Updated August 2018
If you want to stand out in the online business world, you must conduct a strategy that makes you shine brightly against your competitors. A website competitive analysis can do just that, but it’s not quite as simple as scoping out your competition in the brick-and-mortar world.
To have a fighting chance of standing out online, you must compete with dozens to thousands of competitors who are all after the same audience as you are. In the non-digital space, you may only have to compete with one or two other local stores that cater to your target customers.
This handy guide will clue you in on the importance of checking out your online competition and will give you helpful tips for staying ahead of similar businesses in search results and social media.
What is an Online Competitor?
An online competitor is an online business that targets a similar audience as yours. Your online competitor may sell products, training materials, or services like yours. Or, it could be a different business altogether, but provide similar informative content on its website or blog that you provide on your blog. Either way, that business is going after your target audience.
And there’s a catch. Your online competition may be more than just one or two businesses. You could potentially have thousands of online competitors who want to target the same keywords or social media audience as you. It’s your job as a business owner to ensure that you not only keep up with your competition, but also learn ways to stay ahead of them so that you’re the first business people come to when they search your target keywords.
Why Do I Need a Website Competitive Analysis?
A competitive analysis of a website can give you the edge you need to one-up your competition. In an ever-changing digital world, completing a competitive analysis isn’t just a one-time event. Instead, it’s a process that will keep your business at the top when you continuously implement strategies for improvement over your online competitors.
Your competitive analysis gives you information that provides both opportunities for improvement and potential threats to your business. You’ll learn what other businesses are doing well, leaving you room to implement strategies for doing even better. And you’ll see areas in which they’re weak so that you can target those areas in your own business, making it stand out.
As many as 81% of consumers conduct internet research on products or services before they buy them. If you’re skipping out on optimizing your website in relation to your online competitors, you’re missing an opportunity to target those customers who might have an interest in your business.
How to Complete a Website Competitor Analysis
Competitive website analysis typically involves three important steps:
- Learning who your competitors are. You may not know who your competitors are at first, and that’s okay. Through keyword and social media research, you’ll learn what websites rank for the same keywords you want to target and what social media accounts pull in the audience you want to target.
- Finding out your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. After you learn who your top competitors are, you can scope out their website design, content, and social media channels to find out where their strengths and weaknesses lie. This information can help you design your strategy to shape your website.
- Implementing a strategy to take your business to another level. Using analyzed data of your competitors’ websites, keyword research, backlinks, and more, you’ll implement your strategy for your website and business.
Here are some of the key areas of completing a website analysis on your competitors to aid your completion of these three steps:
Check Out Their Backlinks
The number of backlinks a website has is a good indicator that it’s a site people trust for their information. If your competitors have several quality backlinks from authority sites, then you’ll need to target some of your own authority sites for backlinks.
You can learn more about your competitors’ backlinks using a tool like Long Tail Pro, which shows you how many external backlinks your competitors’ websites have. You can up your backlink game by pitching authority websites in your industry for guest posts. Many websites will allow at least one link back to your site, plus a link to your site and/or one social media account in your byline.
Scope Out Their Highest-Ranking Keywords
One of the most crucial parts of your preliminary research for a competitor’s analysis is conducting keyword research. According to a study published on Kissmetrics, 30.5% of online business website traffic comes from search engines, like Google and Bing. How do you rank in search engines? You do so by using the right keywords.
Long Tail Pro can also assist your keyword research by displaying other websites that rank high for your targeted keywords. You’ll find out who your competitors are for that keyword and how many of them there are. Using what you learned about keywords that work for your competition, you can try to rank for popular, profitable keywords, too. Or, you can focus on keywords with fewer competitors, giving you an opportunity to target those that your competitors haven’t targeted.
Remember that there may be different competitors for different keywords. When you target keywords that have different competitors than your main keywords, you should also complete an analysis of their websites to benefit your strategy.
Study Their Website Content
Your website content – as in, your pages and blog posts – are what you’ll use to incorporate your targeted keywords, making them an essential piece of the puzzle. But, your content isn’t solely for helping you rank in search engines. It also should provide useful information that engages your audience and makes them come to you for advice, tips, and guidance.
You can study the content of your competitors to see where their content shines and where it might be lackluster. Look at things like:
- Word count of blog posts
- Use of images and infographics
- Shareable content and share buttons within the content
- Helpfulness of the content
Always strive to make your content longer, more useful, and more engaging than the content of your competitors’. Blog posts should entice your audience to share your content with clear call-to-actions and continue to come back for more.
See What They’re Doing Right on Social Media
Although your competitors’ social media accounts aren’t directly on their websites, they intertwine with their websites. Social media users engage with a brand via its social media accounts by commenting, retweeting, or sharing content. When they do that, the brand becomes more visible and can gain extra traffic to its website through social shares.
About 82% of small business owners use social media for their businesses. You should focus on doing the same for your social media channels to grow an audience and to stand out as an authority among your competition. The more you engage your audience on Twitter or Facebook, the more attention you can bring to your website and business – and you can do it all for free.
Conclusion: Making a Website Competitive Analysis Work for Your Business
To get ahead of your competition, you should consider completing a competitive website analysis of your top online competitors. Long Tail Pro can help you conduct the proper SEO research, including backlink and keyword research, to see where the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors lie. Continue to monitor your competition regularly and use the information you collect to create a dynamic strategy to benefit your website and business.