How to Perform Competitor Analysis in SEMRush
The next time you’re struggling to improve your rankings in search engines, understand it’s not just about keywords and phrases, but who you’re competing against.
Competitor analysis can be a valuable tool for SEO because it helps you analyze what aspects of competitors’ content are most effective, which keywords are most impacted, and how links affect rankings.
Understanding why some websites rank higher than yours can help you create strategies tailored specifically towards improving your rankings.
But who are your competitors in search engines? Are they the same as your real-world competitors like John Doe from who sell similar products in the same neighborhood? If you’re looking at online competition - probably not.
Oftentimes, your top competitors in search engines are not your real-world competitors. Your competition could also come from blogs, online directories, or other websites that only tangentially relate to your service or product.
You get the idea. There's a number of websites that you could be competing against for a keyword, even if they are not your actual real-world competitors.
While they may not be your direct competitors in real life, it’s important to identify these competitors so that you can see what works best in your industry.
For example, you can check out the type of content that they’ve been producing to attract links from other websites (the most important factor in building top rankings) and use that information to produce similar content yourself.
You can gain a tremendous amount of insight by looking at your competitors this way, and as result, significantly boost your search engine rankings.
This article illustrates how to do this in 5 steps, using the free Semrush tool.
Five (5) Steps to Improve Organic Traffic using the Semrush Competitive Research Toolkit
1. Identify your Organic Competitors
You can find everything you need to know about your competitors in SEMrush’s Organic Research Competitors Report.
Researching your competition is an important step in any marketing strategy. To begin, go to your Semrush dashboard and head over to “Organic Research” on the left-hand side of the screen. Next, type in your website’s domain and hit enter.
When you click on the “Competitors” tab, you’ll be able to see a list of websites that rank with the same organic keywords as your domain. These are your main competition for online traffic.
To see the full list of sites that are competing with your domain, scroll further down. These domains are automatically classified according to their level of competitiveness, which is determined by how many keywords they have in common with you.
I used ‘reddit.com’ for this example:
Reddit is a social news platform that allows users to discuss and vote on content that other users have submitted. It’s basically a large group of forums in which registered users can talk about almost anything you can imagine, from news, to pop culture, up to the weirdest things in the world. It was no surprise that Reddit shared many keywords from other social news aggregators and discussion websites like Quora, Youtube, or Gamespot.
This report is automatically sorted by the number of common words between each domain name for easier viewing.
2. Measure your Competitor Rankings
Use this tool to see who is ranking best on Google and understand your competitors better.
The Position Tracking tool is an excellent way to passively track your site's rankings on popular search engines, in different locations or types of devices. The feature also enables you to compare the ranking of competitors' sites and discover untapped opportunities for featured snippets––which can help in optimizing content for a wider audience!
Position Tracking is an important part of the process when it comes to running digital campaigns. It sounds like a pretty simple task––until you start getting into all of the configuration options. We'll take a deep dive into what type of settings best suit your needs and show you how easy it can be with just some minor tweaks.
To use the position tracking tool on Semrush, you must first start a new project. After you've finished setting up this new project, it's time to see where your website stands. Go to your project dashboard and click on Set Up under Position Tracking. This will then prompt the configuration window. Once it’s open, select the “root domain” option to receive better data. You can set up position tracking campaigns for your domain as well as 20 of your closest competitors' domains.
You have the option of choosing what type of device, search engine, and location you want your results from.
Then, manually input up to 20 competitors or rely on Semrush's auto-generated list of recommended organic and AdWords competitors.
You can start tracking your position after adding the keywords that you want to monitor. You can add them manually, from a Semrush report, through Google Analytics, or by importing a CSV or TXT file containing a list of your target keywords. Hit "Add To Project" after entering all of your desired search terms followed by clicking on "Start Tracking."
You’ll also be able to stay on top of your position with weekly updates. Check the box above "Start Tracking" and you'll receive an email every week telling you where your ads are appearing or your current keyword ranking.
