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Process of researching rival websites' strategies and optimization approaches to identify SEO benchmarking data and content gaps to exploit for improved performance.

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The Ultimate Guide to Competitor Analysis for SEO and Digital Marketing

competitors analysis

Are you looking to gain an edge over your competition in the digital marketplace? Conducting a thorough competitor analysis is essential for any successful SEO or digital marketing strategy. By understanding your competitors’ strengths, weaknesses, and tactics, you can optimize your own efforts to outrank and outperform them.

In this ultimate guide, we’ll dive deep into the world of competitor analysis. You’ll learn the key areas to investigate, the tools and techniques to use, and actionable tips to implement what you discover. Whether you’re an SEO professional, digital marketer, or business owner, this comprehensive resource will equip you with the knowledge you need to spy on your competition like a pro and dominate your market. Let’s get started!

What is Competitor Analysis?

Competitor analysis is the process of researching and evaluating your competitors to gain insights into their strategies, performance, and positioning. The goal is to identify opportunities to improve your own digital marketing efforts and gain a competitive advantage.

A thorough competitive analysis looks at factors such as:

  • Market positioning and unique value proposition
  • Target audience and customer demographics
  • Product/service offerings and pricing
  • Branding and messaging
  • Marketing and advertising strategies
  • SEO tactics and keyword targeting
  • Content marketing and social media presence
  • Website traffic and engagement metrics
  • Backlink profile and domain authority
  • Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT analysis)

By analyzing these elements, you can benchmark your own performance, spot gaps in the market, and develop data-driven strategies to outmaneuver your rivals.

Why Competitor Analysis is Crucial for Digital Marketing Success

competitors analysis

In the hyper-competitive digital landscape, knowledge is power. Conducting competitor research provides numerous benefits:

  1. Identify market gaps: Find untapped opportunities to differentiate your brand and meet unmet customer needs.

  2. Benchmark performance: Evaluate how you stack up against industry leaders and identify areas for improvement.

  3. Refine your unique value proposition: Clarify what sets you apart from the pack and craft compelling messaging.

  4. Optimize your tactics: Gain insights to improve your SEO, PPC, content marketing, and social media strategies.

  5. Anticipate market shifts: Proactively spot emerging trends and changes in the competitive landscape.

  6. Allocate resources effectively: Make data-driven decisions to prioritize your marketing investments.

  7. Mitigate risk: Identify potential threats and develop contingency plans to protect your market share.

Without competitor intelligence, you’re flying blind. But armed with insights, you can make informed strategic moves to capture more market share and achieve your growth goals.

How to Conduct a Comprehensive Competitor Analysis

competitors analysis

Now that you understand the importance of competitor research, let’s walk through the step-by-step process to spy on your rivals:

Step 1: Identify Your Top Competitors

Start by answering the question: Who are we really competing against? While this may seem obvious, many businesses cast too wide a net or overlook less-visible players impacting their market.

To identify your true competitors:

  • Conduct a thorough Google search for your main keywords and see which companies consistently appear in the top results.
  • Check relevant industry directories, review sites, and business listings to discover other players.
  • Survey your customers to learn which alternative solutions they considered before choosing you.
  • Use competitor analysis tools like Similarweb, SpyFu, and iSpionage to find sites competing for the same keywords.
  • Monitor social media conversations and online communities to see which brands are frequently mentioned alongside yours.

Aim to create a list of 5-10 top competitors ranging from direct competitors targeting the same customer needs to indirect competitors whose offerings overlap with components of yours. For very large brands, also look at major players outside your industry who are capturing your audience’s attention and share of wallet.

Step 2: Analyze Competitors’ Market Positioning and Messaging

Your next step is to dive into how each competitor is positioned in the market and the key messages they’re communicating to customers. This foundational analysis will help you evaluate the competitive landscape, spot opportunities to differentiate your brand, and punch up your own positioning and messaging.

