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How-to 23 min read

How to Conduct Competitor Analysis and What Approaches To Use At Each Step

How to Conduct Competitor Analysis and What Approaches To Use At Each Step
How to Conduct Competitor Analysis and What Approaches To Use At Each Step

Sales Account Executive at Serpstat
Analysis of competitors is absolutely vital for any business since it allows you to get an insight into the situation on the market and borrow successful solutions for your project.

Nowadays there are 2 major approaches to competitive analysis:

  • competitive analysis based on general information about the domain and keywords it ranks for. It is mainly realized via data stored in databases, and is available in most SEO tools and platforms;
  • competitive analysis based on real-time results collected via Rank Tracking tools for the list of targeted keywords.

Unfortunately, not everyone even knows about the second one, let alone considers it.

We are going to discuss each of them in this article to get a clear picture of what we can gain out of both of these methods.
The major advantage of Serpstat as an SEO platform is its ability to use both approaches to competitive analysis and that is the reason why we will use it for our demonstration.

Also, additional use cases will help us go deeper and further than even the majority of digital marketing agencies and SEO & marketing in-house teams go.

So let’s start with the basics and go through the typical steps of a proper Competitive Analysis:
Determine who your competitors are (based on specific products or niche);
Research competitors' sales & promotional tactics and results;
Pinpoint best practices and create a plan of action.

Step 1: Indentifying Competitors

Here we should be focused on 3 main criteria:
Competitor is targeting the same keywords;
Competitor is selling similar products;
Competitor is covering a significant percentage of online visibility.
So let's discuss how Serpstat tools can help you go through each of the listed criteria:

First, enter your domain in the search bar on the homepage → select database → click "Search." The service will display a summary report for your domain. Then go to the "Competitors" report.
I’d like to highlight a few things that would make it easier for you to choose the right competitors from the list.
There is a high chance that you will find big informational websites or global competitors that you weren’t even planning to compete with. That is why I’d recommend prioritizing high relevance, as this metric will allow you to see the websites with a comparable size of semantics and general topic coverage.
Serpstat Domain Analysis: Competitors report
Serpstat Domain Analysis: Competitors report
The other two significant metrics in this report are All keywords and Visibility.
Serpstat Domain Analysis: Competitors report
Serpstat Domain Analysis: Competitors report
All keywords represent the keywords the website ranks for in the TOP-100 Google search results.
Every single keyword from the TOP-100 being listed here gives us an understanding of how big the keyword list of our competitor’s website is compared to others.

Visibility indicates the general success of the website in Google TOP-20 search results which makes it a substantial measurement for comparison.
However, we should keep in mind that not all keywords the website ranks for are actually targeted keywords.
That's why this particular approach isn’t the best in terms of specific data that could help us determine what exactly we're missing.
Although in most cases, this should really help with the identification of your general competitors on the market.

But what if our website isn’t really focused on one topic, niche, or product?

In this case, instead of Domain analysis, it would make more sense to use the URL analysis since it can help you find specific URLs or categories on the competitor’s website for collecting the desired data.
Serpstat URL Analysis
Serpstat URL Analysis
To get this data, enter the URL of the page starting with the https:// (or http) into the search bar and select the type of search "Exact URL" or "URL Prefix."
And what if my website is new or in development, so there are no keywords it ranks for yet?

In this case, I would recommend you to use the combination of the methods listed above to collect the data about your competitors.
As we can’t do the analysis based on the data about our own website we can simply focus on a certain targeted keyword, and determine the main player on the market for it.

Keyword research tool will help you get it done:

Just in one click, I was able to get a list of TOP content pages for the keyword of interest, here's exactly what I did: went to the "Keyword research" report → chose the "SEO research" tab → clicked on the "TOP pages" report.
Serpstat Keyword Research: Top Pages
Serpstat Keyword Research: Top Pages
Now it's really easy to make the right conclusion about the topic coverage and success of the page based on 3 metrics:

"Organic keywords" will show you the number of variations of the targeted keyword the page ranks for, which is a direct measure of topic coverage;
"Facebook shares" and "Estimated traffic" give you data for analyzing the success of the page.

The only problem we face here is that the tool allows us to only analyze one keyword at a time which limits the area of its appliance, as in most cases we have a list of targeted keywords.

That's where the Rank Tracker comes in handy!

But how do I come up with a list of targeted keywords?

Let me show you one easy way of doing that:

Go to the "Domain Analysis" section → and select the "SEO Research / Domain vs. Domain" tab.

Enter the addresses of competitors' sites in the corresponding fields, then click Compare.
Serpstat Domain Analysis: Domain vs. Domain report
Serpstat Domain Analysis: Domain vs. Domain report
So instead of analyzing 700 000 keywords, we can just focus on the intersection, which is the targeted area in 90% of cases, at least in the early stages of the website development.

