With more businesses going online, it has become more challenging for any business to succeed. To know your enemy, you must become your enemy, as highly believed in by Sun Tzu. This is also applicable when it comes to the digital world.
Why Find Out What Your Competitors are Doing?
Your competitors can be a valuable source of information. Keeping an eye on their marketing strategies is a benchmarking opportunity when developing your marketing strategy. You’ll learn what makes them successful and find the areas where you need improvement.
For example, knowing the web hosting that your competitors are using is crucial since you can replicate the same. This is especially true when your competitors’ websites enjoy blazing speeds. (Having a speedy and high-performing website helps you rank higher in the SERPs).
Finding out what your competitors are doing gives you a buffet of valuable information you can filter what would work for you. As such, you need to track your competition to identify the strengths and weaknesses, so you gain valuable insight to form your business’s competitive advantages.
Who are Your Competitors?
Before you dive head down into analyzing your competitors, you must first know who they are. Then only can you keep tabs on them, understand, and anticipate their next move. This would put you in a more promising position, always a step ahead of your competitors to gain that much-needed extra edge to grow your business.
All you have to do is key in the relevant service with the city name in Google. Take note of the search results on the first page of Google. Pay attention to those that appear in the advertisements and the map sections. This is the most straightforward way to help identify your competitors.
Social Media & Relevant Forums
You can scour through popular social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, for keywords relevant to your industry. You’d be surprised at the number of competitors with a similar business landscape as yours. Also, do the same for the more popular forums such as Reddit and Quora. You can identify your competitors by perusing the conversations there.
During the sales process, you’d have come across potential competitors. Also, you can chat with your customers to find out who they were evaluating aside from you. You may be surprised how often you may come across unexpected competitors that are good to know.
Free Ways to Find Out What Your Competitors Are Doing
Now you have your list of competitors. Next in mind would be to find out what they are doing. Here are some of the free ways that you could employ to find out what your competitors are doing:
1. Look into Your Competitors’ Content Strategy
In this age of technology and globalization, everything is about putting up relevant and meaningful content. If you don’t, you can bet your bottom dollar that your business will sink. As such, it makes sense to check out what your competitors’ content strategy is.
Check Out Their Website
Sometimes it is good to get your hands dirty and go through your competitors’ websites to get a feel on the approach they take on managing their content. Understand the types of content they focus on – text, media, the layout, blogs, forums, downloadable documents, etc.
Look into the quality of their content (the authoritative factor). This gives you an idea of how well-researched the content pieces were. Also, monitor for any changes that can be useful to help your business evolve.
Write in as a Potential Customer
You can write in as a potential customer, sign up for any email updates, and subscribe to their newsletter. As traditional as it may seem, emails are very effective marketing tools to generate revenue. Remember to be discrete and use a personal email address when signing up.
You also get to have a taste of how the organization runs, their overall marketing approach, latest developments, their content updating frequency, and any campaigns.
Look Into Any Video Content
Videos are now the favorite among marketers. This is not surprising as humans are visual. Analyze their videos and which garnered the most views. Look at how they craft the titles and descriptions too. Also, pay attention to any comments given by the customers. You can then get into some of the action.
Analyze Top-Performing Content
It would be good to know what content works best for your competitors. Some tools can help you identify your competitors’ top-performing content. BuzzSumo is one of the more popular tools to help analyze your competitors’ content.
In the BuzzSumo website, input the topic, brand, URL, or domain and see what content attracts the most engagement for your competitor. It is that simple. You’ll find out the most engaging content is shared and most talked about on social media. You can also dig deeper by analyzing what makes such content stand out and what does the content address.
Then you can gather meaningful information to help you plan fresher and better content ideas to step up your game. There’s a free plan and paid plans for BuzzSumo. However, the free version comes with limitations. So, if you wish to have more, you’ll need to consider the paid plans.
2. Find out Your Competitors’ SEO Strategy
Every organization’s marketing plan is about SEO. Your SEO strategy has to be making positive waves for your business to be successful. To achieve this, it is always advisable to take a step back and scrutinize your competitors’ SEO strategy. You never know what you may find that can make that difference you desperately need.
