5 keys on how to do a competitors analysis
Comparisons are never fair, but we have to admit it, to know how good or how bad our own stuff is, we usually have a look at what others are doing. But, do you know how to do a competitors analysis? It is not simple, but it will be much easier with these 5 keys.
Every company is different and not always comparing ourselves with other businesses is the answer. However, when developing our Digital Marketing and online strategy, it is imperative to know perfectly who we are competing with in the market. If we want to beat our competitors, it is essential knowing how to do a competitor analysis, understand what exactly they are doing and even copy what we detect they are doing well and we are not. Of course, we never should copy exactly their ideas, but adapt the strategies that are working, and apply them to our own business, finding our own way.
Companies usually don’t take the initial market research seriously enough, where we analyse the target audience, the competitors, the alternatives of our products and the places our clients look for our services. This lack of knowledge of the situation makes us miss opportunities and, therefore, potential customers and money.
Let’s have a look at some basic actions that should be taken in order to be one step ahead of our adversaries.
I am aware it is really complicated to do a proper competitor analysis, especially when not an expert in the online environment or marketers. Nevertheless, running a business is a big deal and, in the same way every entrepreneur should know basic concepts on taxation and economy, it is more and more important to have a basic digital knowledge when opening a business in the 21st century.
Maybe our industry looks too traditional and we are convinced on how clients are looking for our services or products. However you would be surprised as more than 86% of the Internet users actually use it for researching and 53% of them buy online. It means that many people go to Internet to gather information about what they are thinking on buying. If our company is not there to be a result for their research, we will miss the opportunity to attract potential and profitable new clients.
But the first step is finding out how people look for services and products like ours on the Internet. This requires an exercise of creativity and empathy at the time to come up with ideas on how this research is really done. An elementary online competitors analysis involves a keywords research. Too many companies overlook this step when they are creating their corporate sites. They insist on including keywords that are more related to ideal ways of naming their products than the realistic way that in fact is used by clients to look for them.
Just to give one example, our own agency was working recently for a client that wanted us to use in their Adwords campaigns a very technical word that defined their product, according to the CEO of the company. After a brief keywords research, we found out that nobody was using that word to find for their products. Actually, people usually use long tail keywords, short sentences and words related with the problem a product fixes, rather than complex or technical names. Picking that kind of keywords, we increased the impressions on their ads on Adwords dramatically in a short period of time.
But coming up with these kind of conclusions requires an in-depth keyword analysis. But, how you can do this?
1.Keyword Planner tool of Google Adwords. With this tool you will be able to check how many people are looking for a particular keyword. An acceptable figure to decide if we should go for a word in our keyword strategy will depend on the industry, the size of the market, if we target locally or globally, etc.
2.Allintitle. This may sound weird but makes a lot of sense. First of all, go to Google, type allintitle: and add a keyword like in this example:
In the first example, Google gives back all the sites indexed by them that include the keyword “windows films dublin”. This phrase can be in a footer, in a post or be part of the content of the homepage. The second example just includes results that are using the keywords within the title of the page. This is relevant because it means that site has high probabilities of being one of the first results on Google. On the other hand, it often means that the person behind that site is… an SEO expert! With this information, you will know how many competitors are fighting against you on the Internet in terms of SEO.
If you are wondering how to know who you are challenging against, the most straight-forward way to do a competitors analysis is studying what they are doing with their own sites. Study their design, the user experience, if they have a powerful digital strategy. If we see that our competitors are weak in that sense, maybe it is time for us to fill that gap and defeat them in digital and make the difference.
Checking the user experience of a site is not difficult. All of us are users, and as such, we are able to differentiate if we are in front of a professional site or a messy site that doesn’t invite us to stay for a while and, eventually, buy.
Ask these questions to yourself: it is easy to navigate? Does the site have a fashion design? Is it easy to know what the purpose of the site is? If all the answers are positive, we are in front of a good site, and therefore, high profile digital competitors who can take customers from us. If most of your competitors are standing up for good sites and SEO strategies, there is no other choice than to work hard in our own digital strategy to be at the same level. If you want to know more about this, read this post about how to do a website usability test.
Popularity and visibility depends on how many sites are pointing to your site, especially important sites for the industry of your company. This will increase your site authority (probability of ranking well in search engines). There are different references in the SEO industry to measure your site’s authority. One of the most famous ones is Moz Website Authority Checker. When you detect that the authority of your competitor’s sites are high, don’t waste time; start doing SEO. Most probably, they are already doing it. The authority depends, among other things, on the number of links they are receiving from other sites, they will be in betters positions in Google and, of course, getting more clients than you.
A great tool to study the links of the competition is SEMrush. It is a paid professional resource for SEO experts and let you know which words are linking one site to another. This is useful information about the keywords they are targeting. Let me give you an example: in the paragraph above, when we wrote “site authority”, I added a link to the Moz website. If too many sites include a link to the same domain, including similar keywords like “site authority”, Google and other search engines will rank that site well when users look for something related with this topic. In the same way, if we get links from sites using strategic keywords, we will end up ranking well for them. Conclusion: study which words the sites are using to point to your competitor’s sites and you will find out if they have a strong SEO strategy behind it.
It is a must for a competitor analysis to pay attention to their content strategy or, at least, being aware if they have one. Do they have a blog? Are there long texts within it? Are you able to detect if they are targeting a particular keyword through their content? Again, if the answer is yes, roll up your sleeves and start doing the same.
More and more companies run a corporate blog or news sections. This is not coincidental, they know that talking about their industry, giving tips, providing good and useful information for their potential clients increases their possibilities of getting new and happier clients. Besides, there are more chances to rank better in search engines as we will be offering more optimised content to be positioned according to a keyword strategy.
Google values the existence of up-to-date, relevant and high quality content to rank a site. If they find that content important for a particular keyword they will offer it in their search engine result page when someone uses that keyword in a search.
These two sites are always in the best positions for keywords related with babies and toys, guess why?
Everything has its price. Too many companies succumb to paid advertising to improve their rank in Google and other search engines. This is something that we should be aware of. There are tools out there to know if our competitors are paying for Google Adwords ads on the internet. SEMrush is one of them. This is a fastest way to be at the top of the result page and we need to know in order to decide our digital strategy. Know more about pros and cons about paid advertising in our post “Does Google Adwords Work?”
The simplest way to find out if the others are paying, is typing important keywords for our business and checking who are competitors are that are paying for advertising.
An important part of a proper competitors analysis is going to their social media profiles. The first thing is knowing if they are doing social media and then, study what they are doing, which actions they are taking and check if they are effective. Copying them is pointless as we have to adapt the strategy to our own target audience and objectives. But it will be a good start to evaluate their strength. The key point is how the relationship with their clients is.
- How many social media posts are they doing?
- Which kind of content are they sharing? Is it exclusively their own content or do they share other’s content?
- Are they interacting with their clients? How? How do they react to negative comments?
- Are people sharing their content?
All these elements will help you to know your competitors and, therefore, how to surpass them. An analysis of the situation, and of the competitors, is essential for the success of a business and we shouldn’t overlook them. If you don’t know where to start, post a comment explaining your particular case and we will give you more in detail tips.