How to Do Competitor Research


Jenna Lamb, online marketing analyst at Ontario SEO
Jenna Lamb
August 24, 2020
Digital Competitor Analysis Tips and Tricks

Quick & Dirty Tips for Digital Marketing Competitor Analysis

When was the last time you did a competitive analysis of your digital competitors?

Now that business is picking up again, and the phones are ringing more often (or you want them to be), you may be starting to think on how you can capitalize on the large shifts that have happened in the past 6 months.

If you want to make the most of this economic recovery (fingers-crossed), you need to look for new opportunities. A digital competitor analysis can help you identify the chances for your business to gain (or maintain) visibility online.

If you have 30 minutes (or maybe even a little less), you can generate a seriously helpful list of competitors insights that you can pretend took a long time.

These quick and dirty tips will help you get to know your online competitors better. Armed with this knowledge you will be poised to put together an effective digital marketing strategy to take on your competition.

1. Identify Your Top 10 Competitors

First of all, who are these competitors (and what do they want, besides getting their grubby hands on your customers)?

You have a free, fast, and easy way to find out who you’re battling with for brand awareness and sales: Google. Look up the products and services you provide and see who else pops up on that coveted search engine results page (we call it the SERP). Do a little digging to make sure they’re the real deal, and then make a list of the top 10 online competitors to start your competitive analysis.

Before you go all Donkey Kong on your initial results, make sure you do a little extra digging to determine if these list toppers are your real-world competition.

You can hardly consider a company a competitor if you aren’t targeting the same customers – or, if you’re not offering the same type of services. Do a sanity check to ensure these so-called competitors are your actual competition. Then take a closer look at your shared vs. unique audiences: if your competitors are hitting the target and attracting the people you want, dig deeper into their digital advertising strategy.

With this information, you can decide whether you want to go after their digital market share or if you want to change up your strategy to target online audiences they haven’t tapped into.

2. Analyze Competitors’ Web Traffic

Next, look at competitors’ traffic volume for the past year.

When you’re doing this time travelling exercise, make sure you’re being smart about it. Don’t just consider the calendar days, think hard on the holidays, seasons and happenings that have affected your business and see how they apply to your competitors’ numbers.

At Ontario SEO, we use a wide variety of tools to consider how your competitors stack up. SEMRush is an online visibility management platform offering digital marketing tools specific to competitive research. All you need to do is input your competitor’s domain name to get insider information on their paid and organic traffic volume.

When you look at the chart, take note of the trends and gaps. This will help you understand where your competitors are investing their time and where it makes sense to amp up advertising for your business.

3. Analyze and Compare Competitor Content

After you’ve discerned who the real competition is, you can learn a lot by looking into what types of content they’re leveraging to make connections with your should-be customers.

If their website and social media channels are popping like beacons of good business, pay attention to which digital advertising formats and platforms they are using most often. Are your competitors generating frequent blogs or is it videos that work their customers into a frenzy?

Consider focusing your efforts on whichever means of content creation they are touting. Oftentimes, using competitive intelligence can help inform your own decisions when choosing a digital marketing approach. But be careful not to stretch beyond your means or expertise – effective content is not cheap and rarely easy.

4. Analyze Their SEO Efforts

Take a sneak peek at their SEO to outsmart and outrank them online.

Your content is good. Everyone thinks it’s good, and by everyone we mean people other than your mom. So why are your competitors still topping you for relevant keyword searches? Because there is more to dominating the search results than flashy content and pretty websites, that’s why. If you want to find your audience, your content has to be targeted and relevant. So, don’t stuff your blogs or webpages with the same keywords over and over, hoping to crawl to the top of search engine results.

When it comes to SEO, stale content is as good as stale food, so if you don’t have the capacity to keep your content fresh, you may want to consider hitting up a digital marketing agency with a content marketer. That way, they can take that project off your plate.

5. Determine How You Can Do Better Than Your Competitors

Your competitive analysis can give you clues about which content to create. Now you need to capitalize on your competitors’ gaps. For example, if your competition dominates the search results for a piece of content about their awesome dog harnesses, then you need to write even better content about your majestic canine accessories. When they provide five benefits for proper leashing, you list 10. If their article has become outdated, you need to generate one with up-to-date facts about dog fashion that will ensure animal fanatics everywhere recognize your superior approach to fluffy friendships.

Now, Get to Work on Your Competitor Analysis

If you’ve read through these tips and it still sounds like too much work, it’s time to bring in a new digital marketing partner. At Ontario SEO there is nothing quick (but maybe still dirty) about our competitor research. Our digital marketing team runs extensive analyses to build and execute online marketing strategies that make sure your business is found and found often.