So you want to know what your competitor is doing online. You're thinking, what's my competitor's SEO rank? Or maybe you're wondering if they have better digital marketing than you, or if your competition does social media better than you.
Well, you sneaky, son of gun, I've got some tips for you.
Here are five ways you can see what your competitor is doing in her digital marketing, without anybody knowing what you're up to.
Pretend you are a customer.
What's the best keyword to describe your business? That's your key to seeing how you and your competitor rank in searches. If you're a children's clothing brand you could search baby clothes, but you want to be as specific as possible, the way a customer is when she's searching online. So maybe you search "fair trade organic cotton baby socks", or better yet, "fair trade organic babies socks knitted by grandmas in Africa." Now, we're really getting down to keyword business. Use a handful of your best keywords. Who pops up in your searches will show you where you and your competitors rank for those important keyword phrases.
Spy on them.Wouldn't you love to know the keywords that are pointing searchers to your competitor's site. Keyword spy can tell you which keywords your competitor is ranking for. So who's ranking for organic cotton baby socks?
And according to Keyword Spy they rank #2 for organic clothing. Anecdotally I can tell you that they rank pretty high for cuteness too. Whook-at-da-whittle-baby...
(Note: While this keyword data is juicy, you only get a little snapshot for free.)
Ask the most important SEO question.
Do they have a blog?
No? Then they get three demerits. You don't either? Shame on you. You get five. Because you're missing an opportunity to answer the questions and solve the problems of your clients and customers. If your competition is writing about relevant topics that answer their pains and questions, you can bet they are a threat to your online market. Why? Because if you both sell widgets and they've got a weekly blog called Top Ten Widget Problems Solved and you've got diddly squat online, guess who Google's going to point your customers to when they go searching for widgets? And, reason number two, guess who's already a trusted source for all things widget? Not you. The other guy with the blog.
Check their social content.
Here are three social media indicators of a strong digital marketing influence: Content, fan base, engagement.
Content: Is your competition posting regular, relevant, non-salesy content? Are you?
If you've ever visited a company's Facebook page only to see that their last post was last spring, you know the message you received, "No one is home here. We're not really relevant." Perhaps just as bad are the repetitive posts touting their product or service. Check out this, buy that. It's like they forgot the social in the social media. Then there are the brands and companies you follow because their content is funny, helpful, inspirational, social. If your competition's social media looks human and yours looks like an ad, well, then, there you go.
Fan base: How do their fan and follower counts compare to yours?
What are their numbers on Facebook? On Twitter? What about LinkedIn and Instagram? Now all those numbers might not be important to you. Ask yourself, where is your customer or client base spending time and concentrate on those channels. If it's Twitter, are your competitor's followers real people? If it's Facebook, are they local to your area? These questions give you an idea of the relevance of these fans and followers.
Engagement: Is anybody actually talking back?
A lot of fans is great, but you can buy fans. What you can't buy is engagement. Are their posts getting a lot of likes and shares? Is your competitor responding to customer questions and interacting like a human? Are you?
Who's got better link juice?
A major component to your Google rank or SEO rank are your inbound links. Those are all the places on the web where someone is linking to you. Inbound links show search engines that you are an authority on a particular subject, especially when the site linking to you is also an authority on the subject. Remember Maggie and her cute baby socks? Well she's got some quality inbound link juice. I used an online tool called Open Site Explorer from Moz, an online marketing tool and search authority. The free version lets you see some of the top links going to a site in question.
I joked that by looking into your competitor's SEO rank that you were being sneaky. The fact is, the business owner who isn't looking at how her competitors are doing online is foolish. Knowing your important keyword phrases, how you compare on social media and the online sources linking to both you and your competitors will give you a temperature reading on both your digital standings. I suggest doing these tests, along with looking at your overall site traffic, monthly. It can be a little time consuming to use all these separate tools, but the results will be important to your longterm growth as a company.