Competitor analysis can be a time consuming task – making it easy to push back on the to-do list – but it’s crucial for keeping ahead in an increasingly overcrowded content market.
By following the steps below you can ensure you’re aware of what your competitors are up to and how you can outperform them.
1. Identify your competitors
You should already know who your key competitors are, but chances are there are some you’re unaware of.
By identifying your direct, indirect and ‘available spend’ competitors (also called perceived or replacement), you’ll have an extensive list – outside of the known competition – to focus on.
Direct competitors offer very similar products and services. You will probably know most of these.
Indirect competitors may offer similar products and services within a wider offer. These can often be found by doing keyword analysis and seeing who also appears on terms you are ranking for.
Perceived or replacement competitors may not offer similar products or even be in the same industry but they may offer products that can become perceived as replacements. Social listening and customer surveys can help you understand your audience and detect these competitors.
Few of us have time to carry out thorough analysis of 20+ sites, so narrow this list down to between three to five; incorporating a mix of the types above.
By doing this, you’ll be on your way to gaining a rounded view of the industry offering products and services similar to yours.
2. Check out their onsite SEO
From load speed and H1 tags, to relevant on-page content, there are various ways you can gauge the success of your competitor’s onsite SEO.
AccuRanker’s competitor benchmarking guide outlines 12 questions to ask when analysing onsite SEO of your competitors. Things to look out for include whether your competitors are using internal linking, length of content, related keywords and how SEO friendly their URLs are.
The guide also comes with a free, downloadable checklist, helping to speed up your analysis process.
3. Examine their on-page content
Having relevant, informative and engaging content not only allows a site to become a valuable resource, but including more content helps with rankings.
Try a couple of searches to see where the competition are appearing. If any seem to be ranking consistently high, check out their content to see what they’re doing and how you could exceed their efforts.
Writing reams of uninteresting text just to hit a word count isn’t wise, especially if this ends up equating to duplicate content (you can check for this with a tool like OnCrawl). But if your competitors offer valuable information about a product or service, and are including the relevant keywords early on in the content, it will be working in their favour.
Using multi-media on the page is even better. This helps to illustrate information in more detail, as well as engage users, encouraging them to spend more time on site and reducing bounce rates.
After you’ve scrutinised what the competition are doing, have a look at your own site too. Could you add additional informative content? Do you have video or audio content that could be added to pages to improve engagement?
If so, don’t hesitate in adding these improvements to your priority list.
4. Investigate bigger content pieces
From their blog posts to larger campaigns, like infographics, interactive pieces and eBooks, your best competitors will be producing content that is being shared and linked to.
With Buzzsumo you can analyse your competitors’ domains to find their most socially shared content. This means, rather than trawl their site for pieces you think may have performed well, you will know for sure which pieces are shareable.
Narrow down this list to include a variety of content types, including blog posts and larger campaigns, before analysing the pieces themselves to determine what makes them appealing. This process can help generate topic ideas of your own, as well as identify any gaps in the market you can tap in to.
With Buzzsumo’s performance reports, you can compare your competitors and reveal who is performing well. You can then set up content alerts to monitor frontrunners, so you’ll immediately be made aware of any new content they’re uploading.
5. Find their influencers
Once you’ve identified your competitors’ best performing pieces of content, take a look at who’s supporting it. Those linking to and sharing content from your competitors are likely to do the same for your pieces too.
When using Buzzsumo in step four, ensure you also ‘view sharers’ of the piece you’re investigating and filter by followers or engagement to reveal the most influential people. Export this and you have the makings of a prospecting list.
Since it’s not purely about how shareable content is, you can also use Majestic to input the URL of the content piece you’re focusing on and reveal which sites are linking to it.
Then, add any relevant, quality sites to your prospecting list; chances are, they’ll be interested in linking to similar content (yours) in the future.
The full process of competitor analysis, from identifying those you need to monitor, to scrutinising their content, isn’t a job that can be completed in minutes. However, set aside the time and the rewards will be obvious.
Analysing competitor progress can help you to see how you’re measuring up. In addition, you can use your findings to identify what works – and doesn’t – for your audience, identify content gaps you can begin to fill, as well as use their influencers to amplify your own content.