Find Out What Your Competitors are Doing Online and Outsmart Them

One of the questions I get asked very often is, “How do I find out what my competitors are doing online? Are they promoting their business using Google Adwords, SEO, Facebook Ads or anything else?”

The reason why this is important is that by looking at what your competitors are doing, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. There’s no point in starting out campaigns as a test and having them potentially fail when you can have a look at what your competitors are doing and decide for yourself if you would like to invest money into that channel or not.

Fortunately, there are several tools to help you uncover your competitor’s online marketing activity.

One of the tools we use is SEMrush, and in this blog post, I’ll show you how to use it to get valuable information about your competitors. This will allow you to counter their strategy and outsmart them when advertising online.

To begin, open the free version of SEMrush in your browser. Copy and paste the domain name of your competitor into SEMrush, select the country the domain is in and click, “Search.”          

I have used Tentworld as an example in this blog post.

You will instantly get an overview of how the company is doing and the estimate of how much traffic the website is getting from Google.

You will be able to see both, the organic listings and the paid listings. In the figure below, you can see Tentworld’s organic traffic has dipped slightly, but remains the main source of website visitors.

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Over the six-month period, they have been investing in SEO quite significantly, while their Google Adwords spend has been flat.

SEM-stat-1

If you look at their data over a two-year period, you can observe their trending data. They have started a campaign around October 2015, which has helped them get a significant amount of traffic. In fact, they have almost doubled their traffic from January 2016 to January 2017, as you can see from the figure below.

SEM-stat-2

We’ll now delve a little deeper, and for this, I am using my paid subscription. With a paid account of SEMrush, you can get a lot more competitive insight which is otherwise very difficult to find.

For instance, you can see Tentworld is in position 1 for the keyword, “swag”, and “tentworld.” They are potentially getting a significant volume of traffic from ranking in these positions.

SEM-keyword-stat-1

You can also get a list of some other competitors that you may not know are advertising on Google.

SEM-keyword-stat-2

Drill down, and you will find the Top Paid Keywords.

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So now you can see the exact keywords your competitors are using and what they are paying Google for, which means you’re no longer guessing.

If you’re running an Adwords campaign, you get to learn a lot about the keywords your competitors are bidding on, especially if they are bidding on the keyword for a long time.

Take for example the keyword, “camping equipment.” You can get in-depth information as can be seen in the image below and also download PDF reports which will come in handy.

SEM-keyword-overview

You also get all different variations of that keyword and related keywords.

Next, you can identify who is ranking for each particular keyword and you can also see what ads competitors have been running.

SEM-organic-and-paid

If competitors have been running certain ads for a long time, then you know the ads are probably working. Either that or they don’t know what they are doing and are running non-performing ads all the time. So you can use this to give yourself a head start in creating a campaign.

When you are doing SEO, you want to find out where their backlinks are coming from because they help you rank higher in Google and Bing.

SEM-backlinks

You can click on the link to see where it is coming from and based on the page score, you know whether or not it is a powerful link. This is another opportunity to figure out what your competition is doing.

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Product Listing Ads Research (PLA Research)

PLA Research is a sneaky way of finding out what your competitors are doing online.

SEM-PLA-paid

You can see from the diagram below the ads they are running and their position in paid search.

SEM-prod-listing-ads

So, as you can see it’s an intelligent way to find out what others are advertising for and what’s actually working without having to invest time and money into expensive market research or stocking products. With this information, you can decide on what to stock, and how you are going to advertise it.

Next, you can identify what type of advertising they have been doing. For instance, you can do a search to see if they have been doing any video advertising. In this case, it does not appear that they are doing video advertising. Similarly, you can check if they have been doing display advertising.

SEM-video-stat

Another great feature of SEMrush is that you can monitor your competitors to see if they improve in rankings over time. You can also do this for your own domain.

You can choose a couple of different competitors from this market and see who has the biggest market share. You can select organic, paid or PLA. The “charts” functionality in SEMrush provides a visual representation of who has the biggest market share. In this example, it’s clear that Tentworld is only slightly larger than Wildearth.

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SEM-domain-compare

So you would research Wildearth, to see what they are doing, exactly how they are doing it and how you can leverage off that information. You can also see whether they are using Google Adwords, and what is converting for them.

This is just some of the information you can get from SEMrush. Tools such as this one should comprise an important part of your online marketing arsenal to eliminate the guesswork involved in competitor research.

What’s also important is to know how to use these tools to your advantage. Putting an eager 12-year-old behind the wheel of a Ferrari can prove to be a costly mistake. In the same way, software subscriptions can drain a company’s resources if they are not put to good use or used incorrectly.

A better option is to rely on trained professionals experienced in using the software to help you with your competitor research and design a strategy which can help you gain an advantage in your market.

If you would like help in analysing your market, identify lucrative opportunities which your competitors are ignoring, contact Think Big Online, and together we’ll find out the shortest path to your online success.

About Samuel Junghenn

Samuel Junghenn is the Managing Director of Think Big Online and has over 12 years experience in Online Marketing. He is passionate about building businesses using the power of automation and the Internet along with the thrill of motor racing.