There’s no universal template that will help you analyze your competitors from A to Z. Nor there are strict categories you need to track to reveal their full potential.
However, there are certain essential metrics and best practices on how to do competitor analysis and we will discuss them below.
Social media, SEO, and PPC competitor analysis – we have everything covered in our quick guide. So keep reading.
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How to research your competitors? Start with finding them
While identifying your competitors, you need to pay attention to where they are located, what products exactly they are selling, and who they are targeting.
For example, a jewelry store located in a small town in the USA won’t be competing with all the jewelry stores in the country. Its main competitors are similar stores located in the same town and maybe ones very close to their location.
Besides, two jewelry stores might be selling completely different products. One of them might be selling heavy gold accessories with diamonds and/or natural stones, while the other one might be selling silver accessories.
Or let’s consider furniture stores. One furniture store may be selling only products for summer cottages, the other one for apartments, the third one – for offices. The product, in general, is the same – furniture – but the competition isn’t direct.
Another example refers to who you and your potential competitor are targeting. Furniture stores selling office furniture will probably be targeting B2B companies (or maybe Office managers/CEOs of those companies). The stores selling furniture for residential houses will be working on a B2B format.
By following this principle, you will add only “the right” competitors to your list.
To actually find who your competitors are, start doing a Google search and type keywords that describe your company activities. Both organic and paid results will show companies that best match your query.
However, you should conduct a search on major social network search engines as well. A company that is your direct competitor might not be ranking well on Google. But they might appear when you search on Facebook, Instagram, etc.
If you have already added competitors to your list, let’s move forward.
Competitor analysis for marketing purposes: Social media
Many of your competitors are probably present on at least one social network. However, not all of them are regularly posting and running ads. Let’s understand how to do competitor analysis on social media no matter what platform your competitors are using:
To start with a social media competitor analysis, the first thing you need is a simple Excel doc or preferably a Google sheet.
You can download a social media competitor analysis template available for free. However, no ready-made template is ideal and you might want to remove or add a few things to adjust the template to your needs.
For example, a social media competitive analysis template by Coschedule offers to add and track the following info:
- Number of followers
- Follower growth
- Post type
- Likes per post
- Comments per post
- Shares/retweets per post
- Number of times responding to fans
- Average time it takes to respond
Influencer Marketing Hub offers their version of Social media competitive analysis sheet that contains more detailed parameters, e.g. total reach per day, post reach per day for Facebook, follower-following ratio, number of stories, story replies for Instagram, etc.
Not all businesses need to include so many details in their social media competitor analysis reports. It’s mainly suitable for companies for which social media is the main source of sales and the biggest emphasis is on social networks.
Recently we conducted a social media competitor analysis for one of our clients and included the following parameters:
- Number of followers
- Post frequency
- Post type
These parameters help understand the main patterns and get inspiration from posts types, hashtags, etc. However, the parameters aren’t fixed and they may change depending on who you conduct the competitor analysis for.
Though all major social networks offer advertising options, Facebook and Instagram are the top platforms for running ads.
Facebook Ads library allows you to analyze your competitor’s ads running on 3 platforms – Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger. To do it, visit the Facebook page of your competitor’s business and you will find the small window below:
Click See all and the window below will pop up:
Click Go to Ad Library and Facebook will tell the following things about your competitor’s ad campaigns:
- When the ad was launched,
- Whether it’s active now or not,
- What ads are active in a certain location,
- What variations the ads have (tweaks in the ad copy, image, headline),
- Which platforms the ads are running on (Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, Audience Network).
You can analyze what formats are used for the ad (image, video, etc), which locations your competitor is targeting and how ads change based on the location.
Besides, if you invest some time and do analytical work, you can discover important details that aren’t easily visible.
For example, you will learn what CTAs are included in the ads and what landing pages they are leading to. You will also learn what’s the main messaging of the ads, which industries are addressed, etc.
The good is part is that everything is free and you can turn the data into a quick report very easily.
However, even with a paid tool, you can’t learn what demographics your competitor is targeting, how much they are paying for ads, or how well the ads are performing.
Note: We have separate articles dedicated to other aspects of social media. If you are further interested in improving your social media presence, consider reading the following posts:
Competitor analysis for marketing purposes: SEO
Analyzing X company’s SEO performance is broader than you think. There are at least 15 SEO metrics that you can track on a regular basis but not all of them might be in your interests.
The format of your SEO competitor analysis again depends on what patterns you want to discover and what’s your final goal.
For example, when you are just starting out, you’d like to evaluate the whole content on your top 3-5 competitors’ websites. You might create a Google sheet and add parameters such as their
- Organic monthly traffic,
- number of organic keywords,
- top SEO keywords,
- top SEO pages,
- number of backlinks, etc.
These facts and numbers will give a broad understanding of how your competitors are performing in search engines and whether it will be easy to compete with them.
However, sometimes your goal is not to analyze a single competitor but understand who you compete with for a particular keyword.
For example, your main keyword might be “best plumbers in minneapolis“. You conduct a Google search and see the list of posts that already rank on the first page of SERP.
You might discover that your main SEO competitors are different than your direct competitors.
As for the keyword we mentioned, you will notice that the top organic results are taken by Angie’s List, Yelp, and HomeAdvisor that are review sites/service finders, not companies offering plumbing services.
If you want to beat these websites (that will be extremely hard), you should conduct an SEO analysis in another format. You should analyze top ranking results for that particular keyword:
- how long the ranked pages are,
- how much the page speed is,
- how many backlinks they have,
- what the page format is (article, guide, listicle, etc)
- what main and secondary keywords are targeted.
Thus, you will better know what type of content to develop around your target keyword to increase your chances of ranking high.
See more of our SEO-related articles below:
- 7 SEO Problems You Can Detect and Fix Right Now
- Debunking 9 SEO Myths You Might Be Still Believing In
Competitor analysis for marketing purposes: PPC
Paid ads include your competitor’s paid promotions mostly on Google (Search network and Display network) and Bing. There are at least 25 metrics that you measure your competitor’s performance, the most essential ones being
- Click-through rate
- Cost per click
- Cost per acquisition.
Besides tracking metrics, you should also analyze what keywords your competitors are bidding on and their ad groups. Thus, you will be able to discover keywords that you haven’t thought of.
With the help of a few tools, you will also be able to know what tests your competitors have conducted and what keywords haven’t worked for them.
While metrics and keywords are the most essential part of any paid ad campaign, you also want to know
- in which countries your competitors are running their ads,
- whether ads are optimized for mobile devices,
- at what hours the ads are active.
Here again, your company goals are to determine what metrics and parameters to pay closer attention to.
Here are a few paid ads-related articles you might be interested in:
- Google Search Campaigns: Standard Search vs Dynamic Search
- Fight Against Ad Fatigue: List of 10 Practical Tactics
Competitor analysis in marketing plan: Final thoughts
Competitor analysis should be the part and parcel of any marketing strategy. There’s so much you can learn from the mistakes of your competitors!
Contact the Andava team and let us combine the right competitor analysis tools with the right team of professionals to help you increase your market share.