To decode your competitors’ go-to-market strategy:

  • Thoroughly review their website, focusing on the homepage, product/service pages, About Us section, and key landing pages. Pay attention to:

    • How they describe their offerings
    • Their company tagline and value proposition
    • Benefits they emphasize
    • Pain points and customer challenges they address
    • Target industries and use cases
    • Differentiators they highlight
  • Analyze their blog, looking at the topics they cover, their content’s tone/style, and how they address audience needs and concerns.

  • Review their social media profiles to see how they engage customers and the mix of content (educational, promotional, etc.) they share.

  • Sign up for their email newsletter and evaluate their messaging strategy and calls-to-action.

  • Download their gated content assets like eBooks and whitepapers to assess the value they provide.

  • Check out their case studies to see how they demonstrate value and ROI to prospects.

  • Follow their PR coverage and thought leadership (e.g. guest articles, interviews) to see how they position their executives as experts.

From this qualitative analysis, you should have a solid grasp of each competitor’s:

competitor report

  • Target audience: Who are they going after? Consider demographics, job roles, industries, etc.

  • Market category: How do they classify their solutions? What market do they put themselves in?

  • Value proposition: What is the key value and benefits they promise to deliver?

  • Differentiators: How do they set themselves apart from competitors? What’s their unique angle?

  • Brand voice: What’s their brand personality and communication style?

Document these findings so you can compare competitors and identify patterns and gaps. Look for opportunities to claim your unique space by:

  • Targeting an underserved customer segment
  • Focusing on different key benefits or pain points
  • Articulating a compelling alternative viewpoint
  • Communicating in a fresh tone and style that will resonate with customers

Step 3: Evaluate Competitors’ Products and Pricing

competitor report check

Next, it’s time to take a closer look at exactly what your competitors are offering and how they package and price it. This will help you evaluate how your own products and services stack up.

For each competitor:

  • List out their full range of products/services. How does this compare to yours in terms of breadth and depth?

  • Note specific features, capabilities, and attributes. How does their feature set compare to yours?

  • Map their products/services to yours. Which are most similar? How are they different or unique?

  • Analyze their pricing model and packaging. Do they charge a flat rate, per user, by consumption? Do they offer good-better-best packages?

  • Document their price points. How do they compare to yours and other competitors? Are they positioning as a premium, cheap, or mid-range option?

  • Take note of any free trials, freemium offerings, promotions or discounts. How are they reducing risk and lowering barriers to entry?

  • Check if they list any integrations, partners or compatible services that expand their ecosystem and value.

  • Look for signs of price changes, new products or feature updates to gauge how fast they’re innovating.

This analysis will give you insight into your competitive differentiators, gaps in your offerings, and opportunities to provide more value or find an underserved price point. It will also help you prepare for sales situations where prospects are comparing you head-to-head with competitors.

Step 4: Assess Competitors’ SEO Effectiveness

competitor analyzer report check

Now let’s dive into the nitty gritty of how your competitors are approaching SEO. Examining their organic search presence will shed light on the keywords and topics they’re targeting, their content strategy, and technical optimizations.

Some key things to analyze:

Keyword Rankings

Use SEO tools like Semrush, Ahrefs or Moz to evaluate competitors’ keyword rankings and estimate their organic traffic. Take note of:

  • Their top ranking keywords to see which search terms are driving the most traffic
  • Keyword overlap with your own target terms to gauge how directly you’re competing for rankings
  • The competitiveness and search volume of the keywords they rank for
  • Opportunities to target relevant keywords they may be overlooking

On-Page SEO

Do a page-by-page analysis of competitors’ key website pages and blog posts to evaluate their on-page optimization, including:

  • Page titles and meta descriptions – are they compelling, keyword-rich and optimized for click-through rates?
  • URL structure – are they using concise, descriptive slugs with target keywords?
  • Headings – are they using keyword-rich H1s and H2s to clearly communicate page topics?
  • Content length and depth – are they creating comprehensive, in-depth content or thin, shallow pages?
  • Keyword placement and density – how frequently are they using target keywords in body copy, headings, etc?
  • Internal linking – are they strategically linking between related pages to boost relevance and authority?
  • Image optimization – are they using descriptive file names and alt text to help images rank?
  • Page load speed – are their pages loading quickly and providing a good user experience?
  • Mobile friendliness – are their pages well-optimized for mobile devices?
  • Schema markup – are they using structured data to enhance SERP listings with rich snippets?

