Understanding what your competitors are doing in terms of online strategy is an absolute priority when launching a new website that is entering a competitive space. By knowing what your rivals are doing in their SEO and social media space, not only will be able to discern their online marketing strategy, but you can also emulate what is working for them, and generate internal ideas to stay proactive.
Furthermore, by understanding what your competition is doing in terms of on-site SEO, link building, social media marketing, developing third party properties and other search marketing tactics; you can also identify tactics which are working from them (or not working for them), that you can improve upon, and thrive from in your overall marketing strategy.
And who doesn’t love pretending to be a spy every once in a while?
The first step to identify your competition is by checking out the search results for your keywords for which you’d like to be listed. Do not look only at keywords which drive the most traffic, but also the longtail search terms.
After you have identified the sites you need to monitor as part of your intel, start looking into the on-site SEO factors which help them rank in the search engines. You may find not only what they are doing right, but what you are doing wrong. When forming a competitive SEO report, it’s suggested to include your own site in the report and even having a third party have a look at your results, say an SEO consultant.
Not only do onsite tactics assist with the ranking of a website, but more importantly the off-site SEO tactics benefit the competitive advantage to boost a site from the bottom of the front page on Google, into the top five.
By discerning the off-site SEO tactics, and social media tactics, you can get a strong sense for the link building strategies, their participation in blogs, sites they may own which are harnessing social media traffic, if SEM is working for them, and their standing on Delicious, Digg and in vertically targeted social networks. All of these factors have a direct influence on search engine rankings and you will not only learn what your competition is doing, but you can find, and use what they are not. And by identifying these holes, oversights or even genius ideas … and applying them to your marketing strategy, you can propel yourself within your industry.
This can be a lot of information to monitor, and you’ll probably want to add more industry specific terms to your research dependent upon how SEO savvy your market is. But in the long run by documenting this information now, and revisiting it, you will have a pinpoint idea of the tactics your rivals are utilizing, which they are not, and even what they are changing to keep up.
Some additional recconaissance you can do, monitor their listings on job search engines to identify the internal positions they are hiring for or have, like SEO Manager or Social Media Marketing Assistant. In this way, you may gather some insight as to what they are planning in the future, which may assist you with getting the jump on the competition.
If you need any help with the tools needed to perform a lot of this research, feel free to contact Freshtraffic and we’ll be sure to assist you.