Importance of Competitive Analysis in Marketing and SEO

Written by Dileep Thekkethil

Updated on Jul 28, 2020
Category: Technical SEO

We live in an era where even the weirdest business ideas face intense competition.

Competitive Analysis must be part of your marketing efforts if you’re not selling technology from Area 51 with an exclusive patent. Competitor market analysis better prepares you to battle it out in the marketing arena.

With the World Wide Web turning into a war zone for businesses, getting target users to a website, at least for a few seconds, will draw the line between a winner and loser.

With a surge in the number of competitors in marketing, there is a need to adapt to the changes trends before your competitors implement.  

Competitive market research reports suggest that the way forward for businesses is by ensuring the target users are not hijacked by competitors, which require a 24×7 watchful eye. 

If you are a marketing professional or a business owner, comparing marketing strategies of your competitors must be part of your daily task.

competitive analysis

Emulating and adapting strategies that work for your competitor will ensure growth, opportunities, and leads for your business.

However, the process of scrutinizing the products, sales, and marketing strategies of your competitors requires an in-depth knowledge of how to do competitive analysis. 

This blog is tailored for you if you are looking for types of competitive strategies and tactics that can improve your marketing efforts.

The tips that you are going to learn from this blog will ensure that your marketing efforts stay relevant to the target audience. 

What is Competitive Analysis?

Competitive analysis is a strategy deployed by businesses to determine the level of competition in business. It takes into consideration how top competitors use different marketing tactics to generate more leads, sales, and traction to products or services.

Competition analysis helps in understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the competitors to build a concrete marketing strategy for businesses. 

The Importance of Competitor Analysis

The advancements in marketing are hard to catch hold off unless you have a dedicated team that tests new strategies and measures success rate.  

In most cases, this becomes impossible, and your competitors may cut across you with marketing strategies that you have not yet tried out. This is where competitor analysis comes to your rescue. 

An in-depth competitor analysis will ensure that you stay on top of your marketing activities and reap the full benefit. 

The core idea behind doing competitor analysis is to understand factors such as strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities of the competitors and making decisive changes to the current marketing strategy. 

A thorough competitive analysis for marketing plan will enable you to sell products and services effectively.

It can additionally pave the way for your business to establish a success route that none of the other competitors have tried.

Before seeing how competition analysis helps in achieving business success for you, let’s dive deeper into the basics of competitive analysis that can be the stepping stone to your success. 

What are Direct and Indirect Competitors

In today’s changing times, where the internet is both the provider and destroyer, any other website where your target audience spent time is a business threat.

However, it is impossible to analyze such a large sample, and the information that you get may not help to improve the marketing strategy of your company. 

What you need is the list of competitors who are into the same niche and selling similar products or services that directly compete with yours.

For example, the competitor of a kids’ subscription website cannot be a subscription site that caters to babies. 

In the above scenario, even though the businesses are indirect competitors, their target audience differs, and so will the marketing strategies deployed.

What you, as a business owner or market, should look for is direct competitors. 

Who is a Direct Competitor?

A direct competitor is a business that provides the same type of products or services as yours and to the same target audience that you cater to.

Even though direct competition marketing is important, ignoring the indirect competitors is not recommended as they are in the same business and, during the later stage, can delve into your territory.

For example, a baby subscription box website may extend their services to kids. In such cases, they become your direct competitor. 

Make it a habit to do competitor analysis regularly to ensure that there is no new competition lurking within your radar. 

Keep a Tab on Products and Services Offered by Your Competitors

Some businesses nail the marketing in the head. Still, in a few months, the strategy fails, and the company slowly disintegrates.

The most common reason for businesses perishing is the lack of innovation with the products. 

The products and services that you offer is the driving factor that decides the success of any marketing strategy.

Innovation and experiments are continually happening within any industry, be it a product or service. 

Adapting to the latest competitive trends in marketing is an essential factor that will determine the future of businesses.

The failure to emulate and modify strategies are the prime reasons that push companies out of business. 

A proper competitive analysis will ensure that you don’t miss out on the strategies incorporated by your competitors to succeed.

The approach could be anything from tweaking the pricing to adding discounts or incorporating a new feature to the product\service. 

