Have you ever felt a nudge of envy seeing your competitors snag that coveted top spot on the search results?
Well, it’s time to turn that envy into action and claim your rightful throne.
In this article, I’ll unravel the secrets behind dominating those search engine results pages (SERPs). From savvy SEO strategies to the magic of meaningful content, we’re about to embark on a journey that will transform your online presence.
Without further ado, let’s begin!
Why You Need to Know Your Top SERP Competitors
Understanding your SERP competitors can revolutionize your strategy, helping you make smarter decisions to enhance your online presence and business performance. It goes beyond identifying who they are but also about learning from their successes and failures.
This competitive intelligence can significantly enhance your strategic decision-making, guiding you toward more effective and informed SEO efforts.
Here are reasons why you should know your top SERP competitors:
1. It Uncovers Keyword Opportunities
Knowing your competitors exposes you to their keyword strength. Your competitors are ranking for specific keywords that are relevant to your industry. You can discover new keyword opportunities for your SEO strategy by analyzing which keywords they focus on.
Also, you’ll have access to more targeted keyword planning, which can help you appear in relevant searches and attract higher-quality traffic.
2. It Benchmark and Evaluate Your Performance
Knowing where your competitors stand in search results allows you to benchmark your website’s performance. This gives you a realistic view of your site’s strengths and weaknesses, an objective basis for evaluating the effectiveness of your SEO strategies, and a clearer idea of the areas that need improvement.
3. It Gives You Insights Into Their Content Strategies
Analyzing your competitors’ content will give you insights into what quality and types of content are most effective since they are likely producing content that resonates with the target audience.
However, insights into what your audience cares about allow you to create content that directly addresses their needs, questions, or problems.
Observing the comments, shares, or engagement metrics on competitor sites can help identify what resonates with your audience, which you can adapt to your content strategy.
4. It Helps to Monitor Algorithm Adaptability
Search engines frequently update their algorithms. If a competitor suddenly rises or drops in rankings, it can signal that they’ve adapted to an algorithm change, offering clues on how to adjust your strategy.
How to Find Your Top SERP Competitors
1. Manual Google Search
Using Google to find your top SERP competitors is a straightforward process, and it’s a good starting point for anyone who doesn’t have access to professional SEO tools. Here’s how to go about it:
A. Input your keyword in the Google search bar
For each keyword you’ve identified, type it into Google and analyze the first page of results, particularly the top 10 results. These are your primary competitors for that specific keyword.
For instance, keyword.com targeted the keyword “entity seo” on one of their pages. Their top SERP competitors for that keyword using manual search are:
B. Search with Variations and Long-Tail Keywords
Your initial list of keywords may be broad. Try searching with more specific, long-tail keywords to identify niche competitors. For instance, instead of “shoes,” try “women’s running shoes in New York.”
Often, you might not be able to identify specific competitors with short-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords help you get direct sites targeting the same topic.
Abhi Bavishi said, “I’ve done some SEO work for a startup focused on e-commerce. They wanted to rank for “smart home,” but big names dominated that space.
Instead of going head-to-head, we took a detour. We used ‘long-tail keywords,’ like “how to choose a smart home system on a budget.”
That way, we climbed up the ranks for less competitive terms.
In just six months, we moved to the first page on Google. Our startup ranks second for that tough keyword, “home automation” or “smart home.”
How Do You Get Keyword Variations?
# Using Google Autosuggestion
Google’s autosuggestion, often referred to as “autocomplete,” is a function within Google Search that provides users with search query predictions as they type.
The suggestions you see in the dropdown menu as you type a query are actual searches done by others. The goal is to help users formulate their search queries more efficiently by offering suggestions based on popular and recent searches and the user’s search history.
This strategy can be a goldmine for keyword research because it provides insights into what people frequently search for.
Sometimes, Google tailors your suggestions based on your search history, location, or settings. If you want unbiased results, use Incognito or Private mode in your browser.
Start by typing a broad keyword or topic of interest into the search bar without hitting ‘Enter.’ The dropdown menu will display a range of suggested search terms, which can serve as potential long-tail keyword opportunities.
# People Also Ask
Google’s “People Also Ask” (PAA) feature provides a rich resource for those who want to explore user questions related to a particular query.
These questions can give you insights into what users seek concerning a topic. It can help you identify long-tail keyword opportunities and generate topic ideas for your content if used correctly.
The “people also ask” box is usually found between search results. When you click on a question in the PAA box, it will expand to show an answer, typically pulled from a relevant webpage.
More importantly, every time you click on a question, Google adds more questions at the bottom. This allows you to uncover a long chain of related questions by continually expanding them.
# Related Searches
At the bottom of each SERP, Google provides a list of related search queries. Look at these to find more keyword variations and repeat the above steps. This can give more insights into your competitive landscape.
