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In today’s digital age, simply having the best product or service, isn’t enough. You have to know what your competition is doing. Otherwise your company may be blindsided, and more importantly, it allows you the opportunity to beat them at their own game!
Content marketing is particularly well suited for this. Because most of what works or doesn’t work in content marketing is public. Because of this, it’s easy to take all of your competitor’s successes and failures and leverage them for yourself. The following are all tidbits that you can glean from your competition:
What they are publishing (both on blog and elsewhere)
How well what they publish does on social media
Which keywords the content they publish ranks for
What they are doing with pay-per-click advertising, what terms they bid on, what they pay for it, and their ad copy
Whether their social media is growing or shrinking, and how engaged they are
How their site performs
Where their links are and when they got them
Ultimately there is a lot more, but those are some of the key metrics you should be diving into. The point is that you can get a nearly complete marketing diagnostic on any competitor you want, then you can use that information to avoid their mistakes. You can apply your time and resources more efficiently by doing more of what has worked for them. If you do discover they are dominating one topic, niche, or angle – learn how to side-step their strengths so you don’t compete head-on. So let’s get into the nuts and bolts of this tutorial.
The first thing to do is to sign up for their newsletter or subscribe to their blog’s RSS feed. You might want to consider signing up for a personal email account to keep yourself incognito. Then make a folder in your inbox for each competitor that you want to track. After that, follow them on every social media platform that they are active on.
Next, you will want to set up some Google Alerts for their company name, top products and the names of key executives or any other term that someone might use to refer to them. Google Alerts are free and only take a moment to set up (you should already be using them for your own business name anyway.) It is important to note however, Google Alerts will only catch pages indexed by Google, and you will miss references from social media. So you will want to set up a listening station on SocialMention.com or Mention.com.
Next, you want to head over to BuzzSumo.com and paste in your competitor’s website URL. You will receive a list of top articles, infographics, videos and interviews they have published. You will also be able to see how many shares each has received across all of the popular social channels.
Most importantly you will also be able to see who shared their content. These sharers are commonly referred to as influencers. Now that you know what content the influencers in your industry are interested in, follow them on Twitter for a while, and then tweet them to let them know that you have published something that they might like.
If you like BuzzSumo, consider going pro so that you can set up daily alerts as well. Back in your email, set up a filter to filter all of your daily reports into each one of your competition’s folders so that you start to get a daily snapshot of your competition’s activity online.
There is no shortage of SEO tools available, any tool like SpyFu, Moz or SEMRush can tell you an awful lot about what a website ranks for. They will also show you which keywords your peers are bidding on and what percentage of their traffic is organic versus paid.
These tools will allow you to gain unique insights into what your competition is up to , what keywords they are targeting, and how your efforts stack up against theirs. The ability to see which sites are linking to your content and which keywords are truly driving qualified traffic to your site will give you the ability to focus marketing efforts and increase your traffic.
Growing or Shrinking
There is an awesome little tool called Fanpage Karma (they have a great free tool to help you choose Facebook contest winners too) that shows how individual Facebook pages are performing. This metric includes ranking the most popular posts, what types of posts they publish and how well they do, and all the stats on their audience growth.
On Twitter you are going to want to check out two different sites, first head over to TwitterAudit and see if they have any fake followers. And then slide on over to FollowerWonk and find out who their most influential followers are and follow them.
The next thing you will want to research is how your competition does for on-page and technical SEO. Check out everything from site speed, meta tags, and site structure. For this exercise, you will use a couple of tools. Start off with Google’s PageSpeed Insights and Mobile-Friendly tests. It doesn’t really matter where your competitor comes in, as long as your site performs better. These are important as these metrics will give you an edge in search rankings.
Now we are going to do an in-depth SEO audit on your competitor’s site, you will want to snag an auditing tool like Screaming Frog or Kapost’s Content Editor to give you a deeper look into the structure and content of a competitor’s site. They are pretty technical, but not to complicated that you can’t figure it out.
We have discussed how to build quality links in previous tutorials, but in this step, you are going to check out your competitor’s links. Knowing where your competition’s most powerful links are coming from is valuable information. Those same powerful sites might give you a link or two, and before you know it, you have leveled the playing field.
To check your competition’s links you will want to head over to Majestic. It will give you insights into which links are worth investigating and which links are mostly worthless. It can also show you “link velocity” – which is how fast your competitors are building their links.
We have discussed reputation management and it’s importance at great lengths. But now we are going to dive into your competitor’s reputations. You will want to research them on Yelp, CitySearch and Google, and you will want to record their review count and their star rating, and use them as reputation goals. If you want to dive deeper, look at any trends in praise or complaints in their reviews. See if there is a reoccurring theme that you could capitalize on.
Putting it Together
Gather up all of this information into a spreadsheet, and look at it for ways that you can take the competition’s information and apply it to making your own content marketing work. Take what you have learned and develop a plan of action that will allow you to overtake your competition online!
If you have any questions or would like us to provide an in-depth analysis for you, don’t hesitate to contact us!
At Big Corner Creative you get everything you expect from a traditional advertising agency, plus industry-leading digital work - all from a creative, tight-knit team of entrepreneurs, writers, designers, technologists and thinkers who share a common passion for doing great work and making things happen.