competitor analysis

Having competitors is a blessing in disguise. It assures you that a market for your product exists. It is also beneficial as (you can also learn from their strategies and mistakes)

Why spy on your competitors? (Whispers, my conscience is hesitating a bit)

Well, although it is said everything is fair in love and war, but it isn't. And so, spying the competitors in business wars with appropriate techniques is not a crime legally or ethically; unless you actually send a human spy. And as an irony, competitors are spying on you too (in case you have a sizeable business share). By tracking competitors, you can uncover their strategies which they use in ranking higher in search engines or driving crazy social media engagement. Make your conscience understand that it is not like stealing a trade secret from a competitor; look at it as a medium to better understand their strategy.

How to choose a competitor for spying?

I will give you a workable strategy rather than listing tools as an answer (which you already know). Use the search option and restrict your search to businesses near you or your state. Then work out who is the prominent player and then get set to analyze it. This will help you to truncate the cost of analyzing companies that do not compete with you in the target market that you are operating. To make it simpler, if I deal with physical goods and my company is operating in Gujarat, I may not be interested in the company located at Orrisa, even though it is operating in a similar business. It is so as I will not be able to serve their customers due to my nature of business.

Tools to analyze the competitors:

I love Google services across all domains (also because most of them are free). One such platform is Google Keyword Planner (It's free too). Essentially it is used when you want to roll a paid campaign. Although it can be smartly used to your advantage as well. Simply add the URL of your competitor. By doing this, the tool will display their top keywords. It will also suggest keywords that the algorithm feels as similar and may yield the same results. Moreover, you can get monthly search volume for individual keywords, which will give you insights into which words are more fruitful.

The next tool in the list is also from Google. It is called Google Alerts (It is free as well, yuppie). As the name suggests, it gives you alerts in the form of a long list. Oh, and also, it can be automated so that you automatically get inboxed about updates of your selected keywords at a preselected frequency. For instance, you may choose your competitor's brand name or product name as an alert and choose daily as a frequency alert. You may also select the source from which the alert should be created, as in news, blog, web, and the like.

With that, we shift towards non-Google tools. First is BuzzSumo. Its free version has many accessible features. You can navigate through popular topics, sharing statistics for different platforms, data on the content type/lengthy, etc. The best thing is you can spot the best performing content in a particular industry. Although as a limit in the free account, what you may not be able to do is multiple searches, plus your results are limited to the top ten.

While beginning with competitor analysis, one can start with free resources and sites. However, to take a deep dive, paid tools are always preferred. Start with SEMrush. It has a good combination of paid and free features. Just scrolling through their website should surely give you an idea about the ways in which you can spy on your competitor (ethically, of course). You may find the keywords that your competitor is ranking for or find out which pages of your competitor are top-performing. This will satiate your curiosity of knowing how the paid traffic of your competition is being generated (See if you could replicate the strategy with your own keywords).

Another tool widely used by SEO professionals is Ahrefs; there are notable similarities between features offered by Ahrefs and SEMrush. However, with Ahrefs, you can also track your competitor's backlinks. This way, you can get to know if a competitor is building the authority.

To understand where your competitor lies in rank, Go through Rank Tracker. Just enter keyword phrases, choose a preferred target search engine, and voila, your results will be out. If you are hungry for more, select suggest from the sub-tab of Competitors' preferences. This will enable competition research and will run to provide you the top 30 results which rank for these keywords. It will help you get insights o the visibility of your competitor for the written keywords. You can also find competitors by domain by modifying your search.

Keeping tools aside:

There are other ways than tools to spy on your competitors. Using tools may sound creepy to some, so here we present a list of other tactics which will leave you (and your competitor) in awe.

Give space to your competitors:

 Know your one brow is high up already. But let me elaborate. I meant to give them space in your e-mail box. Yes, you got the idea. (wink wink). This is a legitimate and sweet trap. Also, the easiest one, I believe. You simply add your e-mail and subscribe to all the newsletters, any quarterly reports, or other brand materials that are there. Also, subscribe to any social media account that they may have. (Pro tip: Avoid using your official business named mail ID or social account while subscribing to a competitor.)

Keep an eye on competitor's reviews:

Follow the places like website reviews, shopping site reviews, LinkedIn comments, etc. Note down the downside or criticism of your competitor. It will indicate their weakness; you may strive and strengthen that point in your brand. Afterward, use it to pitch your product.

Ask relevant long-tailed questions on Quora to know the honest public opinion. Do this for your own product as well as for competitors.

Take a survey of your potential and existing customers. Find out what they like about your product and that of your competitors. Also, don't fail to ask them about their dislikes, if any.

