Know Your Enemy: 5 Tips for Thorough Online Competitor Research

Do you know who your competitors are?

And I mean really know who they are.

We’re not just talking bricks and mortar.

The game changes when we start talking about online competitors.

(Chances are you already have a good idea of who you’re up against in real life.)

There’s a whole new world of businesses on the web that you’ve probably never heard of.

Read on to find out how to thoroughly understand
who your online competitors are.

  1. 1.  List known competitors

To start, open a new Excel sheet and list the competitors you already know.

Chances are they’ll have some form of online presence. Note their web address too.

If you’re working in an agency or a freelancer, you may have to ask your client to provide this list. No doubt they’ll be able to reel it off the top of their head.

These are your starting points.

  1. 2.  Analyse search results

Next, gather a list of your keywords. Both the ones you rank for and the ones you want to rank for.

Scrape the results and add them to your list.

Use this tool to speed things up.

Usually, you won’t have to look beyond the first page.

If it’s a particularly competitive niche then it’s worth looking at page 2.

It’s a pretty good idea to make a note of the amount of Adsense in the SERPs. When there’s a lot there, it’s an indication that you can make money from that search query.

  1. 3.  Scour top directories and awards

What Google displays is by no means definitive.

There may still be big players in your industry with little-to-no search presence.

Weed these out by looking at the major industry specific online directories.

Another useful tip is to look at awards that have/are about to take place in your industry. Are there any businesses here you’ve not found yet?

If so, add them to your list.

These businesses may have been pushing the PR-angle, but not necessarily optimising for the search engines.

  1. 4.  Run related search operator

By this point you’ll have started to amass a huge list of sites.

A final thing you can do is run a mass ‘related search’ operator on the list so far.

When you run a related search, Google shows you sites similar to the one you’ve specified.

To do this, type this into the search box:

Use custom search on Citation Labs’ Link Prospector to speed up the process.

Chances are most of the sites you’ll have seen.

It does, however, have a habit of turning up the odd gem.

  1. 5.  Look for ‘who’?

One last tip:

To be performed at the same time or after the previous four points.

Start considering the who.

By this we mean the people behind the sites.

Look at the author of their blogs and the strength of their social media accounts. Stalk them on LinkedIn.

Make a note of the individuals behind the businesses. Personal branding has never been more important.

Doing this will help you understand how you need to position yourself in the market and the work required to get there.


A guest post by Craig Addyman from 9xb, Harrogate, North Yorkshire. Craig is an online marketing consultant, gym junkie and dog lover!

This is an original article published on SEO Desk with exclusivity.

One thought on “Know Your Enemy: 5 Tips for Thorough Online Competitor Research”

  1. SEO is fun when you have a little competition, and no matter how old are you, you will always love to see cards of your opponent.

    The tip was great, thank you

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