Sizing Up the Competition: How to Identify and Research Your Top Search Competitors

Competition is a reality of the business world. Thus, observing competitors is par for the course if you want to succeed in your industry. Yet, monitoring competitors doesn’t mean you have to hide behind the bushes with binoculars. They’re already telling you everything you need to know.

Since companies rely heavily on digital marketing, it’s easier than ever to “spy on the competition.” In fact, it’s a cornerstone of a good SEO strategy. Here are a few ways to learn from your search competitors.

Monitor Keyword Positions

Keywords and Lock

Let’s start with one of the fundamentals of SEO—keywords. Keywords are search phrases that you (and all internet users) punch in to find what they’re looking for in search engines. These phrases can be short, like “cat litter,” or long-tailed, like “how to make your own cat litter.”

You need to monitor these keywords if you want to rank for them on the first page. Competitor research is central to this process. First, find a tool or service that monitors your keyword positions, contrasting them with competitors’ SERPS positions. These tools scrape your website for keywords and present the data in an interactive dashboard. They also reveal how many backlinks you would need to surpass your competitors on Google.

You can also set up alerts, so you’re not surprised by a sudden position change. Drops may occur after the release of a Google algorithm update. Web pages with ranking penalties are more likely to lose their first-page positions.

Set up a Google search console account to monitor and fix penalties in the future. You’ll also be alerted to any penalties that could get your website deindexed by search engines. You can also view backlinks to your site and any negative SEO attacks; Google algorithms typically ignore spammy backlinks, too.

Check Your Search Competitors’ Backlinks

You can’t rank on the first page without backlinks. An authoritative backlink from a high-traffic website is worth more than a hundred low-quality links. Thus, it’s essential to monitor your competitor’s backlink profile.

Various SEO tools will let you run backlink checks on your competition. What’s most important are high-authority backlinks with excellent Google scores. Export the backlinks you want to pursue into an Excel spreadsheet. You’ll need a spreadsheet to organize your backlink outreach strategy. You can also figure out your competition’s backlink strategy by analyzing their content strategy.

For example, if they’re using guest posts to generate backlinks, that’s a significant clue. Guest posting is one of the fastest ways to score quality backlinks, but you must remain vigilant. There are many entrepreneurs just like you competing for a backlink. Ensure the guest posts you submit are valuable, engaging, and optimized.

Learn how to do SEO keyword research so your guest post can also rank on the first page!

Optimize Your Way Toward Success

Search engine optimization is a must for all small businesses. It’s also the key to generating consistent organic traffic. Remember these tips when monitoring search competitors and keywords. The blog is also regularly updated with new tips and tricks!