Analytics and Competitor Research Extended Blog Post
The Analytics and Competitor Research Definition:
Definition: Identifying your competitors and evaluating their strategies to determine their strengths and weaknesses relative to those of your own product or service
Why is it Important to Understand who Competitors are?
It is very important to understand the meaning of competitor research and what it can achieve. For example you can discover who your key rivals are, how they accomplish their rankings and the moves that make them successful!
I discovered the quote below and found it very relevant.
“One word… PERFORMANCE.
Just as you do for your own brand, it is YOUR job to be on top of what your competitors are doing, LISTEN and be attentive of what is being said about them. YOU need to be aware of what they are doing well and what they are doing not-so-well.” (stargroup1.com)
Search engines are useful tools to help identify your competitors. I found for example that if you simply enter ‘Avery Hill shops’ and note top 20-30 you can discover who your competitors are! It is recommended that you check all major search engines. For example Google, Bing or Yahoo! (Bing now owns Yahoo!) Ask Jeeves, Aol etc. As sometimes new information can be revealed not all search engines provide the same data in the same ranking so it is important to be thorough.
Where to Start? – Competitor Research
First it is important to look at the competitor sites yourself. What’s good and bad? What do you like? What do you hate? What doesn’t work? What annoyed you? What is the aim of the site? EVERYTHING!
What links do they have? Keywords – long tailed? “calls to action” – e.g. sign up here, buy now!
Analyse all the key metrics available to get a full understanding of what they are doing and what is working or not.
Look at other media – TV, radio, newspaper, direct mailing etc – what else are they doing?
Really try to get inside the head of your competitors!
Competitor Research – Keep an Eye on Business!
To expand your business, it is important to keep an eye on your rivals regularly. You cannot avoid the fact that they are after the same customers. If it is watched on an on going basis you get to know their behaviour and can predict what is likely to happen. Then strategies could be planned, so that you win customers (not steal) from competitors. Also there are techniques to get jobs well done for next-to-nothing!
No doubt that research projects should begin with a simple Google search or visiting rivals websites. There are also a variety of tools supplied by Google or other search engines. The following tools are very good keeping an eye on your competition.
- SpuFu – Very Good assets used to research, which keywords as well Adword items that competitors purchase
- Google offers a free tool called Google Trends. This site shows traffic and estimates country locations. It can also use the top 10 related keywords as well as giving data for fairly high traffic websites. Google also offers Insights. This can use keyword trends, hot keywords and top geographic regions by keywords.
- Google Alerts is a content monitoring service, which automatically notifies users when new content from news, web, blogs, video and or discussion groups matches a set of search terms selected by the user and stored in the Google Alerts service.
There are also some great ways (as well as cheap) to use for checking up on your competitors online or offline. A good way is to check regularly what analyst firms are announcing about the industry as well as organisations and advocacy groups. These companies are researching and studying formats to evaluate your competitors. Other sites that can be used to find information about rivals include: Alexa, Complete, Keyword Spy and Hoover.
Competitive Intelligence Analysis
Speaking to customers is one of the best as well as cheapest ways of receiving and gathering real information about competitors. Whenever you win a new customer ask them who it was that they used to use before, as well as why they switched to you. For example why they were dissatisfied with the previous supplier. If you gather enough of this information, you will become very clear on what customers prefer. You can then adjust the offers to beat the rivals.
Attending industry trade shows as well as conferences and joining industry associations can be a great way to learn about who competitors are, as well as what they offer.
Attending conventions and visiting competitors’ booths, then observing the interactions with customers and checking the quality of the products can be very helpful.
A group of people are recruited to form a panel. Their behaviour on the Internet is watched and the information is analyzed.
Data is gathered-up from different ISPs around the world. This data is combined and supplied for analysis.
Search Engine Data
Increasingly top search engines, for example Google and MSN are allowing entry to data, which they have collected. It is also free!
With Hitwise many details about your online rivals can be discovered. Using the program you will have the ability to measure the traffic that you are gaining and compare that to you competitors. It would show you at a glance the companies that you are against and you cannot only see your performance industry wise. You can also create a separate table just showing your rivals key information.
You will even be able to see where visitors go next after leaving your site!
Is a free website that shows the Traffic trends for competing websites. One site, which covers the same, is complete.com, but it offers a paid search analysis tool as well.
Shows traffic & demographic trends, as well as details and downloading a list of their top 1million websites. Overall it’s a helpful site, which I would recommend.
