In the past I did quite a few posts on competitive research:
- How to evaluate your keyword competition;
- Tools for spying on competitors search marketing tactics;
- How to select your competitors; etc
Today I am going to focus on what you can learn from your competitors if you are smart enough.
First of all, a few things to take note of:
- Your established competitors, who have been in play long enough, have probably come across numerous pitfalls and learned how to cope with them;
- The fact that your competitor has been exploring the niche much longer than you doesn’t mean he is now doing everything right;
- Promoting a site without proper competition research means to promote it blind;
- By merely copying your competitor, you will never be able to surpass him;
- If you focus on finding what your competitor is doing profoundly wrong, you have good chances to get ahead of him.
Keeping all that in mind, let’s see what you actually can learn from your competitors.
Keyword research is both difficult and tricky. The only way to effectively refine your list is to test it in practice (PPC campaign may help you with that).
Your competitor may have already tested the keywords and chosen the best ones that both generated good traffic and converted. I do not suggest relying on his keywords completely. But if you take time analyzing and comparing several of your competitors’ on-page and off-page keyword targeting, you can make your list much better.
How can you do that?
- here are a few (both free and paid) tools to help you identify what your competitor is already ranking for;
- don’t forget to check your competitor’s PPC keywords;
- use keyword prominence tools (to analyze which terms the site is optimized for);
- analyze your competitors’ website visitors behavior (“Keyword Engagement” and “Keyword Effectiveness”).
Quick tip: don’t forget to compare which terms your competitor tried to rank (i.e. which terms he is using throughout the site) and which terms he ended up ranked for. Thus, you will be able to do better than him.
Those who linked to your competitor, will most probably want to link to you. Again, the key here is not to copy step by step but to do better. So:
- find your youngest and already successful competitors to spot newest tactics (those that are still valid and work the best);
- here are the best ways to explore your competitors in Yahoo (and beyond);
- also check some backlink checkers that help to organize and categorize your competitors’ promoters.
The Social Media
Check where your competitor has found his topical community. Make sure to analyze how the social media users react to your competitor, their feedback and comments, what they like and dislike.
- search for his [brand name] throughout forums and social communities;
- analyze what your competitor is associated with: which terms his site is tagged with.