How to do Competitor Analysis for Affiliate Marketing
Competitive analysis goes way beyond a quick look at the first page of Google results.
Conducting an in-depth analysis of your competitors can help you to identify areas for growth, find keyword opportunities, build backlinks, and more.
According to a 2020 survey conducted by the research firm Crayon, 70% of business leaders state that competitive intelligence is “Important” or “Absolutely Critical” to the success of their company:
Learning which methods are most effective for your competitors and make the biggest impact on your audience helps you to focus on the areas that will generate the best return on your efforts and drive the most affiliate sales.
- What is Competitive Analysis
- Tools to use for Competitor Analysis
- How to Identify Your Top Competitors
- Identify your Competitors’ Top Pages and Keywords
- Study Your Competitors’ Top Links and Relationships
- Research and Analyze your Competitors’ Marketing Strategies & Top Traffic Channels
- Performing a SWOT Analysis
- Developing Content and SEO strategies (based on opportunities/content gaps)
What is Competitive Analysis
Competitive analysis is the process of identifying your top competitors and researching the strengths and weaknesses of their marketing strategy.
By analyzing your competitors, you can gain insights into their strategy to inform and improve your affiliate marketing and promotional efforts.
It helps you to understand what your opponents are doing well, what you can incorporate into your strategy, and if there are any overlooked areas that you can capitalize on.
Tools to use for Competitor Analysis
There are a bunch of tools you can use to help you conduct a competitor analysis.
Some tools are free to use, but competitive analysis is a task where paid tools are really useful.
All-in-one tools like SEMRush and Ahrefs enable you to access information much faster than jumping between different free tools and adding data to a spreadsheet.
In no particular order, here’s a rundown of the best tools for affiliate marketing competitor analysis.
SEMRush is a comprehensive SEO tool that is great for keyword research, paid search, and competitor analysis.
It’s an excellent tool for analyzing the marketing strategy and performance of your competitors.
You can see the keywords that your competitors rank for, and the domains that link to their website.
SEMRush also shows you the search terms your competitor is ranking for in the featured snippets, and the keywords that drive the most traffic.
There’s also a content gap tool to show you the keywords your competitor is ranking for, and that you haven;t targeted in your content.
If your competitor is using Google Ads, you can use SEMRush to see which search terms they are bidding on, and even see examples of their ads.
Pricing: From $99.95 per month
Ahrefs is a popular, all-in-one SEO tool that is great for keyword research and competitive analysis.
There’s also an exceptional backlink analysis feature.
You can see the total backlinks to your competitor’s website and the number of linking domains.
Referring domains can be organized according to their domain authority, so you can see which links offer the best SEO value, and which you should attempt to replicate first.
You can see a detailed breakdown of the keywords your competitor ranks for and how much traffic each keyword drives to their website.
Ahrefs also shows you detailed insights into your competitor’s Google Ads strategy, including the terms they are targeting in the paid results.
This is a great way to see the kind of ad copy that is working for your rivals, and incorporate it into your PPC copywriting.
The content gap tool is similar to SEMRush, but with the additional option of comparing multiple competitor domains.
It’s a fast and effective way of identifying the search terms that your competitors are ranking for, and the keywords you should target in your content.
Pricing: From $99.00 per month
Moz is a well-established and beginner-friendly SEO and competitor analysis tool that offers everything you need to boost your ranking in search results.
The Link Explorer tool is a great way to see the backlinks of your competitors.
If you create an account with Moz, you can run ten free Link Explorer searches to check your top competitors' backlinks for free.
A free account also enables you to download the MozBar Chrome extension, a fast and effective way of analyzing the authority of websites featured in the search engine results page (SERP).
Premium plans enable you to track your keyword ranking performance and compare it to your competitors.
You can also run a backlink gap analysis and identify all the domains that link to your competitors but don’t link to your site.
Pricing: Limited free plan
SimilarWeb is a powerful competitor analysis tool...
...And it allows you to use some incredibly useful features for free.
This tool takes a deep dive into your competitor’s website, providing accurate data on their traffic, backlinks, PPC, keywords, and more.
Do you want to know the percentage of visitors your competitor gets from social media?
SimilarWeb allows you to do just that.
You can see a breakdown of your competitor’s traffic, with a percentage assigned to each traffic source.
This is excellent information to inform your marketing strategy.
For example, if your rival is getting lots of social media traffic, but a small amount for organic search, you can capitalize on the keyword opportunities they have neglected.
SimilarWeb provides excellent information for free, but you need to upgrade to use some of its most impressive features.
