How to Find Your SEO Competitors

If you want to dominate the SERPs, then you’ll need to be better than the competition. This means a key part of any effective SEO strategy is knowing who your competitors are and how to beat them. 

While a great deal of SEO is focused on publishing fresh content and making sure your site performs well, you also need to make sure you’re actively trying to beat the pages your site is ranking against. To do this, you’ll need to know who your SEO competitors are and what they’re doing – so that you can do it better. 

In this guide, we’ll go into detail about how you can find your SEO competitors and how to use this information to improve your chances of outranking them. 

Why Finding Your SEO Competitors is Important

Successful SEO is all about outranking the competition. We don’t just mean outranking brands within your niche, but outranking the web pages trying to rank for the same target keywords as you. 

By understanding precisely who these competitors are, you’ll be in a much better position to develop a powerful SEO strategy that helps you gain better rankings and more traffic.

Far too many websites take the wrong approach when it comes to running competitor analysis. Sure, you might think you know who your competitors are, but if you don’t use data to back this up, you might get it completely wrong. And if you base your SEO strategy around the wrong competitors, your search results won’t be very impressive. 

Why is accurate competitor research important in the first place? By understanding who you’re competing against and what they’re doing, you can:

  • Develop stronger SEO content that your audience will love
  • Identify and target important keywords for your website
  • Find content gaps that you could be ranking for
  • Know when and how to update your content

And more. Basically, identifying and monitoring your competitors gives you a lot of critical information you need in order to optimise your SEO strategy. 

If you forget about the competition and just focus on creating and publishing content that you think is right, then you’re probably missing out on loads of golden opportunities. 

Understanding the Types of SEO Competitors

There are many different strategies you can take to identify and research your SEO competitors. Before we dive into them, it’s important to understand that you can break down your SEO competitors into two categories: general competitors and individual page competitors.

First, you have your general competitors. These are the websites and brands that you compete against at a broader site level. You probably already know who many of these competitors are based on your niche and business environment. 

Your general competitors can help you identify things like content gaps and keyword opportunities. They can help you find new traffic sources, and see what kind of content works well in your niche. These are websites or brands that share the same target audience as you, and so you compete against them with the same kind of content to attract this target audience. 

Then you have your individual page competitors. This is where it gets a bit more complex. 

Each page your website publishes and tries to rank for will be in direct competition with other websites. These are often your general competitors, but also competitors you’ve never even heard of before. This is because each target keyword has a different search intent, which means different types of sites try to rank for different keywords. 

Identifying these competitors is essential for optimising each individual page on your site for better rankings. Of course, this list of competitors will be a lot more extensive than your list of more general competitors. 

Understanding these two different types of SEO competitors will help you develop a stronger overall content strategy as well as help you refine and update all of your existing content. 

Once you have identified these competitors, you can refine your search even further by looking into their Domain Authority (DA). This is a metric that is used to determine the likelihood of each competitor’s URL ranking for a keyword. DA is generally determined based on the backlinks that page has.

So, once you find competitors, it’s important to know how “authoritative” that page is. This helps you compare your own DA to see how likely your website will be able to outrank the competitors. 

DA is not a ranking factor set by Google and it’s not an exact science, but checking DA does give you a good overview of how likely you are to compete with certain pages. 

Identify Your Keywords

Before you start to find your SEO competitors, you’ll need to know what keywords your website is aiming to rank for. Without this, you won’t know who you’re actually competing against. 

Your content strategy should be based on a list of seed keywords. If not, you’ll want to create this list. You can use a free tool like Google’s Keyword Planner, Wordstream, or Ubersuggest to find keywords. Alternatively, you could use more robust SEO tools like Ahrefs or Semrush to help you find these keywords. 

When performing keyword research, pay attention to search volume and competition metrics. The higher the search volume, the more competitors you will have for that keyword. 

Of course, you should also establish what keywords your website is already ranking for and targeting. The best way to do this is to check your Google Search Console reports identifying the search queries which are sending traffic to your site. 

You can look at this as a general report, or do it on a single-page basis, like this:


How to Find Your SEO Competitors in 3 Steps

Now you know what competitors you’re looking for and why you’re looking for them, it’s time to actually find them. Here are the different steps you can use to do this manually. 

This process is a bit more time-consuming, but it’s free. We’ll provide more automated solutions to finding your SEO competitors later. 