Content Strategy

competitor analyzer report check

Take a high-level look at competitors’ content marketing to understand the quantity, quality, and topics of content they’re creating. Assess factors like:

  • Blogging frequency and consistency – how often are they publishing new posts?
  • Content formats – are they using a diverse mix of blog posts, videos, infographics, eBooks, etc?
  • Content length and comprehensiveness – are they creating in-depth ultimate guides and longreads or quick, shallow posts?
  • Popular topics and themes – which subjects are they covering most and getting engagement on?
  • Keyword targeting – which terms are they optimizing blog posts and assets around?
  • Visual content and media usage – are they leveraging images, videos, and other media to enhance content?
  • Content upgrades and lead magnets – are they using gated content to capture leads?
  • Calls-to-action and conversion optimization – are they effectively driving conversions and monetizing traffic?
  • Social engagement – which content is getting the most shares, likes and comments?

Backlinks remain one of the most important Google ranking factors. Use link research tools to analyze competitors’ inbound links, including:

  • Domain and page-level authority metrics to gauge their overall reputation and ability to rank content
  • Referring domains and backlink quantity to see the size and scope of their link profile
  • Top linked pages to identify linkable assets and content that is attracting links naturally
  • Anchor text distribution to see which keywords they’re targeting in link text
  • New and lost links to see how fast they’re gaining new links and identify potential risks from spammy links
  • Link velocity trends over time to benchmark their rate of link acquisition
  • Referring domain categories to understand the types of sites linking to them (e.g. media sites, blogs, directories, etc)

Studying competitors’ SEO strategies and performance will give you concrete data to inform your own keyword targeting, on-page optimizations, content plans and link building outreach. Look for opportunities to out-execute competitors by:

  • Optimizing pages for target keywords they’re neglecting
  • Writing more comprehensive, in-depth content on overlapping topics
  • Diversifying content formats and building more linkable assets
  • Securing links from authoritative sites they haven’t tapped

Step 5: Evaluate Competitors’ PPC Advertising Strategies

competitor analyzer report check

In addition to organic search, it’s important to analyze how competitors are leveraging paid search and display advertising. Even if you’re not doing PPC yourself, seeing what others are spending and bidding on provides insights into their priorities.

Key areas to analyze include:

Ad Copy and Messaging

Review competitors’ ad copy across Google, Bing, YouTube, and display networks to evaluate their messaging and calls-to-action. Take note of:

  • Keywords and phrases they’re bidding on and featuring in headlines
  • Unique value propositions and differentiators mentioned in copy
  • Offers and incentives promoted like discounts, free trials or demos
  • Landing page titles and copy for message match and continuity
  • Tone and style of the copy and how well it matches their brand voice
  • Use of ad extensions like sitelinks, callouts, structured snippets, etc.

Spend and Budget

Use competitive intelligence tools to estimate competitors’ monthly PPC budget and spend across different ad networks and formats. This will give you a sense of how aggressive they’re being and which channels they’re prioritizing.

Keywords and Campaigns

Drill down to see the specific keywords competitors are bidding on and the campaigns they’re running. Assess factors like:

  • Keyword overlap with your own target terms and campaigns
  • Estimated cost-per-click (CPC) and positioning for target keywords
  • Campaign structure and ad groups to infer their goals and strategy
  • Landing page relevance and conversion optimization
  • Geographic and device targeting to identify markets and segments they’re going after

Display and Remarketing

Don’t forget to also look at competitors’ display ad creative and remarketing campaigns to see how they’re engaging prospects across the web. Evaluate:

