In business, competition is often considered to be a bad thing. Sure, competition is ‘good for business’ is an expression, but really it is good for the customer. Competition creates options and diversity. This is where competitor analysis comes in. For you, competition means that you are losing market share to someone else. Online, that means that someone is taking away your clicks and your traffic. But there is still something to be said for competition. It is not only there to fight for your traffic, it can actually also be a great resource. This is where competitor analysis comes in.
If you want your website to succeed, then invariably there is going to be some competition for you to beat off. When you choose your niche you’ll probably find that you didn’t quite get there first and that there are several other websites and blogs currently hogging the limelight and hogging your traffic.
Of course, it is your job to beat them and to come up with ways that you can provide a better value than those other sites. However, at the same time you also need to think about what you can learn from those sites, and you shouldn’t think about your competition just as the enemy, but also as wiser versions of yourself that have been there longer and learned the ropes. Here is what they can teach you:
Take a look around at the top five sites in your niche and look at the design they use. If they are currently successful then you know right away that this is a look that works so there’s nothing wrong with emulating that to a big degree. At the same time though you should also look at features that the sites have in common – perhaps the color scheme etc. These are important because they tell you what your audience and your market are going to expect from a site in your niche.
You should also use your competition to find out how to market yourself and where you can build links. Look for inbound links to the sites you want to look like, and then consider offering reciprocal links with those same sites too. If the site is guest blogging then you should consider approaching the same blogs and asking if they will post your articles in exchange for a link too. This way you can quickly get the same amount of inbound links as your opposition without having to do all the leg work to find them.
The same goes for any kind of backlinks profile. Take a look at the sites that link to this site by using a link spy tool of some sort, and then see if you can get the same links somehow!
If you are struggling to come up with ideas for your articles, then looking at the competition can help you a great deal. They are sure to have some articles on their sites which are popular and which you can emulate, so use this as some inspiration.
As well as looking at what your competition does do, look at what they don’t do. Who don’t they cater for? And who will be left unsatisfied? Perhaps all the money making sites you’ve come across are too advanced and you’d like to write one that will be aimed more at beginners. Or maybe all the finance websites are written in dry jargon and you think you could write one a little more colloquial and entertaining.
You should also look at your opposition as potential partners. You’re trying to achieve the same thing and you’re addressing the same audience – and they have all the tools that can help you to succeed. Note how internet gurus who are starting out always aim to associate themselves with other well-known names on the web through the use of guest posts and other strategies and see if you can’t do the same with those in your field. Become their contemporary and let them lift you up on their shoulders.
This goes particularly well if you’re not directly competing. In fact, if you do your market research well before starting your business, then you should be actively trying to look for your own niche. What is your USP versus what’s already out there? How are you different?
Get this right and you can work together!
All this goes for those established, long-term competitors. But what about the new upstarts that appear? What about when you’re the old guard?
The relationship between two competing bloggers is often an unusual one. Both will know of the others’ existence, and both will often spend a lot of time thinking about each other – but rarely will there actually be any contact.
This is a mistake however, as getting in touch with the competition is often one of the best things you can do for the future of both websites. It may be that there are numerous ways the two of you can work together. Perhaps you could agree to target slightly different areas of the niche and link to each others’ sites, or perhaps you could swap guest posts for example.
If you don’t want to work together however, then you should make it your first priority to try and research as much as possible about your new competition. This is important because it will allow you to identify precisely which keywords they’re going after and it will allow you to learn from their strengths and take advantage of any weaknesses.
Looking at meta tags for instance if they use them, could be a great way to find out which keywords they’re looking at. Likewise, searching for inbound links can show you where they have been building their links profile and it can help you identify new opportunities to grow your own. More to the point, by looking at the articles their site is writing on, and by looking at the site design, you can make sure that you differentiate yourself and offer something that they aren’t to your visitors.
Most importantly though, you need to make sure that you don’t allow the competition to make you obsolete. If you’ve noticed your traffic rapidly dropping across the board, then it’s likely that this newcomer is aggressively doing SEO and posting new content and threatening to ‘push you out’. To prevent this from happening, you should double your own efforts to ensure that you are posting more links than them and that you are writing more content. If this means a bigger site that has better promotion, then ultimately that competition will once again have been better for your visitors – and for your own business.
This is why competition really is good for business: because it encourages you to do better. Look at the website, the content, the promotional techniques and more of your top competitor. If your work isn’t as good or better… then step it up!