1. Perform a Google Search

First things first, simply performing a manual Google search is the easiest way to identify your SEO competitors. This is really basic, but it’s also one of the most accurate and insightful strategies to see who’s actually competing against your pages and what kind of content is ranking best. 

How do you do this? Simply search for your target keywords on Google and identify the top-ranking pages. Make a list of these websites and you have a list of your SEO competitors. 

Of course, performing a proper SEO competitor analysis is not as easy as this. However, this is a great place to start. This strategy lets you find the page (or keyword)-specific competitors, and not necessarily general competitors for your website niche. 

When doing this research, don’t just stop at listing the competitor’s URLs. Instead, click on their pages and dive into their content. Understand what type of content they’re publishing and try to establish why this ranking. 

Maybe they are producing a greater volume of content than you. Maybe they’re answering more questions? Maybe they’re including more images in their content? Whatever the case, understanding this can provide some useful insights into how you can optimise your content for the same search terms. 

You can simply search for your keyword and find the top 10 ranking competitors, but the results you see will depend on your location and how Google personalised your search. To run a non-personalized Google search, you can use a Google search URL like this:

Let’s break these elements down:

  • q=example+query – The “example query” is what you’re searching for
  • pws=0 – Adding this to your URL eliminates personalization
  • gl=gb – This is a way of adding location-specific data to your search query. In this example, it means you’re getting search results from the UK
  • hl=en – This adds browser language preferences to your search query. In this example, you’re searching as if your browser language is English

Now you can use these results to get an unbiased, non-personalized overview of the top competitors for a search query.

2. Run a “Related” Google Search Operator Query

Manually typing in each search query in Google is a very time-consuming approach. You’ll have to do this for each search query you aim to rank for, which can take ages. Another more streamlined tactic is to perform a search using the operator “related:” followed by your domain. 

This is a strategy that helps you find websites that Google thinks are similar to your website. This means these websites can be considered your competitors based on the search engine. 

To perform this search, all you need to do is type “related:[your URL website]” into the Google search bar.

This is a quick and easy way to find any related domains that your site could be competing against. However, it’s important to note that this often works best for larger sites and compares your site to larger, more popular domains. 

This strategy is a great way to identify broader competitors within your niche. However, it doesn’t show you the page-specific competitors your site is up against. 

If you’re a local business or a smaller, very niche site, then you shouldn’t rely on this approach alone. 

3. Create a Competitor Spreadsheet

After performing these searches, you’ll have a fairly extensive list of your SEO competitors. Now, what do you do with this list and how do you use it to identify opportunities?

Start by creating a spreadsheet. Add all of your results to this sheet, and arrange it by URL, target keyword, and whether the URL is ranking. You could include its average ranking position on the spreadsheet. You might also want to leave room to make notes next to the URL as to why it’s ranking or what the page includes. Adding DA scores to each competitor’s URL could also be a good idea. 

Now you can refine this spreadsheet by topic cluster. This makes it easier to work with. You can create different spreadsheets (or separate your spreadsheet) based on topic clusters or keywords. This could include spreadsheets for your general competitors, as well as spreadsheets for the different topics or themes your site is trying to target. 

Now you have a pretty clear map of who your competitors are, what they’re ranking for, and how they’re performing. Just make sure that you update this spreadsheet regularly, as search engines (and your competitors’ strategies) are always changing. 

How to Find Your SEO Competitors Using Paid Tools

The process above to find your SEO competitors works perfectly, but it’s also very time-consuming. If you perform this process for each individual web page or content category you’re trying to rank for, then it will really take up a lot of your SEO time budget.

A more efficient process is to use an SEO tool to run a competition analysis. Various tools, like Ahrefs, Semrush, or Moz, let you run automatic competitor analysis. There are different ways that you can use these tools to do this, but the general approach stays the same. 

Basically, these tools can run a search on your site to identify the keywords you’re currently ranking for. Then, you can take this data and use it to find who your search competitors are for these queries. 

Here’s an example of how this could look when using Moz’s True Competitor tool:

top 25 competitors


In this example, you see a list of the biggest SERP competitors for a website in the pet niche. This includes their DA score, how high the overlap percentage of the competition is, and a rivalry score. The higher the rivalry score, the more relevant the rival is. This is a great overview of the main URLs your site competes with.