Pricing: Limited free plan
Ubersuggest is a free SEO keyword research tool that gives you insight into your competitor’s keyword and SEO strategy.
After entering your competitor’s domain, Ubersuggest will provide a breakdown of the organic keywords the site ranks for.
You can see the estimated monthly traffic for each keyword, the SEO Difficulty, and the total Search Volume for each search term.
Alongside keyword information, you can see the domain authority of your competitors...
...The more backlinks a website attracts from authority domains, the higher this metric will be.
If your competitor has a high domain authority, it will be more challenging to outrank them in organic search results.
Ubersuggest also offers a traffic trend chart, so you can see whether your competitor’s traffic is increasing or decreasing.
This tool is free to use but limited to a set amount of searches per day.
Pricing: Limited free plan
While SEMRush and Ahrefs offer some great insights into your competitor’s Google Ads campaigns…
...AdSpy is the best tool for analyzing your competitor’s Facebook Ads strategy.
You can see the exact ads that your competitor has been using.
With a vast database of over 80 million ads from over 13 million advertisers, AdSpy is a great tool to see what works for your competitors, and how successful Facebook Ads campaigns stay within regulations over time.
There are some great features for affiliate marketers…
...You can search for ads according to affiliate offer I.D., affiliate network, and affiliate I.D.
AdSpy is a powerful tool for analyzing your competitor’s ad strategy, landing pages, and ad copy.
Pricing: $149.00 per month
7. Sprout Social
Sprout Social is a competitor analysis tool that enables you to measure and understand the strategies and performance of your competitor’s social media.
It has a suite of tools and reporting features to track the Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter profiles of your rivals, and compare them to the performance of your profiles.
You can see what your competitors are posting, which posts generate the most engagement, and compare the growth rate of your profiles to your competitors.
It brings all of your reporting and analysis into a single easy to use dashboard.
There’s also an advanced social listening tool to monitor what people are saying about you, your competitors, and your affiliate products.
Pricing: From $99.00 per month
Adbeat is an extensive display and native ads analytics tool that shows you the exact ads that advertisers and affiliates in your niche are using.
It monitors and captures advertising data from thousands of different ad campaigns, converting it into competitive analysis insights.
Adbeat was created for affiliate marketers…
...So it’s no surprise that it offers some great features to help you with your affiliate marketing PPC competitive analysis.
You can see which ads perform the best for your audience, helping you to optimize your ads before you spend a single dollar of your advertising budget.
Alongside the insights into the exact ads and copy your competition is using, you can see sources of traffic, how the ad was purchased, and which publishers displayed the ad.
Pricing: From $249.00 per month
Adplexity is a powerful competitor analysis tool.
It enables you to spy on your competitor’s native and mobile ads, with insights into the campaign performance and the exact ads used.
Like Adbeat, this spy tool was created for affiliate marketers, and it has some great features for affiliates.
You can see how long competitors have run an ad consecutively, with extended campaigns indicating that the ad is profitable.
You can see the exact ads that your competitors are using, filtering out product manufacturer results to show ads placed by affiliates.
If you want to see the affiliates advertising a product that you promote, you can filter results according to the affiliate offer.
It’s a fast and easy way to understand what your competitors are doing.
Pricing: From $249.00 per month
Popsters is a beginner-friendly social media competitive analysis tool.
It’s a fast and easy way to analyze your competitor’s social media pages and get insights into their social strategy.
You can analyze pages from 10 social media platforms, with data on post engagement, and the ability to filter results according to content format, hashtags, publishing time, and many more attributes.
Data is presented in visual charts and can be exported in multiple formats, including JPG, PNG, and CSV.
With this information, you can optimize your social media content to be more engaging and maximize your social media reach.
Pricing: From $9.99 per month
Do you want to see the websites that the top affiliate marketers in the world are running?
DomainTools enables you to run a reverse lookup to see all the domains that are run from an IP address.
Once you’ve found an example of a profitable affiliate marketing website, you can identify all of the domains that are run from the same IP address.
This is a great way to see which niches the top affiliates are targeting. You can view all of the niche websites run by an affiliate.
How to Identify Your Top Competitors
Your top competitors are the websites promoting similar affiliate products and competing for your target keywords in the SERP.
You want to appear on the first page of search results for your target keywords, so Google is the ideal place to find your top competitors.
Here’s how to identify your top competitors in four simple steps:
Step 1: Download MozBar
Before you head over to Google and search for blogs and websites in your niche, you’ll need to download a free chrome extension.
MozBar is a free tool that enables you to see the domain authority of websites in Google search results.
It’s an excellent tool for determining the strength of your competitors.
