Step wise guide to spy on your competitor’s secret data
“A flower does not think of competing with a flower next to it just blooms.” But in business, to look more appealing you need to know how beautiful and sweet smelling your competitors are. The only case where you may not be interested to know your competitor is, if you are a monopoly.
So what exactly you need to know about your competitors that can help you perform better?
What makes your opponent show up right on top of the first page of Google Search and not you? Their Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) right? But what are the factors that determine their SEO? Well! There are more than 200 such factors and Google keep updating its algorithm. Moreover SEO is something that cannot be copied overnight, but you may certainly steal some tips from your competitors that may impact your SEO in the long run.
Once you start your venture, Google Analytics (GA) becomes more addictive than any other cravings on earth. Entrepreneurs would agree with me on this that GA is one of their most frequently visited site or app. You keep a steady track of your page views, unique visitors and other relevant metrics. But that is not where your efforts should end. That’s where it starts and the next stepwise process I have tried to note down here.
This article is a step-wise guide that can help you spy on your competitor’s data, so that you can move a step ahead by analysing their strategy smartly.
Step 1- Find out your competitors
To spy and learn from your competitors you need to know them first. Who all are there in the ring and which ones are the most influential ones. However small you are, learn from the best. Your competitors could prove to be your mentors, if you learn from what works for them and what not.
The foremost thing required for this purpose is the clarity of what you do, identify your niche. List down all your direct competitors. Apart from Google you may find your competitors pitching on Quora, or listed in the Wikipedia table of contents.
a) Google what you do to find your competitors
Like if you are a blog that provides blogging tips, just type it in the search box and you may see the list of your competitors.
And see the results similar to yours at the end of the page as well. Many a times these searches help you form the right keyword to search.
b) Using important keywords to find your competitors
Your own Webmaster account can tell you the keywords important for your business.
Google Webmaster Tools is a great resource for any site owner. It’s designed to inform webmasters about how Google bot is interacting with their website. It gives detailed information on broken links, popular keywords and how often Google’s crawler is stopping by. It’s Google’s way of giving site owners the information that they need to be successful.
Webmaster Tools> Search Traffic> Search Queries
You may sort the results according to number of clicks or impressions and find out the top keywords that are fetching you some organic traffic.
Now research a little bit on each of your important keywords. Your most important keywords are the strong pillars of your site’s content. To work on your strength, you need to make sure who else is there in the ring and find out why and how they are better than you. Understand and learn from them. Let us see how,
Google that keyword:
As you may see the first result is not exactly the keyword searched still it is on the top is because the keyword has been mentioned in the metadata. Metadata and title tag indirectly impacts the SEO. You need to keep a watch on the keywords your competitors are betting on. Very intelligently you have to mark a balance between including keywords in the title and the meta description and generating an urge to click on your article/site.
SEMrush is a master toolset for SEO. SEMrush analyzes keywords in the first 20 search results in Google. SEMRush is a tool that is specific to finding profitable keywords. SEMrush is a very popular tool among digital marketers for optimizing site SEO and bloggers for creating the content that their users want.
Keyword analytics> Overview>Enter Keyword
A detailed report of that keyword will open up in front of you and you may get surprised to know some good work done in your niche by experts you didn’t know before. These experts are your competitors.
2nd Step to Spy on your competitor’s data is to Check out their web rank
Once you know who all are your competitors the next obvious step is to find out the stalwarts.
There are many popular tools to check your competitor’s website traffic and rank.
Alexa: is the oldest and the most trusted one. The other sources being Compete, and Google Trends. Studies show that although these tools do not give exactly the actual results still a lot could be inferred about your competitor’s website for which you dont have Google Analytics access.
Apart from this you may also check their Domain authority and Page Authority (discussed later in this article).
Step 3 Next step to spy on your competitor’s secret data is to watch their traffic
This is what I look for after I have identified them- How much traffic they are getting. Have a look at the graph in the image. It gives you an estimate of site’s search engine traffic based on estimates of keyword traffic and ranking.
Enter the URL and you may get data for visitors, page views trend in growth for a time period of 2 years.
The fact that currently all of their information is tailored around the US traffic becomes a bitter pill to swallow if you purchase the pro package and your target audience is from India.
Secondly, you may not find visitors data matching your Google Analytics report.
But still Compete.com can help you assessing the keywords that are driving traffic to your competitor’s website.
