With SEO continuing to get more competitive for SaaS companies, it’s important to keep an eye on your competitors to stay ahead of them.
It might seem like it’s easier to focus on your own SEO and content efforts, but research shows that brands with a better understanding of what their competitors are doing and how they measure up consistently outperform their competitors.
Having a good understanding of your competitors’ strategies can help you spot any weaknesses in your approach and help you set realistic goals based on actual data instead of guesswork.
In this guide, I’ll explain some of the key elements of doing a thorough SEO competitor analysis for your SaaS.This analysis will include multiple items like auditing your competitor’s backlinks, content, and organic performance.
With this SEO competitor analysis, you’ll be able to take on your most successful competitors and help your brand grow organically faster.
What is a SaaS SEO Competitor Analysis?
If you’re a SaaS company looking to get ahead with your SEO, it’s important to do a thorough competitor analysis.
This competitive analysis will give you a better understanding of the competitive landscape you’re in and help you identify any opportunities for improvement. According to Gartner, 85% of companies report that competitive research plays a central role in strategic planning.
Instead of just guessing your marketing strategy, you should take the time to research your top competitors to find out what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. You can also see here the best marketing channels for B2B SaaS companies.
Key areas to focus on include:
- What organic keywords they’re ranking for
- How many referring domains they have
- How many page 1 rankings they have
- How fast their site is growing organically
- If they’re neglecting technical SEO or not
- What their content looks like (is it relevant content or just generic content)
This kind of SEO competitor analysis, when done regularly, gives you the competitive insights you need to set goals based on data, spot opportunities, and make smarter (and more strategic) organic growth decisions.
Why is a SaaS SEO Competitor Analysis Needed?
If you want to make better decisions with your SEO campaigns, it’s important to do regular checkups on your competitor’s SEO efforts. That way, you can get a better understanding of how your top competitors are tackling SEO and what opportunities you have to outperform them.
For example, if a competitor is doing well with link building, you can find out where they’re getting their links from and potentially see if you can get links from them as well.
If you look at their search rankings, you can see which keywords they’re ranking for and if there are any keywords that you should be ranking for instead of them. With all this info, you can set benchmarks and goals that will help guide your SEO strategy and find opportunities to overtake your competitors organically.
When you do this competitive analysis, you want to focus on the weaknesses of your competitors that you can position as a strength for your brand.
So, if your competitors are creating weak and low-quality content, you can likely outrank them by investing more resources into your content creation efforts. If every competitor is creating the same 500-word article and copying off each other, you’ll want to take this a step further and blow everyone away with your content.
You should be doing this anyway, but this is just an example of how you can find weaknesses in your competitor’s SEO strategy.
How to Run a SaaS SEO Competitor Analysis
Having a solid understanding of your main competitors and their SEO strategies is almost a part of the foundation for making your own SEO strategy successful.
While you don’t want to copy everything your competitors do, you want to identify opportunities for growth and potential weaknesses in their SEO strategy.
Here is everything you need to keep in mind when doing an SEO analysis for your SaaS competitors.
Know Who Your Competitors Are
When it comes to a SaaS SEO competitor analysis, the first step is to figure out who your real and direct competitors are in your industry.
Some may seem obvious just because you offer similar products and services. But you want a list of every competitor, from direct competitors to indirect competitors. It doesn’t matter the level of competition; you just want to make a list of all your competitors who operate in your industry. Make a list of your competitors based on things like:
- What their core product features and functionality are
- Who their target customers are
- What geographic markets they’re in
- What their pricing strategy looks like
- What product tier they’re in
- If they’re ranking for the same keywords as you.
You’ll also want to include competitors in adjacent spaces. Keep an eye out for new competitors who might be gaining ground fast so you don’t get blindsided.
Doing this will help shape your SEO strategies to position yourself better and prevent you from losing organic reach.
