When was the last time you performed a competitive review? Not just a quick flip-through of a few websites and social media platforms to see what your competitors are up to these days. Honest-to-goodness, deep dive competitive research that ultimately helps you improve your competitive marketing strategy. Been a while? Maybe never?
Knowing when you last did a competitive review is important. How you did it likely determined the number and quality of insights you took away regarding competitors’ influence on marketing and, ultimately, your business.
Analyzing your competitors from two critical angles — Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and market positioning — is essential for building an actionable inbound marketing and sales strategy. Use these tips to sharpen your understanding of the mechanics of a competitive review and how to apply your findings to achieve sustainable growth.
Competitor SEO Analysis
It wasn’t so long ago that you could rank well in search engine results pages (SERPs) by consistently producing decent content and following some basic inbound principles. Then, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) took hold. Suddenly, having an online presence and having a visible online presence became two very different things.
Which competitors are leveraging SEO and besting you in SERPs? These are who you have to pay attention to, of course, but they’re also who you can learn from the most in terms of developing a ToFu lead attraction and conversion strategy.
How do I conduct a competitor SEO analysis?
There are several free or fee-based tools available to assist you in completing a competitor SEO analysis that can pretty quickly reveal the level of sophistication behind your competitors’ online marketing efforts.
HubSpot customers, for example, have access to the Marketing Hub’s Competitor Tracking Tool that delivers quantitative insights into mozRank, traffic rank, linking domains and other metrics that indicate both the breadth of your competitor’s SEO and content quality.
If you’re not a HubSpot customer, there are alternatives, such as Moz and SEMrush, that allow you to delve into keyword research yourself and sleuth competitors’ content samples for keyword use in page titles, URL architecture, H1 tags, Image alt text, and so on. Be warned, this type of research can quickly consume time and resources.
To learn more about how to put these insights to work for you in your inbound marketing strategy, check out this popular article: 8 SEO Tools to Help Guide Your Content Strategy in 2019.
How Competitor SEO Should Influence Your Marketing
Once you know what competitors are besting you in SERPs you’ll have information you can act on to improve your own company’s inbound marketing strategy and content. Here are two important next steps:
- Run a backlink gap analysis to identify competitors who are getting quality links from reputable industry sources and target those for links back to your own content
- Evaluate keywords driving traffic to competitor sites and identify opportunities that are feasible for you to compete — then take a topic cluster approach with your own content strategy so you can start stealing their traffic
Competitor Market Positioning Analysis
Certain competitors are probably on your radar without you actively seeking them out. Maybe it’s because you’re situated within the same geography, or because you run into them frequently online. Maybe your sales team comes up against them in the sales process, or your current customers were considering working with certain competitors before signing on with you. They don’t have to be outranking you on SERPs to grab your attention if they’re also grabbing your customers’ or serious prospects’ attention.
Your BoFu inbound marketing and sales strategy needs to account for these market competitors. This requires strategic evaluation, thoughtful comparison, and drawing some conclusions based upon a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) Analysis.
A SWOT Analysis will help you frame — and answer — some key questions about each competitor:
- What products or service does your competitor offer?
- What position (perceived and actual) does your competitor currently hold in the market?
- In what areas does your competitor excel (products, content marketing, social media, etc.)?
- What is the weakest area for your competitor?
- What could your competitor execute better?
- Are there opportunities in the market that your competitor has identified?
- Where does your competitor hold an advantage over your brand?
- Where does your brand hold an advantage over your competitor?
- In which areas would you consider this competitor a threat?
How Competitor Positioning Influences Your Marketing and Sales
Answering the SWOT questions — and any others you may add to the list — gives you a chance to thoughtfully and honestly compare their weaknesses against your strengths, and vice versa. From there you can take some actionable steps toward making improvements to your marketing, sales, and business efforts as well as adjust your positioning if necessary to gain a competitive advantage.
Depending what the SWOT analysis reveals, your next steps may include:
- Reviewing your company’s website to ensure your product’s value proposition is crystal clear — in terms that are helpful to the prospect
- Updating your sales content to make sure it speaks to your competitive advantages
- Identifying opportunities to stand out in the sales process by removing friction or having more engaging content that makes it easy for the prospect to see you’re all about helping them solve their challenges
Evaluating your competitors from the two key dimensions of SEO and market positioning will reveal many opportunities that’ll influence your inbound marketing and sales strategy from top to bottom. Your relative positioning in SERPs should influence your top-of-funnel lead attraction and conversion strategy and tactics, and market positioning should influence bottom-of-funnel marketing content and your sales process.
Not sure you have the resources to conduct a competitor review and analysis and incorporate it into your inbound marketing strategy on your own? You’re not alone! Reach out to us to find out how working with an inbound agency can help.