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Ron Dod

5 Ways to Reverse Engineer Your Competitors' Success with SEMrush

Ron Dod
5 Ways to Reverse Engineer Your Competitors' Success with SEMrush

Don't make the same SEO mistakes as your competitors: use their mistakes to your advantage using SEMrush. My search marketing agency uses it daily and I want to show you how to reverse engineer competitors. With this strategy, you can instantly acquire the same value they have achieved through hard work.

Observe Competitors' Pages with SEMrush and Re-Categorize

SEMrush can help you see how other sites categorize their pages and whether or not this process helps them when it comes to SEO. This is more specific to e-commerce businesses, but it can help anyone with a structured website.

To do this in SEMrush, enter your competitors in the dashboard, then export everything that they rank for. 

Domain Organic Search Positions

Once you export their data into an excel sheet, sort all of their top rankings. Then, you can look at the categories that they rank for highly sough after keywords. If they have key categories ranking high, then it may be a good idea for you to focus on the same categories.

You can do this through more prominent placement on your navigation bar, interlinking to it from blog comments, or if you didn’t have the category at all, consider creating it.

This works well for e-commerce businesses that have few navigational categories because it allows them to rank for a wide variety of phrases beyond their main categories. In some instances, SEMrush will help you identify the need to rename categories, add categories or split up categories. It just depends on what has worked and what hasn’t worked for your competitors.

Create Landing Pages

You can use the same process that we used for categorization to create landing page content for more lead generation settings. See what your competitors are ranking for and replicate their same landing page strategy. You can also visit their source code (right click > view source) to see their meta titles and descriptions in order to replicate their keyword strategy. 

You can view individual landing pages in your SEMrush dashboard to see what individual pages rank for different keyword phrases by using the URL tag under organic research.

URL Organic Search Positions

Using this, you can recreate their content, keyword strategy, and their meta information, which can pretty much take you from zero to hero with your SEO landing pages.

Lastly, you can also use SEMrush to find out more about what ads they are buying for a particular page by using the “advertising research” tab. 

Refine Navigational Construction

Navigational construction is where you can optimize your navigation based on what your competitors rank for. If you have categories that do no produce high rankings or traffic, you can substitute landing pages or category pages, which can help produce traffic through higher rankings. The better pages that are featured on your navigational bar, the better link dilution that you can pass through to your various pages. 

Consider Content Creation Engineering

SEMrush allows you to see what popular content your competitor has created and where it ranks in Google. To do this, you will need to export everything that they rank for, similar to the re-categorization. But in this case, you sort by search volume for their keywords.

Delete any rows that are not to your standards of a threshold, i.e. less than 4,000 monthly searches. From here, you can see their best landing pages, which could be blogs, service pages or categories. Generally, you would hope that these are blogs so that you can see what blogs produce the most value in order to produce similar content that will help you receive similar value. 

Reverse Engineer Backlinks with SEMrush

This is definitely the most “fun” or “exciting” part of reverse engineering – finding great places to replicate links. This is extremely important and SEMrush is the best tool to help you do so. The first thing that you want to do is to put your competitors into the SEMrush dashboard and pull up their backlinks in the backlinks tab.

Next, export all of their links into an excel sheet. Below is where you can find it in the tool.


From here, go through the links and highlight the best ones that you can replicate. Blog comments and forum links have a bad reputation with SEO because they are easy to get and can look spammy. I generally find this to be false. Google does crawl (rel=nofollow) links.

They might not give you any authority but having good “no follow” links is an important piece of SEO. I say this so you do not leave out any links that you could take advantage of.

Here are the most common links that you can achieve through reverse engineering:       

  • Resource Links – If your competitors are mentioned on any resource page, this is the perfect time to try to do the same. Performing outreach to achieve the same links is paramount.
  • Roundups – If a post mentions roundups through content or expert opinions, this is a gold mine and you want to try to get the same links. Perform outreach to get yourself featured in the latest roundups with your opinions, or take on the topic of discussion.
  • Blog Comments – These should only be done manually and with moderation. While if done in abundance, they can look spammy; blog comments can diversify your profile and your anchor text profile.
  • Web 2.0s – Web 2.0 properties are good if they are the right ones, such as rebelmouse.com, inbound.org, etc. These can be good to replicate mostly from a “why not?” stand point. They might not help but who knows!
  • Forum Posts – These fall in line with Web 2.0s as they are almost always “no follow” links but still good to achieve and can help acquire good referral traffic is implemented correctly.
  • Guest Posts – This is usually the best opportunity from a reverse engineer stand point because you can really hijack someone’s good editorial links. You can find what content they did, blow it out of the water, and get even better content featured on these sites. Overall, you can really do some damage with this strategy if your competitor has used guest posting in the past.

Reverse engineering is one of the best low-hanging fruits available for SEO that is out there and you can take advantage of it today. My agency does it every single day and you can do! Has this helped you? Share your successes in the comments.

Ronald Dod is a partner and CEO of Visiture, LLC. After founding Grey Umbrella Marketing, an internet marketing agency which focuses on Search Engine Optimization for e-commerce businesses, he merged with Visiture to create a full service search marketing offering for eCommerce businesses. His passion is helping eCommerce business owners and marketing professionals navigate the search marketing landscape and use data to make more effective decisions to drive new traffic and conversions.

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