Competitor Analysis Checklist for Marketers

Cost

One of the most important factors that businesses must consider while doing a competitive analysis is the cost.

Different companies have different packages for products and services.

However, the moment users find they get similar services at a lower price, they may turn incognito. 

The best way to ensure that the cost does not dissuade the users is by making it competitive enough based on the industry standards.

In addition to this, if you think that you’re providing premium services that are unmatched in the industry, ensure the users understand this beyond doubts. 

Also, if you are offering premium services or products, you must ensure that the competitor that you select also offers premium services.

Forgetting to filter the competitors may lead to wrong marketing strategies that are hard to drive ROI. 

Additionally, you must also look into the pricing of the competitors’ online and offline (brick and mortar) stores.

Some businesses have both presences, and the pricing differs for the same product. 

Market Share

The market share of a business is also crucial before you zero-down it as a competitor.

A company that just entered the business may not be your recommended competitor as they are yet to penetrate into the market.

It would help if you looked for companies that have a sizable number of sales/clients, whichever is applicable for you. 

By ensuring that they have a relatively large market share, you can align your strategies in achieving a share of it.

This is, after all, the outcome that you need for doing the competitive analysis. 

Understand the Characteristics of the Target Audience

Meeting the expectations of the target audience will ensure that your business retains the clients and customers.

The easiest way to understand the characteristics of the target audience is through a competitive analysis. 

There is a possibility that your product or service might interest a large section of the crowd. However, not all are your target audience.

Your targets are the ones that are using the services of your direct competitors and your prospective future customers.

Keeping a tab on the competitors social media strategy. Analysing the social network and community profiles of the competitors will provide you clues about the type of audience they interact with.

Besides, target concerns and the weaknesses of the competitors can be easily identified by analyzing social interactions.

Identify the USP of the Competitors

As we discussed before, if you are out there doing business, competitors follow suit.

In that case, what is it that makes one company successful and the other a failure?

The answer to this is a Unique Selling Proposition (USP). 

USP can be defined as a distinguishing factor – a product, service, or even customer service for that reason, that makes the target audience choose your competitor above yours. 

Once you identify the USP of your competitor, that paves the way to identify your weaknesses.

Additionally, you can reverse-engineer the strategy to fit your business so that you put a stiff competition. 

In-depth Analysis of the Competitor’s Marketing Tactics and Results

Businesses use different marketing tactics to earn customers.

The process used by companies to tap into the customers may differ.

However, understanding their sales process will enable your business to prepare a tailored marketing strategy that drives results. 

If you are a small or medium-sized business, your focus will be naturally to compete with companies within your segment.

However, if you are a multimillion-dollar business, the sales strategy and the result that is generated can be retrieved from the annual reports that are published by your competitors. 

If you fall under the first category, getting the information about the marketing strategy will require more effort.

To understand the marketing strategy of the competitor, you have to first dig deep into their sales process. 

Competitor Sales Analysis

Understanding the competitor sales analysis, which essentially is a customer’s journey through the different marketing efforts of your competitor, is critical to emulate.

A process can be defined as the journey made by your target audience through a set of predefined steps that qualify a prospect into a customer. 

A typical sales process consists of seven stages:

  1. Finding the Prospect
  2. Preparing the Prospect
  3. Approaching the Prospect
  4. Presenting to the Prospect
  5. Countering the Objections of the Prospect
  6. Turing Prospect into Customer
  7. Retainer Strategies. 

By understanding the competitors sales process, you can avoid making the same mistakes that they did and spend the time churning up more productive strategies. 

Having a sales funnel is an important aspect that determines the sales process.

A sales funnel ensures that your target audience passes through a journey that qualifies them to buy your product or service.

A marketing funnel/sales funnel/revenue funnel can be again divided into seven phases. 

Awareness Phase – In this stage, the prospects come to know about a solution to their problem.

Interest Phase – The prospects are now looking for products or services that can provide the best solution. 

Evaluation Phase – This is when they find multiple offerings providing the same solution and assess the merits and demerits of each. 

Decision Phase – Your prospect has zeroed-down on your service, and now they do price negotiations. 

Purchase Phase – The prospect becomes a customer. 

Reevaluation Phase – This is when the customers will once again revisit the evaluation stage wherein they decide to renew the contract or not. 

