Knowing who your competitors are and what kind of action plan they are using to drive traffic to their website, could help you grow your sales.
Big brands spy on their rivals by constantly monitoring them using a number of different tools. Some brands may go to great lengths to get the information on what their competitors have planned for the near future — be it a new product release, or a special promotion.
When in possession of such precious information, brands can make decisions that will help them better adjust to current market demands and fit themselves into the competitive landscape.
In this post, you will find some useful strategies that have been proven effective in researching the competitive landscape. These strategies can significantly improve your current or future content marketing efforts, and will enable you to always be aware of how well you are performing compared to your competition.
Frequency of Posting Content?
The easiest and most accurate way that I have found to learn about the competition’s posting frequency is to use the tool BuzzSumo. This tool is pretty straightforward, so I won’t go into details on how to use it. Rather, I will discuss its results and benefits. Simply group the number of posts per week for each competitor and voila, you have an average posting frequency.
Here is Hubspot’s blog as an example. In the table below you can see that they publish about 60 posts per month — that’s an average of 15 per week.
Some months are slower in terms of posting activity than others, but it looks like HubSpot always has something to share with its community!
If you don’t know who the top competitors in your industry are, first use SimilarWeb to find out, and then export a list of websites to use with BuzzSumo. You can also use SEOquake tool to find out the size of each competitor website, which indicates the amount of content the competitor produces. SEOquake uses data from Webarchive.org that shows an approximate date when a specific site was launched. You can then divide the number of pages by the number of years or months they have been around, and get the average number of pages they generate.
Recent research performed by Travelpayouts indicated that new web content projects (e.g your blog) should publish approximately 15 articles per month. Their findings show that publishing this many posts will help generate at least 2,000 visitors in a 12-months period. If you do this you should begin receiving anywhere from 1,000 – 2,000 organic visitors monthly.
Do they Have Guest Post Contributors? If so, Who are they?
Back in 2014, guest blogging bit the dust as a respectable link building activity. Remember this controversial post? Former head of the web spam team at Google, Matt Cutts, stated that guest blogging has a “spammy” karma, and that you should “stick a fork in it.”
It’s 2017, and guest blogging is very much alive. True, guest blogging has been abused to manipulate ranking, which is why Google had to address it, but it is still a valid way of improving your website’s visibility online.
So how do you know if your competitors use guest blogging? Simply inspect the author bio section of a few posts. Companies are usually transparent about this. You will either see a disclaimer stating the post has been generated by a contributor, or you’ll be able to tell from reading the author bio that the writer is not part of the company.
Again, with the help of BuzzSumo you can easily build a list of potential contributors. You can find the number of posts they published and can look into how well these posts performed, including how many links each post acquired and how many social shares they got. See example below:
With the help of this data, you can weed out poorly performing bloggers, and connect with the ones you decide will be the best fit for your blog.
What Kind of Topics Do They Write About, and Which Ones Perform Best?
Sometimes, inspiration doesn’t come when you need it the most. This is where your competitors could be another source of inspiration and creativity.
In order to learn more about what kind of topics your competition likes to write about, simply review their blog. You can make a list of post titles in Excel and later look for a pattern, such as writing habits, post type preference (e.g. how-to’s), or preferred topics. You can then analyze which words and phrases appear the most in their post titles by reviewing your list or using a word density tool.
At first, it does sound tedious ,but you can simplify this process by using a text analyzer tool that will automatically group these words and phrases for you. In the example below, I found that the most commonly used phrases are “how to”, “guide to”, or “ways to.”
What Kind of Posts are Considered Best Performing?
Social shares and backlinks are by far the best indications of post performance. However, use social shares with caution! Pay close attention to the number of referring domains. Research has proven that the social shares have no correlation with links. Research conducted by Moz and Steve Rayson proves why content virality doesn’t guarantee you links or exposure.
In the screenshot below you can see that the posts with the highest number of links often have a relatively low number of social shares:
Tip: take a look at how well posts that use infographics are performing. An infographic explaining why you need to focus on video marketing in 2017 got an impressive 4112 social shares, earning it 150 links. Not bad at all! According to Nielsen Norman Group research, “users pay close attention to information-carrying images with content that’s relevant to the task at hand”. While infographics may cost more to create, they have a better value per reader compared to a regular blog post.
Digital marketers should never neglect the power of a data-driven decision approach. This is especially true when it comes to a process like building a solid content marketing strategy. This will require time and money to do it right, but it will pay off. Hopefully this will inspire you to create something that is witty and original, and will make your content marketing campaigns blow your readers minds!