If you run a business, chances are that you have some sort of presence on the worldwide web. Since you don’t operate in a vacuum, it’s worth finding out who your competitors are in order to fine tune your online strategy.

How can you easily draw a list of those competitors?

Let’s start by defining the proxy we’ll use to identify a competitor.

If all websites were properly categorized in a beautiful index, it would be easy to come up with a list of suitable candidates.

Unfortunately it’s not the case. Most SEO platforms will determine the affinity between websites by comparing the keywords for which they rank on Google.

If two websites rank for a very similar collection of keywords, they’re likely to be competitors.

You can test this simple method via the “competing domains” sections of the leading SEO tools.

Here are the direct links to get a list of Canva.com main online competitors:

On ahrefs: https://app.ahrefs.com/positions-explorer/competing-domains/v2/subdomains/us/all/all/all/all/all/1/common_keywords_percentage_desc?target=canva.com

Canva.com competitors. Source: ahrefs
Canva.com competitors. Source: ahrefs

On SEMrush: https://www.semrush.com/analytics/organic/competitors/?sortField=&sortDirection=desc&db=us&q=canva.com&searchType=domain&date=20220122

Canva.com competitors. Source: SEMrush.
Canva.com competitors. Source: SEMrush.

SERPstat: https://serpstat.com/domains/competitors/?query=canva.com&se=g_us&search_type=subdomains

Canva.com "competitors". Source: SERPStat
Canva.com “competitors”. Source: SERPStat

On Alexa (Amazon will retire the service in May 2022): https://www.alexa.com/pro/audience-overlap#?sites=canva.com

Canva.com "competitors". Source: Alexa.com
Canva.com “competitors”. Source: Alexa.com

On Similarweb: https://www.similarweb.com/fr/website/canva.com/#similarSites

Canva.com competitors. Source: Similarweb.
Canva.com competitors. Source: Similarweb.

Do not forget to exclude branded keywords

As you can see from the examples above, ahref, SEMrush and Similarweb give fairly similar – rather relevant – results.

There’s a major issue though with the (very limited) suggestions provided by SERPStat (and to a lesser extent Alexa), which gives us the opportunity to stress a crucial point in the keywords landscape comparison methodology: you should always remove the branded keywords from the pool of ranking terms.

By default Canva.com will rank for all sorts of (xyz) Canva (xyz) combinations. If you look for other sites ranking for “Canva something” or “something Canva” – like for instance “Canva templates” – you’ll end up with Pinterest, etsy, Creativemarket and others which are NOT per se Canva competitors but places where vendors market Canva-related products. Focusing on non-branded keywords, ahrefs and SEMRush offer a more relevant competitive landscape including the likes of Crello, Picmonkey or Visme. The relevancy of the seeding keywords is essential. Facebook and Wix would probably have been excluded from the results if Similarweb had restricted their analysis to the actual high intent functional terms (such as “wedding invitation templates” or “youtube banner template”) instead of including branded intruders.

How to craft your own competitive intelligence tool

You can generate your own list of competing domains by running a Google search for a selection of keywords, recording the first 50 to 100 ranked domains for each query, then deduplicating / shortlisting those domains based on the frequency of their presence in the SERP and their position for each run.

There are a few SERP APIs on the market to perform this type of research: serpwow.com, serpapi.com, valueserp.com, etc.

You can call those APIs via Integromat, from a list of keywords compiled in a Google Sheet, then apply a few rules to generate a shortlist of competing domains.

The list is only the beginning…

Having a relevant list of online competitors is a great start but it’s only the beginning of your marketing efforts.

What can you do with such a list to inform your business strategy?

Reverse-engineer the SEO strategy of your competitors

First of all you should determine where you stand versus your competitors at a high SEO level, in terms of ranked keywords, estimated organic traffic and Traffic to Keyword Ratio, which gives you an indication of the performance of the keywords (how much traffic a site gets for each ranked keyword). Then you should dive into the keyword lists of each domain to identify keyword gaps opportunities, starting with low competition (usually long tail) keywords. Visit the pages which help your competitors rank for specific keywords, to get a sense of the content helping them to rank for those keywords. Bear in mind that ranking is also influenced by the backlinks pointing to those pages.

Get inspired by the social media (in)activity of your competitors

You should also analyse the social media presence (or absence) of your competitors.

On which channels are they active? How much engagement do they get on each channel? Which type of creatives do they publish? etc. You’ll start with quantitative analysis, followed by qualitative research. If your competitors aren’t very on Youtube, there might be an opportunity to own this space. If a certain type of visual delivers great engagement for one of your competitors on Instagram, this might inspire your own production. If your main competitor is gaining traction on TikTok, you should maybe explore this channel. Obviously it depends on the industry. B2B vendors won’t gain much from a TikTok presence but should probably focus on inbound marketing amplified by a strong Linkedin presence.

If you know the social media handles of your competitors, you can use a tool like Socialblade to collect quantitative social media data. You can also use tools like BigSpy or Adspy to unveil your competitors’ paid social media efforts.

Keep regular track of everyone’s trajectory

The web is a very dynamic landscape. You can be at the top of page one on Google today and slide to page two in a matter of weeks. You can lead your space on Youtube and quickly get outranked by an upcoming challenger. It’s a neverending battle. You should keep track of everyone’s trajectory, both from a SEO and social media perspective, to adapt your creative efforts to the level of activity in your competitive landscape.

Coming Soon

With the application designed by KPICrunch you will soon be able to generate a list of competitors, analyse their SEO performance & social media activity and keep track of each competitor’s trajectory. Stay tuned.