Repurchase Phase – In this stage, the customer repurchases the same product or service. 

While doing the competitor sales analysis, you should take into consideration the different marketing strategies that the competitor uses to qualify the conversion.

Mining out Marketing Channels

Gone are the days when companies relied on cold calls to reach out to prospective customers.

Now with big data and other sophisticated competitor analysis tools, generating customer insights are easy. Businesses can focus more on using marketing channels that best suit their industry and the target audience. 

Search engines, social media, webinars, and referrals have become the new marketing channels that drive businesses.

You need to identify the channels that are frequently used by competitors for lead generation and find ways to penetrate. 

If your competitors are using just one channel, you have an opportunity to use the other channels provided; your target audience is active on those.

A majority of the online service providers are now shifting to free webinars to engage with their prospects and is turning out to be a successful marketing channel. 

When it comes to brick and mortar stores, there is a growing affinity to host events or participate in events that are frequented by the target audience.

If you find your competitors deploying these marketing techniques, ensure that you don’t miss out on these. 

Check the Success of their Marketing Strategy

Collecting and evaluating the information on competitors is essential for successful competitive analysis. 

If your competitor has ruled out channels that failed to drive the desired output, you can avoid doing the same. 

This is why, measuring the success of the competitor is vital to optimizing your marketing campaigns.

Understanding your competitors’ Key Performance Indicators (KPI) and whether or not the marketing campaigns achieved will provide you insights on the success rate of the campaign.

An overall picture of the success rate of your competitors’ marketing strategy will give you critical metrics about what works and what doesn’t. 

This in-depth knowledge will help in spending your dollars judiciously and effectively to achieve marketing success. 

Competitor SWOT Analysis

SWOT stands for Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, and Threat.

The reason why you do a competitor SWOT analysis is to identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of your company and the competitors.

SWOT is now considered the most crucial competitor market analysis framework worldwide.

It helps businesses make decisions based on the internal and external factors that can influence the projected growth. 

While the Strength and Weakness of a company is an internal factor, Opportunity and Threats are determined by external factors such as the scope of the project or competitors’ market share. 

An in-depth SWOT analysis will help you identify the strengths and opportunities of your business to overcome the weakness. 

How to Do a Quick Competitor Analysis in 30 Minutes

Step 1: Identify the Top 5 Competitors

Follow the strategy that I shared at the beginning of the article to identify the top 5 direct competitors to your product and services that you offer. If you are confused with finding the best competitor, use competitor analysis tools like SEMRush or Ahrefs tool to find them.

If you are not ready to spend on the subscription for these tools or not interested in starting a trial, use free online competitor analysis tools such as Google Trends or SimilarWeb.  

Type in the keywords that you want to rank for on Search Engines and see the businesses that are ranking on top five positions. These businesses usually qualify the traits that you are looking for in a direct competitor.

Step 2: Understand the Content Marketing Strategy of the Competitor

Check the kind of content that the competitors have published on their websites. If you find blogs, white papers, e-books, etc., the competitors are inclined towards inbound marketing channels than outbound channels like PPC or social media promotions. 

An in-depth analysis of the content marketing strategy of the competitors will also reveal the quality of the content and even the topics that have helped them in gaining more traction and leads. 

Also, keep a tab on how frequently they come up with the content resource. If you want to beat the competitors, it’s imperative to produce more content regularly with superior quality. 

Step 3: SEO Competitor Analysis

There is a high chance that your content marketing strategy is superior to your competitor. However, when it comes to traction, you fall behind the competitor. This could be the result of the competitor optimizing their pages better. 

Try doing SEO competitor analysis and find out the SEO strategies deployed by the competitors. Check for these factors: 

  1. Analyze the number of keywords ranking on Google and their positions
  2. Keep a tab on the number of referring domains that are linking back to the website. 
  3. Check how they have structured the content
  4. See whether they have a better internal linking structure
  5. Check for the images and other multimedia content
  6. Check for the speed of the website
  7. Check how properly they have optimized the meta title and description of the website. 

Step 4: Do Social Media Competitor Analysis

Social Media traction is now a critical deciding factor for success. Companies maintain and frequently update their content on social media to keep the target audience engaged.

