Digital Marketing Directory – Mini Workshops
In these free mini workshops we show you how to carry out important digital marketing tasks using free, or very low cost, tools.
Your Step-By-Step Guide – How To Analyse Your Online Competitors For Free!
This short workshop looks at the important task of competitor analysis. Here’s a free and quick way to get an idea about which businesses are stealing your traffic online.
We’re going to use a free tool provided by SEMrush for this exercise. Click on the button below which will open the tool in a new tab in your browser. You can then enter your URL details and get the results. The rest of this page explains what these results mean.
For the purpose of this tutorial we’ve used a randomly selected website in the car repairs category. You should use your own web address at this point, since you want to find and evaluate your own competition, although you could put one of your competitors, or any other, websites in here instead.
Once you’ve entered your URL and clicked on the magnifying glass symbol, as follows:
you will see a screen that will look a lot like this:
Let’s take a deeper look at what information we are being given by SEMrush about this website.
The first and most important thing to look at is just how visible is your website on Google?
We can see from the above that this website has 386 “Organic” keywords. This means that there are 386 words or phrases for which Google will show this website somewhere in the top 100 positions in its search engine results pages, (SERPs).
The 418 figure that you see is the estimated number of website visitors, (Traffic) that this website will get as a result of being seen on Google for these keywords. This is an important metric and you will want to compare your results with those of your competitors – generally speaking the website with the highest “visibility” will get the lion’s share of online traffic and business.
Next we’ll look at the Paid Search section:
As you can see, there are 9 Keywords/phrases currently being used by this website for paid search campaigns on Google AdWords, (Google’s Pay Per Click advertising service). This has a monthly AdWords cost that is estimated at $17 per month – tiny but worth knowing.
Next, lets look in more detail at the Top Organic Keywords since these are the searches that will result in this website being shown to those who are making the search:
The table show us that “mobile car repairs” is the keyword that generates the most traffic to this website (9.8%) and that there are a total of 880 searches made, on average, each month for that exact phrase, (there may be many more for a “broad” version of that phrase, i.e. the same words in a different order).
You can see that this website is normally shown in position 11 for this phrase – top of page 2.
On the other hand, we can see that the website is normally shown in the number one position for the phrase “car body shop London” and “car body repairs London,” although they have lower levels of search traffic, (i.e. fewer people searching for them).
The CPC (Cost Per Click) column shows what you would have to pay, on average, for a click on Google AdWords were you to run an ad campaign with those keywords.
TOP TIP: If you find a competitor that is appearing high up in the Google natural, (Organic) search results for a particular word or phrase that is important to you then a good way to steal some of the action is to use that word/phrase in an AdWords campaign – you will normally be shown above that competitor’s natural search result. There is, of course, nothing to stop them fighting back by also using that phrase themselves in an Ad campaign.
Now on to the really good bit – how to “Discover” your online competitors
Before we start, just a note – here we refer to competitors as those websites which are taking the online traffic that you would like to have for your own website. These competitors are not necessarily the same as your “real world” competitors and may not sell the same products and services that you do.
SEMrush and other similar platforms measure the level of competitiveness by looking at the level of keyword competition between your website and those of your competitors.
Scroll down the screen a little and you will see this panel:
Here we are being told that SEMrush has found 333 competitors for our website and it has listed the top 5 for free – you would need a paid subscription if you wanted to see them all.
TOP TIP: If you click on the “View full report” button, situated at the bottom left of the table, this display will expand and show 10 results for free.
As you can see, there is a high level of competition between all of these sites but the top one, autorestore.co.uk, shares 39 common keywords with our example site. They also have 915 keywords or phrases that places them in the top 100 of Google’s results. As our example site currently only has 386 such keywords, (which is still very good), they are going to find it a challenge to compete with autorestore.co.uk.
USING THIS INFORMATION
So what can we do to take some of their traffic?
First, lets see which keywords are working best for them. Click on autorestore.co.uk (or the equivalent site in your own list), on the list above and you will see the following:
Now we can see the top 5 keywords for the main competitor, autorestore.co.uk. All 5 of them place the site at the top of Google – a very coveted position and one which will get them a ton of traffic.
Using the free version of SEMrush you can see up to 10 of these keywords, just click on the “view full report” button, bottom right of the table.
If this were your website, this would be a signal to start building up the content to include the phrases you see in the table, or your own equivalent.
You should also consider using these phrases as keywords in an AdWords campaign as this will probably place you above the top of page in the organic results.
Write blogs, webpages and other content to include these phrases in a “natural” way so that Google notices them and includes them in your indexed content.
Now let’s look at the competitor’s paid advertising activity, scroll down the page slightly to see this section:
These tables work in the same way as the organic ones we looked at before. This time we see the top 5 keywords that the competitor is using in their Google Adwords campaign, followed by their top 5 competitors for those words on Google AdWords.
As before, you can expand the view to 10 by clicking on the “view full report” button, bottom right of the table.
TOP TIP: In the paid version of SEMrush it is possible to filter out obvious sites that are not really competitors, such as ebay, Amazon and Google in the above example.
Find out what your competitors are saying in their ads.
If we want to run an ad campaign ourselves, we can even see their live ads and “borrow” ideas and wording to adapt for our own campaigns. SEMrush shows us the exact copies of their ads, in this case it is only showing 3 from a total of 217 ads that they are running, (you can see all of them with a paid subscription):
SUMMARY – What Have We Learned?
- We know how to find our online competitors – in this example, our main competitor, online, is autorestore.co.uk
- With the free version of SEMrush we can see the top 10 competitors for any website, including our own
- We know the top keywords for which people can find your competitors in Google’s search results
- We also know which keywords will lead to people finding our own website
- We know roughly how much our competitors spend on ads and which keywords they use.
- We can see copies of all of their ads and adapt our own campaigns to compete with theirs
All-in-all this is a great start to building an understanding of the online market in which you are operating. You now have a distinct advantage because you know some very useful things about your competitors campaigns and can adapt your digital marketing strategy accordingly.
Done For You Services
We know that not eveyone has time to carry out this kind of analysis – don’t worry, its just one of the many fixed-price tasks we can do for you – see our “Done For You” services page and price list.