Is helpful for finding out the age of a site’s archive by using Wayback Machine,. Screenshots can be shown of the way that the site’s home page used to look.
Is a competitive research program, which covers AdWords, keyword value & volume and other features as well. The company, which own SEMRush also own SEOQuake, WhoRush
(Formerly AdSpy) and used to run SEODigger.
The program Ahrefs offers SERP ranking data & link data.
Searches analytics and shows keywords that send competing sites the most traffic. HitWise
Is similar to compete.com and searches analytics. The problem is it can cost from $0 (unlikely) to over $100,000!
A great site for showing keywords that competitors are buying is KeyCompete. KeywordSpy
Is also extremely good and can be used for showing keywords, but with more data!
Covers in the paid terms, showing terms of competitors, buy or rank for organic search engines.
Nine Facts that can be discovered using Google Analytics
1. How many people have been visiting your website.
2. The keywords that are being used to uncover your site on search engines.
3. Which website, passed them on them to you.
4. The first page that they saw.
5. How long they were on your site.
6. How many pages they visited.
7. The last page they were on.
8. The geographic location of your visitors.
9.Which browser the blog readers used.
The Three Important Web Analytics Outcomes
- Increasing Revenue
- Reducing The Company Costs
- Expanding Customers’ Satisfaction
Outline of a Process
It is difficult to decide, which link-building strategy to use because of how open you are to choices. A well-organised approach may help to decide which are the best choices for the website. Below is an example.
Sites That Could Link
- Noncompeting sites in your market space
- Major media sites
- Universities and colleges
- Government sites
- Sites, which link to your competitors
- Related hobbyist sites
Find Out Where Rivals Find Links
To receive a list of companies, who links to your competitors website is easy! There are several sites that you can look it up on. These are: linkscape, majesticseo, linkdiagnosis. Each of these will give you a list of your competitors’ sites.
Yahoo! Site Explorer used to be another site that showed who links to rivals, but now it has closed as it has been taken over by Bing. It isn’t a problem as the data supplied by their website didn’t ever keep up to the standards of the other website available. It was always more limited.
When you have that data, take a look at the strongest links that they have (as measured by PageRank or mozRank / mozTrust) to identify opportunities for you website.
SEO Usage and Demographics
In UK there are around 90,000 searches (and growing) on search engines every minute! Measurability, return and investment are all better online than offline.
88% of males and 86% of females in United Kingdom say they find the information that they are searching for!
Younger women are more likely than younger men to be online; older men are more likely than older women to be online: 86% of women ages 18-29 are online, compared with 80% of men that age. On the other hand, 34% of men 65 and older use the internet, compared with 21% of women that age.
A study in USA 2009 by EightFoldLogic revealed that now 78.43% of search engine traffic uses Google.
SEO can be very helpful in various forms of marketing from lead generation. Direct marketing, branding to managing one’s reputation.
Using the search data to stay on top of your brand and other results to boost brand recognition and authority.
Ensure also that you get your brand to the top of the search rankings as this has a positive impact and perceived authority for your brand.
Lead Generation: –
Use when you do not have an ecommerce transaction to rely on. In order to attract traffic you will need a good external link to other sites as well as on site optimisation with other parts of your website (with good anchor text) to ensure direction to the appropriate area.
Reputation Management: –
This is a key factor as your identity and worth is so valuable.
If for example you received negative comments you would obtain other postings higher up the search to push down the negative reviews. This is a powerful way to ensure your reputation is not harmed.
The whois site www.whorush.com shows a lot of information about websites and who created them. For example the IP address of the creators.
The Alexa tool ranks the global viewing popularity of the site you visit. When the site’s Alexa link is simply clicked on under the SEOQuake toolbar some other features from the Alexa site are shown on an official page.
Under what is called ‘Age’ it tells the viewer how old the archive of the company is. It is usually similar to the company’s age. If that section of the toolbar is clicked, it will take you to waybackmachine, where some archive screen-shots can be seen.
A lot of different features from SEMrush are featured on SEOQuake.
This is my favourite, I would recommend having a look.
I thought Spyfu.com looked highly professional, but it costs $79 month, which is very expensive. But it does have some very useful free features.
Another program that I would definitely recommend is SEOMoz! There are free trials on the website, but you need to remember to cancel! It is very expensive, so if you forget for example it goes from Pro, which is $99 month, up-to Pro Plus $199 month, up-to Pro Elite $499 month!
