Before you start developing a plan to grow your audience by marketing your website, you need to understand the market and your place in it.
Conducting a competitive analysis — researching what competitors are doing — is an essential step in your business strategy. When you conduct a competitive analysis, you categorize and evaluate your competitors to understand their strengths and weaknesses, and use that to inform your strategy. Then you’ll be able to give customers a reason to choose your business.
By looking at your competitors, analyzing how they speak and sell, and monitoring what customers say about them, you’ll also be able to anticipate the market. It will help you to identify trends and build campaigns that engage your audience.
What should your competitive analysis look at?
Competitive analysis research could easily grow into a full-time job, so it’s important to set parameters while making sure the basics are covered. If you look at nothing else, make sure you look at the following:
Benchmarking SEO performance and keywords
Start by typing your company’s name or industry into Google. The results page will show you what else people search for under those terms, which could include other companies. It’s these companies that you should look into if they’re not already on your list of competitors.
When you conduct this search, you’ll also see the terms related to your business. These could be good keywords to include in your website’s content, so write them down.
Performing keyword research — knowing the words and terms that people use when searching for your products or services — will help with both your competitive analysis and your SEO strategy, as you’ll be able to focus on the terms with the least competition or decide to go head-to-head with competitors on more popular terms.
WordPress SEO plugin Yoast has created the ultimate guide to keyword research, and that’s a good place to start. In addition, the keyword tool Answer the Public provides a visual representation of how people construct search queries.
Tone and brand voice
Once you’ve identified your competitors, look at how they present themselves. While many focus on design, it’s important to not overlook tone and brand voice. The way you write and how you sound is part of your brand, and your customers will use this to judge who to buy from.
Note down the language competitors use. Do they want to be aspirational for customers? Are they more casual and conversational? How does that suit the industry?
Content types and strategy
Be sure to take a look at what competitors are doing in terms of content. Do they have a blog? Maybe they have a successful YouTube channel or loads of followers on Instagram?
Building an audience involves more than just publishing a website. Understanding what competitors are doing will show you what your audience is comfortable with and looking for. Then, it’s just a matter of picking what you think will work to outshine the competition.
Conducting a successful competitor analysis
These are just three elements of a successful competitor analysis. You can, of course, go as far as you think you need to in order to inform your business strategy.
If you want to dive into this further, HubSpot looks at the questions you need to ask, Brandwatch has a comprehensive guide to competitive analysis, and Single Grain lists the tools that can help your competitive analysis. But remember to give yourself a purpose first. Don’t get lost in mountains of data.
Through competitive analysis, you’ll be able to get the measure of the market and use that information to help your site stand out and get noticed.
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