7 Competitor Analysis Discoveries To Guide Your Content Strategy

competitor analysis discoveries

A competitor analysis can inspire and guide your content and SEO strategy. When you research competitor sites, you’ll learn what’s working for them and what may work for you.

Here are a few discoveries you can make when you analyze a competitor’s content and backlinking strategies and how you can use that knowledge to lead your own content and SEO strategy.

Before Beginning Your Competitor Analysis

Before you can perform a competitor analysis, you need to know who your competition is.

Start by creating a list of 5 to 10 competitors. A competitor can be any site that has the same audience that you would like to attract.

If you don’t know who your competitors are, use the Alexa Audience Overlap Tool. The tool takes one target site, reviews its audience, and returns a list of sites that have a similar audience. You only need to know one competitor to produce a list of dozens of other potential competitors.

To create a list of the most relevant competitors, use the overlap tool, enter the target site, and check the box to “Show only sites with similar traffic levels.”

Once the report generates, select the similar sites you would like to use for your competitor analysis and save the list. This stores the info in your Alexa Workspace so you can reference it later and use it to pull reports for the other tasks in this blog post.

create competitor analysis list
Once you have your list of competitors, you can make interesting discoveries that will guide your content planning.

Discovery #1: The Highest Performing Keywords for Your Competitors

Your first discovery relates to the top keywords of your competitors. Using the Alexa Competitive Keyword Matrix, you can quickly uncover a list of keywords for which your competitors get the most traffic.

How to Run This Analysis

Go to the Competitive Keyword Matrix. Select the list of competitors you created, and run the report.

The tool generates the most popular keywords for your competitors’ sites. Keywords that score highly for each site are listed at the top of the report. You can sort the list by how many sites the keyword has in common.

The report also includes a traffic score for each keyword’s performance on a particular site. The score indicates the relative estimate of traffic the site receives from the keyword. The higher the score, the more traffic the site receives from the term. This shows you how well the keyword performs for each site.

Other values in the report include a popularity and competition score for each keyword. The popularity score indicates how frequently users search for the term, and the competition score indicates how difficult it is to rank for the term. Both scores are also on a 1-to-100 scale. You can use the scores to gauge your ability to compete for certain keywords.

high performing competitor keywords

You can further customize the competitor keyword finder report by using filters to adjust the results. You’ll only see terms that:

  • Have a certain number of sites in common
  • Have a high popularity score and are worthy of your consideration
  • Have a low competition score that you can compete with
  • Exclude phrases or words unrelated to your brand or website

How This Guides You

This competitor keyword analysis lets you find related keywords that your competitors get traffic for . With that information, you can:

  • See the topics that drive traffic to your competitors’ websites and identify topics that interest their audiences and will likely connect with your audience as well.
  • Eliminate terms that it may be too difficult to rank for(if the competition is too high).
  • Identify terms that may be easy for you to rank for (if the competition is low).

Discovery #2: The Highest Performing Keywords for All but One of Your Competitors

You can uncover other interesting and useful information in your competitor analysis when you dig deeper into the list of keywords that your competitors get traffic for. You can isolate one of the competitor sites and see the top keywords (except for the defined target site).

How to Run This Analysis

Use the report you created in the last section. Under the filter options, enter the site you want to isolate by entering the URL in the field “Show Keyword Gaps for.”

find competitor keyword gaps

You’ll generate a list of keywords that your competitors get traffic for, except the target site you entered.

keyword gap competitor analysis report

How This Guides You

When you see the keywords that one of your competitors is missing, you can:

  1. Identify topics that the target site may be interested in covering.
  2. Find potential guest blogging opportunities because you can pitch a site with topic content that relates to the missing keyword.

Discovery #3: A Competitor’s Highest Performing Organic Keywords

Once you research keywords that relate to a group of your competitors, you can drill down into the  information. Look at the data one site at a time, and review the organic keywords that perform best on an individual competitor’s site.

How to Run This Analysis

Use Alexa’s Site Keywords tool. Enter one of your competitor sites, and review the report under the “organic” tab.

The report displays a list of SEO keywords that send the most organic traffic to the target site. The keyword that drives the highest percentage of the site’s search traffic is at the top of the list.

organic keywords competitor analysis

Other values in the report include a popularity score, which relates to the number of users searching for the term. The advertising competition score indicates the typical number of ads displayed for the keyword searches on major search engines. If the score is high, the keyword has a lot of advertising competition.

How This Guides You

When you know a site’s most popular organic keywords, you can:

  • Identify the trends and type of content that work best on the competitor’s site.
  • Develop ideas for your content based on what is working and trending for your competitor.
  • Determine if you can compete in paid search for specific keywords.

Discovery #4: A Competitor’s Paid Keywords

While researching a site’s organic keywords, also explore the paid keywords it’s using to drive traffic.

