Competitor Analysis: How to spy on your Rivals?

Have you ever asked yourself a question “what pushes any business forward?” I believe you have. You might answer this question thinking of some general aspects like persistence, deep knowledge, research, and a bit of luck.

Yes, all these aspects matter in your business progress. However, the thing that helps grow your business naturally is…your competitors.

Don’t be surprised by this. Only correct competitor analysis will help you get rolling and improve your online business positions.

I am going to cover primary points on how to analyze your competitors and use the data you’ll get to your own benefit.

Let’s go to details!

SIDENOTE: if you are curious about how to rank #1 in Google, you should check out this video ASAP.

Start with Identifying Your Main Competitors

I think the initial step of competitor analysis is the easiest one. I advise you to step into your potential customers’ boots. What inquiries would they use to find your service? Let’s move forward with an example.

For instance, I run a website that offers different types of sportswear across the US. I want to see my online store in the top 10 Google results for specific keywords my target audience would use. So, the first thing that I will do is test a few queries related to my niche and see what Google reveals to me:

Google Ads

Google suggested a list of the results where four of them are paid advertisements and the others are organically clean. Practice shows that people pay less attention to ads. They are interested in websites that could get top positions thanks to traffic they managed to gain. Thus, I will search for the main competitors among organic results.

When I have identified the competitors of mine, I would dig into their websites’ statistics.

2. Explore the Basic Metrics

Now my next goal is to analyze the core metrics of a few competitors I have chosen from the list. I don’t want to spend the long hours seeking for the data I need. I want to get it in a single click. And Domain Comparison report helps me with this:

Domain Comparison Ahrefs

The report offers me a wide range of stats. However, I am interested in metrics that I’ve marked only. And here is the explanation why.

  • Domain Rating displays a strength of a backlink profile of the particular website (from 0 to 100 scale.) A backlink profile with the highest scale is the strongest one.
  • Referring Domains report displays the total number of unique referring domains pointing at the target URL.
  • Backlinks report provides you with information about the total number of backlinks that point at the target website or URL.

These metrics will give me the information I need for my further competitor analysis.

Now I am going to make a detailed analysis of such positions as link growth, traffic, and content.

3. Link Growth Analysis

Link growth is an important element of the statistics you should keep in mind. Especially, you should watch over the link growth changes that your competitors might have.

Link growth is based on the number of referring domains a website has. Thus, you must see what new referring domains your competitors have obtained.

I will use ‘New referring domains’ report to sort things out:

New referring domains Ahrefs

The report offers you the data on how many new referring domains a given website has acquired for the last 60, 30, 7 days (even for yesterday and today.) The website in a question has obtained 164 new referring domains for the past 60 days.

Furthermore, you can review a graph that can show you the changes in acquiring new referring domains for one year (for instance):

New referring domains graph Ahrefs

I recommend you to look at this graph from time to time. It will help you notice some changes that might seem interesting to you.

4. Traffic Analysis

The following important position that you should analyze is traffic. You know that the more traffic your website gets, the more chances to crash your competitors you will have.

I advise you to use a tool called SimilarWeb. It will help you get the information around a few fundamental questions. But let’s see the general stats of the website firstly:

traffic Analysis Ahrefs

This report covers the basic stats on traffic like total visits, average visit duration, pages per visit, bounce rate. Moreover, you can see traffic globally, by country, and category ranks.

OK, now let’s get back to the questions about traffic the tool can help you with:

  1. Where the visitors of a given website come from?
traffic by countries Ahrefs

The report illustrates you a geographical chart where you can see the countries that bring the most traffic. What is more, you can see the top countries and how much traffic they bring in percents.

2) What are the main sources that bring desktop traffic to the website?

traffic sources by devices Ahrefs

3) What are the main referral websites that send traffic?

referral traffic

4) What are the main social channels that send traffic?

social Traffic ahrefs

I can’t help mentioning that there are some more awesome reports that you can review like audience interests, display advertising, etc.

The other cool thing that SimilarWeb allows you to do is comparing traffic statistics of a few competitors in one click:

similarweb traffic comparison ahrefs

In contrast, you can get more of rich data on traffic using Site Explorer tool. ‘Organic search’ report will provide you with such information as traffic value, organic positions, monthly organic traffic, organic keywords, etc:

site explorer ahrefs

I can assure you that if you dig deeper into these reports, you will get precious data on traffic.

5. Content Analysis

We have already reached the final fifth step of competitor analysis. Now I will give you a couple of hints on how to analyze competitors’ content.  

Basically, there are three positions to review:

  1. The most linked content by applying ‘best by links’ report and looking through the backlinks with the help of ‘Referring domains’ tab:
best pages by backlinks ahrefs
  1. The most shared content can be found by clicking on ‘Top content’ report. It will reveal you the stats across social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest):
top content ahrefs
  1. Content that sends the most traffic you can find with the help of ‘Top pages’ report. Another useful thing that you will get by exploring this report is the information on the top keywords a given website or URL ranks for:
top pages ahrefs

These simple but effective ways of content analysis will help you improve your content marketing strategy and create the content that your target audience likes.

The Final Notes

Nobody says that running an online business is something that goes with flow. It is an endless battle with your competitors for the top positions on Google. Yes, when you have just launched your website, you are like Alice in Wonderland. Likely, you have all possible chances to crash your competitors and dominate your niche.

This brief guide has supplied you with some powerful and effective tactics on how to analyze your competitors. I am sure that you have got tons of knowledge and will reach the top position in search in the short run.

P.S. Please feel free to post your comments and share this post on socials.

Author’s bio: Sergey Aliokhin is a Marketing Manager at Ahrefs. Apart from working at Ahrefs he likes spending his time with family, studying martial arts and plucking fat bass guitar strings.

Affilaite Disclaimer - The post you are reading might contain few affiliate links, that states if you buy any product clicking on those links I may receive a small commission out of it, no additional cost to you at all. This way you are helping me running this site effectively. I share unbiased view-point from my personal experience. Full Disclaimer

Man Behind the Blog - Navin Rao

Blogger | WordPress Savvy

Navin Author
A WordPress Savvy, Content Strategist and creator of this blog. At QuestionCage we talk about Technology, SEO, WordPress to make your blogging venture much successful and eventually let the passive money to flow in.

Along with QC, I maintain my personal blog as well, where I share my experiences and tips only on WordPress.

7 thoughts on “Competitor Analysis: How to spy on your Rivals?”

  1. People in your niche can give you so many awesome ideas. I learned from so many bloggers in the blogging tips niche and even built some of my course based on what I learned from pros in my niche. If we all work together by studying each other and helping each other out a rising tide lifts all blogging ships.

    • Absolutely Ryan. We can learn a lot from every single blogger to improvise our blogging skills. This is why I listen and read every one. Every individual in the blogging niche is a GEM. 🙂 have a great day!

  2. Hi Sergeya,

    Competitor analysis is important when you running an active business whether it is online or offline.

    Ahrefs is the best tool out there if you are doing competitor analysis online. Well described post. Thanks

  3. WOW, It is so comprehensive and very helpful article.

    Sergeya this is a brilliant, brilliant post. Your submission helped me so much to understand the real value of competitor analysis. Thank you!

  4. Hi Sergeya,

    This is awesome post. I never knew that competitors analysis is so important and there are some tools for that too.

    Your writing style is also impressive everything you have represented is easy to understand.

    – Varun

  5. Competitors analysis is crucial when you are running an online business. Luckily, there are tons of competition analysis tools that can help you find valuable insights.


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