Draw Website Inspiration from Competitors While Remaining Ethical

As you build an online presence for your brand, take a look at competing websites. Researching similar businesses is an effective way to learn about your industry and what works for others. At the same time, it’s important to understand the difference between drawing website inspiration from competing brands, and copying them.

You can discover insights into your competitors’ techniques and strategies in an effective, ethical matter.

Look to competitors for website inspiration

There are several reasons why gleaning inspiration from competitors can be beneficial to your business.

Professionals in your space might be veterans in the industry, making them knowledgeable about what works and what doesn’t. Their website layouts, content, branding, tones, and appearances are likely informed by experience. Entrepreneur suggests that picking up on these nuances can set your website up for success.

By familiarizing yourself with the sites of competitors, you’ll be equipped to distinguish your own budding brand. To be successful over the long run, bring something unique to the table. A great way to do this is by analyzing competitors to hone in on your offerings and evaluating what’s already being done — and doing it better or differently.

Ask the right questions

Good or bad web designs can shape a user’s experience. They determine whether a site visitor chooses another business over your own. Therefore, you’ll want to evaluate a competitor’s website by asking questions like:

  • What do you like about this website and its layout? What don’t you like?
  • Does the theme, color scheme, and tone facilitate the website’s purpose?
  • What pages does the website include? From a customer’s perspective, is there information missing? Is the amount of information overwhelming?
  • Does the website use fonts, images, videos, and widgets effectively?
  • Does this site make use of calls-to-action? Are they compelling? If not, why?
  • Does the website include a blog? If so, what kind of content does it publish?

Conduct a thorough competitor analysis

Beyond basic observations, taking a deeper dive into the performance of your competitors’ websites can yield valuable insights. To that end, there are various resources that can help you evaluate competitors’ traffic patterns, top keywords, social media performances, content engagement, and more.

For example, SEMRush is a free tool that collects data from competing sites’ organic and paid search traffic, backlinks, and top organic keywords. This information can reveal the keywords that are worth integrating into your own site content. You only receive a finite number of free searches before you’ll need to switch to a paid plan, so scope out your top competitors first.

Serpstat is another useful tool that can deliver data about a site’s top-performing pages and organic search competitors. This is a great way to uncover the web pages that receive the most traffic, ultimately informing your own blog content and site structure.

Play by the rules

Competitor analysis is a common practice when building a website or online presence, but it’s important to understand the difference between drawing website inspiration and outright imitating the work of others.

While creating a website with a similar layout or implementing the same marketing strategies won’t necessarily constitute unethical practices, copying another website word-for-word or rephrasing its content is considered to be plagiarism. Similarly, it’s illegal to use copyrighted images without the owner’s permission.

In addition to the possible legal repercussions, copying another website will only hurt your brand’s reputation. Customers know a knock-off when they see one, so learn what you can from your competitors without becoming a counterfeit.

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Camryn Rabideau

Camryn Rabideau is freelance writer specializing in digital lifestyle content, ranging from pop culture to smart home technology. Camryn has contributed to popular media sites such as InStyle, Taste of Home, Martha Stewart, Food52, USA Today, The Spruce and more.

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