Competitive Analysis: The Most Valuable SEO Tactic You Ignore [Data]

When it comes to getting ahead in search, experts agree that competitive analysis is critical.


International search engine optimization (SEO) consultant Aleyda Solis observes:

One of the most important activities for any SEO process is the initial competitive analysis.

In a nod to how important she thinks it is, she created a sophisticated workflow to guide SEOs through the competitive analysis process.

Loren Baker, Founder of Search Engine Journal, agrees that competitive analysis is an essential tactic in the SEO repertoire, and makes several observations about the benefits that it brings:

By knowing what your rivals are doing in their SEO and social media space, not only will you have a better knowledge of their online marketing strategy, but you can also emulate what is working for them, and generate internal ideas to stay proactive.

Search Marketers Agree On Importance Of Competitive Analysis

Three-quarters (74%) of the 467 marketers that my employer, Conductor, surveyed agree that competitive analysis is “important” or “very important” to their SEO success.

chart on the importance of competitive analysis in search

Search professionals agree on the importance of competitive analysis, but does their time investment and acquired skill in competitive analysis match their stated level of importance? The data show that search professionals believe they have a long way to go when it comes to their competitive analysis competence: 57% rate themselves as only a 1-6 on a 1-10 scale.

chart on competitive analysis tactics

Given the frequency with which the search results change — Google releases 500-600 algorithm changes per year, on average – regular revisiting of competitive analysis is needed.  Despite this, only 29% of marketers surveyed say they do competitive analysis more frequently than once a month.

competitive analysis frequency of use chart

Why Don’t Search Marketers Give Greater Mindshare To Competitive Analysis?

The experts agree — and search marketers themselves concur — that competitive analysis can be immensely valuable as a tactic for search marketers. So why the dissonance? Why don’t marketers give competitive analysis more mindshare?

Josh McCoy suggests it may be a bit of shiny object syndrome:

Many who are eager to “get ahead” with their search engine optimization (SEO) program are typically consumed with the latest and greatest SEO techniques, how they are sure to work as well as fantasizing over their list of targeted keyword terms.

That is, search marketers tend to focus on the latest and greatest at the expense of the tried and true. Or, at minimum, in a long list of to-dos, competitive analysis is ranked below the activities perceived to be more closely tied to ROI. Whatever the reason, McCoy concludes that it should be on more equal footing, taking “a position of high importance.”

At the end of the day, those who are doing little competitive analysis may not be immediately able to do it with the regularity that they truly desire. But those who carve out regular time to do competitive analysis and educate themselves on best practices will end up happy that they did so.

Stock image used with permission of

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: All Things SEO Column | Channel: SEO


About The Author: is Director of Research at Conductor, Inc, an SEO technology company in New York, authoring insightful research on trends in the natural search industry.

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