4 steps to a successful competitive analysis

Digital at the heart of competitive analysis…

competitive analysis - example tesla

Over the past 12 months, Internet traffic has increased by 40%*. This has obviously been accentuated by the coronavirus crisis, which has caused a large number of individuals and businesses to go digital to conduct their business. However, it should also be noted that even in ” normal ” times, Internet traffic increases every year, even if the increase is less marked.

This means that the competition between companies is becoming more and more digital every year… And this is simply because their customers are using the internet more and more every day.

Buying a house, a phone, a machine, a computer, a car… in most cases, it will happen at least partly on the Internet… if not completely via the Internet.

Think about how you bought your last phone, maybe you went to the store to buy it … but before that, didn’t you check out some reviews on the internet ? Checked out the latest models ? Saw an ad on facebook ? etc. This information has influenced your purchase.

And this is true for both B2C and B2B, even if it is true that the latter is still a little less digitalized than B2C.

First step : Identify your competitors

This is an essential step in which you will have to differentiate your competitors ” Business ” from the competitors ” SEO “. Here is an example to help you understand :

If you search the Internet ” Computer ” :

competitors analysis in the search results

You will see competitors appear ” business ” (marked with a ” X ” on the image above), that is to say competitors who could sell +/- the same thing as you and who could meet your customers’ needs.

Besides that, you will also have competitors of the type ” SEO ” (marked with a ” V “), that is to say competitors on Google but not in reality. Indeed, it is hard to imagine Wikipedia stealing your customers…

To identify your customers, the free and easiest solution is to search for your products/services directly in Google and see what comes up in the results. You will be able to see how you position yourself and who your competitors are.

Unfortunately, this technique takes time and is never exhaustive. That’s why at Semactic we use a more global approach :

A)      We identify all your potential keywords

B)      We add your real competitors (provided by yourself)

C)      We get the competitors for each of your keywords. In this way we are able to tell you exactly which competitor is the most aggressive (the one who positions himself the most on your keywords) and to follow their evolution.

Always think about exploring your competitors’ sites ; they might offer a different service, product or way of doing business than you do but that can make sense in your business or at least from an SEO perspective.

You are now ready to build your final list of competitors :

We advise you to take the 3 most aggressive competitors ” Business ” and 2 competitors ” SEO ” if it is relevant. Indeed, even if Wikipedia or similar sites won’t steal customers, they could turn them away from your content, which would reduce your visibility.

 

Second Step :
Identify and extract the right keywords 

Once you have a clear idea of who your competitors are, use the Google Keyword Finder to pull in keyword ideas. (Use as a priority competitors of type ” Business ” which are very close to your activities)

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This will allow you to begin to understand what your customers are looking for and extract lists of keywords.

I advise you to sort the keywords suggested by Google by volume and to exclude the brand name(s) of your competitors.

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This step allows you to extract a first list of keywords, make sure it is as qualitative as possible. The latter will constitute the core of the most interesting terms. Then, repeat the operation, this time by providing Google with one of the keywords in your list (or several if there are similar ones) so that Google can return other ideas, more precise to flesh out what will become your semantic analysis and the basis of any good SEO strategy.  

Once this step is completed, you will have a good view on the keywords used by your customers to search for your products/services and the number of monthly searches.

Third step : Use SEO tools to track and see how your competitors are doing

Once you know what your customers are looking for and who your competitors are, it is important to be able to compare yourself to them ; this allows you to measure the extent of the work and to set objectives.

Most SEO tools offer integrated competitive analysis, however, it is more rare to find the results in the form of a graph taking into account the search volume, position and probability of click. In other words ; a visibility score.

This is essential, otherwise if you only look at the average positions you will be biased because of low volume keywords where it is often easier to appear at the top of the results. The volume must be weighted on the basis of the position to get a reliable score.

This is the indicator we use at Semactic, with our SEO competition analysis :

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It allows you to see precisely how your company is progressing in terms of visibility for all the keywords you have defined and added in Semactic. For example, the graph below shows the progression of Semactic in SEO (in Belgium only) compared to the other big competitors on the market. And we can see that in just a few months, our SEO software has become a very visible player on Google.

To make this type of chart ; you will need :

Your list of keywords, the positions of your competitors each day (or average) on each keyword, the associated volumes and finally an estimated click rate (the latter may vary depending on whether there is the display of ads or not (SEA) -> It must therefore be dynamic). However, you can easily find standards on the Internet.

Once you have your graph of the moment ; set yourself goals ! For example : Surpass the competitor right below us in the next 3 months. Knowing that the bigger the gap, the bigger the job will be.

Also, in order to set more precise objectives, you can use certain tools such as Similarweb, although very approximate for small players, it proves to be very effective for larger sites .

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Last step : Use social networks to understand how your competitors communicate

Social networks have the advantage of allowing you to easily ” spy on your competitors “. This will give you inspiration but also perhaps other ideas on how to offer your products / services.

The easiest way is to go to facebook. You can first look at the publications on the page but you can also see the paid advertisements. They will give you excellent information on the Call to Action to use, the value propositions or the key arguments to convince.

Visit :

https://www.facebook.com/ads/library/?active_status=all&ad_type=political_and_issue_ads&country=BE&media_type=all

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Do yourself a favor, it’s free and it’s a gold mine 🙂 

Now make a file with all this information. Make sure your value proposition is compelling compared to your competitors’. Review your call to action (on your websites, in your Meta description as well as in your organic ads/posts)

Finally…

Here, in this article, we have explored from a practical point of view how to find your competitors on the web, understand what your customers are looking for and what elements to put forward on your site, your ads and for your SEO.

Now you are ready to do your competitive analysis !

If you need help or advice, please contact us.

Kevin Coppens

Sources: *
Fixed Internet use increased by 40% with containment – RTL Info

See also this article in video for more details:

https://youtu.be/MwmpQL9eJ-g
Picture of Kevin Coppens

Kevin Coppens

Kévin started his career as a financial auditor at PWC and then turned to digital marketing with a specialisation in web analytics. He was quickly entrusted with the position of Head of Analytics, which he built and developed with a view to permanent innovation. Curious and creative, Kévin is insatiable when it comes to finding new ideas for clients. His thirst for learning has led him - among other things - to self-train in coding from a young age, a skill that has become key for anyone who wants to play an active role in the digital world. An entrepreneur at heart, he created his first start-up in 2016 and follows closely everything related to the world of entrepreneurship.
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