How does your content marketing stack up against the competition?
We’re going to let you in on a secret: it’s easy to create content.
That’s right. Anyone with a keyboard and a brain can get in on the content marketing game – and guess what? They often do.
The result is what you see everyday on the web: heaps of content from loads of competitors. With such a low barrier to entry, it follows naturally that much of what’s out there isn’t particularly valuable, but how do you really compare and ensure you’re beating your rivals?
As a marketer, it’s essential to know how your efforts stack up. A thorough competitor analysis can help you understand what you’re doing right, where you’ve gone wrong and how to reshape your strategy for the best results.
Knowing where your content stands
In many ways, the goal of content marketing is whatever your business values most. You want ROI, whether you define this as more sales, increased leads or some other metric.
Equally important, however, is the need to outperform. While it’s great to see tangible results for your business, it’s also important to have a better content marketing strategy than your rivals, particularly when building brand awareness.
No one indicator can show how you compare. A thorough analysis will examine the following about your competitors:
- Content – How often do my competitors publish? What does their total body of work look like?
- SEO – Where do they rank in comparison to me?
- Traffic – Is their site getting more visitors than mine?
- Social media – What are they doing differently than me on social media? Are they seeing results?
- Strategy – Do my competitors have an edge on me? Are they using tactics I should be aware of?
In many ways, performing a competitor analysis is pointless until you’ve determined which of these areas are most important to you. Consider your goals. You may not be able to win in every area, so focus in on what matters most to your organisation.
If you don’t take this vital step, it will be much more difficult to come up with action points based on your findings. You might determine, for example, that your competitors are whomping you in traffic, SEO and social media. You don’t have the budget to address all three, so prioritising your objectives is key.
Performing a competitor analysis ‘at a glance’
If you think this sounds a bit technical, don’t worry. There’s a great deal of information you can glean without examining in-depth analytics.
To get a quick idea of where you stand, do a subjective examination of your main competitors. You can get an ‘at a glance’ assessment simply by asking two ultra simple questions:
- How good is their site?
- How valuable is their content?
You don’t need to be a webmaster to identify a strong, well-structured website. Visit the competition and have a look at the design and functionality of their site. Is it fast? Easy to use? Does it look professional? While this doesn’t do much to inform your content marketing strategy, it can help you make a base level assumption around how their overall web presence stacks up against yours.
Next is the important bit – at least for our purposes. Examining the content itself. Have a look at their total body of work. Essentially, you want to see how advanced their efforts are and how committed they are to content marketing. While quality trumps quantity, the latter is still a factor.
In addition to viewing the total number of pages on the site, check out:
- The kind of content they produce,
- How much engagement they get,
- Publishing frequency,
- Most popular posts,
- Style and tone.
While this kind of review can give a basic idea of where you stand, don’t rush to conclusions. The right comparison tools are needed to tell the whole story.
5 essential competitor analysis tools
While it would be nice to view a full report of your competitor’s analytics, this isn’t possible. Fortunately, there are many competitive tools you can get your hands on.
What it’s good for: giving you the coveted “Alexa Rank” of yourself and your competitors
— Alexa.com (@AlexaInternet) April 23, 2018
Alexa’s ‘Audience Overlap Tool” makes competitive analysis easy by showing you exactly who you’re competing with (and who’s winning). By measuring ranking, advertising, authority and traffic, Alexa gives marketers a clear picture of where they stand.
What it’s good for: providing screeds of backlink information
— Majestic (@Majestic) April 18, 2018
The world’s largest link index database, Majestic is built for SEO professionals who want to compare backlinks and domain authority.
What it’s good for: viewing everything in one place
— Serpstat (@serpstat) April 4, 2018
Serpstat has several features that make competitor analysis easy, including a ‘Domain vs. Domain’ option that allows you to see up to three website at once and identify unique and common keywords in each.
What it’s good for: seeing the top phrases on any site
Since the first email was sent and the first search was completed, the internet has been a place where everyone stood on equal footing – the end of net neutrality has great potential to negatively affect consumers. @nifinet https://t.co/AovzJafwZl
— Searchmetrics (@Searchmetrics) April 27, 2018
When it comes to identifying trends, Searchmetrics is your best friend. This tool allows you to see the top five phrases for any domain and track the performance of specific content.
What it’s good for: Getting an inside scoop on all things social
— fanpagekarma (@fanpagekarma) April 26, 2018
This tool analyses your and your competitors’ accounts across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, YouTube and Pinterest. Even the free version of FanPage Karma explores the most essential metrics, right down to engagement by day and time.
What to do with all that data
While your mum may have taught you to mind your own business, it pays to pay attention in content marketing. Knowledge is power, and unlocking insights about your competitors’ content marketing is paramount to shaping an effective strategy.
Keep your goals in mind when viewing critical comparison data. Like we said before, you might not be able to beat them in every department, but you should ensure you perform in those you deem most essential.