In every marketing environment, competitive research is a frequent and important activity.
This technique is especially important in digital marketing
Since the environment is always changing and businesses are continually
competing for customers across numerous channels
In an ideal world,
competitive content analysis reveals
Where your brand’s online content falls short in comparison to rivals.
With this knowledge, you may strengthen the weak links in your
marketing plan and strive to outperform the competition with greater content.
The end result should be an increase in your brand’s content authority,
keyword ranks, and organic share of voice.
Competitive research, on the other hand, rarely provides clear-cut winners.
Your best practice knowledge must be strong enough to go through numerous sources
with variable content quality for insights.
You must recognize what material is important and what is fluff.
Finally, you must understand why some options are more important and beneficial than others.
All of these issues combine to make competitive research difficult.
Because if you don’t make the greatest content judgments, you’ll fall into a trap and
wind up in a worse position than before the study — especially if you imitate rivals
whose approach to content is incorrect, insufficient or a poor match for your ideal users.
To avoid turning your business into a cautionary tale, you must carefully select
which rivals to investigate, identify relevant pain points, and assess
the effectiveness oftheir marketing approach.
Identifying competitors: Avoid the narrow path
When we think of competitors, we generally think of direct competitors – businesses
that offer comparable products or solutions and compete for the same customers
both online and in physical locations, such as Patagonia against Prana.
Evaluating the content of direct rivals is a good place to start when conducting
competitive research, but this is just half of the picture.
You should broaden your horizons and see how your content compares to competitors in SERPs.
This 360-degree vision is especially crucial for small firms that compete
with national corporations, such as a local independent bookshop vs Barnes & Noble.
Unfortunately, many businesses underestimate the importance of evaluating
SERP ranks and organic share of voice for their vertical.
This is sometimes done since a brand does not directly compete with the top-ranking websites.
In other cases, a firm will lack the resources to address
both areas concurrently and would have to prioritize either direct competition or SERP rankings.
In any case, avoiding investigating SERP competitors in favour of your direct rivalry is a huge error.
Assume you’re looking for rock climbing pants and are unconcerned with the brand you choose.
Patagonia and Prana both provide climbing trousers that can be purchased straight
from their websites, and both companies rank on the first page of
search results for “rock climbing pants.”
However, neither brand’s ranks get above the fold.
Patagonia is ranked seventh, and Prana is ranked eighth.
A specialist climbing website featuring a review of several climbing trousers holds the top organic rank.
This website has a domain authority of 50, whereas Prana and Patagonia have 73 and 85, respectively.
The user’s search goal is the same for all of the first-page results: purchasing climbing trousers.
However, it appears that neither Prana nor Patagonia concentrated on indirect SERP rivals in this case.
If they had, they would have realized that brand-agnostic consumers,
such as those who use generic search keywords,
frequently buy items based on reviews and recommendations.
Google acknowledges this consumer demand,
which is why best-of lists are progressively ranking higher than product sites.
Given the domain rating of both firms and their enormous resources compared to a tiny,
specialty website, if either company employed its influencers to generate
neutral review-focused content for the “rock climbing pants” keyword,
they’d likely capture the top spot with reasonable ease.
Instead, these businesses are pushed to the bottom of the screen and must compete
for consumers’ attention through sponsored advertising.
Finally, reliable content analysis is obtained
by gleaning data from both SERP and direct rivals.
Assume you own a B2B contact centre software firm for small businesses and
want to rank for the lofty phrase “contact centre software.”
You have three direct competitors with comparable domain rankings who all rank on the first page.
The rest of the rankings are dominated by “best software” lists.
Because of this divided search intent, the ranking environment is sensitive, and competition is strong.
To have a chance of ranking on the top page, you must carefully choose and pluck
the greatest content features from direct rivals.
And it necessitates understanding how to select the appropriate rival to investigate.
How to choose competitors to review
Instead of falling into the trap of balancing the study of SERP and direct
competitors, concentrate on competitors who are attempting to accomplish
the same objective as you and whom you have a legitimate possibility of dethroning.
Any rival you investigate should satisfy the following characteristics
if you wish to improve the content on your website:
The brand’s services and content are pertinent to your targeted user group.
The brand adheres to best practices in content planning and SEO or is developing viable alternatives.
For your chosen keywords, the brand ranks high on search engine results pages (SERPs).
This brand’s ranking material is related to your brand’s users and business goals.
Because your brand’s domain rating and page authority are quite competitive,
adjustments have the potential to stimulate keyword growth.
You have the means to compete directly with
the brand’s online authority and visibility.
