Categorizing Search Competitors at Scale with ChatGPT

What are Search Competitors?

As a marketer, you probably have a list of competitors that quickly come to mind - if you're Nike, there's Adidas. If you're Coca-Cola, there's Pepsi. These direct competitors are often pretty straightforward. But when a user is searching Google, they aren't necessarily coming across those competitor's websites - or yours, for that matter. So who is competing with you for eyeballs? It's Reddit, Amazon, news sites, affiliates - your search competitors who all compete for your customers.

When you're researching for a new running shoe, do you go directly to Nike's website? For example, a buying journey often looks more like this:

  1. Search for "best waterproof running shoes"

  2. Read through NYT's shoe reviews

  3. Read through Quora / Reddit comments

  4. Narrow your choices

  5. Search Amazon for shoes and read reviews

  6. Compare prices at Amazon and Target

  7. Order from Amazon

At no point did this user visit Nike's website. In fact, Nike's website may not have even appeared in a single search result. So, what are SEOs to do?

AI Search Competitor Classifier Tool

Here's access to a custom GPT to help you categorize your competitors. Click here to check it out - you'll a need ChatGPT Plus subscription.





Why Categorize Search Competitors?

Take this graph showing Reddit's growth in search, for example. Their steady climb in visibility is by design - Google's algorithm updated to show more user generated content in the results. This screenshot shows not just a growth in, but growth for terms that convert and drive revenue - i.e. the money makers. This means businesses will need a Reddit strategy, and classifying search competitors tells you how much to invest there.

Categorizing your search competitors helps you understand not only who's getting the clicks but who's turning those clicks into actions. That’s where your focus needs to be. And that's where your strategy starts to pay off.

Reddit is just one of many types of sites like this. Classifying these sites is often tedious for marketers and lacks consistency. We've come up with a methodology, and an AI classification tool, to help make this easy. Here are the rules to follow.

SEO & PPC Website Categories are Industry-Agnostic

Our goal is to categorize types of websites, not specific industries. You'll find that most categories are industry-agnostic, meaning they aren't specific to a certain industry. If you're targeting keywords with SEO, or running PPC ads, you'll need to ensure that search intent matches. 

For example, you can find aggregator websites across most industries, like (Real Estate), (Travel and Hospitality), and (Software). They are all the same type of website, despite being in very different industries. We want our classifications to lead to actionable marketing strategies.

Website Classifications and Examples



Example Sites

Sights & sounds


A site that earns commissions by promoting products or services using affiliate links.,,,,

Look for disclosures stating that the site participates in affiliate advertising programs. Outbound links might include URL parameters like "aff, rid, ref, or refid" or a "tag?=" for Amazon affiliate links. Venues that direct a user to a separate vendor for ticketing generally receive a commission fee.


A site that acts as a directory by collecting data and putting it into a single place where users can access it.,,,,,

If the site offers any services at all, it's to promote or enhance listings for other businesses, including acting as an intermediary or 3rd party seller.


A site that represents a brand, but you cannot buy goods or services or fill out a direct lead form on the website.,

You can't buy a product or fill out a direct lead form for the company, but something for purchase is being promoted.


A site that provides users with content, like a blog or magazine.,,

Content sites might promote products or services but don't primarily focus on affiliate links.


A site where buyers purchase tangible or digital goods directly from sellers.,,

The brand sells their products and only their products.

Educational Institution

A site that represents higher education.,

After 2001 all registrants for a .edu sTLD must be US-affiliated institutions of higher education - we categorize all .edu websites as Educational Institutions if there are no other categories.


A site that is structured around and dedicated to conversation, usually through posting questions, answers, and responses.,,

User generated content, usually mid-funnel in the buyer's journey.


A site that represents government or military.,,,

A .gov sTLD is restricted for use by government entities. A .mil sTLD is restricted for use by US military entities.


A site that acts as a self-serve online library of information.,,

Content may contain references, is peer-reviewed or must be reviewed and accepted to be published. Includes medical journals.


