Ask An SEO: What To Analyze On Competitors Sites For SEO

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Sanjay from Coimbatore asked in this week’s Ask an SEO segment:

“What aspects should I analyze on our competitors’ sites for SEO?”

Sanjay, thanks for your question. When examining a competitor’s SEO strategy, it’s crucial not to blindly replicate their tactics. Simply mimicking their content, design, internal links, schema markup, or acquiring identical backlinks won’t necessarily benefit your site.

Search engines prioritize delivering the best possible user experience. Instead of duplicating what your competitors are doing, focus on providing even better content and user experience. This approach can help ensure that your website stands out and attracts more relevant traffic.

If you start adding elements just because your competitors have them, search engines are likely to continue favoring the current leaders. Emulating their success closely suggests that they provide a superior resource.

Instead, concentrate on identifying gaps in their approach or elements irrelevant to search intent. Continuously monitor both their adjustments and your own.

Consider using a spreadsheet or visualization tool to compile data and create charts and graphs for tracking your findings. This method saves time and provides a clear rationale for the changes you’re implementing.

What We Analyze On Competitor Websites, And What We Don’t Bother With


Schema markup serves as a method to inform search engines about the content of a webpage, though employing schema alone may not directly enhance your search engine rankings.

While schema can generate enhanced search results for pages already performing well, it’s crucial to recognize that it isn’t a definitive solution.

Various tools simplify schema implementation. Two notable examples include Schema App for WordPress sites, and for non-WordPress ecommerce and service sites, seoClarity, which includes a useful free browser extension.

Using a preferred analytics tool (such as Semrush, Moz, or Ahrefs), examine competitors who have secured featured snippets. Study their schema markup implementations and identify the types of rich results they utilize, categorized by page type.

Here’s an example of page types:

  • Blog posts.
  • Product pages.
  • Category pages.
  • Landing pages.
  • FAQs and information.

Now put a column next to it and add in the current schema libraries you find and include:

  • Errors.
  • Warnings.
  • Fields not being used but could be helpful.

In the adjacent column, include the specific search results for which they are generating rich snippets. Simply having schema markup on your page doesn’t guarantee its utilization by search engines.

If you conduct this analysis monthly or with each search engine algorithm update, you can identify which schemas are being employed, who is benefiting most, and which strategies are effective.

Implement schemas that are relevant to your website. However, it’s crucial not to include schema types that don’t correspond to actual features on your page. For instance, avoid using breadcrumb schema if your website doesn’t display breadcrumbs.

Excessive use of schema can lead to complications. Stay alert for deprecated libraries like “how to” and “FAQ.”

Retain schema for other systems and platforms if they require it. Otherwise, consider removing unnecessary schema. Diversifying your marketing efforts beyond SEO is essential, as over-reliance on any single channel can be risky if it suddenly becomes ineffective.

Copy On The Page

If your competitors have comprehensive guides ranking for “blue widgets,” don’t simply add more copy and headers just because they have them. Instead, consider the following:

  • Identify gaps in their content that are relevant and crucial for consumers visiting that specific page.
  • Assess whether they’ve included irrelevant headers and paragraphs that detract from the user experience.
  • Check if information is easily accessible through quick scanning or if answers are buried within lengthy paragraphs or at the bottom of the page.
  • Evaluate the formatting of their text and explore opportunities to improve it for better readability and user engagement.

Search engines aim to deliver the best possible answer and user experience. Long paragraphs and irrelevant content can hinder this. By being concise, direct, and enhancing your formatting, you can create a superior user experience and improve your search engine rankings.

When comparing two things, using a table or chart to outline their features can be highly effective. This visual format allows users to quickly grasp differences and similarities without having to parse through paragraphs of text. Similarly, organizing content into dedicated sections for each item provides clarity and makes information easier to navigate.

If users are already searching for terms like “blue widgets” related to buying, repairing, or compatibility with “red whatsits,” it’s assumed they have a basic understanding of what a blue widget is. Therefore, avoid redundant sections that define what a blue widget is just because competitors include them. Instead, prioritize the comparison and relevant answers by eliminating unnecessary introductory content that doesn’t add value.