2. Using SEO Tools
Manual Google search is good, but using SEO tools to find your top SERP competitors is better and faster. These tools can help you find your competitors in the twinkle of an eye with no stress.
Here is a list of SEO tools that can make research easy for you:
1. Log in to SEMrush
If you don’t have an account, you must sign up for one. They offer both free and paid plans, with the paid plans providing more extensive data and tools.
2. Enter Your Domain
On the SEMrush dashboard, you’ll see a search bar at the top. Enter your website’s domain (e.g., “example.com”) and hit ‘Enter.’
3. Go to the ‘Organic Research’ Section
Once you’ve entered your domain, you’ll be taken to an overview page. On the left sidebar, under the “Domain Analytics” section, click on “Organic Research.”
4. Check ‘Competitors’ Tab
Within the Organic Research section, navigate to the “Competitors” tab. Here, SEMrush will display a list of your main organic search competitors based on common keywords and visibility.
5. Analyze the Data
The Competitors tab will show a table with various domains, their common keywords with your site, search engine keywords, and other metrics like SE Traffic and SE Traffic Price. The domains listed here are your top SERP competitors.
The “Competition Level” metric can also be useful. It measures how closely a competitor’s keyword profile matches yours.
6. Dive Deeper
Click on any competitor’s domain for a detailed analysis of their organic search performance, backlink profile, top pages, and more.
7. Check for Specific Pages
If you want to find competitors for a specific page on your website (rather than the entire domain), you can enter the full URL of that page in the SEMrush search bar. Then, follow the same steps to see which domains/pages compete with that specific URL.
For instance, I analyzed keyword.com’s top SERP competitors for the keyword “entity seo.”
1. Log in to Ahrefs
If you don’t have an account, you must sign up for one. Ahrefs doesn’t have a free plan, but they often offer a trial period for a nominal fee.
2. Enter Your Domain or URL:
On the Ahrefs dashboard, you’ll see a search bar at the top. Enter your website’s domain (e.g., “example.com”) or a specific page URL, then hit ‘Enter’.
3. Navigate to ‘Competing Domains’:
Once you’ve entered your domain or URL, you’ll land on the ‘Overview’ page. From the left sidebar, under the “Organic search” section, click “Competing Domains.” This section will show you domains that rank for the same keywords as you do.
4. Analyze the Data:
The ‘Competing Domains’ page will list your top competitors based on shared keywords. You’ll see metrics like the number of common keywords, unique keywords for each domain, and the traffic they get from those keywords.
The “Intersection” graph visually represents the overlap of keywords between your domain and competitors. You can click on specific sections of the graph to see your common keywords.
5. Dive Deeper with ‘Competing Pages’
If you’re interested in finding competitors for a specific page of your website, Ahrefs has a “Competing Pages” feature. This will show you individual pages from other domains that rank for the same keywords as your specified page.
To access this, enter the URL in the Ahrefs search bar, navigate to “Organic keywords” on the left sidebar, and click “Competing Pages” at the top.
1. Log in to Moz Pro:
If you don’t have a Moz Pro account, you’ll need to sign up for one. Moz offers a free trial for new users, so you can explore its features before committing to a plan.
2. Enter Your Domain or URL
You’ll see a search bar or an option to add a campaign on the Moz Pro dashboard. Enter your website’s domain (e.g., “example.com”) or a specific page URL.
3. Set Up a Campaign
If it’s your first time, you’ll need to set up a campaign for your domain. Follow the prompts, input your domain, and choose the search engines and locations you want to track.
4. Navigate to ‘Competitive Research’
Once your campaign is set up and data has been gathered (this might take some time), go to the “Competitive Research” section on the left sidebar.
5. Click on ‘Competitor Overlap’
Under the “Competitive Research” section, click on “Competitor Overlap.” This tool will show you domains with keyword ranking overlap with your site.
6. Analyze the Data
The ‘Competitor Overlap’ page will display a Venn diagram showing the keyword overlap between your site and potential competitors. You can add or remove competitors to see the overlap.
Below the diagram is a list of potential competitors, the number of overlapping keywords, and other relevant metrics.
Best ways to outrank your top SERP
According to Forbes, 75% of internet users don’t go beyond the search engine results first page. You might be invisible to many users and potential customers if you’re not on the first page of search engines.
This shows that the competition is fierce, and one of the biggest challenges you’ll face is climbing the search engine rankings to outrank your top competitors. Being visible on the first page of Google is not child’s play; it’s a necessity for online success.
Let’s see how you can beat your competitors hands down on your way to the first page of search engines.
1. User Experience
User Experience (UX) is becoming increasingly crucial in SEO, especially since Google has begun incorporating Core Web Vitals into their ranking signals. Optimizing UX ensures that your website is user-friendly, leading to higher engagement, longer time on site, and better conversion rates.
