What is Competitor Analysis & How to Conduct an Audit

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11 Jan 2022
5 min read

Competitor analysis, also referred to as competitor research, is the act of performing an audit on your competitors and their websites’ content and performance. This type of audit provides a long list of benefits to digital marketers across all areas of focus- whether SEO, paid advertising, social media, or any other number of channels- but one of the most notable is that it makes our jobs easier. While it’s imperative to create your own content and develop your own brand and voice, there isn’t always a need to “reinvent the wheel”. Competitor analysis is similar to learning how to cook your favorite dish- though you need to spice it (create content) in your own style, looking up a tried and true recipe will provide the template and the background under which you’ll put it all together.

In this guide, we’ll discuss:

  • What is competitor analysis?
  • How to conduct competitor analysis
  • Benefits of strong competitor research

What Is Competitor Analysis?

Continuing with the same cooking metaphor from above, there is an easy way to understand competitor research. We cannot stress enough how important it is to create your own unique style or "flavor" of content. If you simply paraphrase what your competitors are providing, there isn't much reason for a consumer to choose your content. Being able to take a popular subject that appeals to your target audience, but add your own twist and make it a modern and more thoughtful “dish”, is what will establish you as a great “chef” (content creator).

Competitor analysis enables you to identify the key “ingredients” that make up a great “meal”, but in this instance, the ingredients are keywords, backlinks, and content formats while the meal is your website, blog, social media page, and customer outreach.

Strong research into our competitors allows us to quickly identify what works well and what doesn’t work well in our fields. This saves us a lot of wasted time in creating content that has no chance of succeeding, even if it’s made well. Because of this, it gives us more time to focus on producing content that will reach a wider audience so we are able to refine our ideas and approach as well as produce stronger material.

How to Conduct Competitor Analysis

Competitor research and analysis can be conducted in a variety of ways depending on your digital marketing channel (SEO, paid ads, social media). Before going through this process, we want to note that digital marketing tools such as Semrush and Ahrefs can help tremendously in performing this research. The first step, however, will always be the same- identify your competitors. It may seem obvious, but it’s still important to note. Without a proper definition of your direct and indirect competitors, your eventual research will not be as beneficial or comprehensive. Cast a wide net, and then refine the list down to 3-10 strong competitors.

Once you have a clear idea of your competition, the steps you can take will vary depending on your channels and goals. For SEO or Paid Ads, you’ll likely want to start with keyword research. Looking into which search terms (keywords) your competitors are ranking for and gaining traffic through will help you get a basic understanding of what you should be producing content around. If you’re in the financial sector, you may find the term [difference between roth ira and traditional ira] is widely targeted by competitors.

From there, we come to another step, which is to investigate which pages on your competitors website are ranking for that keyword. Study how the page or blog post is formatted and how often the keywords are mentioned. Are there bulleted lists (or other on-page SEO elements) throughout the content which make it more digestible for the consumer? Once you have an understanding of all of these factors, you can begin producing your content in a similar fashion, but with your unique voice or perspective on the subject.

Another technique for SEO is to conduct an audit on competitors’ backlink portfolios. This is crucial for any off-page SEO campaign because it enables you to quickly identify links to pursue. You may find a few directories to give you a quick link or maybe even a blog about your industry that could use your expert knowledge to produce a post. Once you know where to look for these links, all it takes is reaching out to these sources.

For Paid Ads, you can look into recent competitor trends and get an idea of what has been working recently, what hasn’t, and what may be a new opportunity to look into. Strong competitor analysis can save you and your clients significantly on your budget, and with all of those savings, you can get even more out of your campaign.

For Social Media, a great way to conduct this audit is to simply analyze your competitors’ pages and see what gets the most engagement. Beyond that, see what types of content formatting they’re using and which hashtags are popular. Keeping up with trends on social media will prove incredibly vital to any campaign, through any platform.

Benefits of Competitor Research

We’ve already mentioned a few of the many benefits of competitor research and analysis, but we want to make it clear why this is such an important factor in digital marketing. Below are some of the benefits of competitor analysis:

  • Save time, money, and resources
  • As we’ve alluded to but will state clearly now, this process is the quickest way to identify keywords, backlinks, content strategies, and any number of industry trends. As long as you always create content in your voice, there usually isn’t a need to reinvent the wheel- remember that it's easier to gain consumers through a channel or trend that is already popular, rather than trying to create something new with zero evidence or statistics showing it will work.
  • Identify content gaps
  • Similar to the previous point, this helps you understand where your website, blog, or social media pages are lacking. If you aren’t open or able to join trends or appeal to what your target audience wants, you’ll fall behind to brands who will.
  • Develop your voice
  • Once you know what types of content to create, you’re free to tailor and produce content in your own style because you know the consumer volume is there. This allows you to get truly creative with your voice. If all of your competitors are writing about the subject matter in the same mechanical style, take advantage of this opportunity and produce something completely unique. Be entertaining to your audience and they’ll keep coming back.
  • Establish your value proposition
  • Following the same notion from above, an understanding of what your competitors are all doing will help you differentiate your brand. You can be the entertaining outlet of an industry. You can be the brand that offers more than just the products and services in your field. You can look at the industry standard and identify ways to rise above and provide more value to your consumer base. One of the key goals of marketing is differentiation, and knowing what your competitors provide is the first step in figuring out what you can do better.
  • Measure performance benchmarks and refine goals
  • As your campaigns progress, routine competitor analysis will help you understand how you stack up against the industry leaders. From there you can set new goals and identify new ways to achieve them.

Contact Nxt Era Marketing Today

Strong competitor analysis has many benefits, but as we said, the most important is saving time, money, and resources. The best way to do this is to partner with a skilled digital marketing agency like Nxt Era Marketing. If you’re ready to elevate your brand and outperform your competition, reach out to Nxt Era Marketing today and schedule a free digital marketing consultation!

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