Competitor Research – 5 Ways to Find Who Could Be Stealing Your Customers
Understanding who your competitors are, and learning about their strategy, strengths and weaknesses allows you to plan the right set of actions on your way to outperforming them and taking over their market share. At Boostatics, we like to divide our competitor research process into two distinct phases.
In the first phase, you should try to understand who your competitors are, what they have to offer that you don’t and what they do to attract new customers. The second step is to perform an actual competitor research SEO- and PPC-wise – with the use of tools necessary to determine their ranking strengths and advertising strategies.
Phase 1. General Analysis
The first step of phase 1 requires nothing more than a piece of paper and understanding who your potential customers are check out our article about Audience Research. If you haven’t done your audience research yet, we strongly encourage you to do so before proceeding with competitor research. But even if you haven’t, you should be able to name at least a few search terms your audience members might use to look for your business.
Once you brainstorm them and write them down, it’s time to head over to Google.com. This is what surprises some of our customers, who expect us to use advanced tools right from the start. But those who try to rely exclusively on tools limit their own creativity and insight. In reality, even a quick Google search can tell you a lot about your industry.
Let’s say that you are going to offer chiropractic services in Houston. Right after typing the first keyword that comes to mind, you will see a few examples of your direct competitors. The first results right at the top will be those of companies that invest in paid advertising.
As you scroll down, you will see businesses that got their local SEO right. To get to the “blessed 3” of Google maps local results you need to optimize both your GMB (Google My Business) profile, as well as your website. While not all companies do that, we offer complete local SEO as part of our search engine optimization package.
As you scroll down, you can see more websites that are ranking for your chosen keyword. Apart from a business website, there are also Yelp, Facebook, and YouTube links – all of which could be outranked by a well-optimized site with a strong off-page SEO.
Naturally, such a manual research can be time-consuming. Especially if you want to perform it for tens of different keywords. That’s why in phase 2, you will see a number of tools you can use to speed up your research. Keep in mind that you should not proceed to phase 2 until you check at least a few different keywords manually.
Phase 2. Using the Tools to Get Even Better Results
In phase two, we’ll take a closer look at your potential competitors. What we want to understand is where their visitors come from, what their SEO structure is, and how they promote their website. But first, we will use tools to get an even better overview of the situation in your niche.
Analyze the Search Engine Results
Unless you’re an advanced SEO geek, looking manually at search engine results won’t tell you much about the real difficulty of a particular keyword. And, even then, it requires lots of money and time to get the data. That’s why once you have a general overview, it’s time to jump into using tools.
The most popular spying tools such as Ahrefs, Spyfu or SERanking can provide you with loads of useful data: what keywords your competitors are ranking for, their estimated traffic and cost (estimation often based on assumption that all SEO traffic would have to be attracted via paid search). Some tools can even estimate the difficulty of the keywords – which tells you a lot about how strong your competitors who rank for that particular phrase are.
If you’re planning to compete with other advertisers using paid advertising, some of the tools even show different variations of ads used by your competitors in the past. This will tell you not only who is using PPC but will help you understand their strategy.
Check Where They Get the Traffic from
Of course, quite often Google and Bing are not the only sources of traffic for your competitors. Many of them get referral traffic from third-party websites or are active on social media. This is where tools like SimilarWeb come in handy. Just provide the domain that you would like to check and start the analysis.
Naturally, if they are aiming to work on SEO traffic, you can also check what keywords they rank for:
As well as find out which social media websites generate the highest number of visitors for them:
Find Out How You Can Outperform Them
Understanding where your competitors are getting their traffic from is important for two critical reasons. First, it allows you to learn where your visitors are, so that you can pursue them yourself. Second, it shows you how strong the websites you’re going against are and helps you choose the best way to start stealing some of that traffic from them. And the easiest way to start doing that is to identify areas where you can do better than them.
For example, it may turn out that despite ranking high for a potentially profitable keyword, your competitors have a very weak backlink profile, which makes them an easy target for an advanced SEO specialist. A great tool you can use to check the exact keywords that your competitors are ranking for together with their backlinks is the aforementioned Ahrefs.
But traffic is not the only thing where you can compete with them (although a necessary one). There are multiple other areas which you can investigate to see where you can improve. This is important especially that many of your potential customers might be considering offers from multiple companies at once. Sample improvements you could work on include:
– Providing your customers with better user experience than your competitor.
– Writing better, more engaging and informative content.
– Making sure that your website loads fast on both desktop and mobile.
– Adding a website chat or even robochat so that your customers can reach you easily.
– Creating a hard to resist giveaway that will allow you to capture the emails of your audience so that you can warm them up and build a relationship with them.
Luckily if you’re not sure what your competitors might be doing wrong, you don’t have to keep guessing. If they’re popular and have lots of reviews, just look at them or ask in online communities (for example, Facebook groups). Who said that only the business owner should benefit from customer feedback?
A smart competitor research can not only provide you with great ideas on how to position your business to outperform their competitors, but can actually save you thousands of dollars on advertising. Unfortunately, it can also be very time consuming. That’s why we do the full competitor research as part of our marketing services which you can check out under this link (and save tens of hours in the process!)