Have you ever heard of competitor analysis? Don’t know where to start? Here is a typical scenario. You have your business set up, your website is online, you have started some online marketing and yet your website is not bringing in the numbers of customers (and more importantly) the number of conversions you envisioned. Maybe, your business is not ranking well on search engines. You fire up Google, enter the key words you are trying to rank for, and discover that your business is not on the first page of Google search results. Maybe it is on the second page? Nope. Third? Nada. You keep clicking and discover that your business is on the tenth page of search results. What are your competitors doing to get on the first page of Google? Let’s do some online competitor analysis to find out.

Online tools for competitor analysis

There are a variety of competitor analysis tools available. Most are free to use (most display a sampling of results) with options to purchase more powerful versions (which provide more detailed results). You can use the free versions to establish a good starting point for your competitor analysis. To demonstrate what to look for, I’ll use the example of a newly opened book store located in Calgary that is not ranking highly on Google.

What to look for

A quick search reveals that Owl’s Nest BooksShelf Life Books, and Fair’s Fair Books all rank highly (once the typical Yelp, University Bookstore, and Chapter/Indigo websites are removed). On first glance, these websites do not have any significant advantages. In fact, they are all pretty bland. With the short list created, let’s run them through some of the popular competitor analysis tools. These tools include Open Site Explorer, Zaroweb SEO Auditor, and SEMRush.

Open Site Explorer

On Open Site Explorer, Owl’s Nest books has a domain authority of 44 and a page authority of 53. They get these numbers mostly from the number of backlinks (over 43,000). Some of these backlinks come from very reputable websites such as Weebly, BlogSpot, The Calgary Herald, and The Vancouver Observer.  Likewise, Shelf Life Books has a domain authority of 43 and a page authority of 52. They have over 32,000 backlinks from websites including CBC, Weebly, Air Canada, and The University of Calgary. Fair’s Fair has a domain authority of 28 and a page authority of 40. They only have 55 backlinks but they are from WordPress, Groupon, and Inde Bound (all websites with great domain authority. Create a list of the back-linking websites that also have a high domain authority and a high page authority. Having reputable websites with a high domain authority and a high page authority linking to your website is great for page ranking.

SEO Auditor

On SEO Auditor, Owl’s Nest Books has an overall score of 86.92 which is very good. The website contains 13 of 16 SEO items (such as organic keywords, page title, meta description, and heading tags) while it only has three warnings. The organic keywords list is especially important as it lists the main keywords for the website. For Shelf Life Books, it has a score of 84.11, 12 successes, 3 warnings, and 1 error (images without an alt tag). Fair’s Fair has a score of 78.5 (less than optimal) with 8 successes, 7 warnings, and 1 error (this time related to heading tags). As seen from SEO Auditor competitor analysis, the more successes a website has (related to SEO items), the higher it will rank on search engines.


On SEMRush, Owl’s Nest Books ranks for 122 organic keywords, Shelf Life Books ranks for 139 keywords, and Fair’s Fair ranks for 180 organic keywords. A look at the respective organic keyword lists shows which keywords each website ranks for.

What to do with the results

With a quick competitor analysis completed, it becomes readily apparent that in order to achieve the same search results, some work is required. First, include as many of the organic keywords as possible without creating pages that look like all you did was keyword stuff them. Include the keywords in relevant content. Next, ensure that all of your webpages include all of the SEO items listed on SEO Auditor. Pay special attention to resolving any warnings and errors. Finally, start a link building campaign using the list of backlink websites. You may need to get creative here. Look for opportunities such as press releases, newsworthy articles, guest blog posts, etc.

Conducting a competitor analysis is a great way to improve the search engine rankings of your website. Done right, your website will soon appear at the top of search engine rankings.

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