The position tracking report is a must-have for any marketer. You'll learn about the visibility of your domain and competitors, as well as projected traffic and average rankings for the keywords you're tracking.
3. Compare your Website to Competitors
The Keyword Gap Tool will help you to see how your competitors are ranking for keywords that interest you.
The keyword tool can be used as a starting point in order to find opportunities where there is less competition. What’s more, they have the opportunity to rank higher than their counterparts who may have been working on those keywords already.
The Keyword Gap tool within Semrush allows you to compare the organic, paid, or PLA keywords among five domains. It's an extremely valuable feature for any search engine marketer who is looking at multiple sites and wants a more thorough analysis of their SEO efforts.
You can use data from the Organic Research Competitors report to identify domains that share similar keyword rankings as you. Click on the Keyword Gap tool and enter the top five competitor domains in order to get a quick comparison.
You can then choose from one of the different keyword types: Organic, paid, and PLA keywords can be compared across domains. After which, choose the form of keyword overlap by clicking on the colored circle assigned to each domain.
The type of overlap decides the keywords the tool will display to you. Every type of overlap will be able to present you with something different about your positioning in the competition. For example, “All Keywords” provides a comprehensive overview of all the keywords from which your competitors are receiving traffic. While “Common Keywords” displays the keywords for which both websites rank.
Use the available filters to delve deeper into the data. You may use word filters to compare keywords related to a particular subject. You can get more precise by using these filters, and you can identify gaps where you should take any action.
4. Discover New Opportunities
Using the Backlink Gap tool is a great way to find new opportunities for generating backlinks.
Link building is among the most difficult facets of SEO, and a tool like Semrush's Backlink Gap can make things easier.
You may use the Backlink Gap tool to examine the backlink profiles of up to five competitors. This information can then be used to find untapped opportunities for link building. This tool is a great way to find new opportunities for links, which can help your website rank better in search engines.
To begin, navigate to Competitive Research -> Backlink Gap and enter 5 domains to compare. Enlist your own domain and four of your biggest competitors to see the backlink opportunities you're lacking. This data can be obtained from the Organic Competitors report.
After you've typed in your competitor domains, click the green button to let Semrush generate the data for you. The Backlink Gap tool will display a graph and a table comparing the backlink profiles of the five domains. With the trend graph at the top, you can quickly see which competitor is attracting the newest backlinks.
You can now start looking for untapped link-building opportunities for your domain. This means you'll have to scan for referring domains from which your competition has links but your domain does not. To see this information, choose your domain from the drop-down menu above the table. Since they link to your competitors' websites but not yours, these sites may be your next link-building targets.
5. Check Bulk Domains
The Quick Batch Comparison Tool allows you to select up to 200 domains at once and tells you how your selected domain compares against its competitors.
The Quick Batch Comparison Tool allows you to quickly evaluate your backlink profile and compare it to that of various competitors. It also makes it easy for you to identify link-building opportunities and gives you a general idea of your place in the competition.
However, you might be curious. What exactly is the distinction between Backlink Gap and Quick Batch? The Quick Batch tool has a much broader range of applications as this tool allows you to compare up to 200 URLs from different websites in one go. Whereas the Backlink Gap tool can compare up to six domains only.
To use the Quick Batch Comparison tool, navigate to Backlinks and click on the Comparison tab. Choose to compare backlinks for Quick Batch and input up to 200 URLs into the box. Do note that you can only add one URL per line. Afterward, Semrush will produce information on the number of backlinks and referring domains pointing to each URL.
The Quick Batch report will provide you with a host of metrics, including domain score and trust scores for each URL. This is similar to Moz’s Domain Authority and Trust scoring system. You'll also get the following information: number of backlinks, referring domains, follow & nofollow links, number of text, image, form, and frame links just to name a few!
In order to create an advantage over your competitors, you’ll need to identify your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. The Competitive Research Toolkit at Semrush was created for that exact reason. It's an easy way to examine your competitors’ rankings and provide you with the insight needed to gain the upper hand.