Another site, which gives out lots of information, is Linkdiagnosis and it is free!
It is also very expensive when you buy SEOBook. It is $300, but there is also a free 7 day trial which I am signing up for! You get quite a lot from it including you are able to download a few vouchers for top websites. Also when people who are not signed up there is a lot of information that can be read.
Another site that looks very professional is Searchengineland. I would recommend it to people, on the down side it is $199 a year, but there is a lot to see! Again if you want to sign up for the trial, you need to remember to cancel it in time!
SEO Household Usage Data
It was reported by ComScore that the number of search queries on the Internet in December 2008 was roughly 12.6 million. They also announced that on a certain day in January 2009 just fewer than 79 million people in the USA were using a search engine. The users were slightly more likely to be women than men (50.4% vs. 49.6%).
ComScore also reported that the Internet usage usually increases with a household’s income.
Below is an example:
$15,000 – $24,999 … 5,792
$25,000 – $39,999 … 16,108
$40,000 – $59,999 … 39,716
$60,000 – $74,999 … 20,947
$75,000 – $99,999 … 28,995
$ 100,000 or more … 44,627
In the ‘info’ areas of SEO people may look at your site and then leave, but there is quite a big chance that they will come back.
Internet Search Breaks-down
This test below is showing how searches on the Internet breaks-down into subjects and popularity
Social Media Connection
Twitter and Facebook can be used to search competitor’s messages! It is also good to see customer’s comments, company’s replies to their followers and supporter reactions. There is the option to see how many followers your rivals have, and then it is a good idea to try to out do those! On the social media sites you can look for business info to see if they promote discounts, share articles, fun facts, videos and photos etc
LinkedIn is also a great site for finding information about the competition! For example research, sales, company growth and graphs. Also employees should be connected to the company, you can then find out their names and other information about them
But my favourite option of all is to see what has been successful for rivals on the social media sites and then copy and improve it!
Blogs are another great idea to follow your competitors and their fans on. Through that you will hear a lot of news!
It is also a good idea to keep an eye on your competitors on Yelp or other similar social media / programs to connect with businesses. This will help you to stay one step ahead of them!
Facebook Analytics is another very well made program. It is used to analyse data from adverts which are added to Facebook.
Return on investment for social media is still mainly anecdotal – companies invest time and money to check metrics such as brand awareness reach etc. But the main benefit of social media still seems to be overwhelmingly to attract new traffic to the site.
It is still beneficial to take, as many learning’s as possible from social media and combine this with other key metrics such as on-site behaviour and offline customer data to provide a more complete picture.
How this would help you Manage your site? – Summary
Make sure that you keep your features on top form and match your competitors in quality! (If possible better!)
Ideas can also be found from your competitors!
In web analytics it is much better to offer for analysis and planning within the organisation
– BUT need context – competitive data and context from outside …
– Optimise marketing strategy
– Develop competitive advantage
– Analysis of the past – as an aid to better planning and decision making in the future
Make sure you are just as popular with users as your rivals, if you can even more so. So try to keep your eyes on them at all times!
Make sure nobody changes their mind and leaves the site without buying a product, which they were going to.
Analytics Books and Blogs – I Recommend
The analytics books, which I have recommended are the two by Aninash Kaushik. The one that I would advise most strongly would be ‘Web Analytics 2.0’, but I would also suggest his other analytics book called ‘Web Analytics An Hour A Day’.
His blog is also very helpful, sometimes more so! It could be because there is a greater variety of different subjects, so I would strongly recommend it. The blog address is www.kaushik.net.
For SEO I would recommend the blog – www.ninebyblue.com.
Additional Learnings from Lesson: –
Feedback / Comments on my presentation: –
– Liked the basic structure & content of the presentation
– Could have added more detail on analytics
– Further analysis on SEO would have been helpful
– Agree with feedback from others – this would have strengthened my research (will add to extended blog)
– The importance of clear, well structured research to really understand the market and how competitors are operating.
– This is also really useful to help you to understand how you can best structure your own site.
Other Class Member Presentations: –
– Good to experience many different styles and structures of presentation. This will help me with my future projects.
– Wide range of subjects discussed and as each person had a different topic we covered a ‘lot of ground’. This helped to build my knowledge of tools such as Google Webmaster, Ecommerce and Content Strategy.
– I also found the section on advertising through social media useful as a live example of buying an ad was demonstrated in class.