Running a website is not always an independent task. In order to improve yourself, often you should compare your situation with your competitors. It could be for the competition of ranking top on search engines or could be for getting more sales. But most of the time you may be in the dark with how your competitors are doing. As the old adage says, “Keep your friends close but keep your enemies closer”, we strongly recommend you to find out what your competitors are doing in the market.
What You Should Learn?
What do you get from learning from your competitors? A lot:
- You will learn what they are doing
- How they do it?
- How you rank against them?
- How you can turn things around?
1. Compare SERP Links
The first in our list is, of course, links. Comparing how your links do in SERPs against your competitors will give you tons of insights. We are not just talking about rankings as a whole, but also how your keywords affect the rankings. From this data, you can learn about your competitors’ strategy by knowing about the pages that they focus on, the contents of those pages, meta-description, and even the title tag. These may produce subtle clues about what they desire to be ranked for — this means you have to analyze it carefully and apply it to yours.
One example is like this: say, your competitor X ranks 1st on the keywords “blog content writers” and it links to their sales page. You, on the other side, ranks 3rd for the same keywords but yours link to your homepage. Notice any difference? Yes, X links directly to their sales page. It may not always mean that your competitor is better, but it just shows that there is a difference in your strategies. This may help you if you try to apply their strategy to your business. You can also check whether their meta description and title tag directly includes the keywords, which can mean something for search engines.
Remember that the content is important as search engine crawlers index and show in the search results. From the content, search engines will know which keywords you are aiming at and display your links accordingly. However, other parts of your contents like the title tags and meta description also affect the rankings, albeit indirectly. Why indirectly? Because they first affect the behavior of the users — bounce rate and CTR, which in turn affects the ranking.
Look at how your competitors mix and match their data and then compare them to your strategy. See where you have an advantage and where you are missing points. Adjust your strategy from these and you will have a greater advantage over them.
So, how do you do it?
There are many analytical tools available online for this purpose. Most of them are premium tools that you should purchase in order to get the full functions. For example, Alexa offers competitors keyword matrix and competitor backlink checker tools.
These tools will help to easily compare your competitors’ SERP links and yours. You can also simply check rankings on Google, Yahoo, and Bing or use tools like SEMrush.
2. Check Your Competitor’s Content
Second on our list is about content, yes, content. Many would say that content is king, and there are reasons to believe so. The more great content your website or blog has, the more eyes will be tempted to visit and become loyal users and readers.
By checking your competitions’ content, you can generate content ideas and see what they lack and turn it to your favor. You can also see which keywords they opt for and repackage it with your own contents. Remember that there are other content besides texts that people love — infographics, videos, podcasts, eBooks, whitepapers, polls, news, forums, case studies, and much more.
This can greatly help you, but note that you are trying to fill the gaps that your competitors missed. It’s not about copying their work at all, it’s about being that filler with your own great content.
3. Guard Backlinks
Third on our list is about knowing and reaching out to those people who backlink to your competitors. Let’s face it: backlinks are much needed if you want to leverage the influence and visibility of others. When someone backlink to your content, it may or may not produce results. But when someone great and well-known backlink to your site or content, it will produce results.
Once you know where your competitors’ backlinks come from, you can grasp the idea about their marketing strategy. You can start talking and engaging with the same people who back linked to your competitor and persuade them to backlink to yours, too. It will snowball from there.
To do so, you can also use Alexa or SEMrush to check where your competitors get their backlinks from. You will also know whether it is worth to pursue those who backlink to them by checking their quality scores.
4. Check Optimization
Fourth, after contents and backlinks is on-page optimization. It’s not just about making sure your contents and your pages are optimized, you also need to check if your competitors’ contents and pages are optimized as well. You may optimize to the keywords that really matter, but so do your competitors as well. Knowing where they missed gives you an opportunity to excel.
You should also check how mobile-friendly their site is against yours, or compare page load speeds. Optimizing your site better than your competitors may help to push your SERP rank a little higher. Again, turn their straws into your gold.
For this, you can use tools like Google’s own mobile-friendly and pagespeed insights test tool to thoroughly check your site’s optimization and your competitors’ as well. Use thinkwithgoogle tool to find the page speed, visitor loss due to low speed, industry comparison and the recommendations.
5. Optimize for Most Search Engines
There are other search engines besides Google — there is Bing, Yahoo, Baidu, DuckDuckGo, and the list goes on like a red carpet. You should notice that Facebook, other social networks, and even review sites, are recognized as search engines, too.
So, it’s not all about Google anymore. It’s more about being out there and engaging your customers and target customers. Use other search engines to your advantage rather than to be their enemy. Yelp, for example, can help local businesses spread the word about their products and have their service rated. The more positive ratings you have, the better chance of snatching the next customer from your competition. And it is not so difficult to monitor the ratings and reviews of your competitors on any of these sites.
Never leave negative reviews unattended. Even if people give you negative reviews, you should handle it like “The Boss” and make amends instead of hating. In fact, if you can reach out to the ones who gave you bad reviews and handle the situation nicely, they can even spread the word about your top-notch handling of the situation. Remember you can also reach out the negative reviewers of your competitors and engage them positively.