“I met a leading competitor at a networking event last week” said ‘Bob’,”and they’re apparently generating a lot of business online. Their digital marketing efforts are really paying off”.
“I don’t understand it” continued Bob, “our website looks much better… we offer better services. Yet we get very few leads from our website. Why?”
Thus began the initial consultation with this new client of mine.
Now I love conversations like these. My competitive nature is all fired up at the first consultation. Yes!
My ally is the competitor’s own data.
Even otherwise, it’s easier to jump-start a digital marketing strategy when you have good intelligence on your competition.
Let’s dive into some legal ways to dig out your competitors’ strengths and turn it against them.
1) Spy on the competition’s keywords
In the above case, Bob’s competitor ‘Sally’ was probably ranking well on search engines for certain keywords.
That’s one possible route customers take to find Sally’s services.
What are those keywords?
There’s a bunch of tools out there than can provide you with this information. Depending on project needs I use Moz, SEMrush, or Spyfu.
Getting valuable business intelligence out of these tools are as as easy as keying in your competitor’s website address.
In goes the url and out comes a bunch of useful information including the organic keywords and paid keywords in use.
2) Compare your keywords to that of your competitor
Searching through Sally’s top performing keywords I identified the ones with the highest traffic volume. Then using the same tool, in this case SEMrush, I investigated Bob’s keywords.
Bob’s web team had neglected to include many of those keywords in Bob’s web content. For that matter Bob never had a keyword analysis done for his business.
No wonder Bob’s eye-candy site wasn’t performing as well.
3) Compare the ‘paid search’ campaign keywords too
What’s this? Sally had omitted to tell Bob that she had a PPC campaign underway. In fact, the campaign had been active for 6 months.
Maybe she didn’t mention this little tidbit on purpose, but there’s no hiding from SEMrush.
I usually also do a check on Spyfu, just to make sure. It’s probably just me but it’s good to be double sure.
From Sally’s PPC data, I gathered additional relevant keywords that Bob could use on his website and in his digital marketing efforts.
The tools I mentioned above also allow you to ‘discover’ other competitors you were unaware of. You’ll see your competitors for both organic as well as paid keywords.
That’s even more keyword intelligence waiting for you to dig into.
Here try out SEMrush yourself. Enter your URL or a competitors URL in this search bar (affiliate link).
4) Ensure keyword-business fit
It’s now time to gather all the keywords from your competition analysis as well as your own keywords.
Input the keywords into the Google keyword planner (https://adwords.google.ca/KeywordPlanner) to see monthly traffic volume for each keyword.
Ideally the highest volume keywords should be a perfect fit with your top revenue generating products or services.
Bob’s and Sally’s services overlapped a lot so it was relatively easy to find that keyword-business fit.
5) Start tracking the keywords
You’ve narrowed down to the most relevant 20-30 keywords. Use a tool like SEMrush, Accuranker or Market Samurai to see how your website ranks for those keywords on Google.
It’s way easier to use such a tool than to enter each keyword manually into Google to try to find your site rank status.
Most of these marketing tools will indicate if your website is within the top 100 sites for each keyword.
SEMrush, Accutracker, Hubspot, and others can even display your competitors rankings alongside yours.
I like to see the top competitors ranking laid out against my client’s keywords. It informs me how much hustle I should expect to bring to make things happen.
6) Work on your rankings and visibility
Some solutions are obvious when you know where to look. Use a software like Screaming Frog or SEMrush to crawl your website for a site audit.
Bob’s site audit turned up about 300 pages without page titles. Just fixing this issue was an opportunity to rank better for some relevant keywords.
In the past 2 months at least 3 businesses I worked with had 200+ missing page titles each. It’s surprising that this simple but important detail is ignored so often.
You’ll also catch a bunch of other issues that’ll help you make some on-page improvements to your website.
Some of these improvements will have higher impact on your ranking than others.
Use a tool like BuzzSumo.com or NinjaOutreach.com to find out what type of content your competitors are using in their content marketing efforts. You can search based on topics to ‘discover’ other content or competitors.
This information coupled with your keyword analysis will help in your own content marketing and content creation efforts.
Time to put out that killer content to attract, educate, inform, and entertain your visitors so you can improve your online visibility and acquire more customers.
The keyword rich content will also help you rank better in time.
7) Keep an ear to the ground
Create Google Alerts for competitor brands so you can be informed when they put out content or are in the news.
Use a tool like Hootsuite to set up a ‘stream’ that isolates what your competition is doing on Twitter and Facebook.
Maybe you can butt-in to provide helpful tips to some of their customers and gain visibility among their audience. However, keep in mind that you aren’t trying to make a quick sale with social media marketing. Your intention is to build trust and credibility. The sales will follow.
You’re now on your way to better digital health. Just as Bob is.
Of course, I’m also deploying comprehensive marketing strategies to ensure that Bob continues to grow and dominate in his niche.
Looking for advanced comprehensive digital marketing strategies? Super-charge your business growth and marketing competencies now.
If you’re based in Ottawa I’ll also drop in for an onsite, no-obligation digital marketing consultation to help you grow your business.
How’re your online marketing efforts going so far? I hope to hear how you used the above basic steps to beat your competition.
What other tactics have worked for you?
Image credits: http://redwarrior2426.deviantart.com/art/Spy-vs-Spy-392378690