Competitive analysis or competitive research is a kind of research that focuses on gathering and analysis of information about rival firms. It is one of the initial steps of search engine optimization (SEO). It helps you to find out what your competitors are doing and how can they be a hurdle for your digital marketing strategy.
Website audit and competition research are the two ingredients of the SEO process that help to develop an SEO strategy. In other words, they tell you what needs to be done, and also they will help you to set digital marketing goals. So, if you are looking to begin your digital marketing journey, you must first focus on competitive analysis. Here are the top ten tips on how to research your competition.
1. Detect your top ten competitors
To be true, competitive analysis begins with the identification of competitors. So, it can be said that this is the first step of this subtle process. Although it looks simple, one should not skip this step. It is quite important to know who are your competitors. This is because not every guy who is selling the same products or services as of you is a competitor.
So, how to identify your competitors? Google the keywords that you want your websites to rank for. All those business websites that appear on the search engine results page are your competitors. Make a list of these websites. The ultimate aim of all your digital marketing efforts including, SEO, SMM, email marketing, and PPC should be of beating all the top ten competitors.
The other tool you can use to discover your competitors is SEMrush. It tells you who all are ranking for your keywords.
2. Inspect their website
This is one of the most fundamental tips for how to research your competition. Examine the website of your competitors. It will give you some really important information on how did they position their website for particular keywords. While analyzing make sure you are following some predetermined guidelines. Without guidelines, your inspection can be wild, and you tend to miss some important areas. Here are the 4 important areas to focus on.
Product and service page: This page was a business owner focuses more. Try to discover how the competitor has tried to rank the product or service page.
Case studies: Here a business owner tries to establish trust. So, notice how trust establishment is done.
About us: This is also an important part of a website that people tend to ignore. Try to know how your competitors have introduced themselves to their potential customers.
Terms and condition: It is a great place to understand contract structure and other important aspects of the business.
3. Monitor the social media presence
Social media marketing has become as important as search engine optimization. Your competitors know this fact very well. Therefore, monitor the social media presence of your competitors, and pick some interesting facts about them.
Today we have online tools that make our job easy and effortless. Yes, there are several online tools to monitor your competitor’s Facebook posts, blogs, tweets, and other social media mentions. By doing so you can know what way your competitors are attracting potential customers, improving online reputation and customer relations.
If you find something interesting, you can reflect the same in your social media marketing strategy. Make sure that you just don’t copy the entire social media campaign. Every business is unique. Pick only the good points and embed in your social media strategy.
4. Analyze competitor’s content marketing strategy
In most of cases, content marketing decides the fate of the overall digital marketing strategy. So, it is quite important to understand the content marketing strategy of your competitors.
Analysis of the content marketing strategy is pretty difficult. However, one can consider a few factors of content marketing and form a pretty good opinion on how well the content is performing. Here are the things you should be looking for.
Type of content: Find what type of content your competitors are using. Content can be of many types. It may be an ebook, infographics, blog, forum or videos. After that try to figure out how the audience is interacting with the content.
Frequency: Know when your competitors are posting their content on the Internet. The best method to do so is subscribing the newsletters. Create your publication schedule only after analyzing the frequency of your competitors.
Relevance: Check whether the content created is relevant to the business. A great content that is irrelevant to your business is useless. Do not let such content influence your content marketing strategy.
Audience: Subscriber base is usually freely shared. This will help you understand what kind of audience your competitors have.
5. Conduct a survey
Conducting a survey is an awesome method to obtain a comprehensive report of all the possible competitors in the industry. Hire someone who can email several of your competitors and ask them important questions to gain the required information.
The biggest advantage here is that the data obtained is authentic. You can easily analyze price, response time, consumer relationship, and how the sales requests are managed, etc. By doing all these you can differentiate yourself from the competitors and showcase yourself as a unique and customer friendly business.
The important thing to note here is don’t blindly follow the things that are working for their business. Doing so will give the same experience to the customers. As a result, you will lack uniqueness. Make sure when your customers contact you, they have a unique experience.
6. Ask the customers
This is another best method to know more about competitors. Whenever you gain a new customer, ask them some important questions. Here are some important questions to ask customers.
Who was your former products and service provider?
What made you switch?
How was the experience with the old provider?
What are the things you liked and disliked in the former business?
Why did you choose us?
In what why we are better than our competitors?
The answer to the above-mentioned questions will give a clear idea about what your competitors are offering, what they are good at, and what they lack in. Knowing this all information you can reshape your offering to make it more relevant and attractive.
7. Analyze online reviews
Want to know pretty much everything about your competitors? There is no other easy, simple, and effortless method than reading online reviews. Read the online reviews of your competitors. Do not stop after reading a couple of reviews. Read as many as you can. The more you read the more you will know.
Reviews give you various important information such as:
What is working for the competitors?
What people are disliking?
What customers are expecting from a business?
Where do your competitors lack?
Where do they excel?
How is an online reputation?
What is the overall emotion?
The other advantage of reading reviews is that it aids online reputation management.
8. Analyze the email marketing strategy
One of the biggest myth related to competitive research is that people think it is not important to analyze email marketing strategy. Believing such a myth can make you end up with incomplete competitive analysis. And an incomplete analysis leads to an ineffective digital marketing strategy.
So, it is fundamental to analyze the email marketing strategy of the competitors. Sign up for the newsletter or email list of your competitor. This will help you to establish a connection with them. By reading their emails, try to find the below things:
Quality of the content
Frequency of email
9. Use online tools
There are many free and paid competitive research tools on the Internet. You can use these tools to do the above mention things. Here we are mentioning some:
Google Alerts: It is a free online tool provided by Google that you can use for competitive research. All you need to do is fill all the necessary information and keywords you want to keep track of.
Social Mention: This is an awesome tool, which works like Google Alerts, but only for social media. It monitors more than 100 social media platforms.
Google Ad Planner: If you want to track down competitors and also want to discover the terms and keywords they are using to improve their online visibility, then you must go for the Google Ad Planner.
The Wayback Machine: With the help of this Internet archive, you can view the evolution of any website from 1996 to the present time. Therefore, this tool makes it easy for you to analyze a marketing strategy.
Alexa Page Rank: This tool gives you an opportunity to search for any business online and evaluate their online presence. Furthermore, this tool will help you with SEO, security, performance, tags, and many other things.
10. Identify the area of improvement
Once you are finished with the competitive research, you should have a clear idea about what your competitors are doing. Take all the data gathered about each competitor, and organize it. Analyze this data and identify the area of improvement.
Once you mark the areas that are needed to be improved you can set goals and craft SEO, content creation, and social media marketing strategies along with the online reputation management strategy.
It is not a good idea to do competitive research by yourself unless you are an SEO expert. These things take time, and there is no place for trial and error method. So, it is good to hire an SEO agency that can work for you and achieve your business goals.