Whenever we start a new SEO project we look at and carry out an SEO audit on competitors. You will want to do the same. We need to understand what we are competing against so we know how long they have been marketing, how they are marketing, the power of their website, the optimisation of their website and the keywords they are already ranking for. We can also identify their best backlinks to see if we can also acquire those same backlinks.

Getting a good majority of the backlinks most of the competition on the 1st page of Google has, is going to increase the chances of your website ranking too.

So first you need to find your competitor sites so that we can start analysing them. Quick note: we will be using the tool ahrefs again, you can sign up for a free 7-day trial which will be more than enough for this purpose.

Search Google for your most prized keyword, the one you want to rank for the most. Analyse the list of webpages on the first page of Google. You want to note more homegrown websites and not pay too much attention to the larger authority brands. Bigger branded sites are usually going to have a lot of power and authority. Comb through the first two pages in Google and note any competitor sites in an excel sheet or Google sheet. Take another keyword and perform the same procedure for all. If your SEO project is a business that serves a specific geographical location, you can also do searches for that location and also searches for your main service or product.

You will end up with a Google sheet full of competitor pages.

The next step is to filter out webpages that are ranking based on spammy or illegitimate means. They may be ranking now but in time will fall out of the rankings. Take each one of your competitor webpages, go to ahrefs.com and paste the first competitor page into site explorer. Then navigate to the anchor text section. What you want to see here are obvious signs that the links are of poor quality. You’ll usually see an unnatural anchor text distribution that is heavily weighted for keywords. Other telltale signs are unnatural anchor text like no mentions of brand or domain etc.

Now navigate back to the backlinks section. Put each competing site through ahrefs. Be on the lookout for competitor backlinks that have keywords mentioned in the domain. You can make a note of directory links and blog comments but you don’t want too many. Select opportunities that are relevant meaning there is a keyword in the domain name of the backlink. Backlinks from relevant websites are going to be the most powerful.