In any industry, it’s important to know who the competitors are, their competitive advantages, and how they’re performing in the market. One of the best ways you can get inside intel on your competitors is by performing a website analysis. This doesn’t even have to be an in-depth, weeks-long investigation - there are several aspects we’ll cover that will give you plenty of insights on your industry’s competitive landscape.
Start with Competitor Website Content
The first step to a competitor audit or analysis requires no experience and no software or tools whatsoever. Simply reviewing your competitor’s website content can give you an immense amount of information:
- Navigation - First, look at their navigation. Most brands will list the most important parts of their website here, which should give you a broad sense of how your competitors prioritize their products, services, and content.
- Homepage - Again, most brands will prioritize important items on the homepage. You may find a content slider with featured products, services, events, or content.
- Products/Services Pages - There’s no better way to get a sense of exactly what your competitors are selling than by looking at their products or services pages. You’ll likely learn how they position their offerings, including features, benefits, imagery, and sometimes even cost.
- About Page - Most websites have some form of an “About” page that will give you insight on how your competitors attempt to uniquely position themselves in the market.
- Blog/News - You can often get a pulse on industry trends and happenings by looking at competitor blog posts and news releases. Many competitors will write about topics that are important to their audience on a regular basis.
- Social Media - Most of the time you can find link or icons to a competitor’s social media profiles directly from their website. Navigating to each of these profiles will help you understand where they’re targeting their audience through social networks, and how they’re speaking to them. Keep in mind, these are often the most frequently updated platforms (even more so than a competitor’s website).
Perform a Competitor Keyword Audit
Now let’s pull back the curtain a little further. Most companies want to know specifically the keywords for which their competitors appear in search rankings. At Aztek, we use several advanced SEO tools to perform competitor search research. However, you don’t need to be an expert to start scratching the surface of competitor keyword research.
- The Hoth Search Rankings - This tool allows you to see up to 100 keywords for which any site is ranking, along with rank, volume, and search trends. You do have to share your email address before receiving the report.
- Ahrefs Keyword Rank Checker - This tool will allow you to see if a site is ranking for a specific keyword. It’s a bit more manual but will give you some advanced metrics that can be useful.
Investigate a Competitor’s Paid Search Strategy
While not directly on a competitor’s website, often understanding what a competitor is bidding for through pay-per-click efforts can illuminate exactly what their strategy is. You have to pay for most of the tools used to perform this type of research, and Wordstream has published a great list of those tools.
Conversely, you can do some cursory research by building a list of common industry terms (products, services, topics, etc.) and simply performing a Google search for them. You’ll be able to see which competitors show up for each term, the messaging strategy they’re using in their ads, and the marketing strategies used in each of their landing pages.
See Who’s Referring Traffic To Your Competitor’s Websites
Backlinks (links to a website from another website) provide two very useful opportunities:
- They drive referral traffic to the website
- They provide Google and other search engines with valuable signals that build trust, thus improving search engine performance
Understanding the backlink profile of any given site can shed light on how authoritative their site is, but it can also help you identify opportunities for building your own backlinks.
Moz Link Explorer is probably the gold standard in the industry for starting to perform backlink analysis. With this (free) tool, you’ll be able to input a domain name and identify the top links to any given site. You’ll also be able to see Moz’s proprietary Domain Authority for that site, which predicts a website’s ranking potential relative to other websites.
If you’re not ready to perform a full competitor website audit yourself, you’re in luck. Aztek provides robust competitor audits that go beyond just content and SEO, but also include important factors like site speed and software usage. And we’ll use all of the fancy tools that might be just out of your price range if you’re thinking about a DIY audit!