Now that we know who your competitors are from the last post in our series on Competitor’s Content , we’re going to look at where they are online. When it comes to online presence, you’re not going to just look in one place, because your competition is everywhere! Some competitors may be positioned well in organic search, others may be active socially, while yet another group may opt for paid search as the means of establishing their online visibility. Likewise, you will want to determine what combination of Owned, Earned or Paid content will provide the ROI you need to justify the time, effort, and expense necessary to make each successful.
Begin With Your Competitor’s Website
Beginning with your competitors’ websites, start looking closely at their shared content and offerings; the keywords you have in common, and those where you differ. What are they doing on their site you are not doing on yours? What seems to be working for them and what isn’t?
If you’re still looking for your true online competitors, refer to the Top 50 search engine positions at a global, local or mobile level for the keywords you are ranking for. If the same competitors appear in the top ten or twenty positions time and time again, you know they are in the same space and after the same audience as you.
Review Who is Linking To Your Competitor
Conduct backlink research on your competitors. There’s a lot you can tell by identifying, which sites are linking to them and more often than not, you will find other competitors you may not have known about. For instance, you may find a directory or review site listing your known as well as other competitors. Another thing to look at is their anchor text. Are these non-branded keywords they use, which are incorporated into your content as well? If so, you can add these to your pool of keywords in gShift in order to see whether or not you maintain any visibility for them.
Another area to look at is their calls to action. What are your competitors offering on their websites? Do they have whitepapers, brochures, or other documents they offer for download? By reviewing these areas, you can begin to think about what you might be missing from your own website and what you can start implementing to drive traffic and conversions on your own site.
Where Are Your Competitors Socializing?
The next step is to review your competitor’s social signals. Find out where they are active socially by searching for Facebook Business pages, LinkedIn Company pages, Google+ business pages, YouTube channels, Tumblr pages, Slideshare accounts, Pinterest Pages, or relevant communities on Google + or LinkedIn. Your competitors may have a presence in a lot of places, but it is important to review what they are doing on these networks and where are they are most active. It can be easy to spread yourself too thin and although they may be everywhere, if they are not engaging with the right audience or not doing anything on these networks, does it really make sense for you to be there too? If you identify a social network they have an active audience in, you are more likely to have success there.
Within the Top 50 rankings, you may see find directories or blogging sites, which include your newly found competitors. This can be a great way to not only drive more traffic to your site, but it can help to build your authority within your industry. Guest blogging opens up a lot of doors and opportunities to discuss important topics relevant to your business and your primary audience. Guest blogging provides potential opportunities for you to link from relevant associations or industry websites, thereby creating high-quality backlinks to your site.
Mining Twitter keyword and hashtag content can open up yet another source of competitive insight. You may have competitors who are not visible via Organic Search but have chosen to be active socially. A tool like gShift’s Twitter module enables you to identify who is using keywords and hashtags in their content and what specific content they are posting. From here, you can work backward to see whether or not this content is seeing any engagement and whether or not Twitter is a viable social network for you to likewise spread your own keyword-rich content.
There is an ever-increasing number of mobile search queries being conducted every day via phones and tablets. In some industry verticals, mobile website traffic is surpassing traffic from traditional desktops. Many of your competitors may be getting on the bandwagon and offering mobile versions of their sites or mobile apps, where they make sense. If you are in an industry that would benefit from a mobile app, conduct a search or visit your competitors’ websites to identify whether they have created any and download them to see what you can learn. Look at what you could offer to help your users and begin offering content in the space where they spend most of their time online.
Again, you will want to assess whether it makes sense to spend the time and resources to build an app or an alternative site. If you or your competitors are not in an industry where your users would benefit from a mobile app then it may be more prudent to simply provide your content in a mobile-friendly site.
Prioritizing Organic, Social or Paid
Taking this measured approach applies to all of your online presence points. Review what is or appears to be working for your competitors, including their organic visibility, their social activity, and/or their commitment to paid advertising, then map this against your own presence to see where there may be opportunities to capitalize on or gaps to fill. As always, use web metrics to measure, which channels deliver the right traffic, which consistently converts and you will be on your way to maintaining a broad and successful web presence.