You may have a brilliant idea, an impressive product, and great customer service to complement all of it, but here is the harsh truth:
Chances are that there would be other businesses that would be offering a similar product or service.
Those businesses would be your competitors.
One of the most basic business strategies is to — through a series of steps — eventually get ahead of your competitors, establish an edge over them, and grab a larger share of the market by attracting more customers to your business.
However, there is a lot more than knowing just what your competitors offer.
In today’s online marketing world, competitor analysis is one of the first and most important things to do. If you don’t know much about competitor analysis, this is the perfect post for you as we start from scratch and explore all the different possibilities.
What is competitor analysis?
Simply put, competitor analysis is a process that may have several steps which eventually help you understand what your competitors are doing, which strategies are working for them in the online marketing world, and how you could reverse-engineer those strategies to get ahead of them.
There are dozens of software available on the internet that makes competitor analysis possible, even for small businesses and freelancers. We will briefly mention some of those tools in this blog post to help you get started.
Note: In this blog post, we will be focusing on competitor analysis only from a search engine optimization (SEO) and online marketing perspective.
The importance of competitor analysis
When you are finalizing your online marketing strategy, there are two ways that you can go about it:
- There are hundreds of tips, pieces of advice, and strategies available on the internet — both for search engine optimization and online marketing in general. You can start trying those strategies and see what works for your business. But you will be throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what it sticks.
As you can guess, this is not the most effective method.
That’s especially true when businesses have to use paid advertising channels, and they can’t afford to spend thousands of dollars every month just to identify which traffic and lead-generation strategy is going to work for their particular niche and business.
- On the other hand, the more efficient method is to identify your biggest competitors and see what’s working for them. Since they would be in the same industry as you, you’d know what works for them has the potential for working for your business as well.
This is where competitor analysis comes in.
Once you identify the strategies that are working for your competitors, you can just follow them, improve on those tactics, and build your business without wasting valuable time and thousands of dollars on strategies that may or may not work.
Tools for competitor analysis
There are dozens of tools for competitor analysis for search engine optimization and digital marketing strategies. Here are a few of them:
If it is overwhelming for you, don’t worry.
We have written a blog post that introduces beginners to 5 tools to start their competitor analysis process and share actionable tips on how to use them.
If you want to understand more about those tools in detail and learn how to use them, read 5 tools to use for competitor analysis.
How to start competitor analysis?
Now that you know what competitor analysis is and what are some of the tools for it, let’s see how you can get started.
Following are a few steps that would help you doing a competitor analysis for search engine optimization and online marketing in general.
- Start by identifying the top five to ten competitors. You may have a good idea of who your competitors are, but you’d be surprised to know that not all businesses are fully aware of their competitors. Make sure that you have a list of 5-10 competitors with established websites and an online presence. If you are having difficulty in finding your competitors, use Google and type the products and services you are offering.
- Analyze the SEO structure and profiles of your competitors’ websites. Do they have a blog folder on their websites? How many backlinks your competitors’ websites are getting? How do they create page titles, meta descriptions, URL architectures, etc.? What kind of internal link strategy can you identify by analyzing their websites?
- Identify the keywords they are targeting? SpyFu can help you with this by generating a list of organic keywords that they are ranking for. By identifying their top keywords, you can learn how they are receiving a good majority of their traffic.
- Take a look at their PPC campaigns. Again, SpyFu could help you by providing you a list of all the keywords that your competitors are targeting via paid search engine marketing campaigns.
- Now that you have the list of keywords you should be targeting, analyze their content pages and note down any points that you find interesting. How frequently do they publish blog posts? What is the average length of the blog posts that they publish and those that get ranked on Google’s first pages? Do the blog posts have lots of images, videos, and infographics? What type of content do they publish? Can you see any webinars, FAQ pages, case studies, buyer guides, press releases, white papers, etc.? If you want to learn more about content marketing and content creation, read how to improve your site’s content with the help of competitor analysis.
- Check out each of your competitor’s social media pages and see which one is getting the most traction and engagement. After analyzing 3-5 competitors, you will soon identify a trend — a couple of social media platforms would be outdoing the rest. For instance, Facebook could be performing well for almost all your competitors when compared to, say, LinkedIn. When you start your social media marketing, you’d know where to start from.
- Subscribe to their newsletters and notice what kinds of emails your competitor businesses send you. Focus on the contents of those emails and try to identify the email marketing strategy your competitors are using. Moreover, also notice how many informative emails they send as a part of their drip email campaign after sending a promotional one.
Competitor analysis is a big aspect of online businesses, but this post should give beginners a clear direction of what it means and where to start.
If you want to learn more about competitor analysis, here a few blog posts that you could read: