We all know who our competitors are. Yet, most know nothing about who their competitors are.
This is because the things that used to define competition – things like proximity and size – have changed significantly with the advent of Internet marketing.
While traditional marketing methods continue to lose effectiveness, many businessowners still use them as a way to measure themselves against a competitor.
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"Look at this full page ad they put out! We need to do this!"
This flawed way of thinking is dangerous for two reasons. One, it often means you'll be spending marketing dollars on ineffective activities just because a competitor is doing so. And two, you may actually be overlooking a company that poses a much bigger threat as a competitor and not even know about it.
Why? Because you're looking in all the wrong places when it comes to analyzing competitors.
It's kinda like searching for quarters in the couch cushion when there's a 20 on the end table. Pretty silly. And a massive waste of time.
The 5 Things You Should Actually Care About
1. Traffic Rank
When it comes to driving website traffic, do you have any idea where you rank in comparison to others in your industry?
Sadly, most companies might not even know how much traffic they're actually generating, let alone how this number compares to the competition.
Well my friends, allow me to blow your mind. By utilizing Alexa – you may have heard the term "Alexa Ranking" before. ...No? Okay – you can instantly discover where your website ranks among every other site in existence. Tip: Anything under 300,000 is pretty good. Anything under 100,000 is really good. Anything lower than that and you're really rockin' it!
Now, try plugging in your competitors. How are they ranking? Do they have a lower Alexa ranking? (Lower equals better.)
If so, why? Check out their website. What are they doing to effectively drive more traffic? Start producing more content, share it through the various social media platforms and really focus on driving more visitors to your website. That's where business has moved. If your focus isn't there, it should be.
2. Indexed Pages
You know that behemoth waste of natural resources called the Yellow Pages? Well, people are utilizing search engines like Google for product and service research these days, therefore it's not Yellow Pages you should be focusing on, but rather indexed pages.
An indexed page is any page on your website – homepage, services pages, blog articles, etc. – that's been explored and visible by search engines. (Just about every page on your website.)
The more pages you have indexed, the better chance you have of getting found in search queries. Sounds pretty simple, right?
Using a marketing automation software like HubSpot, you can measure how many indexed pages you currently have in comparison to the competitors of your choosing. This is huge, as the likelihood of you getting found increases with each new indexed page.
Say you reached your hand into a 5 gallon bucket. It contains 500 purple marbles that represent your company. However, it also contains 1,300 green marbles representing your competitors. Which is more likely to be picked?
Start blogging more. A lot more. Create premium offers with corresponding landing pages. Create more pages on your site that thoroughly describe your services.
It's simply not enough to have a pretty looking homepage.
3. Linking Domains
Have you ever bought a product or service based off a referral from someone else?
If you answered yes, congratulations! You're just like everyone else in the history of everything.
It's no secret that referrals are the most powerful form of marketing. When it comes to our buying behavior, we're easily swayed by what others say or do.
This is why linking domains – websites that contain links to your website or blog articles – are a huge deal. It's a digital referral. The more you have, the more referral traffic you'll have coming through to your website.
Once again, a marketing automation software can effectively measure how many linking domains you have in comparison to your competition. If you're behind, start creating more "shareable" content in the form of blogs and ebooks. Publish on a consistent and routine basis, broadcast this content through social media, and your chances for referral links increase significantly.
4. Social Reach
As stated earlier, it's not that reach of that full page ad you should be worrying about in regards to your competitors. What you should be worried about is the power and reach of their social media presence.
In a recent study by Telefonica of 1,000 Millennials, "57% of them use search engines to find information on restaurants, nightlife, entertainment and services. Nearly as many (52%), however, said they also use social media as well."
It's nearly a split. Not only do consumers rely heavily on search engines, but they also take to social media. If you're still of the mindset that social media is "for the kids," you're wrong; it's also for your competitors.
How many Twitter followers do they have? Facebook fans? These are all pieces of your market that they're tapping in to. Granted, they may not be doing a great job of it, as simply having a ton of followers does nothing if you're not engaging with them.
Focus on building a relationship-driven following in an effort to build brand advocates. Social reach will be a determining factor moving forward when it comes to market share.
Don't leave it for your competition.
5. Keyword Performance
As stated above, Google is the new Yellow Pages. So while the importance of social media in regards to search queries has continued to grow, it's still critical that you're ranking for industry related keywords.
For instance, if you're an insurance agency located in New Haven, Conn., wouldn't you want to rank on the first page – preferably the first result – when prospects are searching for "insurance agencies in New Haven"? Of course you would.
Now if your competitors are ranking higher for important industry keywords like that, it's a concern. Why? According to MarketShareHitsLink.com, 75% of Internet users never scroll past the first page of search results.
Competition that's Real
Stop worrying about those full page print ads. You don't need them.
Instead, focus on how powerful an online presence you have in comparison to your competitors, as this is where business is moving. More and more people make buying decisions – and purchases – online than at any other time. This will only increase as technology makes it even easier for consumers to do so.
Focus on competitors that are real in the sense that their online presence is posing a threat.