Having competitors is a blessing in disguise. It assures you that a market for your product exists. It is also beneficial as (you can also learn from their strategies and mistakes)

Why spy on your competitors? (Whispers, my conscience is hesitating a bit)

Well, although it is said everything is fair in love and war, but it isn't. And so, spying the competitors in business wars with appropriate techniques is not a crime legally or ethically; unless you actually send a human spy. And as an irony, competitors are spying on you too (in case you have a sizeable business share). By tracking competitors, you can uncover their strategies which they use in ranking higher in search engines or driving crazy social media engagement. Make your conscience understand that it is not like stealing a trade secret from a competitor; look at it as a medium to better understand their strategy.

How to choose a competitor for spying?

I will give you a workable strategy rather than listing tools as an answer (which you already know). Use the search option and restrict your search to businesses near you or your state. Then work out who is the prominent player and then get set to analyze it. This will help you to truncate the cost of analyzing companies that do not compete with you in the target market that you are operating. To make it simpler, if I deal with physical goods and my company is operating in Gujarat, I may not be interested in the company located at Orrisa, even though it is operating in a similar business. It is so as I will not be able to serve their customers due to my nature of business.

Tools to analyze the competitors:

I love Google services across all domains (also because most of them are free). One such platform is Google Keyword Planner (It's free too). Essentially it is used when you want to roll a paid campaign. Although it can be smartly used to your advantage as well. Simply add the URL of your competitor. By doing this, the tool will display their top keywords. It will also suggest keywords that the algorithm feels as similar and may yield the same results. Moreover, you can get monthly search volume for individual keywords, which will give you insights into which words are more fruitful.

The next tool in the list is also from Google. It is called Google Alerts (It is free as well, yuppie). As the name suggests, it gives you alerts in the form of a long list. Oh, and also, it can be automated so that you automatically get inboxed about updates of your selected keywords at a preselected frequency. For instance, you may choose your competitor's brand name or product name as an alert and choose daily as a frequency alert. You may also select the source from which the alert should be created, as in news, blog, web, and the like.

With that, we shift towards non-Google tools. First is BuzzSumo. Its free version has many accessible features. You can navigate through popular topics, sharing statistics for different platforms, data on the content type/lengthy, etc. The best thing is you can spot the best performing content in a particular industry. Although as a limit in the free account, what you may not be able to do is multiple searches, plus your results are limited to the top ten.

While beginning with competitor analysis, one can start with free resources and sites. However, to take a deep dive, paid tools are always preferred. Start with SEMrush. It has a good combination of paid and free features. Just scrolling through their website should surely give you an idea about the ways in which you can spy on your competitor (ethically, of course). You may find the keywords that your competitor is ranking for or find out which pages of your competitor are top-performing. This will satiate your curiosity of knowing how the paid traffic of your competition is being generated (See if you could replicate the strategy with your own keywords).

Another tool widely used by SEO professionals is Ahrefs; there are notable similarities between features offered by Ahrefs and SEMrush. However, with Ahrefs, you can also track your competitor's backlinks. This way, you can get to know if a competitor is building the authority.

To understand where your competitor lies in rank, Go through Rank Tracker. Just enter keyword phrases, choose a preferred target search engine, and voila, your results will be out. If you are hungry for more, select suggest from the sub-tab of Competitors' preferences. This will enable competition research and will run to provide you the top 30 results which rank for these keywords. It will help you get insights o the visibility of your competitor for the written keywords. You can also find competitors by domain by modifying your search.

Keeping tools aside: There are other ways than tools to spy on your competitors. Using tools may sound creepy to some, so here we present a list of other tactics which will leave you (and your competitor) in awe.

Give space to your competitors:

 Know your one brow is high up already. But let me elaborate. I meant to give them space in your e-mail box. Yes, you got the idea. (wink wink). This is a legitimate and sweet trap. Also, the easiest one, I believe. You simply add your e-mail and subscribe to all the newsletters, any quarterly reports, or other brand materials that are there. Also, subscribe to any social media account that they may have. (Pro tip: Avoid using your official business named mail ID or social account while subscribing to a competitor.)

Keep an eye on competitor's reviews:

Follow the places like website reviews, shopping site reviews, LinkedIn comments, etc. Note down the downside or criticism of your competitor. It will indicate their weakness; you may strive and strengthen that point in your brand. Afterward, use it to pitch your product.

Ask relevant long-tailed questions on Quora to know the honest public opinion. Do this for your own product as well as for competitors.

Take a survey of your potential and existing customers. Find out what they like about your product and that of your competitors. Also, don't fail to ask them about their dislikes, if any.

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