December 3, 2014
Tis the season to focus on your own website and then get competitive by trying to absolutely demolish your competition in the rankings. Okay, so you don’t have to be overly aggressive about it, but you do have to make sure that you aren’t being nice and letting your competition grab your target audience. A content strategy is going to be the biggest way to set yourself ahead of the rest, and it’s important to continually revise this strategy while directly comparing it to your competition.
A big part of perfecting a strategy is evaluating your content as well as evaluating a competitor’s content, and fortunately it’s pretty easy to do. While worrying about your holiday marketing and traffic is certainly a priority, focusing on your content and keeping an eye on a competitor’s content is something that should always be in forefront of your mind.
Keep in mind that evaluating a competitor’s content strategy is not only so you can beat them, but also so you can learn from them. You want to see what is working and what you can apply to your own strategy (so sometimes evaluating a complimentary company’s strategy, as opposed to a competitor, is also beneficial). There are a few different aspects of a content strategy to review:
You will find that collecting this information will rely heavily on different online tools. Understanding all of these different aspects can help you see where you need take your strategy as we enter into the New Year. Below explains how to gather this data:
This is always a great first step and an easy first step. It’s not necessarily helping you compare your content vs. a competitor’s content, but it gives you the tools to know what’s happening with their content on their own website as well as around the web. When you setup an alert, each time that company name (or keyword, whichever you’re tracking) is mentioned you will get a notification in your inbox. This will help you know where to go when it comes time to run some comparisons. Below is a screenshot from Google Alerts:
As a side note, I also recommend subscribing to the company’s blog so that you can get even more notifications about what is published on their blog specifically.
Believe it or not, understanding where a competitor is earning backlinks will help you compare content. In many cases companies will actually write their content in a specific way just so they can earn links from certain influencers or other publishers. This will help you see why a competitor might be using certain keywords or certain content forms.
Of course, the biggest reason to monitor competitor backlinks is so you can see if you can earn some similar backlinks, but we’re sticking to content in this article. Visit here to learn more about the why monitoring backlinks from your competitors can be beneficial and tools that help. Below is an example from Open Site Explorer:
This will help you see what content is the most popular amongst your competitor’s audience (which is most likely your audience as well). If something is working for them socially, it may very well work for you. Pay attention to the types of content that are doing the best, analyze that content, and then try it on your own site. Keep up this monitoring and experimenting until you’re seeing similar results. Below is an example from Topsy:
Tools to Use: SocialMention, Topsy.
This is probably where you’re going to see the most value in the data you’ve gathered. Different tools can offer you different data such as the average shares by content type, average shares by network, content length, date published, and more. Essentially, what you do with these tools is run reports based on all of the data you’ve been collecting in the last three points in this article! Below is a screenshot from BuzzSumo that might help it make more sense:
Tools to Use: BuzzSumo, SimplyMeasured.
Again, this is something that you can see on a chart through one of the tools above, but it’s worth it’s own point because the way that content is being written and produced is constantly changing and making a big difference when it comes to success., reviews, and interviews are just a few other types of content that is becoming more shareable. Visit this article to learn about other types of content.
While paying special attention to these reports is crucial, you also may just want to visit the competitor’s site every once and a while and see what’s happening in terms of content and social shares on other networks that maybe aren’t part of the Big 4 (Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook). In the end, nothing is quite as successful as going out and doing a little bit of manual observation (and if you think they’re stealing your content, visit here).
Tools to Use: BuzzSumo, Simply Measured, look on your own!
Keep in mind that you shouldn’t plan to completely copy your content and be successful. While this will keep you afloat for a while and it’s great to stay on par with your competition, you have to stay creative and offer something new to audiences in order to stay on top. Others might actually be monitoring you if you’re lucky!
Do you have any more tips for comparing your content vs. a competitor’s? Let us know in the comment section below.
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