Research Your Competitor’s Product and What Your Audience Thinks About It
Not only do you need to know who your competitors are, but you also need to know everything about them too. You need to have a good understanding of:
- Your competitor’s product and their product features
- How they’re positioned in their target market
- How their product is perceived.
Check out their website and content to get a better idea of how they’re leveraging their product in their content strategy. Like if they’re taking a product-led approach (see photo below) or just creating strictly informational content.
You’ll also need to find out things like:
- Who your competitor’s ideal users are
- What their differentiators are
- What their value propositions are.
You can also keep up with your competitor’s blog posts and newsletters so you can stay up to date on their content strategy.
If you want an actual look at your competitor’s product and access to their software, you can sign up for a free trial so you can get a solid understanding of how your product matches up to your competitors. If you don’t have the time for that, you can also watch their product demo videos that walk over different features of their product. You might be better off watching third-party walkthroughs since your competitor’s videos will likely be biased. Researching your competitor’s product will come in handy later on in this article.
You can also keep an eye on online communities and forums for your solution category to see what people are saying about them. This will most likely involve Reddit (which can be a great keyword research tool)
You can also leverage your sales team to get better insights about your competitors. Your sales team will have the most direct access to your target audience, so you can use them to get an idea of how potential customers feel about your competitors based on the products they’re using.
If you can find user pain points, you can leverage this in your content strategy. Sometimes, you can even make content calling out specific issues with your competitor’s product. Say for example your competitor is Hive and you come across this review that shows that their main pain point is that the product doesn’t provide any backups. You can create an alternative article to this like “How to store older tasks properly.”
Now you can create content along your audience’s buyers’ journey, and you’re now creating some brand separation from other well-known SaaS brands.
It’s a ruthless game with SaaS content marketing, but you better believe your competitors will do the same with you. It’s only fair that we throw some elbows back.
Compare Their Metrics Against Your Own
Now, we’ll actually want to start by checking your competitor’s SEO metrics. While we can’t see which keywords are bringing in revenue and how much revenue they’re bringing from organic, we can look at other SEO metrics like:
- Domain authority
- First-page keyword rankings
- Total referring domains
- Backlink relevance
- Total backlinks
In the case of backlinks, you can find websites where your competitors are getting relevant backlinks from, which you can then use to pitch your own website. If they’re willing to publish your competitors, they’ll likely publish you too.
That’s why you’ll also want to do a backlink gap analysis; if you find multiple competitors getting links from one website, you’ll likely want to pitch them first.
Most times it will just be a guest post, but you can also use this for Digital PR and niche expertise insertions.
Perform a Content Gap Analysis to See Where They’re Ranking
When it comes to a SaaS SEO competitor analysis, one of the most important steps is finding gaps in your own content strategy – when a competitor is ranking for a high-value keyword that your website isn’t targeting or ranking well for.
A content gap, also known as a keyword gap analysis, will help you find content topics that you should be ranking for but you just aren’t at the moment.
You can use tools like SEMrush and Ahrefs to automate this content gap analysis for you. Doing this regularly will help you avoid missing out on potential content opportunities or losing potential customers to your competitors. Remember, don’t just blanky target competitor keywords just because they’re ranking for them.
Your content gap analysis should be done at least quarterly to keep up with your organic search competitors and their content efforts. Just know, whenever you complete your content gap, only prioritize keywords that have revenue or relevant brand awareness potential attached to them. Don’t prioritize keywords only on search volume.
Run a Backlink Gap to See Where They’re Getting Backlinks From
If you want to beat your competition through SEO, you’ll want to do a backlink analysis as well.
A backlink analysis, also known as a link gap analysis, will give you an idea of which websites your competitors are getting links from so you can target those same websites.
Compare their success to your own backlink profile and see what you can do too.
Find out how they’re getting backlinks too. Your competitors are likely getting links from:
- Link magnets
- Guest posts
- Digital PR
Look at Other Forms of Content Your Competitors Are Creating
If you want to get a complete picture of your competitor’s content marketing strategy, you need to look beyond just blog posts.
