No matter what your niche is, there are certainly a few competitors’ websites that are already producing favorable results in your niche. So as you’re designing and optimizing your website, why not analyze what these competitors are doing in order to achieve their results so that you can use a similar approach to ensure YOUR success in the online marketplace? You’ve probably heard the saying: “There’s no reason to reinvent the wheel,” and this saying certainly applies when it comes to developing your strategy for marketing your company website.
So in this article, we’ll be covering five reverse engineering strategies that you can use to learn and to benefit from the success of your competitors.
Simply put, reverse engineering is the act of analyzing an existing system, process, or structure (whether it be a marketing system or the structure of a website) and using the knowledge gained from that analysis to recreate a duplicate or similar system. Obviously, when reverse engineering your competition, you want to make sure that you’re not duplicating anything which is protected by copyright laws. However, when it comes to the systems used to optimize and to promote websites, most of the time you’re pretty safe from violating these laws.
Obviously, as you choose which of your competitors to analyze so that you can reverse engineer their approach, you want to choose those who are winning. You can find such competitors by doing keyword searches for the terms which your site is optimized for and seeing who is ranking first. You can also look at the competitors who are consistently spending advertising money on your keywords (see our article on Traffic Travis for details), since these competitors are probably also making a consistent profit off of those keywords. Once you find a few good competitors, here are five things you can do to reverse engineer their approach and duplicate their success.
Using tools like SEOpen, you can see exactly which websites your competitors are building backlinks from. SEOopen shows you the links as they are indexed by Yahoo, Google, and by MSN. It also gives you the option of visiting those links and seeing exactly what type of content your competitors are associating with those backlinks. For example, when SEOpen displays the links which your competitor is building from an article submission site, you can click those links and view the articles which your competitor is creating and publishing.
This is also a great way to find relevant and quality sites to which you can link to. Pay specific attention to the sites which your competitors seem to have a lot of backlinks coming from…chances are they’re linking to these sites because they’re getting some quality traffic.
As you’re analyzing the sites which your competitors are linking to and the types of articles that your competitors are posting on article submission sites, you’ll want to look for common themes. Which keywords or phrases are your competitors using in their content? What topics are they publishing the most content about? What type of language are they using in their calls to action? By paying attention to the content strategy which your competitor is using to build quality backlinks and to attract traffic, you’ll save yourself a LOT of trial and error and be able to create content that will produce you the best results.
Site structure is VERY important when it comes to creating a good user experience, optimizing your site for the search engines, and for increasing conversions. Analyze the site structure which your competitors are using and ask yourself these questions: how are they making it easy for their visitors to find what they’re looking for? How are they directing the visitor’s attention towards their offers, their products, or their email collection forms? How are they organizing their information so that the visitor has plenty of options for finding good content, but so that the visitor also isn’t overwhelmed by too many options?
Most important, pay attention to their use of graphics, video, and flash features and as yourself how the appearance of the site might be contributing to the success of the site.
Using Alexa.com, you can do a complete analysis of the visitors who are using your competitor’s website. This information is of untold value to you since it will help you get to know your potential customers. The more you know about your customers, the easier it will be for you to “speak their language” when you write content or create products and offers which will appeal to them. Using the “audience” feature on Alexa.com, you can find out the following information about the people visiting your competitor’s site:
You can also use the “clickstream” option to find out which OTHER sites your competitors’ visitors are coming from AND going to as they browse your competitor’s site. This is all information that is available to you for free and which can help you to reverse engineer your competitor’s marketing strategy.
This is by far the most valuable strategy for analyzing your competition: look for the needs within your market that your competitors are NOT fulfilling. For example, can you find forums where customers of your competitors are talking about your competitor’s products or services? Can you find reviews of your competitor’s products and services? If so, what are the customers complaining about? What’s missing that you could step in and provide? By identifying the chinks in your competitor’s armor and the unfulfilled customer needs within your marketplace, you could discover a whole new realm of untapped opportunity.
Beginning with the first of these strategies, start analyzing your competitors and finding out how you can leverage THEIR experience in order to increase your chances at success. You might be surprised at what you’ve been missing, and it could prove to be very profitable.