What Are the Different Types of SEO Competitor Analysis?

Alex Paul
Alex Paul
Businessman with a briefcase
Businessman with a briefcase

There are a number of different types of search engine optimization (SEO) competitor analysis. The first type of analysis involves figuring out who the competition is for a particular keyword. It is then important to assess the competitor’s on-page SEO factors, such as meta tags, to discover any potential weaknesses. Using tools to discover which websites link back to a competitor’s website is probably the most important part of SEO competitor analysis.

SEO has become an important part of any marketing department, because it has the ability to generate a large number of targeted visitors to a business website. A website near the top of search engine results also benefits from a large amount of implied trust, often making it easier to complete a sale. There are a limited number of positions available on the search results for a particular keyword, however, and the top three positions receive the majority of traffic. This is why SEO competitor analysis is essential to working out how to beat competing websites.

The most basic form of SEO competitor analysis involves discovering exactly who the competition is. Competitors for a particular keyword online may not always be the same as a company’s competition offline. It often is straightforward to perform this type of research, because a simple query on a major search engine for the desired keyword immediately shows the main competitors.

On-page SEO factors are those that are directly influenced by the competitor’s webmaster. These include how many pages of content a website has, whether the content is all unique or copied from elsewhere, the meta tags of the website and how the page is structured. SEO competitor analysis should initially focus on finding weak points in a competitor’s on-page SEO, such as a title tag that doesn’t include the main keyword, because these can provide an immediate advantage.

Off-page SEO mainly refers to external websites that link to a website. The most important part of SEO competitor analysis is finding out where a competing website is obtaining links, because these play a major role in search engine rankings. The anchor text, which is the name given to the words that are linked, also is important. If, for example, many websites link to another website with the phrase “printer heads” then that website is more likely to rank for that phrase. There are many tools for finding the quantity of links a website has along with the anchor texts used.

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Discussion Comments


@MrMoody - Some industries are highly specialized and this makes competitor analysis difficult. For example I used to work for a software company that catered to electrical utilities.

Our buyers were relay technicians. We built an online marketing campaign and at first we did a search on the keyword “relays” to find out who our competition was. That proved to be fruitless as the term “relay” is far too generic, encompassing everything from small relays you find in electrical devices to the relays used in power stations.

So we had to refine our search to “relay testing” and it worked better; it turns out our competition had been targeting those very keywords, so we did the same. It’s trial and error, really.


@miriam98 - I’ve heard that back linking can really help your site rise in the search engine rankings. But I think even Google has changed that somewhat.

I believe they are putting a greater emphasis on the quality of the links. For example if you get back links to your site from a low quality site with a lot of “advertorials,” it may not help you as much as it did in the past.

That’s the thing I would look for in evaluating the competition – where are they getting their back links, and can I get links from there as well? High quality links would be places like professional associations. If I saw the competition getting links from there, then I’d see if I could join that association as well and boost my rankings in the search engine listings.


@SkyWhisperer - Well, content is still king in my opinion. But one of the things that has made SEO competitor analysis difficult is that Google has changed its algorithm for its search results.

This happened a few years ago and it threw off a bunch of listings. Listings that were near the top were closer to the middle and some even fell to the bottom of the search listings.

The thing is that Google won’t tell you what their algorithm is. So even if you had gotten that position, it would have become more difficult over time in my opinion.


I applied for a job as a Search Engine Optimization specialist once. I had done a lot of freelance writing which involved SEO optimized content creation, and so I thought I would be a shoo-in for the position.

Little did I realize how much was involved in that line of business. The interviewer didn’t care at all that I had written content with keywords. She wanted to know if I had ever run an SEO marketing campaign, and if so, what were the conversion results?

The answer was no on both counts. That pretty much ended the interview, although I still harped on the fact that I had written content and content was king! Still, she wouldn’t budge.

Writing content is not the same as being an Internet marketer. This position, she explained, required creating and monitoring keyword marketing campaigns, constantly keeping an eye out for the competition, and tracking your results almost 24/7.

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