Competition and demand are two main factors dictating your profitability.
In an ideal world, you will have a winning product and will do business without any competition.
However, as it usually goes, people tend to copy good ideas trying to make a buck all the while.
Sad fact is that sooner than later you will have to adapt to your competition.
No matter how good your organization is, there will always be companies that do certain things better.
In fact, simple price reduction can go a long way in jeopardizing your company.
Because of this, you always have to be attentive and check what your competition is doing.
And there is no better way to do it besides competitive research.
Given that we are an SEO company, I will mainly talk about the internet side of the business.
If we were to consider all variables, this would be a rather long article.
Main reasons for performing competitive research
Competition dictates almost everything within an industry.
This is precisely why companies are constantly trying to create cartels while governments are preventing their formation.
These are some of the main reasons why you need to perform competitive research on a regular basis:
Adjusting your prices
The first and most important reason for competitive research is to be able to adjust prices. If your business is starting to decline and you do not know why this is happening; it is likely that someone is undercutting you. At the same time, you can use this data to reduce your own prices and get more customers (as long as it makes sense financially).
Learning more about your customers
Businesses often tend to disregard their customers. In the end, if you have an amazing product you will always find your market and people will come searching for you. Nevertheless, competitive research allows you to make certain adjustment and spot new opportunities. For example, if you see that your competition is having an enormous success providing SEO services to the pharmaceutical industry, you can at least consider taking a part of it.
Adapting new technologies and processes
Although you might have a high opinion of your product and processes, there is always room to make them better. Technology is an especially important driving force. Given that most of us are working within a global market, ideas and technological breakthroughs are the thing that sets apart your company from others.
Sometimes you will perform competitive research not to copy ideas but to spot weaknesses.
If there is something glaringly wrong with your competitors, you should try to capitalize on it. Place emphasis on this same thing which you’re doing better than them.
On top of it, you can try and contact some of the competitors’ customers that left them for this precise reason adding them to your own client base.
This can definitely lead to some new opportunities for your company.
If you have a search engine optimization company, your focal points should be content marketing, white hat link building and user engagement metrics.
Start with your research with Google
Google can provide much more data than you initially expected.
All you have to do is type in your competitor’s name and start browsing through results.
Here’s a huge list with 100 small SEO tools to help you with this process.
Here are the things you need to look out for:
Main website and affiliate websites
Of course it is only natural that you will visit their website.
By simply browsing through it and checking their content, you can see where they stand on it and how they try to attract visitors and business clients.
Even more important is checking if they have some affiliates and daughter companies. This is something most people disregard but is important for getting clearer picture of the situation.
Sometimes, SEO agencies may try new approaches with their secondary websites or they can try to cover different markets.
All of this can become valuable data for you if you know how to benefit from it.
Have in mind that during this initial phase, you should just do a quick checkup.
Later on you can return to it and do an in-depth analysis (which I will mention later on so stick with me!)
Social media behavior
In today’s SEO era, user engagement stats are all that matters.
In order to establish one’s internet presence, you shouldn’t only consider website stats but also social media stats and the amount of engagement they have.
Niksto is a good example of this with our White Hat SEO Facebook group.
Although there are businesses that get a lot of feedback through their websites, most of them use social media for that purpose.
Visitor and customer feedback
Regardless of the company you’re running, whether it is focused on the Internet or the regular business, there will always be people who are airing their grievances and giving compliments through the Internet.
This is public data for everyone to see and cannot be concealed so easily.
Check some of these comments and reviews and learn what people are saying about your competition.
Amount of results
When you search for a company you will get a certain number of results.
If you only get two or three results on the first page of Google, it is safe to say that the company is barely present on the Internet.
On the other hand, big companies will have pages and pages of social media profiles, international websites, motions etc.
Number of results can show you the real strength of the company and how much pull they have.
You can do a lot by simply browsing a query. This method doesn’t cost you anything and you would be foolish not to do it.
Although it is much better if you can monitor the whole industry, this takes a lot of time.
Naturally you will always have to stay in the loop as you regularly check innovations in 2017.
Nevertheless you need to focus on a few key competitors.
These guys are probably working in the same area or are offering similar services for a similar price.
In SEO world it is hard to determine who your biggest and closest competitors are.
Due to the nature of Internet business, everybody is more-less on equal playing field.
Anyway, make sure to set up alerts for certain companies.
Here are some tools I would recommend:
Great tool for tracking keywords and content created with that particular topic. If you’re trying to promote an article and are interested in top competitors in Google, this tool can quickly show you the best performing content and the amount of social shares and link they got. Awesome for keywords research.
As the name implies, Social Mention shows how frequently your competitor is mentioned on social media. It helps you track Twitter, Facebook etc. As soon as something noteworthy happens, you will be the first to know.
Another great tool, helps you scout all the current trends on the internet and viral topics. It is also great for its segmentation option.
With these three tools you can always stay in the loop. They can also be used to spot potential opportunities for cooperation.
If you’re already checking your SEO competition, make sure not to focus only on optimization itself.
Regardless of their main business, a lot of SEO companies are advertising on the Internet.
Even though you might analyze their best performing keywords this might still not provide the answer you were looking for.
In order to completely understand your competitors and how much web presence they have, it is necessary to check online advertising too.
Solid tools to help you with this are SEMrush and SpyFu.
They show you valuable PPC advertising data. It can quickly show you competitors’ most profitable keywords and what they’re bidding on.
In-depth website analysis
Let’s say you did a complete analysis of your competition.
You know everything regarding:
- Number of referring domains they have
- Their top rankings
- Main traffic sources
- How much they invest in ads
- What people think about them, etc.
However, this doesn’t give you a full picture yet.
If you wish to be on pair with your competition, you will have to do an in-depth website scan.
This part of the process is mainly focused on content and website performance.
Although you have probably checked their website before, it is necessary to do it more thoroughly.
Here, you are primarily searching for strengths.
Website analysis allows you do answer these questions:
- Why does a website have such a big following?
- How are they able to get so many links?
- How fast can you get to their product pages?
- Do these pages load quickly?
- What kind of visual solutions they offer?
- Who is writing and promoting their content?
Oftentimes we don’t even realize we’re doing something wrong with our website.
We might have a misconception about a certain things without realizing things can be done more efficiently.
Sometimes, your competitor may discover a new and better approach to website optimization.
There is no shame in copying their strategy if this will up your own game.
Competitive research is one of the most important things in business.
We are not working within a bubble where market is dictated simply based on our decisions.
There are numerous factors that need to be considered along the way. Only by having all this data in front of you can you start making educated business moves.
You might think that by doing competitive research you are violating someone’s privacy.
Have in mind that everybody does it and you would be foolish not to have an equal playing field by doing the same.
So, how often do you spy on your competitors? Have you learned something valuable from them? Let me know in the comments below!