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In Marketing 101, we learned about setting marketing goals. As owner of a small company, your marketing goals, both in the “real world” and online, should be:

  • Increasing sales
  • Building brand awareness
  • Growing market share
  • Targeting new customers
  • Enhancing customer relationships
  • Increasing profits

This is not news. It’s what every business aims to accomplish, when you get right down to it.

However, If you’re not making the progress you’d like reaching these goals, taking a look at what your competitors are doing might give you an idea or two about how to make some changes and move forward. Not necessarily to copy what they are doing, but to use their successes as a guide for ways you can improve your business’s marketing efforts.

A competitive analysis should be a part of any company marketing plan. Using the data in the evaluation, you can see how your services compare to your competitors’ and how your online marketing efforts stack up next to theirs. In addition, you can use the findings to determine what makes your business different and play up that difference to attract your target market.

Some questions to ask when you start on your competitive analysis include:

  • What is your competitor doing well? (Products, content marketing, social media, etc.)
  • Where does your competitor have an advantage over you?
  • What is your competitor’s weakest area?
  • Where does your company have the advantage over your competitor?
  • Are there opportunities in the market that your competitor has identified?
  • Are there any keywords your competitor is using that you haven’t thought of?
  • What content of theirs is highly shared and linked to? How does your content compare?
  • Which social media platforms is your competitor the most active on?
  • What other sites are linking back to your competitor’s site, but not yours?
  • Who is sharing what your competitors are publishing?

Know Your Competitors Are

You have two kinds of competitors:

  1. Your Traditional or Direct Competitors. That is, companies offering the same products and services physically close to your business or that are targeting customers in the same geographic area as you.
  2. Your Competition in Search Results. Companies you’re competing against to rank for keywords related to your products and services on Google.

Chances are, your on-line competitors already have a lot invested in their keyword strategy. By using the data-base of search rankings available in Ahrefs, you can see the keywords they are ranking for. Use this intel to strengthen your own keywords.

Comparing Their Marketing Efforts

Once you identify your direct competitors, you can get to work checking out their marketing


Analyzing your competitor’s website is a good starting point. Their website content may help you hone in on their lead generating strategies.

  • Do they have a blog?
  • Are they creating ebooks?
  • Do they post videos? webinars?
  • Are they using visual content like infographics?
  • Do they have a FAQs section?
  • Are there featured articles?
  • Do you see press releases?
  • What about before-and-after case studies?
  • Are there social sharing buttons on each page of their website?
  • Do they include clearly visible calls-to-action?

Reviewing your competitors’ most shared pieces of content will give you an idea of the type of content that tends to resonate with your target audience. Using BuzzSumo, you can enter the domain names of your competitors and view detailed stats on their most shared content.

Social Media Presence

  • How does your competition create engagement through social media?\
  • Do they include clearly visible calls-to-action?
  • How many fans/followers do they have?
  • How often and how consistently do they post?
  • What kind of content are they posting?
  • How many comments and shares do they get?
  • Are they more focused on driving people to landing pages, resulting in new leads? Or
    are they posting visual content to promote engagement and brand awareness?
  • How much of their content is original?
  • Do they share content from other sources?
  • How does your competition interact with their followers?

If a certain topic, such as kitchen design or custom cabinets, is generating clicks for your competition, then it might be a good idea for you to write some content focused on that topic.

And if they have videos that are getting more shares than regular posts, you might want to think about creating videos.

By using what you find after completing this research, can you improve your business’s social media presence and build brand awareness, target new customers and enhance customer relationships?

Keep Track of Competitor Activities

Set up Google Alerts to keep track of mentions of your competitors on the web, which in turn helps you see what kind of content is getting them online coverage. Google Alerts are easy—and free.

You can even set up alerts for specific keywords to see who is regularly appearing on them.

SpyFu can reveal the keywords your competitors are targeting for paid and organic search. You can use this information to identify any keywords they might be missing and jump on the opportunity to target these phrases.

Once you’ve determined your competitors’ keywords, use an SEO ranking tool like AccuRanker to track how you measure up against them. You can also use the tool to see how your competitors are performing against your target keywords.

BuzzSumo lets you search for the most shared content by topic, as well as by company name or brand name. When you type in your competitor’s URL, you’ll get a list of their most shared content.

Track any new links your competitors are getting with LinkResearchTool. It’s like Google Alerts, but only for links. You’ll get an email every time your competitor gains a new link.

Use a social listening tool like Hootsuite, which allows you to follow specific profile pages and hashtags, to see which topics are performing well or not so well for your competition.


Competitive analysis is an essential part of any business marketing plan. When you know what’s working for your competition, you’ll be able to make better decisions for your own marketing tactics.

But, it’s not enough to simply match what your competitors are doing. That only keeps you from falling behind. If you want to overtake them, you have to do it better.

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