  • Ad formats and sizes they’re using (text ads, image ads, rich media)
  • Publishers and ad networks they’re buying inventory through
  • Frequency and reach of campaigns to gauge budget and aggressiveness
  • Remarketing and audience targeting tactics to see how they’re bringing back site visitors

Competitive PPC analysis gives you intelligence to optimize your own paid media by:

  • Uncovering new profitable keywords to bid on
  • Identifying gaps where you can bid on terms competitors are ignoring
  • Gaining ideas to punch up your ad copy and offers
  • Finding new ad networks and publisher sites for your media buys
  • Improving your campaign structure and tailoring landing pages

Step 6: Analyze Competitors’ Social Media Presence

competitor analysis report check

Social media is another key frontier in digital marketing where you can gain a window into competitors’ strategies. Unlike PPC and SEO, most of your competitors’ social activity is publicly accessible for you to analyze.

Key metrics and areas to assess across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and other active social channels include:

Audience Size and Growth

Track competitors’ follower counts and audience growth over time for each social network. This gives you a high-level gauge of their reach and how quickly they’re attracting new fans.

Posting Frequency and Consistency

Monitor how often competitors are posting and how consistently they’re active on each social channel. Frequent, steady posting is a sign that they’re investing time and resources in social.

Content Mix

Analyze the types and topics of content competitors are posting, including links to their own site content, third-party articles, images, videos, polls, etc. Take note of formats and subjects that get strong engagement.

Engagement Metrics

Assess competitors’ likes, shares, comments and overall engagement rates for their social posts. High engagement is a signal that their content is resonating and striking a chord with the audience.

Hashtag Usage

See which hashtags competitors are using frequently and strategically to expand their reach and tap into relevant conversations. Look for popular industry and topic hashtags you can leverage.

Mentions and Sentiment

Use social listening tools to track mentions of competitors’ brands and gauge overall sentiment. This can alert you to PR crises, customer service issues, or positive buzz you can learn from.

competitor analysis report check

Don’t just look at organic social activity, but also use tools like Facebook’s Ad Library to see what paid campaigns competitors are running. Analyze the creative, copy, offers and landing pages they’re using for paid social.

Influencer Partnerships

Identify any influencers or thought leaders competitors are partnering with for social campaigns, takeovers or content collaborations. Consider whether you can form similar partnerships to tap into new audiences.

By spying on competitors’ social media activity, you can enhance your own strategy and execution with tactics like:

  • Posting more frequently and consistently where competitors are finding success
  • Experimenting with new content formats and media proven to engage followers
  • Participating in popular hashtags and trending conversations competitors are active in
  • Crafting social copy that speaks to audience needs competitors are overlooking
  • Launching paid campaigns and influencer partnerships to keep up with aggressive players

Step 7: Uncover Competitors’ Email Marketing Tactics

competitors analysis

Email remains one of the most effective channels for engaging prospects and customers. While you can’t access competitors’ email analytics, you can gain many actionable insights by signing up for their newsletters and analyzing their email campaigns.

Key things to look for:

List Building Techniques

See what competitors are doing to get email opt-ins through tactics like newsletter sign-up CTAs, content upgrades, webinars, contests, pop-ups and more. Also note how prominent and compelling their email CTAs are.

Email Content and Offers

Analyze competitors’ emails to see the types of content they’re delivering to subscribers. Common email content includes:

  • Blog post and article roundups to drive site traffic
  • Exclusive guides, tips and resources to provide list value
  • Promotions and offers to spur purchases
  • Product updates and company news
  • Event invitations and webinar registrations
  • Surveys and feedback requests

Take note of the mix of content and offers competitors are using, as well as any particular assets that stand out as unique or compelling.

Subject Lines

Pay close attention to the subject lines competitors use and look for patterns in terms of length, content, tone and style. Strong subject lines can dramatically boost open rates.


Analyze the calls-to-action competitors are using in emails, in terms of both the language and design to make them stand out. CTAs are key for driving conversions from email.

Formatting and Design

Assess the formatting and design of competitors’ emails in

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