A site where buyers are able to buy products from multiple sellers or brands and pay for them all together at checkout.,,,

There are multiple brands or competing products where a buyer can choose from many options.


A site that represents a newspaper, news channel, or is devoted to news and current events.,

The majority of content is timely or specific to current events.


A site that represents a nonprofit or not-for-profit organization.,,

Organizations will fall under codes including but not limited to 501(c)(3), 501(c)(6), etc...

Online Learning

A site that provides online courses or learning.,,


Search Engine

A search engine searches for and identifies items in a database that match specified criteria.,,



A site where buyers can reach out to sellers for services.,,,,,

Buyers may be able to make an appointment or reservation, fill out a lead form, or buy a ticket but cannot make a direct purchase. Includes hotels, restaurants, banks, real estate brokerages, hospitals, rentals, utilities like phone, internet, and VoIP, theatres and concert venues, etc...

Social Media

A site or application for any exchange of user generated content.,,

Typically a site that is a walled garden.


A site where buyers can purchase access to a product.,,,,,

Includes cloud services like SaaS (Software as a Service), PaaS ), IaaS, well as tangible subscription services like Blue Apron, Stitchfix, Nuuly.


What Can You Do with Search Competitors Once They Are Categorized?

Once you've classified your competition for visibility, it opens up a spectrum of strategies online. Here’s how you can leverage this information effectively:

  1. Targeted Content Creation: Understanding the landscape of your categorized competitors allows you to craft content that fills gaps left by others or competes directly with leading content in your category. For instance, if aggregators dominate a particular niche, creating comprehensive guides, as well as partnering with those aggregators, will help you show up on the search journey.
  2. SEO and PPC Optimization: By identifying the types of competitors and their strengths, you can better tailor your SEO and PPC campaigns. Stop wasting money on searches that don't match your intent. For example, knowing that you are competing with strong affiliate sites may prompt you to increase the quality and outreach of certain affiliate campaigns, or adjust your organic content to focus on where you can directly compete.
  3. Strategic Partnerships and Collaborations: With a clear understanding of the competitive field, you can identify potential partners for collaborations or affiliate marketing. Partnering with a non-competing, but related site, can reach audiences in tangential markets where your direct competitors might not be focused!
  4. Market Positioning and Branding Strategy: Differentiation is key in crowded marketplaces. You don't want to get caught in SEO's sea of sameness. Categorized knowledge allows you to position your brand effectively along the buyer journey, putting you in places that distinguish you from other categorized sites.
  5. Innovation and Service Improvement: Analyzing competitors’ categorizations can inspire innovation. This might involve developing new products or services that address unmet needs or improving existing offerings to better meet customer expectations compared to competitors.
  6. Competitive Analysis and Monitoring: Regularly reviewing the categorizations helps keep track of how the competitive landscape may be shifting. This ongoing analysis can alert you to new entrants or changes in competitors’ strategies, allowing for timely adjustments to your own strategies.

Our Search Competitor Strategy in Seer's data platform

We're integrating our search competitor mapping into our data platform, which allows our teams to do more than traditional SEO & PPC marketing; we look at the whole search landscape. SEO can't be limited to just optimizing your own site anymore, and the days of brute forcing PPC search ads are over. Marketers need to understand what sites are competing for visibility across the buyer's journey, not just who is competing for your business at the bottom of the funnel. Your marketing strategy depends on understanding all the channels across search. We map this out for clients in our data platform. Let's take our hypothetical Nike customer - how often will they encounter Video or Reddit on the first page of their google searches? For an sampling of their non-branded keywords from SEMRush, it's almost 500k searches a month:


Incorporating these strategies not only improves your visibility across search engines but also enhances the overall strategic planning and execution of marketing campaigns. 

You want to go big early in strategic planning, before you get lost in the trees of SEO. The insight gained from a well-categorized competitor analysis will keep you ahead and driving revenue from marketing, instead of chasing algorithms and ending up with the same, stale SEO strategies.



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Jordan Strauss
Jordan Strauss
Lead, Strategy & Generative AI