Step 4 How much of their traffic is Organic
Now that you have a good idea about your competitor’s standing and their traffic, the next big fish to fry is finding out whether the competitor is spending money to acquiring those users or is it their organic traffic.
SEMrush.com The one in all tool to check your traffic, source of traffic and keyword is SEMrush. As we can see the mentioned website attracts a lot of organic traffic and has a huge bulk of backlinks to its credit.
Step 5 Keyword source
Keyword research can get you insights of which keywords are getting your competitors organic traffic.
Again SEMrush tool could be used for this purpose as well. Instead of entering the website URL enter the keyword.
As you scroll down the page you may see snapshots of full reports on areas like Top Organic Keywords, Main Organic Competitors etc. As you click on the “Full report” you will see the in depth analysis.
Organic keyword that brings most of the traffic to the website could be seen using SEMrush tools.
Here is the gold mine:
As you may see the keyword “How to make money blogging” could be credited to get more than 10% traffic to the site and is ranked position 1.
Volume tells you: average number of search queries for this keyword in past 12 months
KD : estimate of how difficult it would be to rank well in organic search result for a particular keyword
CPC: Average price of an ad triggered by this particular keyword.
URL: the URL displayed in the search result for the given keyword
There are various filters you may play with and get more insights.
Step 6: Competitor’s Paid Search Budget
SEMrush does a good job till here. But for spying competitor’s paid search budget, I use KeywordSpy. Organic traffic (SEO) and PPC (Pay Per click) are the two complementary forms of digital marketing. Together they can generate more leads than alone each can.
Since SEO is not an overnight game and requires constant efforts Paid Search becomes the next obvious option to get yourself in the search results. So here is this tool that gives you an insight of your competitor’s paid ad strategy.
Step 7 Backlinks
What makes you competitors strong is their Search Engine Optimisation, that quickly shoots up their page link to the top once a related query is made on Google. Out of more than 200 factors that impact SEO, domain level link features and page level link features are supposedly the most impactful factors.
That is not the only reason you should know about your competitor’s backlinks. When you startup and are new to link building game, it is really hard to get those initial few backlinks to set the ball rolling. This strategy works best in this scenario. Find out your competitor’s backlinks. Once you know from where they are getting their backlinks you can approach the same companies, websites to try your product.
As mentioned, the quality of backlinks and its number impacts your DA.
Hence, closely watching your competitor’s backlinks, and their keyword is worth an exercise. Although there exists plenty of tools to find out this data. Knowing competitor’s backlinks can help you target similar ones in your niche and understanding what keywords work for them may help you frame your own keyword in a more intelligent way.
Open Site Explorer
Open Site Explorer is a search engine for links. Basically an optimisation tool, it is developed by Moz that helps you track the links leading to your website. It is one of the essential tools to be used as a part of off-site search engine optimization. A great part of filtering and comparison metrics is available for free, but if you want to get access to the advanced features and reports, you will need to have an account.
Once you know your competitors enter the URL of their website here and you can compare your links to your competitor’s.
Domain authority: How strong your whole domain is. Domain authority is a website metrics developed by Moz. It is one of the most important number for SEO. Higher the number the more likely you have strong traffic and higher rank. One of the most important factor that determines your Domain Authority number is the strength of your backlink structure.
Page Authority: Whereas Domain Authority measures the predictive ranking strength of entire domains or subdomains, Page Authority measures the strength of individual page.
This tool has a free trial of 14 days and then charge you around Rs 7k per month. Just like SEMrush it give few reports daily. Quickly check out their URL Rank, number of backlinks and domains referring to their website. You can also check how many of them are follow and nofollow what is the anchor text they are using and can be one step ahead by analysing their backlinking strategy smartly.
Step 8 Check out what is making them popular
This tool has to be there in your toolkit as it tells you what type of content is working well. You can quickly enter the website URL to check what kind of their content is going viral. You may also type the related terms/ phrases apart from website URL, who are other competitors who are being appreciated by people in your niche.
Step 9 Now steal their fans!
Fanpagekarma is the tool to hack your competitors social marketing efforts. With this tools you can analyse their marketing efforts across social channel. You may even analyse which posts are doing good, at what time of the day they usually post, what kind of content attract most attention (pictures, status, posts etc). You may even get the details about their fans. You may take a step ahead and find out people who take interest in your niche and those who have been left out by your competitors (check the left hand side posts made fans on your competitor’s Facebook fan page. )
Feature image source