Step By Step Guide to an SEO Competitor Analysis for Your E-commerce Site
SEO is critical for ecommerce businesses looking to stand out from their competition. An SEO competitor analysis will allow you to learn from your top SEO competitors’ strengths and weaknesses for your own SEO strategy.
Competition in the ecommerce industry has never been tougher. Globally, there are now somewhere between 12 and 24 million ecommerce stores online.
There are many ways you can stand out from your competition: from innovative products and superior customer service, to a strong digital presence. You can build a website for free thanks to the range of website builders available these days, but will your website work for you?
Ecommerce SEO is essential to make sure your site ranks on search engines, driving more traffic to your site, which means more potential sales and new customers. Just like you need to know your competition inside and out when it comes to product and niche, knowing everything you can about your SEO competitors. This is where an SEO competitor analysis comes in.
What Is An SEO Competitor Analysis?
An SEO competitor analysis lets you identify your SEO competitors and learn more about them. It is important to note that your SEO competitors are not the same as your general competitors, although there may be a great deal of overlap.
Your top SEO competitors are those businesses that are ranking most highly in search results for the most relevant keywords for your products and your customers. An SEO competitor analysis allows you to identify who these companies are, and see why they are ranking so highly. It also provides invaluable insights about their site and its traffic.
Why Is SEO Competitor Analysis Important?
An SEO competitor analysis is so vital because you can use these insights to rank your site and your product pages higher, and even put your site ahead of your top SEO competitors. Running a competitor analysis means you don’t have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to SEO. But you can learn from what is working well for your competitors, and avoid the things that aren’t working so well.
Reportedly, 87% of consumers start their product search by looking online. This represents a huge amount of potential sales that could be found through ranking highly in search engine results. In turn, this means that SEO is critical to business success.
How To Conduct An SEO Competitor Analysis: Step By Step
a) Find your SEO competitors
Before you can analyze your top SEO competitors, you need to know who they are. As already mentioned, your SEO competitors are not necessarily the same as your competitors overall, that is, the business you compete with for market share. Rather, they are the businesses that rank highest for the most important keywords related to your business.
For example, if your store sells yoga wear, one of your main keywords will be “yoga pants”. A Google search for this keyword reveals the top-ranking sites:
Finding your SEO competitors is relatively simple: run searches on Google of the top keywords your customers search for when looking for your product. Look at the top five keywords at least, and write down the names of the businesses or stores that rank most highly for each. From there you’ll easily be able to see your main SEO competitors. You want to identify at least your five top SEO competitors to run a decent SEO competitor analysis.
b) Conduct a keyword analysis of your top SEO competitors’ sites
As part of your ecommerce or Amazon marketing strategy, it is critical to have a clear picture of the most relevant keywords for your products. These should be used effectively on your listings, your site, and elsewhere in your online presence. Knowing the keywords your top competitors are ranking for is invaluable info that you can apply to your own content.
One of the top-ranking sites for the keyword “Acer laptops” is www.staples.com. As you can see, they use the keyword in their page text and page URL:
For a keyword analysis, reverse engineer the keywords from your competitors’ URLs. Use a tool like Ahrefs to analyze the keyword profile and see which keywords they are ranking for. You should not only note down these keywords in order to incorporate them into your own strategy but also use this to identify content gaps. These are the terms that users are searching for the most, but are not used enough on your competitors’ sites, and can be found in the “Content Gaps” section in Ahrefs.
c) Run a backlink analysis of your top SEO competitors’ sites
Along with a keyword analysis, your SEO competitor analysis should also include a survey of your competitors’ backlink profiles. Backlinks are important because they are one of the main factors that Google looks at when ranking search results. Quality backlinks, or links from authoritative sites back to your site, show Google that your site is reputable, thus assisting greatly with SEO.
Ahref will deliver results an analysis like this:
Again, you will need to use Ahrefs or a similar tool to analyze your competitors sites and examine their backlinks. This will then give you information on their backlink profile, telling you which backlinks they are using to rank their site. You can then aim to build links to your site from these or similar sites.
d) Examine traffic stats of your top SEO competitors’ sites
This is a step that is often left off by those running SEO competitor analysis, but a traffic analysis is equally important as it can give many crucial insights. A traffic analysis shows you where your competitors’ traffic is coming from, so you can learn from what is working for them, as well as identify their weaknesses.
You can use a tool like SimilarWeb to run tests on your competitors’ URLs. This will give you traffic stats on their site audience, top countries, marketing channels, and top referring sites. It will also show you how much traffic comes from social sources, and how much from paid searches and ads. It should be noted that these stats are not 100% accurate, though they are close enough to give valuable, actionable insights.
Here is what a traffic analysis on SimilarWeb looks like:
e) Implement these findings on your own ecommerce site
Once you have identified your top SEO competitors, run keyword, backlink and traffic analyses on their sites. All that is left to do is to apply your findings to your own ecommerce site. From your keyword analysis, pull out the keywords that are working well for your competitors that you should also be using, and look for the opportunities in their content gaps.
Use your backlink analysis to refine your own link building strategy, either by getting ideas for new sites where you can build links to your own, or identifying gaps that could represent an opportunity for your business. Equally, you can use the data on traffic stats to identify your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. Take inspiration from what is working for them, and learn from their mistakes by not repeating the same.
Running a comprehensive SEO competitor analysis will give you valuable insights that you can use to improve your website and digital marketing strategies. Start with analyzing your top five SEO competitors, and implementing your findings. From there, you can expand your analysis to cover the top 10, and further improve your tactics and strategies. This will help you to generate more traffic, more sales, and grow your ecommerce business.
Tom Buckland, founder, Amazon SEO Consultant
Tom is a digital marketing and Amazon seller consultant specializing in technical SEO, product listing optimization and improving Amazon rankings. He’s the founder of Amazonseoconsultant.com in the UK and loves helping businesses profit through smart digital marketing strategies.