Our guest poster today: Kerin Foster is the Director of Content Development at SEMrush, an industry-leading service in search and PPC competitive analytics. She brings extensive knowledge and experience from the other side of search marketing and strives to provide the broadest perspective possible to achieve business goals. Kerin holds a Master’s Degree in Literacy from Columbia University and lives and works in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area.
There really is no threshold as to what you can discover when using competitive analysis. While many have heard of it, some may not even realize the many advantages competitive analysis can provide for any business, large or small. You can do things such as locate missing/new/lost keywords while comparing yourself against several competitors and domains, locating cost-per-click (CPC) trends, and much more. Technology affords you even more capabilities and extensive insight into the inner workings of your biggest competitors and aid in filling the gaps that you may not have even realized were there in the first place.
Competitive analysis is incredibly important because it removes some risk of investing time and money into a strategy you aren’t sure will work.
Competitive analysis is incredibly important because it removes some risk of investing time and money into a strategy you aren’t sure will work. In this post, I will show you a few examples about how to make data-driven business decisions using competitive insight tools available to you. (It doesn’t have to be as difficult as it might appear; from a personal standpoint, I was a bit overwhelmed by competitive analysis at first until I took the time to delve in.)
Which Keywords Should I Focus On for Competitive Analysis?
Ah, keywords. Which keywords are you bidding on in your PPC campaigns, or optimizing for in natural search? Are your competitors bidding on the same keywords, beating you in the search rankings, or profiting from others that you hadn’t even thought of? Competitive analysis will help illuminate keyword strategies your competitors are using, and, while it can be performed manually, technology can help automate the process. This analysis makes it possible to discover the keywords most likely to be successful for you. By looking at the keyword budget of your competitors month-to-month, you can also determine whether or not a keyword is converting and therefore, if it’s something that you would want to consider investing in.
Technology Aids Competitor Domain Comparison
Utilizing technology when analyzing competitors can aid and enhance your efforts in many ways. In addition to competitor keyword data, technology gives you the ability to compare several data sources (paid + natural keywords, segmented natural search traffic by product lines, etc) in one place, saving you time and offering you valuable insight when comparing competitor marketing efforts on a domain basis.
Another useful way to approach competitive research is by comparing domains for rankings in natural search and paid ad spend. While it is possible to derive some benefits from doing so with manual tools such as Excel, advanced tools in both natural and paid search can help automate the process and deepen the depth of discovery.
Historical Data Analysis
When utilizing technology, going back in time is something that you can now do in your competitive analysis efforts. Say it’s the holiday season and you want to view the habits of your competition for the previous year to help decide on your upcoming efforts. Or, you want to plan your budget accordingly and see what your competition did for an entire previous year; all it takes is a few keystrokes and a click. Taking a data-driven trip back in time to view your competitor’s modifications months or even a year earlier can be extremely useful in your own strategy.
By using competitive analysis, you can take some of the guesswork and risk out of your marketing strategy. Let your competitors test the waters for you in marketing campaigns while you watch undetected from the sidelines.
Paid Data + Natural Search = Powerful Insights
By using competitive analysis, you can take some of the guesswork and risk out of your marketing strategy. Let your competitors test the waters for you in marketing campaigns while you watch undetected from the sidelines. Take into consideration the numerous, revealing data you can examine: ranking keywords, ad copy, CPC, link profiles, budgets, ranking trends, even historical data – and the list goes on. Use the natural and paid search data available to you to watch competitor moves in real time, and learn from their successes to optimize your own campaigns as a result.
Any marketing program takes persistent assessment and a little adjustment along the way. With the way advanced marketing technology has matured, today, technology platforms can inform and streamline these paid and natural search efforts, as well as help discover new competitors and plan future marketing initiatives.