Whether you’re a front runner or an aspiring soloist, half the battle is keeping an eye on your competitors. Here’s how to stay competitive online.
How to find your online competitors
If you haven’t done too much Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) before, complete some basic keyword research using the Google Keyword Planner (GKP) to get an idea of which keywords and phrases are potentially lucrative for your small business. Even if you’ve done research before, it’s always a good idea to look out for new opportunities.
Go into GKP and type in a few general keywords for your industry. This should give you a list of relevant keywords and their monthly search volumes. Using a spreadsheet, make a list of all the keywords and phrases that you think would attract potential customers to your business.
Know thy offline enemy
Visit the websites of all your known offline competitors. These are the bricks and mortar businesses you probably already know, who exist outside of the internet. For example, if you’re a plumber based in North Ryde, go into the yellow pages and look for other plumbers close by.
On their website, note down in your spreadsheet a list of keyword(s) and phrases they are targeting on each page, within the title tag. A title tag can give you a lot of insight about a competitor. Are they using the same keywords in your spreadsheet list? If you come across some new keywords that seem relevant, do a search in GKP.
With the list of keywords generated from your GKP research and offline competitors, it’s time to see who actually ranks online. Go through the list and search all keywords in Google. Make sure you sign out of Google and put your browser in incognito mode.
In your spreadsheet, create a list of the top five ranking websites for each particular keyword. These are your online competitors!
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What can you learn about your online competitors?
- Get a bird’s eye view: Get an overall snapshot of their online marketing efforts by entering their URL in the SEM Rush tool. You will be able to get an idea of how much website traffic they receive, what keywords bring them the most traffic, and whether they are spending money on online advertising. This insight can motivate you to explore new marketing channels and techniques that may be working for your competitors.
- Backlinks: Enter the competitor’s URL in Open Site Explorer to see which external sites are linking to them. This will give you an idea about how competitive they are from an SEO perspective. A competitor with lots of links, a high domain and page authority means that it’s going to be tough to outrank them.
- Content Marketing: Pay attention to the quality and type of content they are creating. Can you make a new and improved version of their content? Are there topics with significant search traffic that are not being covered by your competitors? Creating quality content for relevant long tail keywords can be a powerful way to gain an advantage in today’s SEO climate.
Paying close attention to your competitors can be a motivating and tactical exercise that will help you discover new and interesting ways to market your business online.
How do you keep an eye on competitors?