A major goal in content marketing is to beat competitors and ensure your website is providing the best content for your audience. But with the majority of brands leveraging digital marketing, it’s more difficult than ever to cut through the crowd online.
Therefore, a competitor content analysis is essential.
A competitor content analysis is an in-depth audit of your competitors’ online content. This mainly concerns website content, however, it can also examine digital PR, social media, PPC and affiliate content. The analysis should involve assessing how your content differs from competitors and identifying any gaps, weaknesses, strengths and opportunities.
You can either use a competitor content analysis template, like our downloadable table below, or you can create your own so that it’s tailored to your brand and goals.
Why is a competitor content analysis important?
Understanding your competitors’ successes can help you identify any content gaps that your site has and can provide inspiration for your content creation. It can also give you an indication of the type of content Google is choosing to rank, so you can beat similar sites to the top of the search engine results page (SERP).
By looking at your competitors’ content, you’ll be able to figure out how to stand out and give your audience exactly what they want. After all, it’s no good creating content that your audience could find a better version of on another website.
How to find competitors
As a marketer or business owner, you probably already have an idea of who your competitors are. However, some of your online content competitors may look a little different.
For example, if you’re a chocolate company, you might be used to your competitors being big chocolate brands such as Cadbury or Galaxy. However, in SERPs, recipe content sites may be more prominent, while smaller independent companies might have a stronger TikTok presence.
Look at each channel to see which brands are more prevalent.
A good way to find out who your organic search competitors are is to run your website through a search tool such as SEMRush. Here, you’ll be able to find which sites are competing for the same search queries.
If you don’t have access to a search tool, you can also get an idea of your organic competitors manually. Search for queries you’d like your site to target and make note of who’s ranking already.
How to conduct a competitor content analysis
Once you’ve made a list of your competitors to analyse, it’s time to audit. To know what to look for, you can download our free template and fill it in for each site.
Alternatively, you can make your own competitor content analysis template and consider the following:
Conduct a gap analysis
The first thing you should look for when analysing competitors is to investigate what they do that your site doesn’t.
In SEO content marketing, this involves a keyword gap analysis to see what search terms your competitors are targeting that your site is missing.
For example, you could be a homeware brand ranking for transactional terms such as ‘corner sofa’ or ‘coffee tables’, but you may find your competitors have a whole inspiration hub targeting terms such as ‘living room design inspiration’ or ‘scandi living room’.
Search tools such as SEMRush or Ahrefs are able to pull a keyword ranking analysis of your site against competitors’, highlighting terms that are missing or weak.
It’s also a good idea to manually conduct a gap analysis. Simply head to competing sites and make note of anything their site is doing that yours isn’t, whether that’s a resource hub, white papers, local landing pages, profile pages or a blog. In our competitor content analysis template, we’ve added a section for ‘content types’ so you can clearly see everything your competitors are covering.
Filling in the gaps will ensure your audience doesn’t go elsewhere.
Identify untapped opportunities
As well as looking at your site’s gaps in your competitor content analysis, find theirs too. Find something that all websites are missing and jump on it first. That’s what will give your brand a competitive edge and reap all the traffic.
Think about your audience’s pain points and look at what solutions aren’t yet out there. You could use a tool such as Answer the Public to see commonly asked questions around your topics.
Use this to work out how your content can go above and beyond to answer these questions. Perhaps you could provide expert commentary on the subject. Or you could conduct your own research to provide real data.
Do better than your competitors and be the brand that stands out.
Look at content categories
How website content is categorised can have a huge impact on SEO and user experience.
Categories are especially important in e-commerce sites because it means that users can easily find your products. And if users can easily find them, that means Google can too.
In your competitor content analysis, look at your competitors’ navigation bars and see what their main categories are. Do they house their products under large umbrella terms? Or are they more granular? Consider what’s highlighted on their homepage too, looking at any linked banners.
Looking at other ways of content categorisation can help inspire yours, so that you’re able to provide a smooth, clean-cut user journey and easily map out your keywords. But remember, always do what makes sense to your product range, as competitors’ could look very different.
Analyse the content from the perspective of a user
The more user friendly your content, the better it’ll rank in Google and the more it’ll convert.
When analysing competitor content, do so as if you are your target audience. What naturally impresses you and what encourages you to convert?
Make note of any features that wow you. This could be the website design, the tone of voice or the images used. Your findings will act as inspiration to help you wow your audience too.
Look beyond website content
Don’t limit your competitor content analysis to solely website content. Be sure to look at your brand’s online presence across all channels.
Search your competitors in the news to see if they’ve outreached any digital PR campaigns. If they’re getting coverage from valuable publications, find out what it is that they’re doing well.
The same goes for social media. Are your competitors sharing blog content online? If so, look at which topics are getting the most engagement and consider covering similar subjects.
Competitor content analysis for individual pages
As well as conducting an overall competitor content analysis before you begin your strategy, it’s best to check over competing content before you create individual pages too.
Not only will this help ensure your content is even better than anything else that’s out there, it’ll also help you understand what Google is choosing to rank so that yours can too.
When you know the search terms you’d like your content to target, analysis competition for the following:
Metadata: Look at the metadata that’s already ranking for your target keywords, as this will give you an idea of the type of content Google wants to see.
Semantic keywords: Read through high ranking competitor content and highlight any prominent topics that are related to your primary keyword. Google looks at related topics when ranking content, so be sure to cover similar subject matter in yours too. AI tools such as Frase can help with this too.
Content type and intent: By looking at what type of content Google is ranking, whether that’s a blog catering to informational searches or a product page for transactional, you’ll be able to get an idea of what to create.
Word count: There’s no right or wrong word count when it comes to content marketing, but looking at the number of words on competing pages can help you see what users and Google want.
Media: Assessing the media that appears on high ranking pages can help you compete. For example, if a page includes a helpful video but your content is solely a wordy explanation, users may prefer the other page.