By streamlining content and focusing on what matters most—comparisons, answers, and relevant details—you can enhance user experience and improve the effectiveness of your page for both users and search engines.

To avoid wasting the time of users who already understand what “blue widgets” are, it’s prudent not to redundantly explain basic concepts they’re familiar with. Instead, consider using internal links to direct interested users to more detailed explanations or introductory posts if they need further information. This approach allows them to delve deeper into specific topics without cluttering the current page.

However, it’s still beneficial to create a dedicated “what is” post for newcomers to the industry or those purchasing their first blue widget. This post can serve as a foundational resource on your website, particularly if you sell, repair, or provide guides on using blue widgets. This ensures your site remains comprehensive and caters to varying levels of knowledge among your audience.

By removing irrelevant text and ensuring every piece of content on the page directly relates to the title and H1 tag, you enhance user experience significantly. This focused approach not only improves user satisfaction but also increases the likelihood of earning favorable SEO rankings by providing valuable, targeted content that meets user intent efficiently.


Backlinks have evolved in importance over time. While they still hold significance, not all backlinks carry equal weight.

Simply replicating the same link profile or type of links won’t provide a competitive edge. What truly matters is the presence of high-quality backlinks and some that are unique. This distinction is often overlooked by link builders and auditors.

For long-term stability, the emphasis has always been on quality rather than quantity when it comes to links. Sites focused on rapid growth strategies and AI-generated content may prioritize quantity, but they typically struggle to sustain themselves over time.

Here’s what we review after generating backlink reports. I prefer Majestic SEO for its comprehensive database, though there are numerous providers available. Choose the one that’s most user-friendly for you. Some of these tools also provide helpful comparison charts.

  • Identify Quality Links: Look at competitors who have highly relevant and high-quality links, such as citations in industry publications. Also, consider organic features in niche blogs and websites frequented by your target audience. Being present where your customers engage is crucial for obtaining valuable links. Domain authority and similar metrics are merely tool-based and do not indicate link quality; it’s best to focus on relevance and engagement.
  • Exclusive Opportunities: Discover links that competitors lack. Seek out websites, podcasts, and webinars featuring original, relevant content for your business. Build relationships and aim for features like guest appearances or resource sharing. Securing these unique links can provide a competitive advantage, as they are not easily obtained by others.
  • Avoid Paid Links: Be cautious of companies and services paying for links, as search engines increasingly penalize such practices. These links may come from “authors” covering various topics to manipulate search results. While reporting such activities to Google is an option, its effectiveness is limited.

When developing your link-building strategy, don’t fixate on copying your competitors’ links. Instead, observe where they are featured and the reasons behind it.

This approach can inspire new content ideas or suggest areas where you can improve existing pages. Concentrate on securing high-quality features and actively pursue those opportunities to build valuable links.

Robots.txt And Architecture

I utilize competitors’ crawl and architecture plans to gain insights. I analyze their prioritized folders and pages, their focus on keywords and topics, and identify areas they consider less important.

This approach can help in overtaking their major revenue streams and generating ideas for new PPC campaigns when our paid media teams are exploring new markets.

It also uncovers new phrases and keywords that haven’t been considered in our strategies yet, and suggests improvements for structuring our own site.

  • Robots.txt: Reveals their crawling priorities by displaying folder and site structure.
  • Meta robots: Indicates pages optimized for SEO and those less prioritized.
  • Sitemaps: Provides insights into their update frequency and priority pages, tracking their fluctuations.
  • Breadcrumbs: Displays targeted keywords, customer language, and organizational structure of products, topics, or services.

There are countless other aspects worth considering.

While analyzing your competitors’ SEO strategies, remember that simply mimicking what works for them overlooks the opportunity to innovate and create something superior and unique.

Search engines require only one version of each site. By crafting a superior user experience—whether through streamlined copy or a design that eschews hero images—you can potentially surpass them in top search rankings.

Original news from SearchEngineJournal