It’s no secret that, as a business owner, it’s essential to always keep one eye on the activity of your competitors. However, with so many businesses marketing themselves in the digital world, doing this literally would be a pretty impossible task. Introducing: competitor analysis tools. As a business, you’ll find that there are lots of different tools offering many different features which (amongst other things) will help you to keep track of what your competitors are doing online, in terms of any number of digital marketing KPIs. But why do you need to track what they are doing?
The benefits of competitor analysis tools
Competitor analysis can give your brand significant advantages when it comes to making the most of your digital marketing efforts. Some of the ways in which regular competitor analysis processes can help your brand stand out in the market include:
- Highlighting opportunities for your brand
What are your competitors doing that you can also be doing? There’s no harm in using a competitor analysis in order to discover any opportunities that you might be missing. Tracking and analysing your competitors using a competitor analysis tool can be a great way to learn and be inspired by your competitors.
- Identifying any gaps or ways in which you can grab additional market share
As well as increasing market share through innovation and strengthening customer relationships, companies can also grab additional market share by analysing their competitors and acting on the results. Are your competitor’s prices lower? Could you change up your promotional tactics? Could you update/buy new products? A competitor analysis can help to bring all of these things to the fore.
- Showing you what works and what doesn’t
Seeing other people’s successes and failures in your industry can be extremely beneficial when trying to grow your business and your brand. Competitor analysis tools can provide an in-depth insight into the successes and failures of a competitor business so that you can develop a strategy with a wider knowledge of what could potentially work really well and what may fail.
- Shows you where you measure up compared to competitors
Knowing how you stack up against the competition is vital information for any business owner. Not only can you use this information to shape your marketing strategies in the short term, keeping an eye on whereabouts you are in the game can help to give you the bigger picture when it comes to improving your processes too.
What competitor analysis tools should I use?
When it comes to choosing tools to analyse competitors, it’s important that the right ones are used in order to make the analysis an effective and valuable use of your time. With hundreds of competitor analysis tools out there to use, knowing which ones to choose (depending on the specific niche you’re looking to investigate) and knowing which are going to work best for you and your brand can be difficult. In order to inform businesses that would like to track their competitors, here are three of what Hitsearch believe are some of the best competitor research tools because they offer a great balance of features across multiple channels and types of activity and have combined this with good value for money. Drumroll please…
Image: Sproutsocial.com. Here, you can see how easy it is to look into the growth of your Facebook page and compares those stats to that of your competitors.
This handy competitor research tool can give competitor insights from both Twitter and Facebook as well as Instagram with prices starting from $99 per month. In an age where social media is ranked as number one for connecting and reconnecting customers, using competitor analysis tools that look into the performance of other brands across social channels is a no-brainer. Sprout Social can enable you to gain an insight into a company’s social media presence from a number of different angles. Sprout’s competitive reports will allow users to track fundamental metrics across all social channels and then compare the data discovered against your own social profiles so that you can spot room for improvement as well as scale up the activity that works. In 2020, with brands needing to be highly sensitive to what is going on in the world, the need for a social media monitoring strategy is paramount, and Sprout Social is advantageous because rather than manually overseeing all of your social channels to ensure you’re not bypassing any comms with current or potential customers, everything from publishing to analytics can be managed from the same one-stop location. Standout features from Sprout social include:
Monitor and engage
Sprout Social’s monitor and engage feature consists of things such as a ‘smart inbox’ which combines any messages from Instagram, Twitter and Facebook all in the one place, ‘brand keywords’ which enables real-time brand monitoring across Twitter, as well as hashtag and location searches. This picks up brand mentions where your handle isn’t included and you can also use this to track mentions of your competitors to keep an eye on their activity and what people are talking about in reference to them. Better still, Sprout’s mobile app means that you can monitor social channels on-the-go, giving you the chance to engage at any given opportunity. The message spike alerts will also alert you when message volume is higher than usual – which can help you to head off any potential comms issues early. Sprout Social’s streamline approach allows you to easily stay on top of your social media game, so that you’re able to keep an eye on your competitors– highlighting their successes and failures and giving an overview of public sentiment towards them.
Plan and publish
This feature includes helpful elements such as a collaborative content calendar that various team members can see and input on, an advanced post scheduler and even cross-network audience targeting.
