels > SEO > SEO Competitive Analysis > Overview and enter your competitors’ URLs. You will see all the nitty-gritty details of their traffic.  

Analyzing competitors traffic with Similarweb

Analyzing competitors’ traffic with Similarweb  

As a starting point, it’s enough to get a bigger picture of your competitors’ SEO and marketing strategies. 

How to use this Knowledge

You may be overwhelmed by all the insights you’ll get. So, I tried to point out the key conclusions you need to come up with: 

  • See how much traffic your competitors get to understand how far behind you are. 
  • Trace how competitors’ traffic grows over time to later correlate it with their keyword and backlink strategies, PPC campaigns, and other SEO and marketing tactics. 
  • See the key traffic sources of your competitors to further focus on these sources too.   
  • Check out what devices their visitors use (mobile or desktop) to decide how to create and display content, e.g., you may decide to make your site mobile-responsive if you haven’t done it yet.  
  • Discover what their audiences’ geography and demographics are. It’ll contribute to your TA awareness, e.g., you may consider translating your site into new languages.  
  • Track session length and pages per session data metrics to understand how engaged your competitors’ visitors are, which may point to distinguishing content patterns, communication style, and site structure, which you may take over. 

Once you've finished with traffic analysis, let’s study competitors’ keywords.  

Detect Keyword Gaps  

Let’s search for the keywords your competitors have been ranking for and you haven’t. It’s your missed opportunity, so it’s important.  

For that, we need a keyword gap analysis. Without it, you won't be able to complete your keyword research and optimize your content effectively. 

I recommend using Rank Tracker’s Keyword Gap research method here. Go to Keyword Research > Keyword Gap, enter up to 5 competitors, and let the tool collect their unique keywords. 

Keyword gap analysis with RankTracker

Keyword gap analysis with RankTracker  

How to use this Knowledge

Once you detect the keywords you missed, you need to use them.  

However, don’t forget to check how competitive the new keywords are before you optimize any piece of your content for them. 

It’s worth choosing keywords with not great but moderate competition – they are easier to succeed with.  

Once you come up with the best keywords, you can either create new content optimized for them or optimize your existing pages.    

Do TF-IDF Analysis 

TF-IDF (Term frequency-inverse document frequency) analysis is an additional way to make your content even better with proper keywords your top competitors use. It shows how relevant a keyword is to a page or a collection of pages.

In our case, this metric will indicate how many top competitors use a keyword and how often.

Adding these keywords to your content will obviously help you rank better.

For that analysis, let’s continue with Rank Tracker. Go to Keyword Research > TF-IDF Explorer, enter a couple of your seed keywords, and get a full list of terms and their core metrics.  

TF IDF analysis with Rank Tracker

TF-IDF analysis with Rank Tracker 

How to use this Knowledge

When choosing the keywords for your content, pay attention to additional SEO metrics and common sense. Blindly copying and pasting all the newly-found keywords onto your pages will hardly bring any results.  

Analyze Competitors’ PPC Keywords 

Knowing what keywords your competitors use in their paid advertising is crucial, as this information will help you adjust your ad campaigns and find new PPC ideas for your website. 

Let’s get back to Similarweb. Go to Acquisition Channels> Paid Search and enter your competitor’s URL. The tool will welcome you with a set of useful PPC data to investigate:  

Paid keywords analysis with Similarweb

Paid keywords analysis with Similarweb 

How to use this Knowledge

If your competitors pay for driving traffic from a certain keyword, they are probably sure that it will pay off. So you can try bidding on those keywords, too.

Still, keep in mind that your competitors might be experimenting, so don’t put common sense aside.

Moreover, I wouldn’t recommend using too expensive keywords in your ad campaigns. This kind of activity may just eat up your ad budget and still bring no profits. Alternatively, you can try using your competitors’ paid keywords in your ordinary organic content.

For example, you can try to win a rich snippet for a query your competitors advertise for, and rich snippets appear at the top of SERPs.  

Moreover, these paid keywords can become a perfect source of inspiration for you when writing your pages’ titles and descriptions. 

Analyze Competitors’ Backlink Profiles  

One of the best ways to improve your backlink strategy is to spy on your competitors’ backlinks.  

I recommend using backlink checker software for this task. This tool will carefully collect any website’s backlinks, compare them to backlink profiles of your competitors, and estimate the quality of the found links.  

For starters, you can run a side-by-side comparison (Domain Comparison > Summary)

Domain Comparison by SEO SpyGlass

Domain Comparison by SEO SpyGlass 

Then dig deeper into each parameter:   

Backlink profile analysis with SEO SpyGlass

Backlink profile analysis with SEO SpyGlass 

How to use this Knowledge

First of all, all the competitors’ linking sites are potential sources of inbound links for you. Especially if those sites link to several competitors of yours. 

You should also pay attention to strong domains that provide do-follow backlinks – they pass PageRank, so they will make your page stronger if you get a backlink from there.

One more thing to keep an eye on is competitors’ broken backlinks from valuable resources. When you spot a site that links to a non-existing page, you can contact the webmaster of the website and ask to replace the competitor’s broken link with your valid one. 

Analyze Competitors’ Top Pages 

Let’s find pages that rank great for multiple keywords and bring your competitors a lot of traffic. They are called top pages. 

The best way to find someone’s top pages is to use Rank Tracker. Go to Competitor Research > Top Pages and enter your competitors’ domains.  

Analyzing competitors top pages with Rank Tracker

Analyzing competitors’ top pages with Rank Tracker 

The tool will come up with a list of pages with the highest number of visits, their traffic value, the number of keywords the page ranks for, top keywords, and an even number of sites that link to the pages.  

How to use this Knowledge

As a rule, the top pages of your competitors are full of new content ideas for your website, so you can use them to fill up any content gaps.

Also, pay attention to the type of content that works for them the best. There should be a tendency. You can take an example from your competitors and create similar yet better content.  

Go over Competitors’ On-Page SEO Strategy 

Along with the content and its type, you need to pay heed to how your competitors optimize their pages for search engines.  

You can use WebSite Auditor to analyze your competitors’ on-page SEO. As you launch the tool, create a project for the competitor’s website.

Go to Site Structure > Pages and switch to the On-page workspace. The tool will provide all the information you need: titles, title lengths, meta descriptions, etc.

On page SEO analysis with WebSite Auditor

On-page SEO analysis with WebSite Auditor 

How to use this Knowledge

No matter if you are an SEO newbie or an experienced specialist,
I recommend paying attention to the following things: 

  • style and length of titles and meta descriptions
  • page wordcount
  • how often the pages are updated 
  • alt tags for images, videos, and other media files
  • presence of structured data. 

Use your competitors’ tactics as a source of inspiration.

A Tip: Subscribe and follow your Competitors

What better way of staying tuned to your competitors’ matters than subscribing to their newsletters and following them on social media? 

It will let you see how your competitors communicate with their audience (which is actually yours, too), study their sales funnels and the communication style, and stay tuned to their latest news.  


SEO competitive intelligence will help you succeed in the industry. All you need to do is: 

  • Find your SERP competitors 
  • Choose 4-to 5 you can catch up within the near future 
  • Analyze competitors’ traffic 
  • Find the keyword gaps 
  • Check competitors’ backlink profiles 
  • Study their top pages 
  • Get inspired by your competitors’ on-page SEO practices.  

Remember to make competitive research an ongoing process. You should repeat it once in some time to stay up to date with your competitors’ changes. Need any help? Feel free to contact us

Frequently Asked Questions

SEMRush provides in-depth insights into your competitors' keyword strategies, helping you identify lucrative opportunities and potential gaps in your own approach. Its comprehensive domain analysis and historical data tracking empower you to make informed decisions and stay ahead in the ever-evolving digital landscape. SEMRush's combination of features makes it the ultimate choice for those seeking a top-tier competitor analysis tool.

SEO competitor analysis is essential for websites seeking better search visibility. It involves identifying rivals ranking for the same keywords, prioritizing user search intent over search volumes, and monitoring competitors' paid keywords and rankings. Additionally, long-tail keywords and backlink profiles play crucial roles. Regular analysis in the evolving SEO landscape is necessary, with key times including content creation, ranking drops, and SERP changes. Evaluating competitors' content and utilizing tools to track keywords and backlinks are integral for SEO success.

Discovering your competitor's clientele can be approached through various methods, contingent on your market's nature and scale. You can start by examining their website, social media profiles, reviews, testimonials, case studies, and press releases to locate mentions of customer names and logos.
Furthermore, engaging in industry forums and networking events can provide valuable insights into your competitor's customer base. Additionally, consider utilizing market research tools and surveys to gather more comprehensive data about their customers.

SEO competition encompasses the fierce rivalry among online entities striving to secure top search engine rankings for particular keywords. It entails scrutinizing rival websites' optimization endeavors, encompassing content and backlinks, to enhance their online standing. Comprehending SEO competition empowers businesses to formulate tactics for surpassing competitors, thereby boosting visibility in search results and attracting greater organic traffic and potential customers. For instance, in the cutthroat e-commerce sector, players like Amazon, eBay, and Walmart vie for prime search engine positions to allure product-seeking customers.