There are always exceptions to these norms, such as government contractors,
who do not require a significant internet presence
since they rely on third-party contracts and word-of-mouth to thrive.
Choosing opponents with these criteria in mind, on the other hand, will keep
your attention focused on worthy competition rather than riff-raff for the ordinary B2B and B2C firms.
Identifying pain points
Once you’ve identified your rivals, you’ll need
to know what material to examine and
how to establish why their version is superior to yours.
Knowing your brand’s pain points is crucial in making these decisions.
It is a major error to not comprehend or analyze your pain issues before going into competitive research.
You may focus your competitive analysis by identifying pain areas.
When you investigate a competitor’s material without
understanding what you want to change, you’re aiming in the dark.
Without light to guide you, it’s all too simple to imitate concepts you shouldn’t or
compete with a website that doesn’t align with your aims or organic authority.
What pain points should you focus on?
Finally, the pain points you focus on should be determined by your company goals and content KPIs.
Allow dwindling conversions, plunging email sign-ups, or bad website performance data to direct your course.
Assume you own a documentary streaming service and are having difficulty
convincing viewers to join up for a free trial
after reading relevant blog articles or research papers.
You’re aware that one of your rivals does not have this churn,
so you intend to browse their comparable material and evaluate how the experience is improved.
Before you can go into your competitor’s service and learn
why they attract trialists, you must first understand why your users decline to enrol.
Interviews with users
Analysis of net promoter scores
Once you’ve determined why your brand is failing, you can take a
close look at how your competitor resolves the difficulties people experience with your brand’s service.
Understanding why a rival’s pain point solution works for the competition is
the key to determining if it will work for your business.
There are several methods for gaining this knowledge, such as best practice awareness,
Running the competition’s concept through a user research gauntlet, and evaluating
the choices side by side.
All of these insights are based on the same premise: the competitor is adhering to
best practices and doing everything correctly.
Competitors, on the other hand, are imperfect and frequently fail to provide customers
with an ideal experience or flawless material.
So, what happens if the competition is incorrect?
What if the competition is wrong?
Even if a rival passes your initial screening and appears to be a wonderful brand to
learn your shortcomings from, first impressions can be misleading.
Businesses might engage in a variety of deceptive marketing techniques that you might
not detect at first sights, such as black-hat link building or bribing consumers for favourable ratings.
And there are other unintentional errors that your rivals may make
that will hurt your website if you incorporate them, such as poor accessibility standards.
The amount of due diligence you conduct should
be proportional to the amount of risk you incur to replicate a concept or approach.
Due diligence for low-risk ideas, such as rewriting a competitor’s blog post,
maybe incredibly easy, such as reviewing the article’s sources, keyword objectives, and backlinks.
High-risk concepts, such as redesigning your product pages or customer journey,
require a more thorough background study.
Here are a few red indicators that should prompt
you to avoid a rival or, at the very least, investigate their website further:
Material automation (such as scraper blogs) or other indicators of low-quality content
Cloaking of links
Networks of guest posting or other content sharing ecosystems
Link farms, private blog networks, and other forms of manipulation
Duplicate content across several domains
Paid user reviews or other forms of manipulation
Manipulation of social media
How to spot when the competition is wrong
To avoid accepting erroneous high-risk ideas,
you should always ask yourself the four questions below:
Is the brand’s content following best practices in content planning, SEO, and UX?
Is the material meaningful, and if so, how is it is worth communicated to users?
What do you believe prompted the brand to develop this content?
How would your updated website and its content enhance user experience
if you used a similar (or the same) idea?
These four questions serve as a checking and balancing method for fresh ideas.
They challenge you to evaluate the rationale for a competitor’s decisions,
how users may react, and the repercussions of replicating those choices.
Although this method isn’t required for every improvement you might extract from a rival,
it’s important when contemplating substantial adjustments that can tip KPIs in favour of success or failure.
Now, go avoid competitive research pitfalls
Competitive research is an essential marketing technique that may be quite beneficial if you take
the time to verify you’re analyzing a credible competition.
While it’s tempting to cut corners on background research
and assume your rivals know what they’re doing, based on search results or public opinion,
they may not be the competent marketers you think they are,
and you’ll wind up squandering time, resources, and people on a bad concept.
Determine a combination of direct and SERP rivals who have comparable content,
are attempting to achieve the same objective, and are targeting the same consumers.
Determine your brand’s pain points and see how rivals address comparable issues.
Conduct background study on your rivals and their content selections to verify
they adhere to best practices in content strategy, SEO, and UX.
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