And of course, social media has now become an easy route to get faster redressal of concerns. 

By doing social media competitor analysis you can understand the competitors’ social media strategy. Getting to know the social activities of the competitors, including who they follow and who follows them back, gives a lot of insights about their success.

Also, check out the social media integration within your competitors’ site and keep a note of the number of likes and shares that they are receiving. 

In addition to this, you can also keep a tab on the kind of posts that they push out through each social media channel. You have to understand that the people active on different social media channels have a different persona, and the content that goes out should match with the interest of the target audience. 

Companies that fail to create social media content that interests the target audience receive less reach via social media channels. Therefore, to ensure you approach the right targets with the right set of posts, take a look at what is working for your competitors. 

There are also chances that your competitor is using influencer profiles to promote their business. Check if they have micro or macro-influencers who are expanding their business through social media handles. 

Step 5: Identify Areas for Improvement

By performing the steps mentioned above, you now know how your competitors are performing and the strategies that they use to keep up the pace of business growth. Now it’s your turn to emulate this by identifying the areas that require improvements. 

Each business has a unique style for marketing. Even though this cannot be replicated fully, you have to come up with a reliable formula that can create a marketing style for your business. You can create your own marketing strategy when you try to improve upon what is already tried and tested by your competitors.

How to Steal Your Competitors’ Website Traffic: A Stealthy 4-Step SEO Process

We often hear that our competitors are our best guides. I’m not sure about other industries but this is true for SEO.

The simplest and most straightforward way to get organic traffic to your website is to steal it from your competitors.

Whatever industry or niche you belong to, I’m sure that you’ll have well-doing competitors online who receive tons of Organic Traffic. If that’s not the case with you then probably you’re in a gold mine.

Today, I want to explain a step-by-step process of finding how your competitors’ get organic traffic and how can you imitate them to get similar traffic.

Even if you can steal at least 10% of your competitor’s traffic, that’s a huge bonus for your site!

Find a stealthy and simple 4-step SEO process.

Step 1: Zeroing in on the Right Competitor

First of all, you need to identify the right competitor. If you fail this step, you are likely to fail the rest of the steps as well.

Your SEO competitors are those websites that rank for your desired set of keywords in the search engines.

If you have already access to the SEO tools such as SEMRush or AHREFs, you can find the top direct competitors within their dashboard.

However, if you are yet to launch your website or don’t have access to the tools, list the top 10-20 keywords for which you’d like to rank for and do a Google search for all those keywords after selecting the required country/region.

You will be able to choose the country/region in the search settings or you can use a VPN. Refer below screenshot.

Find who is your competitor SEO-wise?

Go through the search results of those 10-20 keywords and pick those websites that:

  1. Rank on the top
  2. Rank for multiple keywords
  3. Get more Search Traffic than your site

To get the traffic estimate of any site, you can also make use of a Google Chrome Extension called Similar Web.

The screenshot below shows that BuzzFeed.com has received a total of 183 million visits in February 2018.

 

traffic analysis

Similar Web also shows data related to different traffic sources. The screenshot below shows that almost 34% of BuzzFeed’s traffic comes from search engines.

So this means that BuzzFeed has got around 61 million user visits through search engines alone.

Similar Web traffic analysis

Two things to note while choosing the competitor. One, choose a competitor site that receives more Search Traffic than your site.

Two, DO NOT choose a competitor who receives extremely high Search Traffic. I say this because you can’t compete with industry giants if you own a smaller website/business.

Step 2: Decoding the competitors’ Search Traffic Data

Once the right competitors are selected, try to analyze & decode the site’s Search Traffic data. After the analysis, you should have the following data in hand:

  1. The list of pages that rank for a maximum number of keywords.
  2. The list of keywords for which those pages rank for.

When I mention shortlisting pages that rank for the maximum number of keywords, I’m not talking about pages with just 10-20 keywords, but pages that rank for hundreds or thousands of keywords.

To fetch competitor’s traffic data, you can make use of any SEO tool. I use SEMrush and collect data from it. The below GIF shows how to make use of SEMrush and collect data related to the best-performing pages of any website.