Check out their website and resource pages to see what types of content they’re creating. This can be:
You can also take a look at the content formats they use, like interactive tools, calculators, and assessments.
Finally, you can follow their email newsletters to stay on top of their content distribution.
While this isn’t SEO-related, it will still help you stay on top of their content assets and how they’re leveraging them in their SEO strategy. And if you want to analyze your competitor’s blog posts, you’ll want to see if they’re answering the user’s search intent or not. You’ll want to look at things like:
- Are they only creating informational content?
- Is their content relevant to their audience?
- Is their content all over the place?
- Are they building topical authority?
- Are they focusing on BoFu topics like alternatives, category content, and competitor vs competitor?
- Are they using templates in their content, or is it unique?
- Is their content even optimized for SEO?
There are plenty more questions you can ask yourself when reviewing your competitor’s blog posts, but these are the main points you’ll want to look out for.
Analyze How Your Competitors Are Using CTAs
Take a look at how your competitors are using Call-To-Actions (CTA) in their content.
See if they’re using benefit-driven language that tells the user what they’ll get out of their product and if they’re using strong verbs such as “Download,” “Get Started,” and “Sign Up.”
Also, check where their CTA placement is within their content, like if they have CTAs in the hero section, sidebars, or pop-ups.
Finally, you can use these CTA formats on your website to A/B test which CTAs resonate with your audience the most.
Find Strengths and Weaknesses With Their Marketing Efforts
Competitors have a lot of strengths and weaknesses that can be used to help you out.
Take a look at their strengths and weaknesses to figure out what you can do to get ahead of them.
For competitor strengths, think about:
- If their content resonates with their target audience
- How they’re authoritative to buyers
- If their pricing strategy is easy to understand
- What their search engine rankings look like
- If they’re targeting relevant keywords
- How many backlinks they have
- How much community they have
- Who their content creators are
- If they have a solid content plan
- What new content formats they’re using
- If they have a strong social media presence
For weaknesses, look out for things like:
- Weak content
- Slow site speed
- Only creating informational content
- Confusing pricing models
- Failing to match user search intent with content
- Poor mobile experience
- Poor user experience
- Ignoring customer feedback
- Weak backlink profile
- Not active on social media platforms like LinkedIn
- Missing content opportunities
Monitor Your Competitor’s SEO Performance Over Time
You also want to monitor how your competitor’s SEO performance is trending over time.
Instead of focusing solely on daily data, you’ll want to watch out for possible growth spikes (look at their monthly growth rate) or free falls in traffic.
You can use SEO tools like Ahrefs and SEMrush to track competitor performance, and their data goes back over 5 years, so you can get a bigger picture in most cases.
Best Tools for A SaaS SEO Competitor Analysis
If you want to get a complete picture of your competitor’s SEO strategy, you need to use the right SEO tools to get better insights. Here are some of the best SEO tools you can use for competitor analysis.
If you’re looking for an all-around SEO tool for competitor research, Ahrefs is probably the best option out there.
Site Explorer will show you performance data across your entire competitor’s website. This includes things like:
- Referring domains
- Organic pages
- Organic traffic (this is an estimate)
- Crawled pages
You can also see where they’re getting the most traffic from, depending on whether your competitors are focusing on international SEO.
You can even use Ahrefs to see how many broken links your competitors have. If you’re feeling bold, you can steal their broken links by using a broken link building strategy.
For me personally, I find Ahrefs is the best out there for finding link opportunities.
SEMrush is another great alternative to Ahrefs and works just as well as a competitive research tool for SEO.
You can use their competitive research toolkit, which has everything you need, from organic and paid strategies to position tracking and traffic analytics.
You can use both Ahrefs and SEMrush to perform backlink analysis and content gaps.
SimilarWeb is another great tool you can use for competitive research when it comes to their digital strategies.
It shows you:
- The breakdown of traffic sources
- Where they’re based
- How well they’re doing in different regions
- What kind of content they’re posting
- What kind of referral channels they’re using
Plus, you can compare their marketing strategies and see which ones stand out.