The different SEO tools you use will provide different kinds of reports, but they all follow the same general approach. Once you have identified these competitors, the next step will be to use their URLs to optimise your own SEO strategy. 

Gain an Overview Of Your Competitor’s Websites

Once you have discovered your competitors, you can also use SEO tools to gain some great insights into their sites as a whole. This can include discovering things like how many backlinks the site has, how many organic keywords they’re ranking for, how much monthly search traffic they get, and so on. 

While each tool will work slightly differently, the general idea is that you paste the site’s URL (homepage or blog site) into the site search tool, and you will be presented with an overview of the site’s stats.

Here’s what this looks like if you use Ubersuggest:

domain overview


In this case, the Domain Score is an overall score that is used to rank the authority of that website. Each SEO tool has its own version of this metric – such as DR or DA.

Once you have a broad overview of your competitor’s site performance, you can start to narrow this down on a page basis to gain more actionable insights for optimising your own website. 

What to Do When You Find Your SEO Competitors

Establishing who your SEO competitors are is the first step, the second part is performing a more detailed competitor analysis, and actually using this information to enhance your SEO strategy. 

Here are some tactics you can use to do this. 

1. Discover Keyword Opportunities

One of the best reasons to find your SEO competitors is to discover new keyword ideas to target. You can do this once you have established who some of the main brand competitors in your niche are.

Using an SEO tool like Ahrefs or Semrush, you can add in the competitor’s website or blog URL to get a detailed report on the site’s traffic. This will include a section where you can see the site’s organic performance and what pages of the website drive the most traffic.

Now you can use this information to find relevant page ideas and content topics that you can use for your website. If these pages send a lot of traffic to your competitors, then they can send a lot of traffic to you too!

You could also take this further by seeing what search terms are sending people to these pages. These are the potential keywords that you can target to improve your rankings and gain the right kind of traffic. If you aren’t currently getting any traffic from these search terms, it could be a good idea to target some of them. 

You can also get a FREE keyword gap analysis from Topcontent. You will find out which keywords your competitors and ranking on but you are not. Then you can get a custom content plan and content from Topcontent to start catching those opportunities.

Any keywords that your competitors are ranking for that you are not (gaps) are highlighted. These could be valuable keyword ideas for you to target. 

2. Optimise Your Content

If your website is ranking for a keyword but you’re not generating enough traffic, or don’t have the position you want, then you can use your competitor analysis to improve your current content.

One of the best ways to do this is to make sure your content matches the search intent of that keyword. Find the top-ranking pages for that search query and see what kind of content they have published. Pay close attention to the kind of information these pages cover, how this information is presented, and how detailed the information is.

Compare this to your page. If there are major differences, then you might want to update your page to match and compete with the top-ranking ones. This will help you target the right search intent and improve your chances of competing for the keyword. 

3. Discover Backlink Opportunities

When you have found your website’s main competitors, you can start to compare their DA to your DA to see what chances you have of ranking against them in the SERPs. If you need to improve your DA, then one of the best ways to do this is to gain more relevant backlinks. This is a fundamental practice in SEO. 

By analysing your competitors, you could see where they get their backlinks from and how many backlinks their pages have. Understanding this can help you see where you can optimise your pages for backlinks. It can also present some useful opportunities for you to target. 

If your competitors are getting a lot of backlinks from certain sites, then maybe you can get backlinks from these sites too. 

4. Guide Your Overall Content Strategy

Analysing your SEO competitors is also important for guiding your content strategy as a whole. 

When you start to examine your competitor’s content, you can see how many blog posts they publish, how frequently they publish them, what lengths their content usually is, and so on. All of this can help you create a content strategy that can compete with theirs. 

You can also take this beyond the SERPs. Once you know who you’re competing with, research the brand beyond Google. Check out their social media profiles, YouTube channels, or anywhere else that they publish and distribute content. This might reveal some ideas for how you can promote and distribute your content, which could ultimately help you gain more traffic. 

Wrapping Up

Your website’s SEO performance depends on what your competitors are doing. No matter how great your website is and how useful your content is, if your competitors do it better then they will probably outrank you. 

This means understanding who your SEO competitors are and knowing what they’re doing is essential for optimising your content strategy. By keeping an eye on the competition and making sure you respond to it, you’ll be able to consistently improve the way your website performs in the SERPs.