How to run a competitor analysis (and learn from your competition)

Everyone wants to be number one on Google. Or at least on the first page (we won’t mention how hard it is to get discovered when you’re sitting in the doldrums of page five).

But think of it this way – you could be on page one. You could even be number one. If it weren’t for those pesky competitors.

So how do you get a leg up on all those standing in your way? It’s simple – run a competitor analysis. Find out what they’re doing right, discover their weaknesses, and use it all to your advantage.

Here’s how.

Step one: Their website

Start with looking at how their website is laid out. Is it a single page? Are there just a handful of pages? Or do they have more than a dozen?

Navigate your way through the site and objectively ask yourself how the user experience compares to that on your site. Are the links are useful and working? Are there annoying pop ups? Are there are over-the-top calls to action everywhere, or is it more subtle than that?

You may come across useful landing pages that you could incorporate onto your own site (with unique content as well), or you may find other widgets and features on their site that you want to place on yours. Alternatively, you may find areas where your site is clearly better – take that information and use it to your advantage when courting new customers.

Step two: Their social media

Social media is a core part of most businesses’ marketing strategies, and customers will use your social pages to compare you to other businesses in your sector.

You’ll want to first identify basics, such as which platforms your competitors are using, how many followers they have, how often they post, and how much engagement (likes, comments, shares, etc.) they’re getting on each post.

Then, go deeper into the rabbit hole.

Look at what it is they’re posting exactly – Their own content from their blog? Updates about the company? Special deals? Shared content from outside sources? It won’t take long to see which posts are doing well, and which ones may have been better left on the cutting room floor.

And finally, check out how they’re interacting with their followers. Many people will post on Facebook updates and Instagram images, but not many brands take the time to properly respond – or if they do, they only respond to negative comments. Interacting with happy customers is just as important!

Once you have this information, you can begin to tailor your posts to see if you can get the same kind of response out of your fans and followers. For example, if you note that your competitors always use a certain (non-branded) hashtag that gets them noticed on Instagram or Twitter, try using the same hashtag on your posts and see what happens.

Step three: Their content

Finally, get right up close and personal and look at their content. This means looking not only at things like blogs and thought leadership pieces, but also their landing pages and on-site content.

As you’re reading over their site, ask the following questions:

  • Is the content well-written and free of grammatical errors?
  • Do primary landing pages have a lot of copy (500 words or more)?
  • Do they use keywords appropriately throughout content?
  • Do they have an internal linking strategy?

Take notes on their style and tone as well. They may be writing in a way that’s more formal than yours, or perhaps more conversational. While you shouldn’t simply copy theirs, it can be handy to know how they’re approaching their customer communications.

These are the kind of qualitative questions you can ask as you peruse their content – and pinpoint all the ways yours can be better.

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