Humans are competitive by nature. We’re raised in a competitive environment from sports to school to the occasional family reunion dance-off. It’s in our DNA and brings out (usually) the best in us as individuals and groups. Without competition, we’d have a difficult time striving to be better, continuing to improve, and ultimately, becoming the best of best.
Every marketing strategy has its core components and must do’s before diving into additional areas. One of those core components that every business must do is researching the competition. Figure out what they’re doing, why they’re doing it — all with the goal of coming up with something better. But how? That’s where Odd Dog comes in. Here are 5 things that our team does to perform competitor research and gain the edge.
Every Local SEO campaign starts off with citation building. First, you start off with the top 10 in your city as well as the top 10 for your industry and gradually work towards the top 50. Let’s say you’ve gone through and done this. Pat yourself on the back. Job well done, sir (or madam)! So what’s next? This can be a difficult one at times but it helps to have some tools under your belt. Like a carpenter, digital marketers have a belt full of tools. When it comes to performing citation research on your competitors, we like to use a software called Bright Local. Not only do they help you keep track and manage your own citations, but they also give you a direct comparison of your competitors’ citations. You can compare your citations against your competitions and see which ones you have, or don’t have for that matter, and make an assessment from there. It’s a fantastic tool that offers invaluable information when it comes to citation research.
If you’ve done your homework and are familiar with SEO, you should know by now that domain authority is the key influencer in where your website ranks in search results. You understand it’s essentially how powerful or authoritative your website is and let’s even go to say you know how to improve it i.e. building backlinks. But gosh darn it, your competitors are still beating you! This is where the ole tool belt comes into play. It’s time to break out Ahrefs. Ahrefs allows you to type in a competitor URL, segregate results based on backlinks and segregate even further by selecting “Do Follow” links only (the important stuff!). From there, you can determine where your competition is getting their links from. We like to call this the “low hanging fruit”. If your competitors have a link from XYZ website, you should too.
Since we’re on the topic of backlinks, we might as well continue by discussing domain authority. What I mean by this is analyzing how powerful their domain is by taking a deeper dive. We call this one nerd mode. Take a look:
We achieve this nerd mode by using our multi-functional tool, Ahrefs. Here you can see that we’re analyzing the most commonly used search engines. There’s a lot of info here too. Too much info really. But what’s great about this function of Ahrefs is it allows you to see where each search engine (i.e. competitor) is getting their links, the type of links, and referring domains among other things. 3 key takeaways from here are determining the number of “Dofollow” links, “.gov” links & “.edu” links. Some of the most powerful links you can gain are from “.gov” & “.edu” domains. This tool is a great way to compare on a broad scale how you stand against your competition and how to reassess your strategy moving forward.
Is your company deciding to invest in Google Ads? Maybe you decided to take a peek at your ads and noticed your competition higher in the results? If you see them higher, how the H-E-Double Hockey Sticks did they do that!? Well, let’s break out the tool belt yet again and put Spyfu into action. With Spyfu you can directly analyze a competitor’s ads, keyword groups, estimated monthly ad spend and even most profitable keywords. You can determine if you’re lacking any keywords in your own campaign, don’t have enough diversification in ads, or you’re simply being outspent (which can also be done in Google Ads). If you spend enough time in here, you can get a better idea of what they’re targeting and make an adjustment if need be.
This last piece of advice is pretty straightforward but also very important. Simply take a look at your competitor’s website. What are they doing that you’re not? Have they optimized their titles, H1’s, metas, alt image tags? What’s the page speed look like? Are they utilizing calls to action? Are they blogging? Is their website mobile and responsive? Do they have a better site architecture? How does the internal linking stack up compared to yours? Need more? Please find nerd mode round 2 which can be found simply by right-clicking on the page and clicking “view page source”:
There are plenty more areas to look at when analyzing a competitor’s website but the above should be a great starting place.
At the end of the day, competitor research can be time-consuming and difficult. Simply put, find out what your competitor is doing and do it better. Spend some time figuring it all out and utilize some resources to make some changes to your online strategy.