How to take content inspiration from your competitors
Whatever you do, whatever industry you’re in, whatever product you’re trying to push, you will always have a competitor. Either affecting your target market indirectly or on purpose, these organisations can seem like a thorn in your side – especially if their results are better than yours.
Instead of letting their presence hang over you, there is a wealth of information to be learned from competitors. In this guide, we will demonstrate just what can be gained from analysing their content and stealing their ideas.
First, how do I identify my competitors?
If your industry is particularly niche or the company is just getting started, your competitors might be a bit of a mystery. Fortunately, here are two tactics you can use to uncover them:
A simple search in Google
Search engines such as Google can give you a general idea of the organisations you’re competing against. Just use a search term you might use to identify yourself and see what appears. These results can be narrowed down using location-specific elements or – if nothing appears – broadened out with more industry-specific terms. For example, a car dealer based locally could identify competitors by searching for ‘used cars Manchester’. Just bear in mind that this general search is an inferior method compared to a data-led approach.
As marketing professionals, data should be at the forefront of everything we do. Gut feelings can only get you so far and must be eventually replaced with statistics. There are a range of tools out there which can be used to identify competitors – such as Semrush or Stat – and these can provide valuable insights. As well as identifying your competitors, the data these tools could help provide the backbone of your marketing strategy and be a good starting point for your content research project.
What can I learn from competitor content?
Now that your competitors have been identified, there are a range of strategies and approaches we can identify. Just looking at their content, we can determine the following:
Who is my target audience?
Social media provides us with a good understanding of what resonates with your audience. Although glancing at competitor accounts can be useful, using the ‘top content’ section of ahrefs can streamline the process. This platform shows how content performs across a variety of networks. If the results of the competitor content audit demonstrates that a competitor gets most of their shares across LinkedIn, it is worth structuring content to appeal more to that target market. In a similar fashion, if a competitor gets most of its shares from Pinterest and Instagram, this suggests image-led content may the best option to connect with your audience.
How can I connect with my target audience?
Competitor social media profiles can be a great way to uncover your target audience but are also instrumental in showing how to connect with these individuals. By looking at what a company posts on Twitter, we can see the posts which gain the most attention and look to replicate them. This also presents an opportunity to review how a competitor handles customer service disputes. Time spent to acknowledge the customer, the tone of the response, the proposed resolution, all of these are useful elements to identify.
What content gets the most attention?
Shares on social media are certainly a valuable metric but backlinks are more important. A vital element of any SEO campaign, achieving these should be one of your key objectives. Using Ahrefs, you can see which of your competitors’ pages achieved the most backlinks. From there, you can determine how these were achieved. For example, if the competitor has created a resource which gathered multiple links, you can design something similar. Alternatively, create a better resource and notify those organisations about the new content. Whatever strategy a competitor has used in their content – from press mentions to sponsorship deals – this analysis will help you understand the sort of materials you should be producing.
What content can I repurpose?
Similar to the above, ahrefs can be used to identify broken backlinks pointing to a competitor site. By confirming these backlinks go to a 404 page, you might be able to identify the purpose behind the original piece.
In the case of informational content – such as guides or blogs – these can be recreated with the intention of redirecting some of these broken links. By repurposing a competitor’s broken content, you can focus on providing a resource to an already interested customer base.
Does the content have any gaps?
Taking a holistic view of the competitor’s site, you can determine if users are provided with a good experience. If you did not find the information you were looking for – such as facts relating to a product or good instructions – this provides inspiration about what to include on your own site. The opposite is also true. If a competitor provides great content about particular areas, this is something which is worth replicating.
Where can I be unique?
We have spoken a lot about replication and repurposing but analysing your competitors content also allows you to be unique. For example, if a group of competitors are thought leaders in one topic, adding your voice will not be as beneficial as identifying a unique gap which you can fill. Conveying this message to readers should help you build a following faster than if you were just another alternative.
When is the best time to publish content?
An organisation with a good content strategy will keep to a rigorous publishing schedule. Furthermore, this is usually not put together on a whim, research and time will have gone into deciding when is best to publish on what medium.
Investigate their routine and – if interaction rates are better at certain times of the day – replicate their publishing schedule. Eventually, your own content could eclipse your competitors’.
Competitor content analysis works both ways
There are a number of lessons which we can take from analysing competitor content. We have listed some here but there are more things you can discover given time and dedication. Just be aware that – once you become a major player in your industry – your competitors will start taking lessons from you.
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