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How to Effectively Monitor Your Competitors

Thorough insight of your industry can aid tremendously in distinguishing your business strongly from others. You and your competition mold industry trends and approaches, so it makes sense to gain insight by thoroughly monitoring your competition.

Monitoring competition has several benefits. For one, you can use a specific marketing campaign or social media strategy as a case study, without taking the risk that the competitor did by actually implementing it. By seeing what works, along with what doesn't, you can craft an enticing campaign in response.

Monitoring is a great way to maintain cutting-edge knowledge of your industry. The five methods below are a great place to start for monitoring your competitors:

Find Their Targeted Keywords

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Any viable competitor has an SEO strategy for targeting keywords, both paid and organic. Obtaining these keywords can help to identify what's missing, allowing for an opportunity to take the lead for these keywords in your industry.

SpyFu is a good tool for finding this out. When you enter your competitor's website, you see a list of their most profitable keywords. For example, a query for tech site Wired.com brings up top keywords like "hi-tech magazine," while also showing their top competition: Gizmodo, The Verge and Engadget.

These results show you useful data on how your competitors are approaching their keyword strategy. You might also see competitors you may not have been aware of.

Analyze Their Targeted Keywords

Once you have a good idea of your competition’s targeted keywords, use a tool like AccuRanker to track your comparative results over time. Regardless of the strategy you implement to rank for a certain keyword, it’s vital to check analytics over a keyword sample size to gauge your strategy’s success.

If you notice that a competitor maintains ranking for a keyword despite strong efforts on your end to take their place, check their content for reasons why. Are they doing something better? Reasons could include a well-written or comprehensive content section on their site, integrated social media engagement in the form of click-worthy giveaways and contests or a more navigable website layout.

Kissmetrics designed a useful infographic for conversion-friendly keywords, which provides nice insight into various terms, ranging from brand terms — where customers already know your brand and are specifically seeking it — to product terms related to what your product is or does. Having a good grasp of these keyword types and how they correlate with rankings can make analyzing competitors’ targeted keywords even more insightful.

Find What Makes Their Best Content Work

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Your competitors will have their share of successful content and largely dismissed content. You should review both — focus on successful content and what makes it work, and see if you can understand why their unsuccessful content did not attract results. A good barometer of “successful content” is social media engagement.

With BuzzSumo, you can enter a topic or domain and return with a listing categorized by total shares. It takes into account engagement on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+, while also offering the ability to view backlinks and shares. You can even categorize by file type, filtering infographics, articles, giveaways, guest posts, videos and interviews. It’s a tremendous tool for gaining insight into your competition’s biggest successes which you can use as inspiration or a basis for your next viral hit.

Another method to tap into content effectiveness among competition is to create a competitor map. This map will show the location of core markets and the proximity of competition to your valuable customer base. This helps you grasp your place in the market and where you may need to emphasize to retain or add customers. A well-designed competitor map can expose trends and patterns in the industry and competition you may be unaware of.

Stay Tuned With Google Alerts

Google Alerts is a great tool to use for keeping your hands on the pulse of your industry’s beating heart. Alerts notify you whenever something new is published regarding any specified keyword. You can set up alerts by language, region, sources and frequency of notification.

In addition to setting an alert for your brand — so you can promptly combat any negative press and promote any positive press — setting one for relevant industry keywords can provide you with insight and prompt reactions to emerging news. Being late to comment on certain industry news can weaken your business’ overall image if your competitors are way ahead of you. Google Alerts enables you to stay on top of things, while also ensuring that your competition isn’t running away with material or ideas and leaving you behind.

Google Alerts aids nicely in helping a business’ image appear prompt and passionate. Being days, or sometimes even hours, late to acknowledge a trend or piece of news can suggest a lack of enthusiasm compared to your competition. This timing could affect rankings and make potential leads look elsewhere.

Use Link Alerts

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Speaking of alerts, Link Alerts is similar to Google Alerts, though emphasizes links instead. This tool is a powerful way to monitor competition since it allows you to simultaneously monitor your backlinks alongside your competition’s. As your competition grows their link building campaign, it's a good idea to compile a list of sites linking to them. This will help establish a strong list of relevant contacts for outreach, next time you kick off a campaign or are seeking press.

If sites linking to your competitors are doing so because of your competitor’s content, chances are they will be interested in your content as well. This is especially true if your content is superior. Quality, original content remains a crucial element of any campaign, with it being easier to accomplish if you’re well aware of your competitor’s content. Specifically, their most successful content and who’s linking to it can provide both a starting point for assembling industry contacts, as well as providing inspiration for your own original content.

Effectively monitoring your competition is a very worthwhile process that simultaneously provides more information on your niche, while also giving insight about which types of content resonate best with your audience. It’s a combination that works for any business.

Lexie Lu

Guest Blog Author: Lexie Lu

Lexie Lu is a freelance UX designer and blogger. She keeps up with the latest web design trends and always has a cup in close proximity. She writes on Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner.

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