SEO Competitive Analysis 101: Understand Why Sites Rank Where They Do

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Ever wonder how your competitors achieved their rankings? With these SEO competitor analysis tools, you can better understand where the weaknesses are, why your site is not ranking and what kinds of things you’ll need to improve on your site if you want to become more competitive.

One of the most important SEO skills to practice is looking at a search engine result page and quickly understanding why each site ranks where they do, and what they've done to earn their rankings. If you master SEO competitor analysis, the success of your SEO strategies will be incredible!

What you’ll soon find out with an SEO competitor analysis is that sites rank for different reasons. Some sites rank because of their page strength, others rank because of their website relevancy. It’s different for every site.

You may think that it is impossible to compete with larger companies on Google but with an SEO competitive analysis, you’ll be able to see what SEO strategies those big companies are neglecting. You might be surprised at what you find.

In this video, we'll use CanIRank's Grow my Content tool to better understand competitor websites rank and how you can compete with them. CanIRank is an SEO tool that allows you to analyze your website and competitors to find keywords you can rank for, links you can get and on-page optimizations that will move the needle. Try it for free today and see if you can get your site to start ranking on page one.

Understand why each site ranks as it does using CanIRank.
00:03
in this video we're going to use can i right to kind of behind the curtain a little bit and start to understand why sites ranked where they do and how your competitors have achieved their ranking this is a really important skill to practice as an SEO because once you can look at a set of search engine results and then just a minute or two you start to understand why each site ranks where it does then you can figure out where the weaknesses are why your site's not ranking and what kinds of things you'll need to improve on your side if you want to become more competitive so this will make you much much more productive as an SEO first example we're going to look at here is a page on the arcteryx website targeting the keyword climbing harness so we all know artcards makes the best climbing harnesses why aren't they ranking for this keyword the first thing we want to look at to understand that is the competitive analysis table and this one I've used the improved my rankings tool but you can also use to grow my content tool to get this same table up
What are the top six major ranking factors?
01:06
at the top we have the six major ranking factors and you can compare your score in each of those areas to the competitors this is really helpful because we can kind of see at a glance why each site ranks where it does the interesting thing is that sites ranked for different reasons so if we look at the number one ranked er right here on rei we can see that they're mainly dominating because they're paid strength if we click on that we see that they have 72,000 links going to this page that's incredible for a catalog gauge and obviously it's super high ma's rank and page authority as well so those are most likely quite quality links that along with their brand strength that they have here representing the website strength really shows that it almost doesn't matter what they put on the page they're clearly going to be a contender with a page that's strong on the other hand some other sites like back country right here they're probably ranking because they did a great job targeting the keyword their page relevancy is the highest of any of these competitors and if we take a look at their page we can see why so first
Understanding ranking on real examples.
02:13
can look at how the page looks like to humans looks like a pretty normal catalog page and that's actually almost indistinguishable with one of the ones like REI here both of them are just big list of climbing harnesses but back countries done some really smart things here that REI hasn't that the search engines notice but humans don't we have a tool to help you see that here with the few as search engine if I do view a search engine for backcountry we connect you to the service browse EO where you can see basically behind-the-scenes what the rock code looks like because that's what the search engines are reading as well so looks like a pretty standard page at first you've got your nice heading you've got a lot of navigation links then you start to get in the product already here we start to see a nice thing that they're doing here's a really prominent bold heading that's matches the keyword we start to get into the product listings and I see they've done some smart things here they're using image alt text that includes the keyword they've also made the link for every single product contain the keyword and they've made it an h3 h4 heading tags so that it shows the search engines that that's a little bit more important and every one of those again you can see everywhere harness climbing harness harnesses lots of keyword variations there kid harness so on and so on but the best part of my favorite one is that when you go all the way down to the bottom here they actually do have some subtle text content how to buy a climbing harness broken down by different types of harnesses sport igual tried mountaineering and ice and that really just shows the search engines that this is a little bit more thorough of a page for the topic climbing harnesses that's the kind of thing that search engines really like and even if it's not immediately obvious where that is on the page that's right here it does make a difference for the search engines
A great example of designing both for search engines and people.
04:21
and that's a great example of designing both for search engines and people that's ultimately what you want to do if you're going to be able to succeed in SEO let's take a look at one more example the grid dot IO is a super innovative website builder so surely these science are going to be ranking for the keyword website builder right well first thing we notice is this is a huge keyword it's worth about eight million in traffic each year between both a really high search volume and a very very high cost per click because obviously a lot of people who are searching for website builder are going to end up converting to purchasing a website builder so this is a keyword a lot of people want to rank for when we look at the competitive analysis table with your really interesting pattern well you'll notice here is the big brands the guys that you would expect to be ranking including the grid really not doing a very good job with their SEO and targeting this keyword they are primarily emphasizing marketing and their home pages and not keyword relevancy and SEO part of that is because they don't have to because they're the big brands and they have this extraordinary website strength and paid strength there then they're probably going to rank for a lot of these terms even without doing a good job targeting the keyword but that also opens an opportunity for smaller sites and so if you're a small business then it's nice to know that the door is open for you to come in there and compete by doing a better job in some of the other areas and that's indeed what some of the competitors have done here we can look at for example website builder com one of the top ranking sites of course these guys are benefiting from their domain name it gives them this huge website relevancy it gives them some great anchor text links that contain the exact keyword and they have a lot of those from external sites and those are probably natural links because people naturally link using the domain name website builder insider.com has done a similar sort of thing they first of all I'll have a ton of great related content on their website so they have a 90 and website relevancy and of course they have links as well these look a little more aggressive a little less natural here that all of their top links can be we match these valuable keywords but right now that's working for them so that's enabling them to be a top competitor here with many many fewer links than the big brands have here's another example these guys not doing quite as good of a job with their page relevancy but by being a little bit more aggressive with their links they are managing to get up there as well so
Balance will help you rank higher in a safe and sustainable manner.
07:11
again these are both external and internal links that contain the keyword website builder or some variation thereof like how to create a website responsible side builder and so on again we can see that sites ranked for different reasons in general it's some balance of the authority of the specific page and the website combined with how well you're targeting the keyword and how aggressively your link anchor text relates to the keyword ideally you want to try and balance all of those things you don't want to go too overboard in any one area and that's going to help you rank in a safe and sustainable manner

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