There are no magic wands or silver bullets when it comes to online marketing. Every website owner knows that you should work hard and “create a website with original content, think about users and be fair”. That’s why analysing your competitors’ websites is not likely to help you in a strategic sense. It’s better to focus on your own project and perfect it to the point that your competitors will be green with envy and spend their time analysing it.
However, analysing your stronger competitors can be helpful in a tactical sense. By analysing quality sites, you’ll get new ideas, learn small tips, specific ways of promotion and cool tricks that can boost your project’s effectiveness.
The purpose of analysing competitors’ sites
If you aren’t a newbie to your niche, you should know your main competitors and their sites. If you don’t want to miss finding a new strong rival, then search queries that drive visitors to your site on Google.
As mentioned above, you can improve tactics for promoting your own project by analysing competitors’ sites. With help of analysis you can learn about the following:
- Characteristics of their link profile.
- Competitors’ content strategy.
- Information about both a business and its products.
- Characteristics of paid traffic.
- User behaviour.
- Technical characteristics of a site, including design and usability.
Pay attention to what the site does really well during your analysis. Disregard any mistakes and defects by the site owners – you have enough of your own problems.
Analysing the link profile
Try to get data that is useful to your project when analysing the link profiles of competitors’ sites. For example, you can find cool topical platforms or blogs, which publish your niche colleagues’ materials. You can also find out which materials get natural inbound links most often. Don’t pay attention to (in this case) useless metrics, for example PageRank.
Use the following tools to analyse competitor link profiles:
Pay attention to the root domains, total links and anchor text. According to the analysis, create a list of platforms where you can guest post or get a natural link in any other way.
Analysing your competitors’ content strategy
This block of analysing competitor websites is related to content strategies. You should identify the most popular content of your colleagues site, get data on the keywords driving traffic and create a list of content-ideas to develop for your own site.
Use the following tools to analyse content:
- BuzzSumo. This service helps you identify the most effective content on a competitor’s site.
- Searchmetrics. With this tool, you’ll be able to identify traffic-driving keywords.
- SEMRush. It’s the advanced tool for analysing competitors’ sites. In particular, it helps identify traffic-driving keywords.
Don’t get carried away with content analysis. Your task is to understand what and how your competitors write and create their content to attract and keep the audience. This way you’ll get a lot of content-ideas and improve your own content’s quality.
Analysing a business and its products
Business and product analysis should be done manually. If you analyse e-commerce sites, then you’ll need a spreadsheet tool. Pay attention to the following aspects of your niche colleagues’ businesses:
- What products your competitors sell and how they present them.
- How much they cost, if competitors have offers for different categories of customers.
- How do they sell? How do they generate sales leads, process requests and provide customer service?
- Pay attention to all technologies applied by competitors, if possible.
- Talking about e-commerce, compare an assortment of products and prices on competing sites and your own site.
- Pay attention to service providers that work with your competitors.
Try to find interesting ideas that will improve your business, expand your product range and drive sales.
Analysing paid traffic
At this stage of analysis you’ll have to identify the ways your competitors attract paid traffic. Pay special attention to the contextual advertising they use on search engines. Learn where they publish their ads and what keywords they use.
Use the following tools to analyse your competitors PPC campaigns:
With help of these tools you’ll find the main keywords that your competitors use in advertising campaigns – the most profitable keywords, competitors’ ads and other data concerning PPC campaigns. Searchmetrics allows you to estimate the approximate cost of attracting paid traffic for each keyword.
Apart from contextual advertising, research other strategies of attracting paid-for traffic. Pay attention to ads placed on social networks, if your colleagues publish their ads on them, then you’ll notice it for sure. Look through the biggest sites in your niche. Perhaps your competitors publish advertorials or buy banner adverts there.
Create a list of ideas, based on your analysis, that will help you improve the effectiveness of your advertising campaigns. What keywords can you use in your own PPC campaigns? Is it worth you investing in Facebook ads or banners on big information portals?
Analysing user behaviour
By analysing user behaviour you should understand how and why users go to a competitor’s site, how much time they spend on it and the average number of pageviews per visitor. Compare this data to user behaviour on your site, you’ll start to get ideas on how to improve it.
Use the following services:
- SimilarWeb. If you use this service, then consider that you have access to the Google Analytics accounts of your competitors. You’ll learn about traffic sources, geography of visits, search, paid and social traffic and audience interests.
- Alexa. This is another, almost complete, key to a competitors’ Analytics accounts.
Pay attention to your competitors skills. According to this analysis, develop a plan for improving your site’s effectiveness. For example, if a competing sites visitors go through twice as many page views per visit than your visitors, then rethink your content strategy and improve your sites navigation.
Analysing technical aspects, design and usability
You have to track the key metrics of the technical effectiveness of your competitors’ sites and spy on them for ideas to improve your own site. Use the following tools to track technical aspects:
- Woorank. With this tool, you’ll learn about technologies used, analytics systems, mobile optimisation and technical aspects of usability on a site.
- PageSpeed Insights. This Google service allows you to check a site’ page speed and get recommendations on how to speed it up.
- Google Mobile-Friendly Test.
Manually analyse the design, functionality and usability of your main competitors’ site. Pay attention to nice services, navigational elements, landing pages and conversion forms. Based on the results of your analysis, create a list of ideas to improve the functionality and usability of your site.
Analyse competitors’ sites but don’t get caught in a trap
Consider competing sites as a source of ideas that can be used to improve your project. However, don’t try to make your site similar to other ones. You should follow your own development strategy, keep your project unique and take the best ideas for improving overall site effectiveness from your colleagues.
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