Which Frameworks Should You Use for a SaaS Competitor Analysis?
If you want to get the most out of your competitor research, it’s important to break it down into strategic frameworks that can be used to make tactical recommendations.
Some of the competitor frameworks you can use include:
- SWOT Analysis
- Positioning Map
- WIN/LOSS Analysis
- Porter’s Five Forces.
SWOT Analysis can help you identify your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses and how to use them to your advantage.
Weaknesses can be used to identify points that can be taken advantage of, while strengths can help you identify opportunities to focus on.
Positioning Map can help you map your brand positioning to your competitors, and WIN/LOSS analysis can help you understand why you won or lost against your competitors.
Finally, Porter’s Five Forces can help you identify where your competitors are weak and how to use that to your advantage.
What Your SaaS SEO Competitor Analysis Should Include
If you want to get into the nitty gritty of your competitor’s SEO strategy, you should focus on these analyses:
When doing a backlink gap, it’s important to look at:
- How many referring domains your competitors have
- What kind of links they’re getting
- How they’re spreading their link equity.
This will tell you what link-building, outreach, and partnership strategies your competitors are using that your brand could use too.
It’ll also show you where your competitors have more authoritative backlinks so you can figure out what you need to do to close the gap.
Doing a content gap analysis means looking at what your competitors are ranking for your target keywords, especially ones that people are searching for in the early stages of their research.
You need to figure out what topics and keywords they’re ranking for and what your content isn’t covering right now.
That info should help you figure out where to focus your content creation efforts.
You can use SEMrush or Ahrefs for this content gap. Both work very well for this.
Organic Search Reach
If you want to know how well your competitors are doing in terms of search reach, you need to look at how many keywords they’re ranking for and how much organic traffic they’re getting from search.
You almost want to use your own marketing funnel to match up against your competitor’s content. You’ll want to look at things like:
- If they covered BoFu in full
- How much relevant content they have that fits in your marketing funnel
- If they’re ranking well for these keywords
- If they’re targeting competitive keywords
If your biggest competitors are ranking well and covering 75% of your marketing funnel, your SEO will take a lot more effort to work.
But at least with this analysis, you can find out which areas you need to target first. If your competitor ranks for a money term, you’ll likely want to start your SEO efforts there and work your way up the funnel.
How Often Should I Run a SaaS Competitor Analysis?
An SEO competitor analysis isn’t a one-and-done task.
You’ll ideally want to run this competitor analysis at least every 1-2 quarters to see if they changed anything in their SEO strategy. Industry research from G2 Crowd even shows that high-growth SaaS companies review competitor activity at least quarterly.
If you have some tough competition, you can track things like rankings, backlinks, and content creation on a weekly basis to stay up to date with the latest changes.
But you’ll want to save this SEO competitor analysis for at least quarterly.
What to Avoid When Doing a SaaS SEO Competitor Analysis
Starting with a competitive analysis for your SaaS SEO strategy is a great way to kick things off, but there are a few things to keep in mind to make sure you do it right.
One of the biggest mistakes is to only look at a few data points or metrics (and looking at vanity metrics) when assessing competitors rather than looking at them from multiple angles.
For example, if you only focus on domain authority, you could miss out on content gaps or keyword opportunities, so it’s best to complete a full competitor analysis to get the big picture. Another mistake for your competitor analysis is to ignore indirect competitors just because they don’t look like direct competitors right now.
Keep an eye out for any threats with new approaches or solutions that could be targeting your audience so you can avoid being taken off guard by any rising competitors.
Cast a wide net when looking at the competition.
Improve Your SaaS SEO Strategy With a Competitor Analysis
If you want to create a winning SEO strategy for your SaaS, it all starts with knowing where you fit and how you match up against the competition. Doing quarterly SEO competitor analysis will give you all the necessary information to make smart decisions based on data, not guesswork.
Create a winning SEO strategy; start with a competitor analysis.