The Guide to SEO Competitor Analysis

with free downloadable template

What is competitive analysis for SEO?

Last Updated: October 1, 2021

SEO competitive analysis involves researching the links, keywords, content, and more of your SEO competitors in order to reverse engineer the most successful elements of these tactics into your own SEO strategy.

Instead of guessing which keywords to target, content to create, or links to build, you can instead see what's already working for others, and build upon that success.

Consider a real-world example: Imagine you operate a grocery store — one of three competing stores in town. Your customers are happy, but you know they also visit other stores because they can't buy everything in one place. So you go on a road trip to gather competitive intelligence. You visit the other stores to understand the popular items they offer. By offering these items yourself — or even superior ones — you help your customers make fewer trips, and in turn, you gain more business.

Get the free template!

We've included a nifty Google Sheets template to guide you through the steps and help generate an actionable report.

How to steal your competitors' traffic

SEO competitor analysis (AKA competitive analysis) works as a powerful research strategy in helping you to rank higher, get more traffic, and earn more conversions. Its magic happens by uncovering SEO opportunities you may not have seen otherwise.

Competitor analysis helps successfully answer questions like:

  • Who are my actual SEO competitors?
  • What keywords should I target?
  • What topics should I cover?
  • Where can I find links?
  • What do I need to beat the competition?

There are many ways to do a competitive analysis for SEO, but the basic principle works like this: analyze what's working for your competition (keywords, content, links, etc.) and leverage this intelligence to improve your own SEO efforts.

Consider this your starter guide. Here's what we'll cover:

  1. Finding Your True SEO Competitors
  2. Keyword Gap Analysis
  3. Top Content Analysis
  4. Link Gap Analysis
  5. Google SERP Analysis

How to Rank on Google

Knock away the competition and own the SERPs with our 25-step Google ranking checklist.

Smarter SEO research

The idea is not to copy your competition, but to leverage data to improve upon them, and use this knowledge to create better experiences for your visitors.

Download the free template

To walk you through this guide, we've put together a free, downloadable template that you can use to perform your own SEO competitive analysis. This template will also help you create an actionable report.

  1. Make a copy of the spreadsheet by clicking here
  2. Follow the instructions to gather data
  3. Replace the sample data with your own
  4. Sort, filter, and customize to your needs

How much of this guide do I need to read?

If you're serious about beating your competition, we recommend reading this Competitive Analysis Guide to SEO front-to-back. We've tried to make it as concise and easy to understand as possible, and learning the basics of SEO is a vital first step in achieving your online business goals.

Go through at the pace that suits you best, and be sure to take note of the dozens of resources we link to throughout the chapters — they're also worthy of your attention.

If you want to take a more organized approach to learning SEO or training your entire team, check out the Moz Academy SEO Competitive Analysis Certification. We've consolidated all the resources you need to learn how to confidently implement a competitive analysis strategy with unique learning strategies, task lessons and quizzes to test your knowledge. You can also display your knowledge with your Linkedin Moz SEO Essentials certification badge.

Next up: Your True SEO Competitors

SEO Competitive Analysis Certification

Organize your learning with Moz's SEO Competitive Analysis Certification. Learn with on-demand videos and task lessons, test your knowledge with exams at the end of each section, and top it all off with shiny new credentials to share with your professional network.