How well do you know your competitors? Do you know who they are? Are they blogging? What are they doing on social media and in real life?
In this podcast we look at competitive research for bloggers.
Knowing your competitors is almost as important as knowing your customers. You’ll find out what they do well, where they excel and you’ll also find out what they are not so good at. These are opportunities you can exploit with your content.
It’s not just about trying to beat your competitors, getting to know them both online and in real life can open up opportunities. I am friendly with many of my competitors and we often pass work to one another, I’ve even built partnerships with some of them.
There are lots of opportunities for business owners who do competitive research but as bloggers there are even more. If we know not just our real life but online competitors we can start to create content that will beat them in search engine results and help us define the niches. That will bring more traffic to our sites and ultimately new customers.
I talked about competitive SEO back in episode 30. Today we’re going to look at how to find your competitors and how to analyse them.
Listen below to find out about competitive research for bloggers
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What to do
You probably had a look at your real life competitors when you started your business. You know who else in your local area does what you do. You know what sites offer the same sorts of products and services as you do. This is an important list to compile. If you haven’t written it down on paper do it now. I use a spreadsheet so I can add data later.
Now you need to find your online competitors. These are the people who may not sell what you sell but who dominate search results for your industry or local area.
Finding your competitors
Start with a Google search for terms related to your business. Don’t be too specific, look for broader search term, think beyond your core product to the sort of things your customers might search for. For example I might search for ‘Small business blogging’ or ‘blogging tips’. If you are a local business start searching for sites related to your town as well. Make a list of search terms to research.
Use an Incognito (on Chrome) or a Private Browsing (for Firefox) window when you search. This blocks the Google customised search results you get in a standard search.
Compile a list of the websites that rank on page 1 & 2 of Google for the search term. Repeat this process for each search term on your list.
Add all the sites you find to your spreadsheet.
Now look at Twitter, I find the Twitter dashboard particularly useful for this. I ask Twitter to show me results based on blogging and identify strong competitors from the links in the results.
What to analyse
Start with the basics
- Do they have a website
- Do they have a blog on their website
- Is it regularly updated
- What social networks do they use
- How many followers do they have on each
In Facebook Insights you can add pages to watch and benchmark yourself against. This shows you how often a page posts and how many engagements they have had in the past week. Pick your top 5 competitors on Facebook and add them to this section.
AgoraPulse has a free Twitter analytics tool that allows you to benchmark yourself against your competitors too.
Domain authority (DA) is a ranking that all sites are given by software company MOZ and is updated on a monthly basis. The idea is that a site with a high DA is more likely to rank on search engines than one with a lower DA. It’s a great benchmark for your site.
Keep an eye on your own DA and that of your competitors.
BuzzSumo is a tool that will identify the most shared content on a specific topic or from a specific site. Use it to research each of your competitors and make a list of the most shared content on their site and the sites that their content is most popular on. This will give you content ideas but also help you choose the social networks that are most relevant to the type of content you create.
When I was first shown a SWOT analysis I thought they were just something I needed to slot into my business plan. I didn’t understand how powerful they could be. I now regularly do a SWOT on my own business and it’s also a great way to analyse your competitors.
If you have no idea what I’m talking about don’t worry, read on.
SWOT is an acronym
Now grab a piece of paper and draw a line in the middle from top to bottom. Now do the same from side to side. This gives you a grid of 4 squares.
Write an ‘S’ In the top left square, not too big, you’ll need room to write more information. A ‘W’ in the top right square. A ‘O’ in the bottom left. A ‘T’ in the bottom right.
You’ll need one of these for each of the businesses you want to analyse so you might want to photocopy this sheet.
Look at each of the sites you are competing with and analyse them for each section. For example
- Ranks well on search engines
- Attractive to look at
- Easy to navigate
- Low quality copywriting on site
- Poor quality stock images
- No blog
- They rank well for some keywords but are not ranking for others
- We can write better and stronger copy
- We can create our own strong images
- We can blog
- They may respond when they see us up our game
- They have a larger budget than us for promoting content online
- They have a large audience that they aren’t utilising
Why do this?
When you research your competitors you are looking for opportunities, Areas where your competitors are weaker that you can exploit with your content. It’s much easier to excel in an area that your competitor doesn’t already own.
Rather than trying to beat your competitor at what they are great at focus on the weaknesses. This will not only lead to a more successful blog but it gives you the opportunity to partner with them.
- Make a list of your competitors
- Analyse each competitor for their online presence
- Do a SWOT analysis on each competitor and find opportunities you can exploit with your content
A proposition for you
Before you go I’ve a proposition for you. The one-year anniversary of Blogcentric is speeding towards us and I’d love to feature some of you. If you have made changes to your blog as a result of listening I want to hear your stories and record a short slot for the anniversary edition. So get in touch, email me email@example.com with your stories and we’ll set something up.
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I would like to add that it is very important to determine the business objectives and find your voice. When people know what is all about, who you are, it is easier to stick 🙂 Simply exploiting competitor weaknesses could be not good, but I know you didn’t mean that 🙂
Amanda Webb says
Very good point. And yes voice and objectives are hugely important but if you’re not aware of your competitors are doing you could well be choosing a much harder route to achieving goals.
Lorna Sixsmith says
I love using Facebook Insights and watching other pages. It’s often interesting to see what their most popular post was too. I have to admit I’ve got out of the habit of doing SWOTs.
Amanda Webb says
It’s always the most boring part of your todo list (SWOT) worth it when you get round to it but easy to put off!
Eleanor @ Kreativ says
Listened to this podcast last night. So super useful. I am also happy to hear that I am not the only one sleuthing 🙂
Amanda Webb says
We are the Sherlock’s of the blogging world 😛