Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.
When I played football, we would spend part of the week leading up to a game analyzing film of the other team to find a competitive advantage (that lineman’s got white knuckles = RUN). In business, it’s equally important to find your edge, and identifying those gaps is only a matter of a few clicks.
Here’s a quick competitive analysis any good marketer can do to capitalize on potential opportunities.
Step 1: Identify your current natural keywords
In search, there is a group of keywords aligned with your business that your audience is using to find you and your competitors. If you manage your company’s SEO efforts, you’re already familiar with these. If not, you can easily find these in your Google Analytics report. Keep these handy as they are the keys to your web searchability.
Step 2: Identify the competition
You’ll need a few things for Step 2 – one set of fatigues, one black mask with eyes and mouth cutout, wire cutters, flashlight, retina scanner…KIDDING. You just need your keyword list and internet access. Perform a basic search of each keyword or keyword phrase. Take note of how your website ranks in the search results. Who ranks ahead of you (closer to the top) and who is nipping at your heels? Look at the ads that appear on the right hand side of your Google search. These ads will tell you who is forcefully competing for the attention of your customers. Read the ad headlines, copy and creative. This will provide insight into how your competitors are trying to best you.
Step 3: Check the landing page
You’ve seen their ads. Now find out where your competitors are driving people on their website. Clicking on the Google ad will take you to a landing page with the goal of converting. Once there, look around. Are they using compelling headline and action words? What steps are they asking you to take? Do you feel compelled to act? Taking a few minutes to analyze their landing page and offer will show you what your competitors are doing well (so you can learn from them) and what they might not be doing so well (so you can capitalize on those).
Step 4: Make adjustments
You’ve seen what the other players are doing, so ask yourself if you’re doing enough. Are you effectively using keywords to drive search traffic? Are there any unfilled niches where you can become a major player? Are your landing pages strong enough? Only by asking the obvious questions – and answering them honestly – can you start to gain an advantage in your market.
Step 5: Keep it up
Perform this competitive analysis once a month. As I mentioned, this is one line of tactics in a much larger picture that Parthenon routinely provides to its clients. But these steps should be an easy exercise to gain a glimpse into the mind of your competition. As they say, the best defense is a good offense.