Competitive Research: What Not to Do

Posted on: Thursday, Oct 28

Competitive Research: What Not to Do

The saying, “the customer is always right” is, well, wrong.

The same applies to your competitors.

Though we often look to them for ideas on how to get the customers we both want, that doesn’t mean their strategy is fool-proof and will apply perfectly to our own particular company.

Competitor research is a necessary part of marketing and planning, particularly SEO. However, when looking for examples of what the competitor did right, also look at what they did poorly. This can prevent you from making the same mistakes, and falling down the same pitfalls.

Below, we’ll discuss ways you can avoid competitive research that does more harm than good.

Identify your broad competitors, too.

When thinking about your competitors, you may be thinking only about your direct competitors. However, you should also be looking at less-similar competitors who are using the same SERPs and keywords. They are the ones who are digging into your traffic, so don’t forget about them. Too narrow of a search leaves these competitors out which could lead to valuable insights in terms of keywords and SERP rankings. Ideally, you should select competitors to compare that have relevant content and similar target markets, they follow SEO best practices, they rank well on SERPS, and you have the resources to directly compete.
Identify your areas of weakness.

Once you have found your competitors, it is time to take a look at your pain points. This would be content that you will analyze to see why the other brand’s content is superior. Not knowing your own weaknesses before going into competitive research is a mistake. You don’t want to emulate the competition in a way that is not compatible with your own goals or ranking. Ultimately, the things you should focus on are your business goals and content KPIs.

Find out where the competition went wrong.

A competitor may look like a great example to emulate, but first impressions can be deceiving. You might discover that they are using unethical marketing tactics that you might not notice at first glance. These may be things such has black hat link building, or posting fake reviews. Before implementing any of the strategies your competitor is using, ask yourself if they are:

  • Adhering to content strategy, SEO, and user experience best practices?
  • Does their content hold meaning and value?
  • What was the purpose behind creating this content?
  • If you implemented this idea or a similar idea, would your user experience improve?

These four questions can guide you through the process of updating your website and content to hopefully give you justification as to the reasons why you are making these changes. Make sure you are aware of the consequences and risk of these actions when considering if these changes are worthwhile and will improve your KPIs and overall goals.

Now, improve your weak points while avoiding your competitors’ pitfalls.

When overhauling your website or your content, you don’t want to skip out on doing thorough background research on your competitors. They may not be skilled marketers and you could waste time and resources on a flawed idea. Here is a quick summary of how you should prepare for competitive research:

  • Identify several direct and SERP competitors that have similar goals and target audiences, and that produce relevant content.
  • Figure out what your own pain points are and see how the competitor avoids or solves these problems.
  • Look closely at your competitors to see if their content choices, SEO, and UX line up with best practices.

If you find your website or content strategy isn’t getting the customers or the results you want, we would be happy to help you. You can reach us here or call us at 502.614.8205 for a free website analysis!

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