Using Your Competition to Gain an SEO Advantage

Date: November 7, 2019

competitors in a race lined up at the starting line

By recognizing and studying your competition — as opposed to trying to forget that they’re there — you can significantly increase your SEO ranking and domain authority

It can be easy to feel contempt for the companies and websites who are vying for your keywords and SEO rankings. Let’s be honest, it takes a lot of time and effort to effectively rank for a specific keyword, and when a competitor comes and beats you out, it can feel like all your hard work was for naught. 

Fortunately, we don’t have to view online competition in such a negative light. As a matter of fact, if used correctly, your competitors can actually help strengthen your SEO strategy. 

Here are five ways to utilize your competition to gain a strong SEO advantage:

Check analytics

One of the best ways to measure your own performance is to see how well you stack up against others in your industry. Tools like SEMrush allow you to enter your competitions’ URL and uncover a broad range of information, such as top organic keywords, paid keywords, search ranking, organic and paid competitors, referring domains, backlinks, and more. 

Content ideas

The idea is not to duplicate what your competitors are doing, but instead to gain a broad understanding of the types of content that they are producing and the level of engagement that their content is attracting. To get a glimpse into your competitors’ content strategy, and better insight into your audience, review their blog posts on a weekly or monthly basis and take a look at:

  • What topics they have chosen to write about
  • How their readers are engaging with their content
  • Which posts are attracting a lot of social shares and comments

You can then use your findings to help guide your own content strategy. Again, the idea is not to copy, but to adopt, adapt, enhance, and ultimately rank higher for more heavy-hitting keywords. 

Backlink mirroring

Backlinks, or incoming links to your website from other sites, are a weighted component of your SEO score. The more quality backlinks your website has, the higher your SEO ranking and domain authority will be. When trying to build your link profile, it’s helpful to know where your competitors’ backlinks are originating from so you can mirror their strategy. 

Tools like SEMrush can help you research your competitors’ link profiles and examine where they are getting their backlinks. From there, you can deconstruct their strategy and build your own by trying to earn backlinks from similar sources. Again, the goal is not to copy your competitors’ strategy but to use it as a guide. 

Social mirroring

Examining the people who follow your competitors on social media can provide insight into your audience and give you an opportunity to grow your follower base. Choose your desired social platforms and take a look at the demographics following your competitors. From there, you can choose the most engaged individuals and follow them, and since they are already inclined to follow companies like yours, they will be more likely to follow you back. 


While this may sound counterintuitive, it is actually a good idea to engage with your competitors publicly and directly. Comment on their blogs and social media posts, share their content, and engage in friendly online banter. Your competitors will appreciate the extra exposure and most-likely engage with your comments, which ultimately enhances both brands’ visibility and boosts both parties’ SEO scores. 

When working on your SEO strategy, it’s important to remember that your competition is critical to your own success. They can provide a benchmark for success in web analytics, offer new and interesting content ideas, give you inroads to high-quality backlinks, provide exclusive insight into your target audience, and provide solid platforms for higher levels of exposure and engagement. 

By recognizing and studying your competition, as opposed to trying to forget that they’re there, you can significantly increase your SEO ranking and domain authority. There may be times where you are giving them more exposure than you feel comfortable with, but the long-term benefits will be well worth that momentary discomfort.

Need help executing an SEO competitive analysis? Drop us a line.