How to Create a Competitive Matrix

Erika Varagouli

Apr 12, 20218 min read
Competitive matrix

Every business will ultimately have competition. Understanding how your business performs in the current competitive landscape is one way you can gain a significant edge over your competitors. Businesses often create competitive matrices to understand how to position themselves in their industry or niche. 

In this guide, we’ll explore how competitive matrices work, their benefits, and how to get started with creating your own. 

What is a competitive matrix?

A competitive matrix is an analysis tool used to measure and compare your and your competitors’ performance in the marketplace. It helps you identify your competitors' strengths and weaknesses, and it can highlight the major differences between your business and those in your niche.

You can compare any metrics you’d like with a competitive matrix, like social media reach, daily website visits, or delivery times. Matrices display competitive analysis data in an easy-to-understand format that quickly allows you to identify any advantages or gaps that may be present. 

Running a competitive analysis is a great place to start, as you’ll need the resulting data for your competitive matrix. You can use any of the competitive analytics tools you may have available to gather as much information as you can about your competitors. 

Why is a competitive matrix important?

Understanding your position in your industry’s landscape allows you to better market to your audience and identify any business opportunities you can take advantage of.

It’s important to be aware of what your competitors are doing and how they’re performing in the marketplace. Competitive matrices help you understand who your competition truly is, and who they’re marketing to.

You’ll gain insights into their marketing strengths, so you’ll know where to spend less money or effort trying to rank or grab attention. In the same vein, if you find a weakness, you’ll know what to target to earn more market share, sales, or traction.

A competitive matrix can also benefit your marketing strategy by highlighting any gaps in your strategy. You’ll have a clear idea of the topics, keywords, and products your competitors are already targeting, and where you may need to apply more effort to rank. You can use these insights to reach industry benchmarks, or determine how and where to experiment. 

Competitive matrices can help you answer those important strategy questions: What topics should I write about on my blog? What keywords with low competition can I target? Are there trends on the horizon my competitors are gearing up for? 

Once you’re familiar with your competitors’ strategy, you’ll be able to make more informed decisions about your marketing and brand. 

When should you create a competitive matrix?

If you don’t already have one, now.

Start one now, and prepare to run more. Your market will change as competitors come and go or change their strategies, so updating your competitive matrix often is a smart idea.

Other timeframes to consider include: 

1. When starting your business

Identifying your new business competitors helps you stand out from your launchpoint onwards. You’ll know what your competitors are doing right now, and how you can easily stand out in the competitive landscape. 

It’s also a good idea to learn from your competitors. What are they doing right? What opportunities are they missing out on, or what have they done wrong? Some of your competitors may have been in business for a while, and could have much to teach you about your own business strategies. 

2. Every 3 months

A competitive matrix should not be static. Ideally, you should conduct one every month, but you can try conducting one every quarter. 

The more current your understanding of the competitive marketplace is, the more accurate your business decisions will be. A competitive matrix can help you track or anticipate trends in your industry. You can also determine how often your market shifts over the year or quarter (if it does at all.) 

Updated competitive matrices give you a chance to change your course, close gaps, and track the success of your ongoing campaigns. Updating your competitive matrix every three months will, by the end of the year, set the foundation for your next milestones.

3. Every 12 months

It is also a good idea to do a comprehensive competitive matrix every twelve months. You can choose to start at the new calendar year, the new financial year, or the start of your busiest season. 

This is your “big picture” competitive matrix, and a chance for you to utilise the full extent of your competitive analysis toolkit. Dig deep into your competitors' important metrics, and try to determine any trends or opportunities for the upcoming year.

With this kind of in-depth view, you can use this competitive matrix to find last year’s wins and losses, and work out your marketing strategy for the next twelve months.

4. Before every marketing campaign

It is strategically smart to test the waters before every marketing campaign. You have the chance to see if anyone else is targeting the same audience, keywords or messaging that you want to use. If they are, your campaign might get lost in the noise and not deliver a good ROI.

Even if you update your competitor matrix every three months, the chance to do a competitor matrix specific to your pending marketing campaign is invaluable.

You can focus your efforts on new target audiences, new keywords and more. This will empower you to focus your marketing efforts and to spend your budget wisely.

Creating a Competitive Matrix 

When running any kind of online campaign, you’ll want to determine all of your marketing opportunities. Working with competitive analysis tools is a great way to identify how your competitors are performing online. 

Below is a range of competitive matrix tools that can help you complete different types of competitive analysis. To put these tools to the test, we have used Adidas as an example.

