When planning your online marketing strategy, one of the key things to investigate is: who your competitors are and what does their online presence look like? Knowing who you are up against online not only allows you to make informed online marketing decisions, but it also enables you to identify gaps and new opportunities for your business.
What are the benefits of knowing who are you competitors are?
- Undertaking competitor research can help you to identify what content is working well by seeing which competitor pages and content types rank on search engines like Google.
- You can get a better understanding of the coverage each competitor is getting on search engines in comparison to your own business, so you can see potential gaps in your own web presence (like missing social media and review sites).
- It can help you to understand where your competitors are focusing their marketing efforts – are they only bidding on certain terms in AdWords but not others? – So you can compete more effectively.
How to identify your local competitors?
If you are looking to compete with other local businesses online and get new customers, start by identifying your online competitors and what they’re doing to market themselves online.
Your competitors online might not be the same as offline.
It’s important to remember that your online competitors may be very different from your offline ones. If the shop down the street you’ve been competing with for the past 10 years doesn’t appear in Google for the search terms related to your business – then they aren’t your competitors online. An online competitor is anyone who is relevant and appears for keywords that are related to your business and niche in your local area.
Use the Google AdWords keyword planner tool.
Use the Google AdWords keyword planner tool to identify keywords that are related to your industry, business, and local area and highlight those with a good volume of monthly searches. Once you have identified a list of 10 -15 keywords, search for them on Google. Make sure you use the incognito option on Chrome here, in order to avoid receiving personalized results. Make a note of what competitors of yours consistently appears in the top 10 organic search results for those keywords.
Learn who’s bidding on your brand.
It can also be very useful to discover who is bidding on branded search terms for your business. Search for your ‘brand name + a keyword’ and see who is appearing and what their PPC ads look like. Are they more compelling than yours? Do they use better ad extensions?
This information can help you to make strategic decisions about the keywords you bid on, your budget allocation and your PPC ads so you can make yours stand out. It’s important to bid on your own business name as well to ensure your ads rank for your business name keywords over your competitors’.
Make a list of your top 5 – 10 competitors.
Once you have conducted all of your research, make a list of the 5-10 competitors that consistently appear in the search results. Once you have this list it’s a good idea to visit their websites – to understand what you are up against. Ask yourself some of the following questions:
- What areas do they service?
- What products and services do they offer?
- What offers and promotions are they promoting?
- What are their prices like in comparison to yours?
- Is their website professionally-designed, and informative, and mobile-friendly?
- What marketing tactics are they trying that you aren’t?
Use online tools to find out what competitors are doing.
Once you have your list of top 5 -10 competitors, it can be useful to do some more digging around to find out more about what your competitors are doing online. Google Alerts is a free tool that you can set up to send you alerts via email every time your competitor’s business name is mentioned anywhere online.
Once you have gathered this information, you can use this to develop a strategic marketing plans and strategy to help you boost your brand above your competitors online.
If you’d like more help developing an online marketing strategy to help your local business, consider getting in touch a company of online marketing experts like ReachLocal. They can help you to identify effective ways boost your business online, so you can get a leg up over your competitors through a successful online marketing strategy driven by insights and expertise.