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FREE online course: Competitor Analysis with SEMrush 

Intro to Competitive Analysis

7 lessons


What is Competitive Analysis?

Hi! Welcome to the Competitor Analysis with SEMrush course! I'm your host, Navah Hopkins, international PPC speaker and SMB champion. I've used SEMrush on thousands of accounts, and I can't wait to share lessons learned to empower you on the path to profit and victory!

In the first lesson of our course, we'll cover the following:

  • The value of conducting competitive research
  • Outlining the various applications of competitive analysis
  • A brief overview of the Competitive Research Toolkit

What goes into a competitive analysis?

We all have competitors, and if you're like the average company, you're keeping tabs on at least 5 to 7 competitors at any given time (some of you go as high as 40)!

Competitive research can help you understand your brand's probability of profit in a given market, as well as what the roadblocks to victory will be.

To conduct competitor analysis, you're likely checking auction insights in your Google Ads account, doing manual searches to see what queries they're coming up on, doing deep dives into your competitors' landing page experiences… spending hours doing ad preview and diagnosis to see which regions they're in, logging into multiple platforms to see competitive referring domains…

That's a lot of work to fall on anyone's shoulders, especially if you represent an international brand.

How to conduct competitive analysis

SEMrush allows us to have a single source of competitive research: saving us valuable time on the road to brand domination!

Whether we're looking to assess a new promotional partnership, expand into a new market, or borrow brilliant strategies for our own profit, we need those valuable insights found in the Competitive Research Toolkit.

At a high level, the Competitive Research Toolkit provides data for all areas of competitive research that are critical for companies actively working online, starting from the big picture (market overview, competitive landscape, online presence strategies and tactics) to certain areas like website traffic, paid ads, organic performance, social media, content and PR. It also helps you understand your market, as well as prepare you for new markets.

We'll dive into greater detail of these features in later lessons, but I wanted to take some time to introduce you to Traffic Analytics and Market Explorer! This is just an introduction — we'll review their use cases as well as some of my favorite success stories in later lessons.

How does Traffic Analytics work?

Traffic Analytics sits at the top of the Competitive Research Toolkit's menu.

It is designed to check any company's website traffic and details of their online presence, including top destinations, best traffic sources, top pages, and visitor behavior.

In the tool, you'll be able to see important metrics, including:

  • Visits
  • Unique Visitors
  • Pages Per Visit
  • Bounce Rate
  • Traffic Sources
  • Geo Distribution
  • Top Pages

You'll also be able to segment the data by:

  • Device type — Mobile vs Desktop
  • Subdomains
  • Location
  • Period

The best way to think about Traffic Analytics is as your best friend who knows everything about everyone, and is willing to share, but doesn't have a motive in mind. Asking which pages are performing the best, where your audiences overlap, and where their traffic comes from doesn't inherently mean you want to 'steal' their strategies. You might be looking for insights on which media channels to partner with, or whether it makes sense to invest in a paid campaign.

In short,Traffic Analytics is about getting unbiased estimates, not suggestions, on your competitors' direct, referral, search, social, and paid traffic.

How does Market Explorer work?

Let's switch over to Market Explorer — you can find it right below Traffic Analytics.

With this tool, you'll be able to see how you stack up against brands SEMrush sees as relevant to your industry AND those you select yourself! All you need is to type your website name into the search bar — and off we go!

On the overview page, you'll see the SEMrush Growth Quadrant, which gives you the opportunity to get a competitive landscape for top industry players. Depending on the Traffic Growth rate and the Traffic Volume, the tool divides the market players into four segments:

Niche players — the websites that have a lower traffic volume relative to the rest and are slowly growing or not growing at all. These can be new companies, niche local players, or even old players that haven't been very successful recently — or the selected country is not their main market.

Game Changers — their website traffic is low, but the growth rate is much higher than the market average. These can be startups, companies actively investing in growth, or large companies entering the market.

Leaders — their website traffic is significant, and their traffic continues to grow very actively.

Established players — companies with established popularity among the audience, but their traffic growth isn't high enough compared to market growth — it's small or even declining.

It's important to pay attention to all quadrants, but particularly important to focus on the game changers who might be disrupting the space.

Each site listed will have insights on their traffic sources, share of visits, how your domain stacks up against the market, and the mechanics of the market.

Competitor Analysis: lesson summary

We discussed the importance of competitive research and how SEMrush makes it easier. We also introduced the Competitive Research Toolkit, which will be the star of our upcoming discussions.

That's it for lesson one of the "Competitor Analysis with SEMrush" course, we hope you learned something new. If you have any questions, feel free to tweet them to me directly at @navahf, or the professionals at the SEMrush Academy at @semrushacademy.

From here, we recommend continuing on with our next lesson, Competitive Landscape and Market Trends. If you haven't already, we encourage you to carve out a fixed 15 minutes each week for competitive analysis, or education time to grow your marketing perspective.

I'll see you in the next lesson! Happy hunting, and may profit ever be with you!