Content ideas and inspiration can come from anywhere. You can use your own mind, focus groups, surveys, even topic generators. But, the best and most fruitful content ideas are developed from research and data. Competitive analysis, data, and your content strategy go hand in hand.
If you want to successfully win the inbound marketing battle for your target customers, you need to learn how your top competitors use content to reach and convert people into clients. This is crucial, not only to define your position in the marketplace but also to examine if you have underused content opportunities. Opportunities that you can utilize to win over your target persona’s attention.
To do content competitive analysis and successfully use your findings to revamp your content strategy, the following five steps must be applied.
1. Discover Where the Best Content Resides
Start by inspecting what your competitors have. This is an excellent way to quickly assess whether you have missed something in your content strategy or not. Start with their websites and their structure. See what tabs they use in the menu and how they categorize their content.
Check their resources tabs, blogs, case studies and PR media and texts. When you scout a competitive website, you should check every page and leave nothing to chance. You never know where to expect quality content and where your competition brings leads into the sales funnel.
But, don’t stop with their websites. You can find lots of inspiration and gems on a blog, but what about their content distribution/social channels? Analyze their social media posts. See if they also use content curation tactics from other valuable sources.
2. Run a BuzzSumo Analysis
Once you’ve discovered where your competitors publish their best content, it’s time to conduct a thorough analysis of the links and the content. At this stage, you should focus on how much content they publish, the content frequency, effectiveness, and their content promotion strategies.
You want to know how much content your competitors create to achieve their results. Do you create more or less content than them? Check how often your competition produces blog posts, images or even videos and the space between those posts.
When you examine the frequency and quantity, it’s time to estimate the impact that your competitors’ content makes on your target customers. For that, you need to measure content engagement (likes, shares, comments). BuzzSumo is an excellent tool, that can give you an overview, of how interactive content from a given website is.
BuzzSumo allows you to easily keep track of your competitors and their content performance. For instance, you can see how their content performs when it comes to social sharing, what is shared the most, what formats work the best for your competitors, and who are boosting their content online?
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3. Recognize Their SEO Tactics
The success of your competitors is not only a result of content frequency but also how they’ve optimized their content for search engines.
You can analyze your competitors’ SEO by gauging how well they use their keywords in their page titles, URLs, H1 tags, image alt text as well as their keyword density.
To do this, you need to find their top keywords first. An excellent tool for competitive SEO analysis is Ahrefs.
Enter your competitor’s URL in the search bar.
Then, under “Organic Search”, check “Organic Keywords”.
To assess the keyword density of your competitors, use the Keyword Density Tool.
Check the density for the targeted keywords that you’ve discovered with Ahrefs.
Related: Keyword Density vs LSi in SEO
You also need to examine the backlinks of your rivals. If your competition is in the first 5-10 results of a Google search for a given keyword, chances are they have an excellent backlinking strategy.
Even Ahrefs free account will provide you with lots of insight for the top backlinks of your competitors. Make an Excel list of the best backlinks and analyze them thoroughly.
Open each link and think about how your competitors got there. Maybe it’s an excellent guest post that you also have the knowledge to develop, you could create a similar or even better article and submit it as a guest post. This is an excellent way to gauge competitive SEO tactics and learn more about how backlinking works.
4. Listen to Their Content Tone
The tone and feel of your competitors’ content can tell you a lot about their (your) target audience. Review how their content feels. Is it engaging or simply uninteresting? Do you feel it’s too technical, informal or straightforward? Is the writing complex or jargonized?
To assess the tone, you don’t need to look further than the website. For example, let’s have a look at Noah Kagan’s OkDork blog.
To start, he’s humorous, and from the moment you land on the homepage, you can tell that it’s going to be fun to read his blog. Now, let’s see how the opposite feels. Example, StoryNeedle blog.
This is a very different tone and voice for the same niche. But, it tells a lot about their target audiences and if you want to get the attention of that audience, you need to adopt some successful approaches from your competition when it comes to the tone and feel of the content.
5. Find Their Value Proposition
Your most successful rivals have something that makes them unique and distinguishable from the rest of the pack. Again, thoroughly research their websites.
The most important differentiator has to be the “Mission” statement. Mission statements present the purpose of a business to employees and organization leaders. Let’s take the InvisionApp’s mission statement as an example.
“Design Better. Faster. Together.”
If you’re in the B2B and app development space, almost every other company looks the same and offers the same content. But, InvisionApp’s mission is embodied in every page of the website and in every paragraph in their content. No wonder their blog is one of the most read in the niche.
It’s vital to look for the similar unique value propositions of your most successful competitors because that will lead you directly to their content strategy.
When you admire a piece of content, you need to reverse-engineer it all the way to the mission statement. That’s how the entire content map unravels.
Utilizing Your Insights
By knowing where you stand among your competition, you can assess whether your content strategy is on point or you need to adopt some of their profitable approaches.
It is essential to use your insight as a whole and not focus only on one aspect of your content strategy. If you’ve already come to the point where you are thinking about improving the effectiveness of your content, you need to revamp the entire content plan.
After your competitive analysis, you should come up with amazing content ideas. You need to apply those ideas and create a fresh content strategy. You have the opportunity, not only to develop a better content strategy but to outshine your rivals with even better content pieces for the target audience.
To refresh and improve your content strategy, you’ll need to revitalize your sales funnel too. This is due to the possibilities that you’ve discovered something that you haven’t addressed in your previous content strategy. You’ll test your new strategies and adjust them if you need to.
Monitor your most important metrics like page views, time spent on page and social engagement, and compare your results with your competitors to see if you’ve started to catch up and beat them at gaining the attention of consumers.
Your content strategy will not bring the desired results unless it is backed up with competitive research. Your competitors can help you with inspiration and ideas. You need to learn from companies that do better online than you.
Always dig deeper than just the website to unravel their marketing plans and discover the reasons why they’re better than you. Reach their level of success and eclipse them if you can in the process.