Competitor Matrix: Adidas vs Competitors

Market Explorer Tool

The Market Explorer tool is a great way of generating a growth quadrant to visualise the competitive landscape. Below is the growth quadrant for in the USA. The growth quadrant identifies four segments:

  1. Niche players: These companies are generally players that might have less traffic than Adidas but are on the rise.
  2. Game changers: Their website traffic is relatively low when compared to Adidas, but they are growing at a much faster pace. In this case, both Goat and Hypebeast are prime examples as they have been actual ‘game changes’ in the shoe industry over the past decade.
  3. Leaders: these players speak for themselves. Traffic is actively on the rise and growing continuously.
  4. Established players: These players have been in the industry for some time. They have an established audience, but their traffic could be declining over time.


Some ways to work with the growth quadrant tool include:

1. Identifying the ‘game changers’ players: Can these players draw traffic away from you due to the rapid growth? Keep a close eye on them and their online presence.

2. Gathering a quick Overview: Get a quick idea of what the competitive landscape looks like for your industry. With Adidas, we can quickly identify who might be a threat and who is not.

3. Running the Domain Overview tool on Individual Companies: Once you have identified who are close competitors, you can investigate further with the domain overview tool to get an idea of where a website’s traffic is coming from. Below is Goat’s traffic by country.


1. To access the Market Explorer tool: 

2. Click on the ‘Competitive Research’ tab on the left-hand side

  • Click on the ‘Market Explorer’ tab


Keyword Gap

When it comes to SEO, it’s crucial to understand where you stand amongst the competition on the SERPs. This Keyword Gap tool helps you identify new keywords to target and rank for. 

To access the Keyword Gap tool, follow the below steps:

1. In the SEO toolkit, select the keyword gap tool:


2. Select the country you want to target. Insert your website’s domain alongside your main competitors.



3. After selecting your country and inserting your domains, determine whether you want to track organic keywords, Paid, or PLA.


You can discover the keywords that you already share with your competitors, determine their rank, and browse for keywords you aren’t already targeting. 

You can also: 

1. Filter Keywords by Page Rankings: The Keyword Gap tools allows you to filter keywords according to your domain, your competitor’s domain or by individual pages. Ideally, you’ll want to filter by the keyword where your competitors rank well and you don’t. These are called untapped keywords.

2. Export Results: Once you have the data gathered from the tool, you can export into an Excel file or CSV. Select ‘export’ on the right-hand side and indicate how many keywords you wish to export and the file type you want.


3. Use advanced Filters: Advanced filters basically allow you to include or exclude what keywords you want or don’t want to see. This makes it easier to focus on keywords that actually matter to your business.

You’ll want to exclude your brand’s name as well as other competitor’s brands. Try focusing on the keywords you want to target, like the example below:


In this example, we’ve excluded all brand names (including Adidas) and then included the keyword “running shoes.” We can quickly see that Adidas (highlighted) doesn’t rank that high for big keywords. This is an opportunity to investigate and optimise any webpages you have that may feature these keywords. 

Semrush’s Backlink Gap tool allows you to compare up to 5 domain backlink profiles at once. The tool lists all the domains currently linking back to the target website, as well as their authority score, and monthly website traffic.

To use this tool:

1. Click on the Backlink gap option in the SEO toolkit:


2. Add the domains that you want to analyze:


3. Analyze the different backlink opportunities available in comparison to what links your competitors have:


The Backlinks Gap tool allows you to review backlinks that you and your competitors already have. The example below shows that has linked to 12 times. This could mean that is open to linking to other websites.

Adidias could capitalize on this by reaching out to Xbox for collaborative opportunities. In a way, this is reverse engineering competitors backlinks to find valuable ones.


The Keyword Gap tool also compares domain authority amongst the identified domains. It displays a quick snapshot of the last 12 months, which will allow you to see any increase or decrease in authority — a great indicator of your competitor’s SEO and digital strategy.


Key takeaways

There are many ways to create a competitor matrix, and a variety of tools available at your disposal. When developing your matrix, keep in mind any strengths or weaknesses you notice in your or your competitors’ business and marketing strategies.

Try to complete a competitive matrix multiple times of year, keeping in mind any important business dates or campaigns. Markets are always evolving so it’s best to always be aware of what’s happening.

We offer a range of competitor analysis tools to help visualize your market landscape. Whatever your tool, dive in headfirst with a curiosity and drive to better your business.

Author Photo
Erika VaragouliI create local and global content marketing strategies here at Semrush. I started my career as a journalist, but gradually the world of SEO and content marketing won me over. I am obsessed with creating content people love, Nick Cave, and Italian films. Fueled by caffeine.
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