In the recent survey, 44 percent of marketers suggested that competitive or competitor analysis influenced their growth in traffic and conversions. These numbers are high enough to assume that analyzing your competitors may give you a lot of helpful data to succeed in business.
Your competitors can become that goldmine that provides you with the actual information you may be missing. If performed wisely, this information can boost your conversions, bring you leads, improve your SEO and bring you traffic.
Here are a few tricks to perform competitive analysis for a small business website with less effort.
Set up your goals
Before diving into the ocean filled with sharks, you should state what exactly do you need to learn from your rivals and where to use that data.
- What are your marketing soft spots that need improvement;
- What data from your competitors do you need;
- How to use this data in your marketing strategy;
- How often do you need to extract the competitors’ data?
You can create a spreadsheet or a checklist to fill it with the information you have found. Review it from time to time to identify more areas for improvement.
List out your online rivals
To get the best prospect for your analysis, you should choose the best of your online competitors. They can be those who offer the same product/service as you do. Or not-so-obvious websites that target the same audience. Thus, you and your competitor may both target athletes who buy shoes for football or for running.
You can get the list of your competitors in two simple ways:
- put your focus keyword into the search field;
- check them out with SEO tools.
However, both ways are acceptable. With SEO tool you get more filter opportunities to narrow down your search to only high- or medium DR websites.
Learn their traffic sources
It’s important to understand how your competitors’ marketing works. Speaking on websites, we should focus on their online sources to know where they get the most of their traffic flow. You can always check out your traffic sources in your Google Analytics dashboard. But how to get the same data about your rivals?
In this case, it’s better to use online tools that can crawl the website information and show you that primary sources of traffic for your competitor’s website. Also, one of the most comfortable solutions here will be a Similar Web toolbar. It is free, and it can show you the main traffic sources graph for any website:
- Organic and paid traffic sources;
- Referral (traffic from backlinks);
- Social (traffic that comes from social media);
- Email (traffic they get from their email campaigns), etc.
It doesn’t mean that if your competitor gets most of its traffic from social channels, you should also do so. But it will help you to understand what strategies you may try for your website, what content to post to boost your performance on the same platforms.
Identify their target audience
If you’re thinking you and your direct competitor are targeting the same customers just because you offer the same products – think again! Your audiences may differ by age, gender, social status and other characteristics you should better check out (competitor analysis below):
- What customers usually buy your competitor’s products;
- Do your competitors diversify their pricing depending on the audience;
- How their customers interact with your rivals online: what social media they use the most, what comments do they leave, their social media profiles, etc.
Check out comments and online reviews that customers leave on your competitor’s blog, product pages, and third-party review websites. Users often mention the weaknesses their product have of feature requests. You can use all those soft spots for your own good.
Check out their keywords
Properly used keywords help drive traffic to a website, gain leads, and boost conversions. You can find your top keywords in your Analytics dashboard. But how to get the best-performing keywords from your competitors?
You have already found out some keywords while searching for your competitors in Google. To refine your search and dig a bit deeper, you may wish to check out advanced keyword tools. Thus, I used Ahrefs to learn the keywords that help the Wix.com website rank in Google Top10:
To narrow down the list, you may target only those keywords that help your competitors sit the Top10 in Google. There will be mostly branded keywords in the first position. You may wish to piggyback those keywords in your ad campaigns. But your main focus will be the keywords that are closely related to what your target audience taps into the search field.
Explore their best content
Content quality is one of those factors that Google takes into account for ranking websites. By exploring the competitors content that ranks in the Top10, you can learn the best practices that help them drive traffic to the website.
Check out your competitors’ content (competitor analysis) for those keywords you gathered during the previous step:
- Blog posts;
- Product pages with product descriptions;
- Videos and podcasts;
- How-to guides, instructions;
- Case studies;
- FAQs, etc.
You can also use Buzzsumo to find out what content of a given domain gets the most of shares. The best content from your competitors usually has the following characteristics:
- a high amount of traffic;
- a good number of backlinks;
- a high number of shares;
- a bunch of valuable users’ comments.
The content that gets a decent amount of the signals above is worth your attention. Closely examine its structure, topics, backlinks sources, questions it raises. And try to create similar content with higher value tailored to your audience.
Build the links the way they do
Backlinks are considered to be one of the most significant ranking factors today. Google hasn’t confirmed either dispelled it, but the case studies show the strong correlation between the number of backlinks and the position the page/website ranks in SERPs.
Watching your competitors’ link building activity is not a one-time activity. You have to check out their backlink profit regularly just to keep pace with them. But you have to pay high attention to the ways and sources where they get links and build ten times more backlinks to leave your rivals behind.
E.g., if you spot a spike on a graph of your competitor’s backlink profile, it means that they were also actively building backlinks on that date. Therefore, you need to double your efforts to get more backlinks than they acquired.
Use their weak spots
Any information you gather during your competitive or competitor analysis is useless if you don’t put it to work immediately. Use those soft spots and strengths you have found to your own good:
- List out your ‘best’ online competitors;
- Single out their traffic acquisition channels that are the most suitable for your goals and target audience;
- Beat them with their keywords;
- Acquire backlinks from the same sources;
- Create 10x times better content.
You also don’t need to run a full competitor analysis every month. But check out ‘what’s new’ at your competitors from time to time to stay aware of the best trends and strategies that you can benefit from. Finally, competitor analysis gets you ready and makes you ahead.
Helen is a content marketer at Ahrefs. She explores new things every day to impress her readers with catchy stories. Apart from all that marketing stuff, Helen loves listening to rock music, reading and traveling. A lot! Feel free to follow Helen on Twitter.