Competitor Analysis for Digital Marketers

Cheryl Luzet - 14 April 2021

Running a successful business requires you to stay abreast of what your competitors are up to. With the importance of digital making a monumental shift over the past year, the competition is now fiercer than ever and you’re likely to be going up against not only SMEs but larger brands too. 

When competing in the digital marketplace, you may also find that your competition rivals aren’t just in your local area, but on a global scale too. For example, you may have a list of competitors but the competition within Google’s search results may completely differ. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though. It helps to keep you on your toes and can encourage you to keep growing and developing as a business.  

With this in mind, it makes sense to know what your competitors are doing when it comes to their digital marketing and search engine optimisation (SEO) and to capitalise on these learnings to support your own marketing proposition. 

What is a competitor analysis?

A competitor analysis takes a detailed look at what your rivals are doing with the aim of using these key learnings to inform your business decisions and your understanding of the marketplace. It’s essential to look not only at what your competitors are doing well but also at what they are not doing or doing badly. In digital marketing, your competitor analysis should incorporate key elements such as their general website usability, traffic, social media content and engagement.  However, you should also focus on a more in-depth analysis such as the specific keywords and phrases that they are targeting.

Other things to look out for could be the events they’re attending, the content they’re producing, any PR activity or any paid online advertising campaigns theyve invested in.  

In terms of identifying whether a competitor has invested time and resources into SEO, we would advise you to look at the title tags as a starting point.  

“Title tags are a HTML element that specify the title of a webpage on your website. Title tags are important for SEO, they also show within the search results on Google to act as a click-through element, as well as having social sharing benefits.

The title tags tend to be quite revealing as to whether SEO has been carried out and what keywords they’re targeting. Three tips to see whether your competitor is engaging in SEO practices from the title tags include: 

  1. Are the title tags formatted and optimised in line with a key term/phrase?
  2. Do they encourage a user to click through to the site?
  3. Is the title tag 60 characters or less? (60 characters is an optimal length for a title tag)

We would then advise you to look at what pages are indexed.  

“Indexed pages refer to the pages on a site that can be crawled and shown on Google’s search results. If a page is labelled “no index”, this means it won’t show in Google.”

Also, take a look at what backlinks the client has and use link research tools to see what their link profile looks like. 

“Backlinks refer to the amount of external sites that are linking to your or your competitors site. The more natural “follow” backlinks to your site, the better, as Google sees these as an active endorsement from the website linking. It’s like a SEO shoutout!”

These will give you an insight into your competitors’ marketing and SEO activity, or lack of it! 

Why should your business do a competitor analysis?

There are only a finite number of customers wanting to buy your product or service, and you want to be the ‘go-to’ brand. Therefore, it’s vital to know what your competitors are up to and how successful they are online. Running a competitor analysis allows you to get ahead of the game, understand where your business needs to make improvements and also highlight more niche areas to really excel in. Digital marketing is fast-paced and competitors will regularly be reviewing their online processes and activities, so it’s a good idea to schedule competitor reviews across the year. This will ensure that youre always up to date with the market landscape and can execute effective and impactful marketing plans and campaigns. 

Key areas of competitor analysis

Whilst it’s a good idea to have some clear objectives in mind when you begin your competitor analysis, you should also be open-minded as to what you might find. It makes sense to do your analysis under some key areas that are of importance to your digital marketing. We’ve listed these below, along with some of the online tools that you can use to help your research. 

Like for Like Comparisons

One of the clearest ways to see how you compare to rival businesses is to make a direct comparison between the various strands of their online marketing strategy and your own. A great tool to help you with this is SimilarWeb. Their handy analysis lets you compare multiple areas of your business strategy against those of your competitors. What’s more, theres a free version of the tool which allows small businesses to begin their analysis without any heavy financial investment.  

Here are some of the comparisons that will help you to get the most out of competitor analysis: 

Website traffic

You can take a look at volumes of traffic to your competitors websites and where the traffic has come from. You can also see if it has gone up, down or remained the same during the last 6 months. You can then use this data to compare it against your own site’s traffic – do the trends look similar? Take this time to reflect and review how your competition has responded to the peaks and troughs.  

Traffic sources and referring sites

Of course, once you know how much traffic a competitor is getting, you want to know where it comes from. Are your competitors getting traffic from a paid affiliate scheme or perhaps from a well thought out social media campaign? If a competitor has high traffic coming from a channel that youre struggling with, take a closer look at what theyre doing to achieve this. 

Paid and organic keywords

You can get separate reports for each of these and it’s a great way to get new keyword inspiration and get an idea of which keywords are working so well for your competitors that theyre happy to pay for them. 

Social media

Social media is important for both search engines and as a way for businesses to market themselves. Take a look at which social networks are driving the most traffic to your competitors.  It’s then a good idea to follow and like your competitors, social media accounts so that you can regularly review what theyre posting and sharing and whos engaging with them. If you use tools such as Moz, you could use FollowerWonk to analyse your competitors’ social media authority too. 

You can also review the content that your competitors are using across their social media. Is there a certain type of post that gets more engagement or shares? How can you improve your social content against the type of content your competitors are sharing? 

Competitor link building

Links from good quality sites can form a valuable part of your SEO strategy. Getting a backlink from a high authority site can confer a higher authority on your own website. It can be very useful to see where competitors are getting links from and to do this, you can simply use an advanced search option in Google search. To do this you need to type “link:” and then the domain name of the competitor you are researching.  

It can be extremely interesting to see the types of sites that your competitors are getting links from and this can help you plan your link building strategy going forward. 

Keywords

It can often be hard to find the right keywords for your business and of course, popular keyword phrases can change and evolve over time. A useful tool for providing an in-depth understanding of your competitor’s keywords, including their organic keywords, is KWFinder. Although you do have to pay for this tool to get a more detailed overview, there are still some free reporting options.  

It’s helpful for you to understand which organic keywords are driving traffic to your competitors and you can then consider how you can make the most of these keywords on your website. 

Keeping up to date

It’s important to keep up to date with any changes that your competitors are making to their digital marketing and you can use Google Alerts to help you with this. As well as setting them up for your own brand and keywords, you can also set them up for your main competitors to help you understand where theyre getting links and mentions from online. 

As you can see, theres a wealth of online information out there to help you understand how your competitors are running their digital marketing. This information can be a vital way to make sure that your business can benefit from their online strategies – helping you to capitalise on your strengths and make the most of their weaker areas. Utilise the tools available to ensure that you have a detailed knowledge of how your business compares to that of your rivals. Analysis of their links, social media, traffic and their paid-for ads and organic keywords will enable you to keep one step ahead of your competition and to increase traffic and sales for your company. 

If you would like to know more on how Wagada can help you get a clearer understanding of your placement against your competition, then contact us today.