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  • Writer's pictureSM Digital

What should a competitive analysis include?

Updated: Aug 31, 2020

Why is Researching Competition Important?

Competitors come in various different sizes and, in many cases, aren’t even in your town or industry. However, you must commit to ongoing competitive research as a way to grow and evolve.

When it comes to the digital or online space, a core competitor isn't always the most obvious company that everyone already knows. It might be a business you’ve never heard of that ranks high on Google for keywords and search terms that you never thought of, but results in new clients – the same type of client you're looking for. Or, it might be an advertiser creating relevant and visually appealing ads that are forcing your ad bids higher than they should be.

Quit thinking about competitive research as a way to beat a single competitor, but as a way to grow, learn and discover, you might make it a priority.

Ongoing competitive research provides the following benefits:

  • Learn new ways to serve your customers

  • Understand why other sites rank higher than yours

  • Use data to spot new business opportunities

  • Seize opportunities to gain new customers

  • Create a roadmap for finding link building potential

  • Spot mentions of your brand for relationship building

  • Shows you the exact content you need to be producing

  • Unlocks new tools and practices for serving your clients

What should a competitive analysis include?

The key to consistent competitive research is equipping yourself with a routine for conducting it. For example, every Monday you monitor SEO trends, or every Friday you visit your competitor's Instagram. Knowing the right tools to use can make the entire process easier and more efficient.

Below are the five primary categories of competitive research, along with a few recommended tools for setting up and conducting your competitive analyses.​

1. Alerts

There are applications that send you an email alert whenever a particular company, brand, or person is mentioned online. This enables you to engage with people who are mentioning you and understand what your competitors are doing well with their customers. BuzzSumo allows you to enter any domain, and see what has been shared socially. SocialMention is a real-time social media search tool with some robust filtering options.

2. Online Advertising

Using tools that help you understand what keywords and messages are the most profitable, is a great way to maximize your online ad budget. SpyFu is a competitor analysis tool that helps you research and downloads your competitors’ most profitable keywords. AdEspresso is a Facebook Ad tool with a searchable Ad Examples section that can help you find ads that are performing well on Facebook

3. Contents

One of the best ways to find content ideas is to research which content is already ranking high for search terms you cover and why. BuzzSumo shows you the most shared content for a certain site or searches term. It also reveals who shared the content, making it a useful tool for identifying content ideas and influencers for potential collaboration. SEMRush is one of the most versatile tools for keyword research and competitive ranking analysis.

4. SEO

Understand how your top competitors are optimizing their pages and what other authoritative sites are linking to their site. Then you can follow that roadmap and rank higher for keywords. Monitor Backlinks is a great tool for monitoring your backlinks as well as links that competitive sites are acquiring. As a strategy, you can even target these same links. Due to its large database, Ahrefs is one of the best tools for monitoring backlinks.

5. All-in-one

There are some all-in-one type solutions that help you do all your competitive analysis under one roof. One such tool is called RivalIQ. This is a great tool if you must show clients a nice and simple competitive landscape. MOZ Pro is an industry-leading tool that offers SEO, keyword, and backlink analysis all-in-one. Raven Tools is very similar to SEMRush and is a great all-in-one tool with some nice local keyword analysis capabilities.


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