Here are factors that contribute to a smooth user experience:
- Page Speed
As user experience becomes increasingly important, search engines like Google have started giving more weight to page speed in their ranking algorithms.
Slow-loading websites often have high bounce rates because customers will not hang on to a slow-loading website.
Slow page speed will increase the bounce rate of your website, which will, in turn, affect your ranking on search engines. Faster websites are more efficient and enjoyable, often leading to users spending more time on the site and engaging with more content. This positive user behavior can send favorable signals to search engines.
In 2015, Google rolled out its mobile-friendly update, which made mobile-friendliness a ranking factor. Websites that aren’t optimized for mobile can suffer in search engine rankings, especially in mobile search results.
With the majority of global internet users accessing the web via mobile devices, a mobile-friendly website ensures that users have a seamless and efficient experience. Google prioritizes user experience, and a site that’s hard to navigate on mobile can deter users, leading to higher bounce rates.
- Technical SEO
Technical SEO refers to optimizing the infrastructure of a website to help search engines crawl, index, and interpret the site more effectively. Unlike on-page and off-page SEO, which focus on content and external factors, technical SEO is all about the website’s backend structure and foundation.
– Utilize robot.txt
A robot.txt file tells search engine crawlers which pages to crawl and which to ignore.
– Create an XML sitemap
XML Sitemaps: Provide search engines with a map of all the pages you want to be indexed.
– Submit your pages for Google Indexing
2. Quality Content
Search engines like Google don’t reward content created to maneuver its way into the algorithm just to rank. Search engine algorithms now speak the write-for-people language by pushing only content that satisfies searchers’ intentions.
Google clarified this fact in their Helpful content update:
” The helpful content system aims to better reward content where visitors feel they’ve had a satisfying experience, while content that doesn’t meet a visitor’s expectations won’t perform as well.”
To grab the helm of Google’s quality content standard, here are some questions to vet your content:
- Does the content provide original information, reporting, research, or analysis?
- Does the content provide a substantial, complete, or comprehensive description of the topic?
- Does the content provide insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond the obvious?
- If the content draws on other sources, does it avoid simply copying or rewriting those sources, and instead provide substantial additional value and originality?
- Does the main heading or page title provide a descriptive, helpful summary of the content?
- Does the main heading or page title avoid exaggerating or being shocking in nature?
- Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
- Would you expect to see this content in or referenced by a printed magazine, encyclopedia, or book?
- Does the content provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
- Does the content have any spelling or stylistic issues?
- Is the content produced well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
- Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?
# E-E-A-T Update
What is E-E-A-T?
- Experience: Google stated in the E-E-A-T update, “Does content also demonstrate that it was produced with some degree of experience, such as with actual use of a product, having actually visited a place or communicating what a person experienced? There are some situations where really what you value most is content produced by someone who has first-hand, life experience on the topic at hand.”
- Expertise: Is the content creator knowledgeable about the subject? This doesn’t always mean formal education; for example, personal experience counts as expertise in many “everyday” topics.
- Authoritativeness: This refers to both the author of the content and the website hosting it. Are they recognized as an authority on the subject? This can be judged by the quality of the content, credentials, reviews, and other sites linking to it.
- Trustworthiness: Does the website and the content seem trustworthy? This includes accurate information and the security of the site itself.
How to Improve E-E-A-T
Highlight Credentials: If you’re an expert in a particular field, ensure this is clear to readers. This can be through an “About” page or bio.
Quality Backlinks: Earn backlinks from reputable sites in your industry. This can help bolster your site’s authoritativeness.
Keep Content Updated: Regularly updating your content to reflect the most recent and accurate information can boost your trustworthiness.
Encourage Reviews: If applicable, encourage satisfied customers or readers to leave positive reviews on third-party platforms.
Secure Your Site: Ensure your website uses HTTPS and follows best practices for web security.
Clear Contact Information: Having clear, easy-to-find contact information can enhance trustworthiness.
Cite Reliable Sources: When making claims, particularly in YMYL content, always cite reliable and reputable sources.
# Prioritize Search Intent
Picture this: you’re planning a surprise birthday party, and you need to bake a chocolate cake.
You quickly type “best chocolate cake recipe” into your search engine, hoping to find the perfect guide. Now, wouldn’t it be delightful if the first result gave you a recipe and tips on frosting, decoration, and maybe even a quick video tutorial? That, my friend, is the magic of search intent satisfaction.
Search intent satisfaction is about understanding and meeting the user’s underlying desire when they type a query into a search engine. It’s not just about answering the question but providing value beyond the obvious.
