No matter what niche you’re in you’re going to have competitors. Before you allocate valuable time and resources to competing with them you need to find their strengths so you can stay away from them and you need to find their weaknesses so you can take advantage of them. I’ll show you how to do it right now.
Step 1. Competitor Website Analysis
You can with this with competitor analysis tools. There are several of them on the market. Very few of them are free and most are a little expensive.
But there is one tool that offers some useful information totally free.
This is similarweb.com. For this example, I’m going to assume that I am planning on creating a blog about hiking trails. I did some research on Google and it looks like my biggest competitor would be these guys: alltrails.com. To be clear I have no association with these guys and I don’t know anything about them. I just randomly selected them for the purposes of showing you this example.
[NOTE: you can follow along “on screen” by watching the video above]. So all you do is put the URL into the box and get started. The rankings at the top are relative so unless you use this tool often these numbers probably won’t mean anything to you so just ignore them for now. The first thing we want to look at is this traffic overview. It gives you an estimate of the total traffic that this website receives.
Now you might be asking, where is this information come from? The answer is that this it’s an estimate based on some information from Google and information from other places. As a result of it being an estimate, it could be wrong. I have used services like this extensively and I subscribe to several of them and I often get five different results from all of them. So keep this in mind as you look at this data. My estimation is that this data is accurate 80% of the time so it’s still very very useful and that’s why I’m using it.
So you can see here that this site gets approximately 2,000,000 visits per month.
When we look at this graph it’s interesting to see that the number of visits was higher in August and then fell away over the rest of the year. This makes sense because this website is about hiking trails. If most of the customers are in the northern hemisphere they will be more likely to be visiting this site in the summer.
If we scroll down to this map we can see that in fact most of the traffic for this website is in the United States which is obviously in the northern hemisphere so the information in the graph above makes sense. Now if we look at this distribution of traffic by country, it tells me that 90% of those 2 million monthly visits are coming from the United States. That means that this is a serious competitor for me if I want to pursue the US market. It also tells me that they are not a serious competitor anywhere else in the world with the possible exception of Canada.
This next section tells us about the traffic sources. This is where the traffic came from. You can see that 76% of the traffic came from search and 17% of the traffic is direct. That’s an interesting number because the only people that will go directly to the website are people that are already familiar with the website. 2% of the traffic is referred from other websites meaning that people followed a link from another website to this website.
Now, this is where we can see more detail about the referral traffic. You can see here that the biggest source of referral traffic is this website thrilllists.com. Based on the name this sounds like a site that focuses on people that are looking for adventure. That tells me something about the customer base. On the other side of this graphic, we can see the top destination sites.
These are the websites that people go to after leaving all trails.com. The first thing we can see is that a lot of them end up going to Facebook. It’s likely that they are checking out the Facebook page of all trails.com. This is critical because it tells you that Facebook is important to this particular customer base.
A lot of people go to Google.com. In this case, it’s likely that people have gone back to Google to resume searching again. This is also interesting because it tells us that a significant proportion of people probably did not find what they were looking for so even though the site does seem to be doing a very good job there are still some people that didn’t find what they were looking for.
We can also see people going to Google Play. This obviously tells us that old trials.com must have an app for Android.
Okay now, let’s look at search in a little bit more detail. 76% of the traffic comes from search and 100% of that is organic.
This website is not spending any money on paid search advertising. We can also see which keywords are generating most of this organic traffic.
The top 2 results are in fact just the brand name search of the website. When we look at the other keywords we can see that their percentages a very very low. This is actually a very good sign for this website because it means that they are receiving a small amount of traffic from an enormous number of different keywords. This insulates them from any changes in the Google algorithm that could result in losing their ranking for a particular keyword.
Now let’s look at social. You can see the breakdown of traffic from social sources but, in this case, it doesn’t really matter because less than 2% of traffic for this site comes from social.
We can see here that this website does not do any display advertising.
This next section tells us about subdomains and folders. Sometimes this is important because some websites use subdomains extensively. For example, a lot of domains put their blog on a subdomain.
I don’t recommend doing this but if one of your competitors is doing it you need to keep this in mind when you are you looking at a competitive analysis report like this because a subdomain is considered to be different from a regular domain by some apps and tools. If the website has a lot of traffic on its domain and its subdomain then you might need to combine those numbers to get a complete picture.
This section tells us about audience interests. You can see that they’re interested in recreation and outdoor hobbies, travel, and tourism. Nothing surprising about any of that.
You can also see which other websites the customers have been visiting. This tells you a lot about what these customers are interested in.
You should obviously be familiar with all of the websites that your audience is interested in. If you’re not aware of these websites you should check them out.
This final section tells us about other competitors and similar sites.
I hope you can see how valuable this information is. It’s totally free and it only took a few minutes to walk through it but if you were about to create a website that targets people interested in hiking this information is enormously helpful and can be used to help you make better decisions.
Step 2 How To Find Out What Your Customers’ Think Of Your Competitors?
This is easy. Read reviews from customers and read the comments they make in social media and industry forums. As you read them
- How well do they solve the customer’s problem on a scale of 1-10?
- What do customers like?
- What do customers not like?
- Is it good value for money on a scale of 1-10?