Domain Authority is a search engine ranking metric that estimates how well a website will rank in search engine results on a scale of 1 to 100…
...The higher the domain authority, the more likely the site is to rank high in search results.
Head over to Moz and create a free account.
After you’ve signed up, click on “Free SEO Tools” in the top menu:
Select MozBar from the list of free tools:
And click “Download MozBar Free”.
Step 2: Search for Websites in Your Niche
Once you’ve downloaded MozBar, use the Chrome browser and head to Google to search for blogs in your niche.
For example, If you’re in the yoga niche, search for “yoga blog.”
This should provide you with a bunch of yoga niche websites.
Always click through to check the website’s relevance.
If you have already researched affiliate products and keywords in your niche, you can search for your target keywords to find more competitor websites.
Step 3: Create a List of High Domain Authority Competitors
Using MozBar, you can see the domain authority of the websites in the search results.
Make a list of relevant niche websites with the highest domain authority.
If you’re going to rank in the top spots for your niche, you’ll need to outrank these websites or identify the keyword opportunities they have overlooked.
Step 4: Use Curated Lists
You can also see that Google returns some curated lists of yoga blogs.
These websites have given you a helping hand by compiling a list of your competitors.
You can find more curated lists by searching for terms like:
“Best yoga blogs”
“Yoga blog list”
“Top yoga blogs”
Using this strategy, you should have a solid list of competitor websites with high domain authority.
Identify your Competitors’ Top Pages and Keywords
Now you have a list of competitor websites in your niche, the next step is to identify their top pages and keywords.
These are the keywords and content that are driving traffic and generating sales for your competitors.
Here’s how you can use the free tool Ubersuggest to find the top pages and keywords of your competitors.
Keyword competitive analysis enables you to see what's working for your competitors.
With this information, you can create an informed and data-driven keyword strategy for your website, improving on what your competitors are doing, and gaining an advantage in the search results
Step 1: Enter Your Competitors Domain Name
Armed with your list of competitor websites, head over to Ubersuggest and enter the domain name of the first website on your list.
Step 2: Navigate to the Keywords Section
From the results page, click on the “Keywords” option in the left-hand menu:
You’ll now be able to see a list of the keywords that your competitor is ranking for in search results.
For each keyword, you can see the Search Volume (VOL), where the website ranks in the search results for the keyword (POSITION), the estimated number of visitors (EST. VISITS), and the SEO Difficulty (SD).
This is excellent information for informing your keyword strategy.
To find keyword opportunities, look for long-tail keywords that are:
- Three words or longer
- An SEO Difficulty of less than 45
- A Search Volume of 500 or more
These are the keyword opportunities that receive a significant search volume and that you have the best chance of outranking your competitor for.
Step 3: Create a List of Keyword Opportunities
Work your way through the list of your competitor’s keywords, clicking the check the box next to the keywords that have a high enough search volume and achievable SEO Difficulty.
Once you’ve made your way through the list and check boxed keyword opportunities, you can export your keyword list to CSV and create a keyword list for your content strategy.
Analyzing your competitor’s top pages helps you understand the type of content that performs well with your target audience…
...And the estimated traffic and social engagement you can expect if you publish content that is even better than your competitors’.
You can use Ubersuggest to see the top pages of your competitors.
After entering the domain name of your competitor, click on the Top Pages option in the left-hand menu:
This will return a list of your competitors top pages that are sorted according to the traffic they receive:
You can see the estimated number of visits per month (EST. VISITS), the number of backlinks, and the social media engagement the page has received on Facebook and Pinterest.
This information gives you an idea of the maximum reach you can expect to achieve…
...And the types of content that resonate most with your target audience.
Take a close look at the pages that receive the most traffic and engagement…
...And the top pages that promote affiliate products.
For example, the page below is a “best of” article for yoga mats:
Once you’ve analyzed your competitor’s top-performing pages, think about how you can create content on the same topic that is better and more valuable to your audience.
Study Your Competitors’ Top Links and Relationships
The vast majority of sites that rank on the first page of the SERP have hundreds of backlinks.
By studying where your competitors get backlinks and the relationships they have with other websites and influencers in your niche, you can create an informed link building strategy.
You don’t want to be swamped with data, so it’s a good idea to limit your backlinks research to your top two competitors to start.
Here’s how to find your competitors’ top links and relationships in four steps:
Step 1: Head over to Moz Link Explorer
Moz Link Explorer is a great free tool for analyzing your competitor’s backlinks.
Head over to Moz and click on “Free SEO Tools.”
From the menu on the next page, click on “Research with Link Explorer.”
Click on the “Inbound Links” option in the left-hand menu.
