It’s a challenge for any business to stay on top of their competitive market. That’s why it’s important to know what your competitors are offering that compete with your business, what their price point is, how they’re reaching their target market (and yours) and how they set themselves apart in the market. To stay competitive, you need to keep an eye on your competitors and learn how to market against them.

How competitive research helps your company grow

Whether you do an in-depth dive into the different marketing tactics of your competitors, or do a more basic overview of each, you should have a feel overall about who they are, what they offer, what their pricing is, and how they market themselves.  You also need to know how you stack up to your competitors through your SWOT analysis. Having such insights will help you better prepare to compete against any competitor of any size in your market and adjust your messaging accordingly. You can play up your strengths against what your competition offers and downplay those components where they excel over your company.

How to conduct competitive research using tools

research toolsIt most certainly doesn’t hurt to occasionally visit your competitors’ website and social channels to see what they’re up to, but that can take a lot of time. Luckily, there are quite a few tools out there that can help you see what your competitors are doing, good and bad, and use it to your advantage. Here are a few tools that you should use to conduct your own competitive research.

SEMRush

We love SEMRush! SEMrush is a fantastic tool that helps you to conduct competitive research on any competitor’s domain and to use the data to optimize your marketing campaigns. This tool helps you accomplish four things:

  • Keyword Research
  • Competitor Research
  • Site Audit
  • Backlink Analysis

You’ll get a pretty nice glimpse of these using their free tool. If you want to dig deeper, sign up for one of their paid plans; it more than pays for itself!

SpyFu

Need a little insight on what you should be targeting in your paid search campaigns?  Then you have to use SpyFu! With SpyFu, you can search for any competitor, download their keywords and just like that, you have gold that you can use for your own efforts. It’s that simple. Learn your competitors’ PPC and SEO tricks and avoid their mistakes.

Ahrefs

competitor websitesAhrefs is a paid tool but you can mooch a 7-day trial for $7 to do your initial research. If you like it, you can go ahead and use the paid version but if not, you’ll get some great insights nonetheless Use the competing domains report in Ahrefs Site Explorer. Put in your keywords and see what domains you’re competing against for those phrases. Another tool in Ahrefs is Ahrefs Batch Analysis tool where you can look at all competitors websites and see how well they’re doing overall on their website quality including keywords, traffic, DR (domain rating), etc. Want to know what other sites are referring traffic to your competitors’ sites?  Look at the referring domain section and see if you can get that same traffic referred to your site too (or instead!).

Buzzsumo

Buzzsumo is a social network tracking tool that helps you find the most shared content for a given topic or competitor. It’s handy because you can see what kind of content is resonating with their audience and create similar content to attract more traffic to your site or more engagement to your social channels. Use the tool to research content for a specific keyword phrase such as “small business marketing consultant” and see what they’ve created and how well it’s done.

Google Alerts

One simple way to keep track of your competitors’ online activity is by taking advantage of Google Alerts. With Google Alerts, you can set up email alerts based on specific search terms and preferences, allowing you to get important updates about each of your competitors. Just go to the site, enter the competitors name and you’ll start receiving alerts whenever there are mentions of them online. You have the option of choosing what kind of alerts you get and how often. Great information sent right to your inbox!

Other ways to conduct competitive analysis

Google alertsWhile the above tools are fantastic, it most certainly needs to be supplemented my your own efforts as well. As we mentioned, you should visit their website to see how they’re positioning themselves, what their products or services are, and what they’re pricing structure is. Check out their social media platforms too and make sure to like, follow or connect so you’re updated on their activities. You should also look at online reviews to see what others think about your competitors.

Competitive research helps you understand why customers choose to buy from you or your competitors and how your competition is marketing their products. Over time, this can help you improve your own marketing programs. It’s important to keep an eye on your competitors for more effective marketing, so make sure competitive research is a part of your overall marketing strategy.

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Patty Hughes

Patty Hughes is President of Strategic Marketing Services and has over 20 years of experience in marketing and sales strategy.Having been fortunate enough to develop exceptional business relationships with both customers and colleagues throughout the years, she has been honored to help small businesses grow and has enjoyed being a part of their successes by partnering with them to establish a well-developed marketing strategy and assist in managing their ongoing marketing needs.
Patty Hughes
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