A guide to killer competitive analysis for your startup

Keep your friends close, but your competitors closer.”  Well, maybe it’s a slight variation of the old adage, but anywho, the quote rings true in the world of SEO. 

On the great quest for search engine optimisation (SEO) success, your competitors can be your greatest allies. Imagine being able to leverage your competitor’s successes and weaknesses to increase your own search performance?  Well, it’s true! Your competitors are an absolute goldmine of information that can be used to inform every aspect of your SEO strategy. 

Through thorough competitor analysis, you can find the hugely valuable answers to questions such as who your SEO competitors are, the kind of keywords you should be targeting, the type of topics and content you should be producing, and the tactics you need to be implementing to get ahead of the competition.

The basic principles of competitive analysis for SEO work like this: analysing what’s working for your competition in terms of highly-ranking keywords, content, and links, and then using this information to improve your own SEO strategy.

Without further ado, let’s get started on a killer competitive analysis plan to help skyrocket your technology website’s organic traffic.

Step one: Discovering your competitors

Before we get to all the good stuff, you first need to actually identify your competitors. You may already have a rough idea of who these are already, but the key is to dive into the data and it’s a good idea to start tracking these via a spreadsheet. You can find tons of free templates designed specifically for competitive analysis research online with just a simple search.

There’s a couple of ways you can discover your competitors. First, you can simply search your keywords into Google, and then see which domains are ranking for each of these. This is a perfectly acceptable way to do it… however, there’s a far easier way to perform a competitor search which will make your life a whole lot easier.

Some of the leading SEO sites such as Moz and Neil Patel actually offer FREE tools that provide you with tons of rich data around your keywords and competitors. By simply entering your domain into these free tools, you are presented with your competitors that compete for the same keywords, ranked by visibility. Here’s an example for Moz.com, using Moz’s own SEO Analysis Tool.


As you can see from this, Moz’s most prevalent competitors for the same keywords are:

  1. Ahrefs
  2. Search Engine Land
  3. Wikipedia
  4. Neil Patel
  5. Search Engine Journal

Once you’ve discovered your competitors, you can move onto the actual analysis of these where you will uncover all types of juicy data which will have you feeling like a 007 agent. Just maybe not as cool…

Step two: Competitive Keyword Analysis

This next step refers to the process of identifying any valuable keywords that your competitors in the industry are ranking highly for that your technology startup does not.

As we mentioned above, there are also many free tools available today that do this work for you, including those from Moz, Neil Patel, and SEMrush. 

From this, you should ask yourself: why are they ranking for these keywords and not you? Do they have a higher volume of good quality content around those specific keywords? Do they have a high number of backlinks to those pages that are helping them to rank higher?

Upon identifying these keyword gaps, you can start to work on closing those gaps. Perhaps you need to add pages to your website that target those keywords. Sometimes, it just takes an easy fix of going back through your current content and adjusting it with the keywords.

It’s so important to note, however, that you must ensure this content is engaging and serves a purpose. The old SEO technique of just drowning your pages with a specific keyword in the hopes Google will award you may have worked 10 years ago, but you can actually get penalised for this laziness today. Fortunately, there are so many brilliant ways to target keywords through compelling content. you can check out a few examples in our latest article: (link to content marketing blog)

You’ll want to pay special attention to those keywords that you already rank pretty highly for, but where you are lagging behind your competitors – especially if you’re only a few positions below them.  From this, you can work on creating more content around those keywords to help you rise in rankings, eventually taking over your competitors and winning those customers.

We’ve just explored domain-level keyword analysis, now let’s go even further into the keyword analysis by learning how to optimise individual pages on your website. 

Let’s say, for example, you’re a Cybersecurity company and your competitor has a similar page to you covering the same general topic of “Best practices to improve your businesses security”.  With tools like the Moz Keyword Explorer’s Ranking Keyword report, you can actually discover the exact keywords your competitors are winning in, in order to optimise your own page to target those terms and earn good search traffic.

Step three: Discovering your competitors’ top content

The next step after our keyword research it to analyse the type of content that your competitors are performing highly with. And in this case, we’re interested in the content that has earned them the most links: one of the biggest factors to ranking highly. 

This technique is often referred to as one of the most reliable SEO techniques in content marketing and it pretty much just involves:

  • Researching what the top-performing content is for your competitors
  • Producing an even better, next-level piece of content
  • Promoting this content to a similar audience

This doesn’t mean you can just totally rip off your competitor’s content they probably worked pretty hard to promote. The key lies in the power of creating similar content that is significantly better, offering your target audience even more value than your competitors did. This may be through more adding more research, making it more aesthetically pleasing, or adding video.

The  Link Explorer tool by Moz is a super easy (and free) way to find the content that has earned your competitors the most links.

Step four: Link Gap Analysis

In terms of SEO, you can’t ignore the importance of link building. Think of links as the currency of the internet in that they represent real-life reputation. Let’s say you visited a new city and asked three completely individual random strangers where the best place to grab lunch was, and they all said “Daisy’s Deli”, you would probably feel pretty confident that this was a reliable spot to refuel. Links do this, but for search engines!

A good way to identify where you might find good backlink opportunities is to find websites that have linked to your competitors. This is especially true for those links that multiple competitors have from the same page or site. In these cases, it’s often relatively easy to get a backlink yourself.

The sites linking to your competitors have already shown an interest in the topic, all you need to do is to show them that your resource is a lot better than your competitors. 

SEMrush’s Backlink Gap tool is fantastic for this research, allowing you to compare the backlink profiles of up to five competing websites at once. It includes a filter system that makes it easy to identify the websites that are linking to your competitors but not to you. 

Final thoughts

SEO can often seem like an overwhelming task. After all, there’s no real straight-forward formula to guaranteed success first page rankings. But there are plenty of strategies and techniques that will be sure to get you climbing those ranks, it just takes an analytical mind and a little patience.

Performing competitor analysis research is something your business should aim to do regularly in order to achieve maximum results. You’ll want to keep a close eye on your competitors in order to react quickly; whether it’s watching for new pages or newly ranking keywords. As both your competitors’ sites and search results evolve, keeping updated with your competitors will ensure you’re staying ahead of the game at all times.