You mustn’t hit the publish button until your content stands as the all-time go-to centre on the target keyword. Besides, Google’s primary goal is to organize the world’s information and provide its users with the most relevant, highest-quality results based on their search queries. That’s why they provided a list of questions to gauge how your page matches search intent.
- Does your content clearly demonstrate first-hand expertise and a depth of knowledge (for example, expertise that comes from having actually used a product or service or visiting a place)?
- Does your site have a primary purpose or focus?
- After reading your content, will someone leave feeling they’ve learned enough about a topic to help achieve their goal?
- Will someone reading your content leave feeling like they’ve had a satisfying experience?
3. BUILD BACKLINKS
Backlinks are votes of trust from other websites.
Matthew Ramirez, a serial entrepreneur and investor and Forbes 30 under 30 alumni, affirms that a factor that influences the SERPs is the website’s trustworthiness. A site with a higher Domain Authority rating has a better chance of ranking than another site with a lower rating. The way to increase your domain’s rating is to collect as many backlinks as possible from authoritative sites.
He continued that one of the best ways to do this is to partner with websites related to your niche and exchange backlinks. Many websites are happy to exchange links with other sites in the same industry, which can boost your domain rating and improve your SERP position.
Focus on acquiring high-quality backlinks from authoritative and relevant websites through guest posts, industry outreach, or quality content that people naturally link to.
Ways to Get Backlinks
# Create linkbait content – statistics and guides
Create high-quality, unique, and informative content that others naturally want to link to.
# Outreach strategy
# Broken link strategy
Find broken links on other websites (especially those relevant to your niche). Contact the website owner and suggest replacing the broken link with one of your links.
You can use this email template:
Subject: Collaboration Opportunity for [Recipient’s Website/Blog Name]
Hi [Recipient’s Name],
I’m [Your Name] from [Your Company/Website Name]. I’ve admired your work on [specific topic or niche, e.g., “sustainable living”]. I see a great fit between our recent piece on [Your Article/Content Title with a link] and your article on [Their Relevant Article/Content Title].
Would you consider a collaboration or backlink exchange? I believe it could benefit both our audiences.
I look forward to hearing from you!
Best, [Your Name] [Your Contact Information]
# Using journalist request platforms like HARO, Qwoted, Helpab2bwriter
# Guest posting
Write articles for other websites in your niche. Ensure the site has a good domain authority and that they allow a link back to your site.
Case Studies on How A Site Outranked Its Top SERP Competitors for Target Keywords in Six Months
Krittin, the founder of WriteCream, shared two case studies on how he helped her client rank in the top three positions for all target keywords in three months.
Case Study 1: Outranking Competitors for a Client – Local SEO Strategy
“Challenge: Our client, a small local bakery, wanted to increase its online visibility and outrank competitors in local search results for keywords like “best artisanal bakery in [City Name].”
On-Page Optimization: We performed a thorough audit of the client’s website and optimized on-page elements, including meta tags, headings, and content, to align with the target keywords.
Local SEO: We created and optimized Google My Business (GMB) profiles, ensuring accurate information, engaging photos, and encouraging reviews from satisfied customers.
Content Strategy: We developed high-quality, locally-focused blog content, such as articles about the history of the bakery and the importance of supporting local businesses.
Link Building: We acquired local backlinks through outreach to local business directories and partnerships with complementary businesses in the area.
Mobile Optimization: We ensured the website was mobile-friendly and had fast loading times to enhance the user experience.
Within six months, our client’s website consistently ranked in the top 3 positions for the target keywords, surpassing established competitors. Organic search traffic increased by 60%, and the client reported a significant uptick in foot traffic to their bakery.
Case Study 2: Outranking Competitors for Our Website – Content Expansion Strategy
Challenge: We aimed to increase our website’s ranking for competitive keywords related to “AI and language models,” a highly competitive niche.
Keyword Research: We conducted extensive keyword research to identify long-tail and related keywords within our niche.
Content Expansion: We created in-depth, comprehensive articles covering various aspects of AI, language models, and their applications. Each article addressed specific keywords while providing valuable insights and practical tips.
Content Promotion: We actively promoted our articles through social media, email marketing, and outreach to industry influencers, encouraging them to share and link to our content.
User Experience Optimization: We improved website loading speed and ensured mobile responsiveness for a better user experience.
For a year, our website gradually climbed the SERPs for target keywords. We outranked several of our top competitors, securing positions in the top 5 search results for competitive terms. Organic traffic to our website doubled, and our thought leadership in the AI and language model space significantly enhanced our industry reputation.”
Anuyemi Ayobami is an SEO SaaS content writer with featured articles on Search Engine Radar, Ranktracker, Eden Content Hub, and more.
She is an expert in creating people-first content focused on conversion, not just ranking.
When she is not writing, she enjoys cooking.