However, at this point, we can see a high number of low-volume keywords in the list. It would be a good idea to remove keywords with a very low search volume so that we could solely focus on keywords that could actually bring traffic to the website.

To do so just export all the intersected keywords and filter them in Excel or Google Sheets in a way that meets your needs.
Serpstat Domain Analysis: Domain vs. Domain. Export menu with available formats
Serpstat Domain Analysis: Domain vs. Domain. Export
A great thing about the Domain vs. Domain tool is that its features are available even for comparing certain URLs of your competitors.

Go to the "URL Analysis" section → and select the "SEO Research / Compare URL" tab.
Serpstat URL Analysis
Serpstat URL Analysis
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Now we are getting to step number two!

Step 2: Researching Competitors' Tactics and Results

My recommendation is usually to go straight to the Rank Tracker as it gives you the best up-to-date results with a lot of data that you can use to establish your strategy.

Although, there's also one section in Domain Analysis that I often use to quickly find successful pages of my competitors for the keywords I need, and that is "Tree view".

As you can check the distribution of keywords among the website pages, Tree View is often used for exporting the whole keyword list and website structure of your competitor(s). It could potentially save you a lot of time when developing the structure of your website.

But for now, we're just going to need it to identify successful cases.

Go to the "Domain Analysis" section → and select the "SEO Research / Tree view" tab.
Checkout page
Serpstat Domain Analysis: Tree View
Now, how is seeing the whole website structure going to help me build my promotion strategy?

First, I'm going to use multilayer filtration to find the following:

  • competitor's pages on leading positions (1-10 or the first page of SERP);
  • pages that rank for keywords that could bring traffic. In our case, that is the monthly volume of 1000 but this number could be much lower for some niche products;
  • Pages with the topic of interest (in our case it's “SEO”).
Serpstat Domain Analysis: Tree View
Serpstat Domain Analysis: Tree View
The result contains the most successful pages of my competitor on the targeted topic:
Serpstat Domain Analysis: Tree View
Serpstat Domain Analysis: Tree View
So all we need to do is to perform a thorough analysis of these pages. I usually go directly to each page and check it with our Serpstat Plugin.

Let's go through areas of my interest one by one. First, it's metatags and general structure of the content.
Serpstat Website SEO Checker Plugin
Serpstat Website SEO Checker Plugin
In one click I can check the whole H1-H6 hierarchy:
H1-H6 metatags hierarchy
H1-H6 metatags hierarchy
The next think I'd like to check is speed and optimization:
Serpstat Website SEO Checker Plugin
Serpstat Website SEO Checker Plugin
Such structured data allows me to detect if the competitor uses any tricks in
achieve better rankings in Google SERPs via Google Featured Snippets.

In this case, it is only an Open Graph but generally, I can see anything highlighted with a help schema markup.
Serpstat Website SEO Checker Plugin
Serpstat Website SEO Checker Plugin
If you're interested in learning how to get featured I highly recommend reading the following article, as it is going to show you the whole world of Featured Snippets, which is a free and effective way to make your website more visible for the targeted keywords:

A Complete Visual Guide of Google SERP Features in 2022: What Keywords to Use And How to Get Featured

At this point, we have managed to get quite impressive results out of all the tools we’ve used but we can dive even deeper with the Rank Tracker. This tool allows you to thoroughly focus on a specific niche and market.

Let's go step-by-step through all the settings in Serpstat Rank Tracker that we need to launch our project and get the necessary results:
1. General settings
Make sure to pay close attention to the Competitors in top section.
Serpstat will track your competitor's positions alongside your website without you having to spend any additional credits. So basically, it tracks your competitors for free.
Serpstat Rank Tracker Settings
Serpstat Rank Tracker Settings
2. Search regions
Here you can get very specific and even go up to the level of a zip code.
In most cases, it's enough to just select the search engine, SERP type, device, and country.
Serpstat Rank Tracker Settings
Serpstat Rank Tracker Settings
3. Add the list of keywords
If your keyword list is ready you can simply upload it here via “import file” or simply add drag them to the empty area.
Serpstat Rank Tracker Settings
Serpstat Rank Tracker Settings
But there's always one alternative convenient option everyone keeps forgetting about.

Keyword Research tool allows you to send any chosen keyword(s) directly to your project, including Rank Tracker:
Transferring keywords from Serpstat Keyword Research tool to Rank Tracker
Transferring keywords from Serpstat Keyword Research tool to Rank Tracker
So you can select any keywords you need at any point, even while analyzing your competitors, and have them sent to the Rank Tracker directly, which can save you a lot of time.

Once the project is set up and launched, the system starts collecting the data for it: about your own website, as well as your competitors'.
Serpstat Rank Tracker tool: Project overview
Serpstat Rank Tracker tool: Project overview
As you can see there is one project, but we can switch between 3 (or more) different websites, where the first one is ours, and the others belong to our competitors.

To sum it all up, the Serpstat Rank Tracker tool allows you to not only analyze the performance of your website but also simultaneously track your competitors' websites in the same way as your own.

Just having this comparator highlighted will allow you to check the reports for the same list of keywords for different competitors. You can even submit a dozen of the websites and we’ll track them all without any extra charges.

Whenever you want to see the progress of your website over a certain period of time, all you need to do is select the time frame you're interested in, and you will get a dedicated report where you can check the dynamics of your positions:
Serpstat Rank Tracker: time frame settings
Serpstat Rank Tracker: time frame settings
I'd also like to point your attention to the tagging option.
Any keyword can be tagged with one or a few tags, which allows you to check the progress of your website related to the specific topic or product.
You can tag the keywords during the stage of importing your keyword list file.
In this case, you need to make sure that the tag for each keyword is listed in the third column:
Serpstat Rank Tracker settings
Serpstat Rank Tracker settings
Also, you can do the tagging afterward as this option is still available in the project overview via the “Operations” button.
Serpstat Rank Tracker
Serpstat Rank Tracker
Within the Rank Tracker, there's also a separate tool, specifically created for the identification of competitors that are ranking for the same targeted keywords in a certain market.

So how do you use the competitor tracking?

Go to the "Rank Tracker" section → select the "Competitors" tab.

With the “Competitors” report we are able to check what's going on in terms of the general competition in the targeted market.

On the following screenshot, you will see that the system shows me the list of competitors that are working with the same keywords, as well as their traffic share, and the dynamics of their performance over a period of time.
Serpstat Rank Tracker: SEO competitors report
Serpstat Rank Tracker: SEO competitors report
With tagging feature, you can rearrange the list just based on the keywords that are grouped by a certain tag.

It could be very helpful at least in 2 cases:

  • You added some new keywords to the project that represent a new niche for you, and would like to know who your competitors are in this niche;

  • Certain products are not a part of your current product line and you expect to have a very different competitor list for them.
Serpstat Rank Tracker: SEO competitors report
Serpstat Rank Tracker: SEO competitors report

Analysis of competitors' websites: an extensive guide

And all of the above can be applied not only to your SEO activities but also to your paid campaigns. That way we’ll learn who is active in paid search for the list of the targeted keywords:
Serpstat Rank Tracker: PPC competitors report
Serpstat Rank Tracker: PPC competitors report
All the websites that we find interesting to track closely we should definitely add to our list of competitors in the project settings, as it would allow us to check the effectiveness of their promotion alongside our website and see the results side-by-side.

How To Carry Out A Quick Analysis Of Competitors' Contextual Advertising

Step 3: Finding Best Practices and Creating a Plan of Action

There are two more features of Serpstat Rank Tracker that can give you really good advice about the possible ways of page optimization: the SERP itself and SERP features.
Serpstat Rank Tracker
Serpstat Rank Tracker
There's no denying that it's essential to use every single opportunity to get into the Featured Snippets.

In the SERP features column, you can clearly see where your website is being active (highlighted in blue), as well as the area you're missing out on, the grey one. The latter is pretty much your pathway to further website optimization.

What about SERP itself?

Let’s imagine that all your promotional activities for some keywords didn’t yield any positive results and despite all your efforts your positions are still dropping. Here is an example:
Serpstat Rank Tracker
Serpstat Rank Tracker
In this case, we can go to the SERP column as over here we have access to the whole list of top-100 search results for a particular keyword.

It will allow us to see what websites are evolving on the market with particular keywords, while our positions are dropping or aren't as high as we would like.
Serpstat Rank Tracker: SERP History
Serpstat Rank Tracker: SERP History
Once I discovered a successful case, I would like to go further with my analysis.

It's safe to assume that they must be doing something right to their page if its position in search results for the analyzed keyword went up.

In order to find this page switch over from the domain view to the URL view, and once you do that the system is going to show you the targeted URL.
Serpstat Rank Tracker
Serpstat Rank Tracker
My next step is usually to do a very thorough check of this URL using the Serpstat plugin to determine the reason why its rankings improved.

But frankly speaking, in some cases, you will not be able to discover any particular reason why the URL's positions for a keyword improved, most likely it's due to the backlinks.

Luckily Serpstat also has its Backlink Analysis tool, so if you go even further, it will not be a mystery.

With this step, I’d also advise you to perform the SWOT analysis and based on its results probably use a few more of the Serpstat tools. But that would be a different article :)

Final Thoughts

Analyzing competitors is a critical aspect of marketing and any SEO research. Without an analysis of competitors, a business may not understand which channels to target and what strategy could help generate conversions.

I tried to show tips and tricks to discover, track, and understand your competitors so that you can navigate the market with ease.

If after reading this article you feel like the Serpstat Rank Tracker is the right tool for your tasks, take a look at our detailed guide.
To keep up with all the news from the Serpstat blog, subscribe to our newsletter. Also, follows us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or join our private group on Facebook ;)

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