SEMrush Traffic Analysis GIF

Step 3: Shortlisting the best performing competitor pages

Now, out of all the best-performing pages, you need to shortlist those pages that contain topics relevant to your website/business. Pick the ones which are highly relevant and perform well in search engines.

The ‘Strategy’ part is almost done now. Only the ‘Implementation’ is pending.

Step 4: Creating new pages for your site

All the Content in the shortlisted pages have to be studied thoroughly for the following:

  1. Can the similar type of content be published on your website?
  2. Will that type of content be useful for your users?

If the answer is ‘YES’ to the above two questions, you can go ahead & create content similar to your competitor.

My recommendation would be to take your competitor’s content as an inspiration and then create a piece of content that is better than your competitor. This approach can get you better keyword rankings than your competitor. Your aim should be to add more information and value to the content, which Google loves ranking.

HURRAY! You are now done with all 4 steps.

However, still, let’s be a bit cautious. In SEO, results aren’t guaranteed unless you keep on modifying the content to match the requirement of the users.

What if this SEO Magic doesn’t just happen to your site?

You have followed all the 4 steps picture-perfect, and still, your new site pages do not rank. Let’s talk about that.

There could be a number of reasons to why the above SEO strategy did not work for your site. It could be as simple as a Page Title, or it could be as complex as a Site Technical Issue. Let me list a few common reasons:

  1. This SEO tactic might not work if you are competing with compelling websites using a new/small/weak webpage of yours.
  2. Lack of referring backlinks could cause an issue. Backlinks are still crucial. So try and get a few quality backlinks for your new content. One idea is getting linked to similar pieces of content online through email outreach. Guest posting/Blogger Outreach is another good way to get backlinks. You can also link the new content to other important/relevant pages on your site. The site’s Internal Linking will also help with SEO.
  3. Even the epic-est of content might not attract traffic if it is not promoted initially. You need NOT promote your content daily, but it can be shared among your followers in Social Media & Email lists at least for the first few days.

Though I have tried & presented a straightforward SEO process in this blog post, you might still face some hiccups on your way doing it.

Do get in touch with us if you need any help. 

About Dileep Thekkethil

Dileep Thekkethil, a Journalism Postgraduate, was formerly with a US-based online magazine, is the SEO Expert at Stan Ventures. A He is a frequent blogger who keeps a tab on the latest updates in SEO and technology arena. Reach me @ Mail | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook or View all posts by Dileep

You May Also Like…

28 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Thanks for your post.I found this to be very informative. this is very helpful.

    Reply
  2. Avatar

    Hi Dileep,
    Thanks for sharing the guide. sometimes for our relevant keywords news and blogs website ranks on the first page. what to do with such keywords? Though they are not our competitors but not ranking for those keywords is somewhere issue for business.

    Reply
    • Avatar

      Hi Julie,

      I know this is a pressing issue with so many websites. Even now if you google competitive analysis, some latest news will come on top. Try to optimize the money pages with buyer intent keywords. Please get back to me if this strategy worked.

      Reply
  3. Avatar

    I absolutely loved your recommendation for SWOT analysis.
    Sometime competitor does not have enough content on page, back-links and other matrix, but they have better ranking position in search engine??

    Reply
    • Avatar

      Hi Scott,

      Great to hear that. If that is the case they may be competing for a low difficulty keyword. Please let me know if that’s the case.

      Reply
  4. Avatar

    Hi Dileep, the article is enriching and helping a lot of new websites like us. I want to know which parameters should one focus especially during the competitor analysis of a website?

    Reply
    • Avatar

      Hi Lynn,

      Concentrate more on finding the most relevant competitor. The success rest of the process is depended on how you shortlisted the competitors.

      Reply
  5. Avatar

    Hi Dileep,
    I have a healthcare site basically, it is a blog that gives all health-related information. In a few months what I have noticed is my rank is going down even though the DA and backlinks to my site are high compared to the other competitors. Can you tell me what could be the reason for it?

    Reply
  6. Avatar

    I have a blog on digital marketing service but one of my competitor having less content than me but he is ranking on top, How i can outrank him?

    Reply
  7. Avatar

    Hello,
    This article is helpful, but I always had a question in mind and I still have it. So even though my website has better content, a good number of backlinks, also well-optimized SEO strategies why does the brand which is a little famous than mine ranks at the top?