There are many competitor analysis tools available in the market to help you with this, and there are many metrics that you can look into. Here are a few key metrics that you can explore:
Evaluate Your Competitors’ Backlinks
Perhaps one of the most crucial areas to look into is knowing who links to your competitors. Then, you can incorporate more quality backlinks into your content to drive more traffic and improve your website search visibility.
OpenLinkProfiler is a powerful tool for obtaining a quick backlink analysis of your competitor. The free version allows you to track your competitor’s backlinks, identify the unique links, the type of industries that link most to them, all link types, and the top anchor text used by inbound links.
Evaluate Your Competitors’ Targeted Keywords
Knowing and using the right keywords is a pertinent ingredient to your business growth; search engines rank you better in the SERPs when you use relevant keywords for your industry. As such, you’d want to know what keywords your competitors are using that contribute to their success.
SpyFu is one of the few free powerful tools available. It gives you an overall overview of the top organic keywords, organic vs paid keywords from Google traffic, paid keywords, keyword gainers and losers, estimated SEO and Pay per Click (PPC), top pages, organic ranking history, and more. Simply put, you get to assess your competitors’ SEO performance.
Google Alerts is another free tool worth mentioning as it helps you monitor the competition. You need to configure your competitors for those specific keywords for alerts. Each time your competitor appears on the web, you’ll be alerted.
Evaluate Your Competitors’ Trend
Knowing how your competitor is performing in the market helps you get a feel on how you are doing when pitted against them. Google Trends is a useful tool that keeps tabs on what is trending in the industry and the world. You can choose the region and do a quick search to find out how your competitors have been trending for the past 12 months.
You also get to see the interest shown in your competitor by region for that country. Then do the same for yours. Make a comparison to see where you are and if there’s a need to make adjustments and improve.
3. Track Your Competitors on Social Media
Social media’s popularity is undeniable. As such, you must know what your competitors are doing on social media, especially what people think of them and who these people are. Listening to their social media activity helps you devise your social media marketing strategy.
Social Mention is a free social media search engine that scours through user-generated content for any mention of a company. It does this in real-time across more than 100 social media platforms. Key in your competitor name, and you’ll get a snapshot of real-time data that tells you all the times that your competitor appeared on a social platform. Identify the sources, target them to help you get quality backlinks.
However, some of you may prefer to get things done manually. You can narrow it down to a couple of social platforms heavily used by your competitors and then follow them to analyze their feeds. Look into their posts, images, videos, what is shared, updating frequency, and response time. All this information can help up your game.
4. Identify Your Competitors’ Website Tools
Marketers tend to overlook the technical aspects that can help boost your ranking. You cannot ignore this as your competitors may be ahead of you simply because of better tools. Utilizing better technology and tools means more features; this translates to a more efficient business. You can use Builtwith, a free tool that gives you a peek at what powers up your competitors’ websites.
A simple keying in your competitor’s website will give you a complete high-level overview of what they use. You get a summary of their technology profile, tools for analytics and tracking, widgets, Content Delivery Network (CDN), email hosting provider, web hosting provider, and others. You can find out which technologies you can benchmark on from this technology overview.
5. Evaluate Your Competitors’ Pricing Model
Take time to go through your competitors’ pricing model. How do they package their product offerings and deals? What features are included? How do they incorporate discounts and entice customers? How are your prices different? Then, you can consider taking a similar or different approach and including perks to attract more customers.
Online competitive analysis is not a stranger for a marketer. It is one of the steps in formulating your digital marketing strategy. Knowing your competition and consistently tracking them is crucial to help you discover opportunities and alert you of any pitfalls you should avoid. You can then find your own better business positioning to gain that edge over your competitors.
The above explains some of the ways that can help you find out what your competitors are doing. You can then monitor your performance against them and check if you need any fine-tuning to step up your marketing game.
Pui Mun Beh is a digital marketer of WebRevenue. She keeps an eye on the latest digital marketing and social media trends. She loves to travel around the world offline and online.