Listen and inform
This feature is perhaps the most useful when it comes to using competitor analysis tools that ensure your social media strategy doesn’t just match up to, but is better than, your competitor’s. Sprout Social’s listen and inform feature allows you to uncover trends and also extract actionable insights to better inform your social strategy. To do this you can use their query builder which can track fidelity results on Twitter and also add on a ‘listening’ feature which will give you access to deep social listening cross all major social channels and even blogs and forums. A business is now more capable than ever of achieving success by ‘listening in’ to what their own customers and their competitors are doing on social media and this Sprout Social feature enables you to do just that. Social listening allows businesses to ensure that they’re involved in every crucial social interaction and an investment in the tool to do this may just put you one step ahead of your competitors.
The right-hand side of Ahref’s ‘organic search’ will help you to easily see what this tool sees as your top 10 competitors. Here, you can see the top 10 competitors for organic search for topshop.com.
This SEO competitor analysis tool is ideal for anyone looking to effectively analyse their competitive market and therefore carefully plan a well-informed marketing strategy online. Their prices start from $99 per month with a start trial of just $7 which will give you full access to the features of the plan for seven days. In a nutshell, Ahrefs gives detailed insight into the links that are feeding into a site, where they came from and how they are influencing a specific page – this activity is extremely useful when analysing competitors. It can also show how recognisable a brand is online by showing us how many domains mentions the website has. There are also built-in features that estimate traffic and its value for any website you choose to review.
After creating an account and defining your competition, you can begin to use Ahrefs as an SEO competitor analysis tool. Using Ahrefs for competitor analysis can not only help you to learn what works and what doesn’t in your industry but also delve into your competitors’ strengths and replicate them for yourself as well as discover their weaknesses and capitalise on them. It will also enable you to prioritise specific SEO tasks going forward. Nobody said performing against your competitors was easy, but the insight provided by Ahrefs means that you’ll have a clear understanding of how difficult outperforming competitors in the SERPs is likely to be and can allocate budget and resource accordingly.
Useful key features of Ahrefs as a competitor analysis tool include:
Competitive keyword analysis
Using Ahrefs you can evaluate the number of keywords that a competitor ranks for. Competitors that have high-ranking websites arguably present the biggest threat to your business, so it’s important to be aware of what you’re up against! By evaluating your competitor’s organic search activity, you can spot opportunities for your own.
Competitive backlink analysis
Backlink profile of topshop.com
Ahrefs can also be used as a competitor backlink tool. It will allow you to consider both the quality and quantity of your competitor’s backlinks. Remember – don’t always take the number of backlinks as the key indicator of site strength – a high volume of spammy links can actually be damaging your competitor’s online presence, so use Ahrefs to dig deeper and discover where their quality links have come from and what activity they used to get these links.
Competitive content analysis
To get an idea of the content that is being used on your competitors’ websites and how well it is performing, you can use Ahref’s Site Explorer to find your competitors’ top pages by estimated organic traffic and begin evaluating from there. Analysing a competitor’s content is a good way of not only understanding the type of content that they’re publishing but also seeing the direction that they’re taking and whether consumers are engaging with it as a result. You can also use an advanced search in the tool’s Content Explorer feature to see how all content is performing across any competitor’s website in terms of social shares and other engagement metrics. You can use this to see what kind of content seems to work or otherwise in your sector, and can also benchmark content quality so that any pieces you produce on similar themes or topics can be made better than what is already out there.
Although some of what SEMrush can do crosses over with Ahrefs, we still consider this amongst the most useful tools to analyse competitors and at Hitsearch, we often use both to achieve a more rounded view as they seem to collect their data in some different ways. SEMrush prices start from $99.95 per month and can go up to $399.95 per month for a business subscription. Key features of SEMrush’s business subscription, which can be used to effectively analyse competitors, include:
The position tracking tool
This monitors your own and your competitors’ site’s daily rankings for any custom set of keywords. Using the position tracking tool will allow you to track and compare your rankings in multiple geographic locations on multiple different device types. It will also present you with new featured snippet opportunities.
The keyword gap tool
To avoid falling short, it’s worth looking at your own portfolio and then comparing to that of your competitors. The Keyword Gap Tool allows you to add up to five domains and compare the different types of keywords between them. This can help you understand where exactly to focus your efforts and so it is therefore useful to use this tool when planning for new activity or campaigns.
The backlink gap tool
Competitor analysis tools such as SEMrush’s backlink gap tool can make link-building for your website so much easier. The backlink gap tool will allow you to analyse the backlink profiles of up to five competitors, which can help you in identifying valuable link-building opportunities.
As well as our top three tools mentioned above, there are plenty of other tools that will offer really useful and actionable competitor insights for your business. These include Buzzsumo, Social Blade, Social Mention, Searchmetrics and Similar Web. We simply chose the main three tools we did above because we feel they offers a well-rounded view on multiple channels and the types of marketing activity that can help you understand what other businesses are doing strategy-wise.