How To Spy on Your Competitors for Your Own Success? Semrush Twitter Chat #9

Elena Terenteva

Dec 22, 20149 min read
How To Spy on Your Competitors for Your Own Success

Hello dear Semrush blog readers!

How did you like the recent Semrush Twitter Chat “How to spy on your competitors for your own success?”

I think it really was a good one — very informative, dynamic and even record hitting. The statistics speak for themselves. Seriously, every Twitter Chat is getting better and better, and it’s all because of you — our participants! We want to thank you for your interest and for all the great insights that you share!

If you haven’t had a chance to participate in one of our chats, or if you want a refresher, please enjoy this recap of Semrush Twitter Chat #9 with team members of the awesome tool RivalIQ — “How to spy on your competitors for your own success.”

Why you should you ‘spy’ on your competitors? What are the most crucial points of competitor research? How can you learn industry secrets and benefit from them?

We can’t wait to tell you!

Before we go straight to the Twitter Chat insights, I want to take a small excursus to list the different types of competitors you can analyze.

  • A direct competitor. You share the market with this type of company. You both may even sell the same product, e.g. you sell ice cream and so they.
  • An indirect competitor. This kind of company offers a different type of product but satisfies the same consumer need that your business does — like a local bus service to your taxi company.
  • A competitor you share an audience with. This type of company offers a different product, but it can replace yours and take your customers, segmenting the market and thereby segmenting your consumers. That’s why a gift shop and a flower delivery company can be competitors.

Q 1. Why should a company analyze what its competitors are doing online?

Doing business requires one to pay attention to so many different factors, there is always a chance that something will go wrong. "Learn from their mistakes, learn what they're doing better than you, find holes (missed opportunity) in their targeting" — Brandon Seymour (@Beymour).

Analyzing your competitors will help you determine what is right and wrong with each step of your strategy. So instead of making the same mistakes again and again, you should analyze best practices.

Then find the gaps in your strategy and fill them with new ideas.

Another benefit — analyzing your competitors will help you get ahead of them. You can adopt your competitor’s ideas, develop them, rethink them and turn them into something better that will help you to get to the right place.

Q 2. What steps should a company take to analyze the competition and leverage that information?

Competitive intelligence is a very big topic. You can apply competitor research to every marketing issue: from keyword research to UX.

We’ve got so many answers to this question and others that were dedicated to certain marketing areas that there is no way that we can publish all the tweets here. So we composed a check-list from all the answers.

Before you go any further, let me repeat — competitive intelligence is a very big topic. If you don’t want waste time while digging ito all the directions, remember that your analysis should be “aligned with your business’ goals.” — Rival IQ ‏@RivalIQ

So if you are ready, let's go through the whole check-list!

SEOOrganic and paid trafficOrganic (1)

Of course you’ll need some help to get all these data. For starters, “use Google Alerts, setup non-brand email and subscribe to [competitors’] blogs” — Tony Dimmock ‏@Tony_DWM And use tools!

Here’s a list of whose tweets we used:

Brandon Seymour ‏@Beymour

David Prochaska ‏@DavidProHQ

Devin ‏@DevDawg

Luke Jordan ‏@LJordanOnline

Niraj Bariya ‏@NirajBariya

Pablo López ‏@popiplo

Tony Dimmock ‏@Tony_DWM

William Harvey ‏@WilliamHarvey

Now we’ll talk more about some points from the check-list we discussed during this Semrush Twitter Chat.

Q 3. What is more important to analyze: how brands present themselves or what people are saying about them?

Let’s move to practical aspects of competitive intelligence. And the first area we’ll dig into is brand presence and reputation.

Opinions on this topic were different, but it seems like there were two distinct points of view. From one side, we’ve heard that brand presence itself is nothing without public opinion. That’s why user impression is so important.

From other side — we are not living in informational vacuum and we can’t live without market’s opinion.

Whichever way you choose, don’t forget to draw conclusions from your research. Analyzing your competitors’ online presence will help you to determine your niche, and find out similarities and differences that you can the turn into to advantages. Analyzing community opinion can help you make a list of your competitors strong and weak points.

Q 4. How can a company improve its SEO/SEM Strategy by spying on their competition?

  • Organic and paid traffic
  • Organic traffic source
  • Keywords
  • Keywords’ ranking

Keywords are the basis of SEO. Every single keyword represents someone’s intention to find relevant information or to buy something! The purpose of researching your competitors’ keywords is to figure out which ones are taking your customers away from your site.

  • Backlink portfolio

Let’s move on to backlinks. Backlink profiles have a huge influence on a website’s ranking in Google. Analyzing competitors’ backlinks will help you to find new trustworthy sources and create content plans.

Q 5. How can content marketers benefit from Competitive Research?

Yes, we all know how hard it can be to determine the right topic. But researching your competitors’ content can give you much more than just a new idea for a post. It can give you ideas for new content formats, information about frequency of new content appearance, targeted audience information and etc — all together those data can be a great help.

It’s very important to find your own unique voice and ‘language’ for speaking to your audience. So pay attention to what your competitors are saying.

Don’t forget the main purpose of competitive intelligence — to help you get ahead of your competitors.

As a content manager myself, I’d like to add that it’s also important to analyze your indirect competitors — this is how you can generate a new audience.

Q 6. What's one “Pro Tip” or best practice for Competitive Research on Social Media you would like to share?

Level of engagement is a key point. To improve audience engagement you can, first of all, analyze the content that your competitors provide.

Building a community can be tough! One secret for success — find opinion leaders that helping other companies engage audiences, promote content and drive more visits.

“Remember at the end of the day, both B2B and B2C are truly H2H (human to human)!” — Rival IQ ‏@RivalIQ

Q 7. What is a no-brainer Competitive Analysis Strategy that some marketers don't use but should?

Summing up, let’s take a look at the best tips for improving your strategy. First of all, keep in mind that researching your competitors is very time consuming. Be ready, think over the basics you want to explore, and be sure that you have enough resources.

While discussing these questions, the top three metrics were revealed. They can serve as a starting point of your analysis.

First of all — content. It’s still king, so don’t think that you are wasting your time reading competitors’ blogs or magazine articles.

Second — backlinks. We’ve talked about them a lot today, so I’m pretty sure you are already convinced that you should take a look at your competitor’s backlink profiles.

This one is hard for me to say in one word. Engagement, community relations, users’ feedback, relations with opinion leaders — all your community building efforts need to be compared with your competitor’s tactics.

That’s it for today! I hope you discovered some new techniques and came to some conclusions! We are going to take a break for the holidays, so our next Semrush Twitter Chat will be held on… We hope that your interest in these chats will not fade away, because we have great plans for the new year: new topics, advice from leading experts, giveaways and a lot of fun!

So on Wednesday, we hope you’ll join us, using #semrushchat as usual!

We wish you happy holidays! Be safe!

Author Photo
Elena Terenteva, Product Marketing Manager at Semrush. Elena has eight years public relations and journalism experience, working as a broadcasting journalist, PR/Content manager for IT and finance companies. Bookworm, poker player, good swimmer.