Enter the URL of your competitor into the search bar and click “Analyze.”
Step 2: Create a List of Backlink Opportunities
Now you can see a list of backlinks for your competitor’s website.
For your link building strategy, you want to focus on the links from websites with the highest Domain Authority (DA) and Page Authority (PA).
These top links offer the most SEO value.
Step 3: Identify the Domains That Link Multiple Times
When you’re analyzing your competitor’s backlinks, you might notice websites that link to your competitor multiple times.
These are the websites that you want to establish a relationship with.
They regularly link out to sites in your niche.
To find these websites, you want to click on “Linking Domains” in the left-hand menu.
And then click on the link type menu and select “Follow.”
You can now see the different domains that link to your competitor’s website.
Work your way through the list of linking domains, clicking on the “more info” dropdown arrow to see the number of times the website links to your competitor.
Step 4: Create a List of Backlink Opportunities
When you find a site that links multiple times from several different blog posts, add the website to your list of backlink opportunities.
You can reach out to these websites and replicate the strategy your competitor used to get backlinks.
Later in the article, we’ll show you how you can use this list to build your backlink profile.
Research and Analyze your Competitors’ Marketing Strategies & Top Traffic Channels
SimilarWeb is a great free tool for analyzing your competitor’s strategy and top traffic channels.
It provides detailed information on a website’s marketing channels, and it’s free to use.
Here’s how to use SimilarWeb to analyze your competitor’s marketing strategy.
Head over to SimilarWeb and enter your competitor’s domain name.
Let’s say you’re in the mattress niche, and use Mattress Advisor as an example competitor:
Scroll down, and you’ll be able to see an overview of their monthly traffic:
You can see the number of visits, bounce rate, and the average time people spend on the site.
SimilarWeb also shows you which countries your competitor generates its traffic:
Scroll down further, and you can see which channels the website gets its traffic from:
You can also see the top referring domains and top destination sites - where people go after clicking away for the site.
There’s a breakdown of the traffic that your competitor generates from search engines…
...You can see the percentage of organic and paid traffic, and your competitor’s top organic and paid keywords.
You can also see the social media networks that are referring traffic to your competitor’s website.
This shows you the social media platforms your competitor is using, but you can gain further insight by visiting each platform and checking out their profile.
This will show you the type of content they are publishing, how often they post, and the engagement their posts receive.
How to Use This Information on Your Competitor
Using this data, you can gain insights into your competitor’s marketing strategy.
Let’s use Mattress Advisor as an example.
SEO and Paid Search
The majority of Mattress Advisor’s traffic comes organically from search engines.
They also generate significant traffic from paid search…
...Finding out which keywords they are bidding on in Google Ads is another area that needs analyzing.
Backlinks and Referrals
They generate around 2% percent of their traffic from referrals, with one linking domain responsible for over 50% of referral traffic.
Researching how they achieved those backlinks and trying to replicate them should be a priority.
For destination sites, we can see that 50% of their traffic goes to a single retailer…
...If you hadn’t already joined the affiliate program, you should consider it as a potential merchant for affiliate promotion.
The social media strategy is based on two platforms: Facebook and YouTube.
After checking their Facebook page, you can see which types of content they are publishing to generate engagement and drive traffic to their website.
They use video marketing to promote their affiliate products, with over 180 videos on YouTube and over 2,000 subscribers.
Performing a SWOT Analysis
A SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis helps you to get a detailed overview of the competitors in your niche and identify opportunities to grow your business.
What is a SWOT analysis?
SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
A SWOT analysis is a framework for gaining insight into your competitors, your website, and your niche to improve your business and marketing strategy.
Step by Step SWOT Analysis
Step 1: List Your Strengths
The first stage of SWOT analysis is to look at your strengths.
If you’re ranking in the top spots for your targeted keywords or seeing good audience engagement on social media, that’s a strength.
What advantages do you have over your competitors?
Step 2: List Your Weaknesses
After you’ve determined your strengths, take a critical look at your business and your website.
Create a list of your weaknesses.
If your content is performing poorly in search results or your backlink profile is much weaker than your competitors, that’s a weakness.
What are your competitors doing well (content, social media, PPC, etc.)?
Step 3: Identify Opportunities
The next step is to determine the opportunities in your niche.
Opportunities covers everything that you could do to drive more traffic to your website and increase your affiliate sales.
Are there keyword opportunities that your competitor has overlooked?
Is there a shortage of social media communities and groups in your niche?
Step 4: Identify Threats
The last stage of the SWOT analysis is to determine the threats to your affiliate business.
