How to Size Up Your Business Competition
An article published recently on Forbes.com highlighted all you can learn about monitoring another company’s marketing program, such as just getting a feel for what they publish on their blog or elsewhere; how well what they publish does on social media; which keywords they rank for; whether their social media following is growing or shrinking; and how their site performs.
“The point is that you can get a complete content marketing diagnostic on any competitor you want, then use that information to avoid their mistakes,” writes columnist Brian Sutter at Forbes.com. “Apply your time and resources to do more of what’s 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 with them head on.”
How can you size up your competition? Here are some ideas from Sutter:
Monitor what they’re publishing. Sign up for their newsletter or subscribe to their blog’s RSS feed so you can see the types of items they’re publishing. Sign up under a personal e-mail account “to stay below their radar.” Make a folder in your inbox for each competitor you’d like to track. Also, follow them on each social media platform they’re present on and set up Google Alerts for their company name and agents.
Gauge their content’s performance. Visit BuzzSumo.com and type in your competitor’s website URL. The site will list the top articles, infographics, videos, and interviews that they’ve published. You can also see how many shares each content got on major social networks and who actually shared it. Those who share are the “influencers” in the industry — and now you have a good idea of what they’re interested in. You can follow them on Twitter and make them aware when you’ve published something new.
Learn the keywords they rank for. You can use SEO tools such as SpyFu, Moz, and SEMRush to learn what a website ranks for as well as which keywords your competition may be bidding on and what percentage of their traffic is organic versus paid. Another tool called Wasp Barcode can also help you gain insight into what your competition is doing, what keywords they’re targeting, and how your efforts might be stacking up against them.
“The ability to understand which sites are linking to our content and which keywords are truly driving qualified traffic to our site gives me the ability to focus our marketing efforts and increased our traffic from organic search by more than 30 percent year over year,” says Sutter says.
Watch their social media following. Is their social media following growing or shrinking? To find out, try Fanpage Karma, which shows how individual Facebook pages perform by ranking a user’s most popular and least popular posts, what types of posts he or she publishes and how well the posts do, and stats on audience growth. For Twitter, try FollowerWonk to determine their most influential followers.
When monitoring your competition, “remember, you’re looking for ways to take their information and apply it to your own content marketing work,” Sutter says. “You’re looking for their network, their influencers, how to attract their audience. You’re looking for how they earned quality links and who gave them those links. Then take that recon and build something better.”