How to identify your competitors

Any brand or business that fails to thoroughly research their competitors is, to some degree, trying to compete whilst blindfolded.

How to identify your competitors

Any brand or business that fails to thoroughly research their competitors is, to some degree, trying to compete whilst blindfolded. If you do not know who you are up against, then how do you know how to make sure that you truly stand out from the crowd, and differentiate yourself in what you say and do?

There may be physical aspects of your own business which are ‘immovable’ (or at least cannot be easily modified without significant cost and inconvenience), but when it comes to marketing, particularly digital campaigns, you have the flexibility to adapt and adjust to what your competitors are doing and ensure that you reign supreme! 

Making sure that our clients shine is a top priority here at Greyhive. As their trusted communications agency (and SEO gurus), it is our job to make sure that their competition’s activities don’t come as a surprise and – more importantly – that our clients’ businesses rank higher in searches and get to those customers first!

There are 2 main stages to keeping up with, and overtaking, your competitors and these are as follows: -

Stage 1. – Who are my competitors?

When you ask yourself ‘Who are my competitors?’ what you really should be thinking is ‘Who are my REAL competitors?’. Yes, it’s important to know who else produces the same products or provides the same services as you do, but it’s also essential to know who does it BEST. Nowhere is this knowledge more valuable than in the world of Digital Marketing. Delving into a competitor’s ‘online life’ can provide you with precious detail to shape your own digital activity. What’s even better, thanks to profile information, visible engagement stats etc. your snooping is actually above board, practically encouraged!

Start ‘low key’ with a Google search using the keywords you’ve opted for yourself. The first few pages of search results will reveal the ‘leaders in the pack’ within your competition. Take note of their attention-grabbing position and see how they’ve got there – is it to do with their highly-relevant title tags and enticing metadata? They’re definitely doing something right and you need to find out more.

Stage 2. – How can I find out exactly what my competitors are doing?

Social Media pages are a great source of information. Think about the platforms used, the nature of the posts, posting frequency and, of course, the level of engagement they are achieving. This has the added bonus of giving some particularly useful insights into your target market, what makes them tick and the pain points they are experiencing. We’re not saying that your competitors will be doing anything wildly different from you, but their activities will provide a good benchmark to work with.

The platforms themselves are happy to lend a helping hand on this front and have provided analysis tools to help you check out the competition – e.g. Linked-In’s Competitor Analysis Tool, Facebook’s Pages to Watch.

Google Alerts are another great free tool you can use to get immediate updates on activity within your chosen area/market/subject. You’ll see what the hot topics of discussion are, who’s saying what and what content is being shared. Even if you find yourself privy to the odd piece of uninteresting chat, this is a convenient way to see how your posting frequency, content and engagement measure up to your competitors.

SEMrush is another must-have in our arsenal of digital marketing tools. When it comes to keywords and SEO strategies, SEMrush will dish the dirt on who’s doing what and can therefore be a very useful guide or sense check when initiating or reviewing your own content, communications and SEO strategies. The SEO audits provided by SEMrush will let you gauge how your campaign measures up to others, focussing on gems such as position tracking, backlink audits and organic traffic.

SpyFu provides similar intelligence to increase your understanding of where exactly you rank amongst your competitors. 

If messing around with the sites and tools above gets you hooked on what is essentially a legitimate and perfectly fair level of industrial espionage, then you might also want to check out Searchmetrics, Buzzsumo, Ahrefs and Screaming Frog. Each of these differs in the type and format of information supplied, but there will be valuable competitive digital marketing nuggets to be found within them all.

Of course, if you simply don’t have the time to spy on your competitors for yourself then Greyhive can help. We have the knowledge, we have the tools, and we have a team who will use their vast SEO and communications experience to help you stay ahead of them all.