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How to Conduct Competitive Content Analysis Using MarketMuse

5 min read

MarketMuse is the content strategist’s go-to for competitive content analysis, helping them gain a better understanding of their competition and ways to differentiate their content.

MarketMuse SERP X-Ray offers insights into the structure of top-performing pages through analysis of page-specific data. Heatmap allows you to investigate topical coverage at the SERP level, and you can dive into individual sites to investigate their content clusters at the site-level. Additionally, you can conduct a head-to-head comparison to compare topical coverage against an individual competitor.

Let’s see how this works.


SERP X-Ray offers insight into the structure of top-performing pages through the analysis of specific page data. We can see these averaged for the top 20 results and also look at individual pages.

Images — indicates whether one or more images are found in the top 20 pages. Helps to understand user expectation and for budgeting purposes. Creating custom images can add significantly to the cost.

Videos — indicates whether any of the top 20 results have a video embedded in their page. Also helps with budgeting as video production can be costly. If few people incorporate video, this may offer a way to differentiate your content.

Internal Links Per Page — can offer insight into the extent of a website’s internal cluster. Many internal links indicate a large cluster of content which should be investigated further.

External Links Per Page — reveals the extent to which other off-site content is referenced. Resources pages, for example, often have many outgoing links.

Intent — shows the prominent search intent for the top-ranking pages or the search intent being serviced by a specific page.

Avg. Content Score — indicative of content comprehensiveness. Content that’s well-written and topically-rich tends to score higher than most.

Avg. Word Count — supports the allocation of resources since word count is a good indicator of effort required. All things being equal, a topic that requires double the word count typically costs twice as much.

H2s Per Page — helps understand how well the content is structured. Many H2 subheadings indicate a well-defined structure which usually requires more planning than content with few subheadings.

Together, the data points help content strategists get a “lay of the land,” or a feel for what’s required to compete successfully on the SERP for a specific top. Or you can take the opposite approach and use that data to help differentiate your content.


Use the heatmap for both SERP and site-level analysis. In both cases it provides similar information but in different contexts.

At the SERP level

Exploring the SERP with Heatmap reveals how well the top 20 results cover a specific subject. In addition to their rank, each page has a Content Score which reflects that coverage. The colored squares indicate how often a term in the topic model is mentioned.

Pay attention to the red squares as they indicate zero coverage and offer another way to differentiate your content by covering something that no one else does. You can order Heatmap by relevance, gaps or must-haves to guarantee you don’t miss anything important.

At the site level

Explore an individual website using Heatmap to see an individual competitor’s content cluster. Take, for example, one of your SERP competitors and map their website. You can fine-tune the exploration by excluding specific sections (up to a maximum of 10) — great for larger sites when you want to hone in on specific areas.

Head-to-head comparison

Click on the rank of any SERP competitor to open up a head-to-head competition of your site vs theirs. What you get is the Content Score, Word Count, and number of mentions for each topic in the topic model.

This works best when you enter an optional URL (ideally yours) during the initial research. Otherwise you only see the competition, which isn’t much of a comparison! No problem though, you can enter the optional URL anytime, and re-run the research to create the comparison.

Optimize (Compete)

A similar head-to-head comparison is available via the Compete tab in Optimize. Just click on one of the top-ranking pages to get the comparison. The optional URL isn’t required in this case, but you’ll need to have some text in the Optimize editor to compare it. You’ll notice that the head-to-head comparison doesn’t show the Content Score and Word Count like it does in Heatmap. That’s because the information is available in the Compete tab.

Take Away

MarketMuse provides content strategists with an accurate and comprehensive analysis of their competition. SERP X-Ray, Heatmap, and head-to-head comparison provide access to page-specific data, SERP-level topics, and site-level clusters, helping you gain a better understanding of your competition and ways in which to differentiate your content.

Get started today with MarketMuse and start gaining the advantage in your content strategies.

What you should do now

When you’re ready… here are 3 ways we can help you publish better content, faster:

  1. Book time with MarketMuse Schedule a live demo with one of our strategists to see how MarketMuse can help your team reach their content goals.
  2. If you’d like to learn how to create better content faster, visit our blog. It’s full of resources to help scale content.
  3. If you know another marketer who’d enjoy reading this page, share it with them via email, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook.

Stephen leads the content strategy blog for MarketMuse, an AI-powered Content Intelligence and Strategy Platform. You can connect with him on social or his personal blog.