    Reply
    • Avatar

      Hi Steve,

      Consider the web as following Democratic capitalism . Everyone has their chances to fancy. Possibly their online strategy is a cut above your’s. There is a lot of difference between online and offline marketing strategies.

      Reply
  8. Avatar

    Thanks for detailed post, Dilleep If i have a limited budget so what tool would help the most with Competitor research, i like the Semrush tool but it does not give acurate backlinks detail as ahref does and can’t afford many tools at a time. Which one would you go for, if you could only choose one? a tool which can help in perfect competitor analysis??

    Reply
    • Avatar

      Hi Patricia,

      When it comes to links Ahres is my go-to tool. However, SEMRush has proved to be better when it comes to Keyword research. These are my personal favorites.

      Reply
  9. Avatar

    A nice informative post, I have a WordPress blog website on bike niche, but the problem is my competitor has lengthy word count content around 5k on each blog post, I am not able to write that much lengthy content. If I am going to write less content compare to my competitor, can I outrank him without writing that much content ?.
    give some valuable suggestions.

    Reply
  10. Avatar

    Hey Dileep,
    After reading this article I did competitor analysis of my website and I found that the referring domain to my site is more when compared to the competitor, but the backlink of the competitor is more when compared to mine. I checked those backlinks and found that few backlinks are coming from bookmarking and other directory sites. So, will you suggest me to build backlinks from those bookmarking sites and directory sites to outrank that competitor?

    Reply
  11. Avatar

    Thanks for this in-depth competitive analysis guide. Actually, for some of my keywords, another website is ranking on Google. The website which are offering mine same products as well as other products. Can you please suggest something
    What to do with the website which is offering more varieties of products than mine. More products mean they are getting more traffic and ranking better than us on Google.

    Reply
    • Avatar

      Hi Luella,

      It really depends on the target market and the range of products you have. With a lot of products you will definitely invite more audience to your website. This doesn’t mean that your website is a failure. If you have optimized the product pages well, there is all chance of it ranking on top of Google organic SERP, despite the competitors offering more products.

      Reply
  12. Avatar

    Hi Dileep,
    This is a great writeup!!!! I had a client who started a project with a well-developed marketing plan with a SWOT. They developed the site, but they did not address the plan. They recently called me back in again. I’m going to show them your post to remind them of the importance of SWOT, including review, monitoring, and adjustment.

    Reply
  13. Avatar

    Hi Dileep, Does the social media presence have any impact on search engine ranking because my competitor has very good social media profile and he is driving 40% traffic from it only?

    Reply
    • Avatar

      Hi Brenda,

      Yes, Social signal is a ranking factor.

      Reply
  14. Avatar

    Hi Dileep,
    Great article. Please keep sharing the same.
    Can you please guide me on how to quickly conduct a competitive analysis? Creating a competitor array can be time-consuming. Please provide tips to accelerate this process?

    Reply
    • Avatar

      Hi Bucca,

      Please follow the same steps listed in this blog. You will be able to do it.

      Reply
  15. Avatar

    In the competitive analysis, I have observed, Some of the websites which are getting backlinks from news websites are generating a good amount of monthly traffic and its kind of difficult to rank them out. Can you give any suggestion on that?

    Reply
    • Avatar

      Hi Michael,

      News websites come with great authority that’s one reason why the competitor is ranking high. Try to do a PR. You can get a lot of backlinks from news sites through genuine PR.

      Reply
  16. Avatar

    Hii, I have a local busiess, providing door designs. I thougt of starting a website and started doing keyword research. Issue is, for all the keywords, selected the top sites like Amazon, Pepperfry, ebay etc are ranking. How to choose my local competitors in this case?

    Reply
    • Avatar

      Hi Rhonda,

      Check the GMB listing.

      Reply
  17. Avatar

    Hello Dileep, Great information. I have a question, What if mine is a startup and I’m not sure about who are my competitors? then what should I do?

    Reply
  18. Avatar

    Hello Dileep,
    Thanks for the informative blog.
    Please help me on this, I have an E-commerce website. my competitor is ranking for most of the high volume keywords which I’m unable to though that website content & authority is less. How can I outrank my competitor? please suggest me any idea.

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *