Analytics 7 min read April 27, 2016
Eugene Williams

A Guide to Understanding Your Competitive Landscape

If you've ever conducted competitive analysis to determine your online competitive landscape, you probably typed your top keywords into Google's search bar to see who shows up in the SERP for these queries.

This is the basic way to determine who you are competing with in search. But when you start looking for your competitors based on multiple keywords, this method can require more time and effort.

Luckily, you can save yourself some trouble by using Serpstat's "Competitors Graph" tool to identify relevant competitors instantly. Serpstat analyzes domains' common keywords and visibility indicators to discover their direct competitors.
How it works
The domain you analyzed is located in the upper right corner. The other domains are located on the graph according to the number of keywords they have in common with the queried domain.

Some competitors may rank high on one axis. But in such case they are not considered direct competitors if they have either a low percentage of common keywords with the queried website in their keyword pool. Or if the queried website has a low percentage of common keywords with these competitors in its keyword pool.
Hands-on Competition Analysis for Domains
Let's see how it works and discover relevant competitors for a domain of our choice: eastbay.com.
On the graph:
Horizontal axis (from 0 to 100 percent) — the percentage of keywords a competing domain has in common with the queried domain (in the competing domain's keyword pool).

Vertical axis (from 0 to 100 percent) — the percentage of keywords a queried domain has in common with its competitor (in the queried domain's keyword pool).

The concept behind the "Competitors Graph" is simple. Domains are considered as relevant competition if the number of common keywords they contain makes up a large portion of their keyword pool and, at the same time, accounts for a substantial portion of the queried domain's keywords.

In our case, footlocker.com and finishline.com are direct competitors of eastbay.com. They have 50 percent of the keywords in common with the queried domain in their keyword pool. Besides, all these domains have a nearly identical number of keywords in common.
You might wonder why we don't call footaction.com, kidsfootlocker.com and sneakerhead.com our direct competitors. The thing is, even though they have a large amount of keywords in their keyword pool in common with the queried domain, these domains' keyword pools are rather small compared to eastbay.com. And the percentage of keywords that the queried domain and competing ones have in common is just a fraction of our domain's keyword pool.

Now let's say a few words about the domains displayed in the left part of the graph. Should we consider these as direct competitors? I don't think so. Nike.com has a significantly larger keyword pool compared to the queried domain, and there are only 25 percent of keywords they have in common.

Analyzing nike.com will com in handy in case if eastbay.com decides to expand its product line — this always leads to keyword expansion.
But even without expanding their product line, eastbay.com can always find Nike's most efficient keywords, see their ads, find out what pages Nike get's the most shares of etc.

We cannot consider underarmour.com and solecollector.com our domain's direct competitors as well: underarmour.com only has 22 percent of the keywords its keyword pool in common with the queried domain, while solecollector.com has 33 percent, which is also a relatively small figure.

Hands-on Competition Analysis for a Keyword
With Serpstat's "Competitors Graph" tool, not only you can find direct competitors for your domain, but also identify direct competitors in your niche by analyzing their keywords.

Let's imagine that you sell shoes. In this case you need to analyze search queries that contain the keyword "shoes" and discover domains that could be your direct competitors.

The graph displays direct competitors that rank for the queried keyword. The closer to the upper right corner the website is located, the more relevant it is to the search query, and the more often it shows up in top-20 listings for search queries containing the keyword "shoes."
On the graph:
Vertical axis — the higher the "Recall" indicator is, the more search queries that contain the keyword "shoes" the domain comes up for in top-20 listings.

Horizontal axis — the higher the "Precision" indicator is, the more relevant the domain is to the search query. In other words, this axis shows the ratio of keywords that contain the queried term compared to the overall domain's keyword pool.

I have divided the graph into four areas to make it easier to comprehend. I will explain in detail which area represents what.

Area 1 shows domains that show up in top-20 listings for a large number of search queries containing the keyword "shoes." However, their keyword pools are very large, and keywords related to shoes represent a relatively small portion of their overall number of keywords. For instance, zappos.com shows up for 60 percent of searches containing the search term "shoes," but shoes-related keywords only account for 15 percent of the domain's keyword pool.

Area 2 displays domains that show up in top-20 results for a relatively small percentage of search queries containing the keyword "shoes." These have a relatively small amount of shoes-related keywords in their keyword pools as well.

Area 3 shows domains that show up in top-20 results for a large number of search queries containing the keyword "shoes," and shoes-related keywords represent a substantial portion of their keyword pools.

Area 4 displays domains that have a large number of shoes-related keywords in their keyword pools, but show up for a low percentage of search queries containing the keyword "shoes" in top-20 listings.

If your domains' keyword pool consists of keywords from different niches, you should consider the domains from the first and second areas of the graph as your direct competitors for shoes-related search queries. If you are targeting only shoes-related search queries, domains from the third and fourth areas will be your direct competitors.
Summing Up
The "Competitors Graph" gives you an insight into your competitive landscape and allows you to identify your direct competitors. Try out the options above to gather useful competitive intelligence with ease. And don't forget to share your experience in the comments.
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