How to Run This Analysis

Use the same report created in the last section of your competitor analysis, and click on the “paid” tab.

This report shows you the keywords for which your competitor is advertising. Specifically, it displays the keywords that the target site has run pay-per-click (PPC) ad campaigns for in major search engines over the last six months.

The report also includes the popularity score and advertising competition score, along with one other value; the advertising activity score, which indicates the typical number of ads that appear for the site in major search engines. This is an indication of how much emphasis the site has placed on the paid keyword.

competitor paid keyword analysis

To get more information about how the target site is using paid keywords, select the “paid competition” tab.

In this report, you will find two lists: The first is an impact factor score that indicates if the site is getting a large amount of organic search traffic for queries using the keyword, despite high advertising competition.

competitor analysis paid advertising

The other list features an opportunity score that indicates a higher expected search traffic to the target site from low-CPC (cost-per-click) campaigns. A high score means it is a low-competition keyword and presents a good opportunity for a paid campaign.

How This Guides You  

When you gather information about a competitor’s paid keywords, you can:

  • Identify which keywords are working for your competitors and may work for you too. If a competitor is continuously using a keyword, you can assume it’s getting good results from the campaign.
  • Determine the keywords that aren’t worth your time because the competition is too high and you will be unable to compete or stand out.
  • Find the best keywords for your paid campaigns that aren’t being targeted by competitors yet and have high popularity.

Discovery #5: Sites That Link to Your Competitors

Up until this point, most of the competitor analysis reports explored keywords. Now, we’ll consider backlinks. To gather more insights for your strategy, you’ll need to know the sites that link to your competitors.

How to Run This Analysis

Go to Alexa’s Competitor Backlink Checker, and choose your list of competitors.

This is one of the best competitor analysis tools because it produces a list of websites that link to the sites on your list. It produces a clear view of the sites most frequently linking to your competitors.

sites that link to competitors

The list starts with the sites that link to your listed competitors. It’s then sorted by Alexa Rank to help you gauge the authority of the linking site.

How This Guides You

When you know the websites that link to your competitors, you can:

  1. Uncover gaps in your own link-building strategy. If a site is linking to your competitors, it may be an opportunity for you to get a link as well.
  2. Learn the sites that regularly cover your industry so you can target them for your own link-building strategy or review them for industry information.

Discovery #6: Pages Driving Traffic to Your Competitors

Knowing the sites that are linking to your competitors is valuable. It’s also helpful to know what those linked pages are and which linked pages are sending the most traffic to your competitor’s site.

How to Run This Analysis

Using the report you created in the last section, click on the row of the linking site you would like to inspect.

When you click on the row, it opens a drop-down menu, which includes the exact site URLs that drive the most traffic to the competitor site.  

find competitor backlinks

How This Helps You

When you learn the exact pages that send traffic to your competitors, you can:

  • Understand the site’s content that links back to your competitors and shape your guest blogging outreach strategy based on that.  
  • Find opportunities to be included in round-ups. If the page is a content curation list that mentions brands, products, or services similar to yours, you could ask to be added.
  • Uncover directories that your competitors use that you might not have known about.
  • See what type of content outreach your competitors have been doing and what type of content they’ve secured coverage for. This gives you a  point of reference for your own content creation.

Discovery #7: Each Website That Links to a Competitor

While it’s useful to review the websites that link to your competitors, you can also get valuable information by looking at one competitor at a time.

How to Run This Analysis

To find backlink information on one individual competitor, go to the “Sites Linking In” feature, which is part of Alexa’s Competitive Intelligence Tools.

Enter one website to see a full report of the backlinks pointing to the target site. The report shows the Alexa Global Rank of each site and the specific URL that drives the most traffic to the competitor site.

find sites linking to competitors

How This Guides You  

When you have a list of the sites linking to a specific competitor, you can:

  • See how many backlinks a competitor has so you can understand why they are ranking.
  • See where your competitor is getting links so you can try to get links from the same sites.
  • Understand the content that helped your competitor get mentioned on a site (media coverage, round-up, guest post, blog comment, directory, etc.) and pitch that type of content to the linking site to secure a placement of your own.

Pulling It All Together

You don’t need to start from scratch when developing plans for your link-building or content creation process. Instead, you can perform a competitor analysis to see what’s working for sites you compete with, and discover strategies that will work for you too.

Get the data and information you need to quickly create an analysis of your competitor’s content by using the Alexa tools described in this post. Sign up for a trial of our Advanced plan to get full access to the Competitive Backlink Checker, Keyword Matrix, and other useful competitive research tools.

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Jennifer Johnson

Jennifer Johnson

Jennifer is Marketing Manager at Alexa. With a knack for syntax and passion for building connections, she drives daily content strategy to bring you the latest and greatest happenings within Alexa and the wide world of web analytics and marketing.
Jennifer Johnson