This covers everything that could damage your chances of growing and generating sales.
Which areas do your competitors offer the biggest threat to your business?
Are there any new competitors steadily increasing their share of the SERP?
Is a competitor significantly increasing their number of followers on social media?
After you’ve conducted a SWOT analysis, you should have lots of insights that can be utilized to inform your strategy.
By conducting a structured analysis, you should be able to narrow in on opportunities and focus on the areas that matter most to your affiliate business.
Developing Content and SEO strategies (based on opportunities/content gaps)
So you’ve researched your competitors and conducted a SWOT analysis, but what can you do with that information?
Here’s three simple ways you can utilize competitive analysis information to improve your affiliate marketing performance.
1. Steal You Competitors’ Backlinks
You should have a list of sites that link back to your competitor’s website.
Here’s how you can get a backlink to your website by using the same techniques as your competitors.
Let’s say your competitor has a backlink from an online forum like Quora.
You can easily replicate what your competitor did and get a backlink for yourself.
Head over to Quora and find a discussion that is related to your niche.
Instead of spamming the forum with your link, write a detailed answer that contains useful information, and include a link to a related page on your website as an additional resource.
This is an easy way to leverage your competitor’s backlink strategy to get links for your website.
Work your way through your competitor’s backlinks and visit each site to see how your competitor acquired the backlink.
The key advantage of this strategy is that you are capitalizing on your competitor’s work…
...They do the leg work, and you utilize their approach to build your backlink profile.
Guest posting is one of the most effective link building strategies.
When you write a guest post for a website, they will usually reward you with a backlink in your bio.
For example, here’s our CEO Simon Slade’s bio section for his guest post on Success.com:
If your competitor has contributed to an authority website in your niche, you can replicate their strategy and reach out to the site owner and ask if you can submit a guest post.
You can use the same technique to get a backlink for your site.
When you are building links to your website, you must offer value to your audience.
- Don’t spam forums and online communities with links to your website.
- Focus on creating useful replies and content, and including the link to your site as an additional helpful resource.
- Publish helpful guest posts on websites that are relevant to your niche.
You’ll be helping people interested in your niche, enhancing your reputation, and getting a free backlink.
2. Content Gaps
Content gaps are the topics and keywords that your competitors are ranking for, and that you can target in your content.
This is where paid tools are really useful.
SEMRush and Ahrefs both offer keyword gap analysis…
...These tools enable you to compare your website to your competitors and highlight any keywords and content topics that you are lacking.
If you don’t have the budget for a paid tool, you can also manually use Ubersuggest and an Excel spreadsheet.
Export a list of all the keywords your competitor is ranking for, and delete all the keywords that you already cover in your content.
The keywords that are left are the areas where you have a content gap.
Once you’ve identified keyword gaps, analyze the content your competitors have published on the topic.
To outrank your competitors in the search results, you need to create content that is better and more valuable to your audience.
- When was the content published/updated?
- How detailed is the content?
- Is the content easy to read?
- Is the content visually appealing and engaging?
By analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of your competitor’s content, you can create something better and more shareable.
Before you click publish, you’ll know that your content is better than anything else out there.
3. Social Media
Just because your competitor is on social media, it doesn’t mean that you should dedicate your time and resources to the same platform.
When you analyze your competitor’s social media channels, you need to focus on two key areas: activity and engagement.
- How often is your competitor posting and updating their social media channels?
- What type of content is generating likes, comments, and clicks?
- Which type of content gets the most engagement? Is it funny, informative, shocking, or serious?
- Which format generates the most likes and comments? Is it video content, text, or images?
When you know what’s working for your competitors, you can create content that you know that your audience will find appealing and engage with.
Analyzing your competitors also helps you to determine if there is an opportunity for growth.
If your competitors aren’t very active, but still generate lots of engagement, there’s an excellent opportunity to grow a significant social media following.
When there’s little engagement, and your competitors aren’t very active, there’s an opportunity to fill the gap on social media…
...You can become the market leader, even with a small audience.
If your competitor is very active and generates decent engagement, it shows you there is an audience for your content, but you’ll need to dedicate more resources to compete.
When there are lots of active competitors and minimal engagement, it might not be worth your time and effort trying to build an audience on social media.
As you can see, competitive analysis isn’t a quick and straightforward process…
...But the benefits to your affiliate business can be huge.
It can help you identify opportunities you’ve overlooked, boost your ranking in search results, and carve out an audience in your niche.
If you want to rank on the first page of Google and drive free organic traffic, you need to outperform your competitors.
Use the insights you gain from competitor analysis to inform your strategy and focus on the areas where you can make the most impact.
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