When you’re researching building your blog, there are 6 things you need to find out about your competition with a little research.
I know, I KNOW! It sounds REALLY BORING, I get it… …but PLEASE stay with me! It’s actually pretty fascinating, and will be MASSIVELY USEFUL to you, I promise.
Having an insight into your competition can show you exactly where you need to position yourself in your niche market.
This quick research on your competition will show you what’s working for others. You absolutely NEED to know this, to identify gaps in your niche market, and see where you fit in. Also, you need to know how to differentiate yourself from the other bloggers out there, because you DO want to stand out.
Before we get into this list of actions, I have a couple things for you to think about. These things get you in the perfect mindset for this type research.
Don’t Compare Yourself to Others Out There
This research is NOT about directly comparing yourself to the competitors out there.
You’re GOING to be looking at people in your niche market that have already made it. They’ve already put in years of work, and are already making money online. If they weren’t, you wouldn’t be looking into them.
It’s 100% unfair to judge yourself and your new business in comparison to theirs.
So don’t compare yourself to them in that way, at all.
Remember, your time is coming. This competitive research is about gaining some knowledge of how things are currently being done out there, and nothing more.
Remember, your competitors were EXACTLY where you are now, once. I guarantee you they’d probably be more than happy to tell you that, too.
This is a Quest for Knowledge, not a War
When doing this research, you’re finding and observing information that’s useful to YOU.
Competitive analysis is NOT ABOUT;
- Trying to find weaknesses in the competition’s armor.
- They’re not your ‘enemy’, and you’re not trying to ‘beat’ them at anything.
- There’s more than enough money in the world to go round, so we’re not trying to take anything away from anyone.
This research is about finding out who’s already out there, to see where YOU fit into this big picture.
All you’re doing is looking through the window (pardon the pun) at how it’s being done, to find out what already works for others.
Think this way;
It is nice to have valid competition, it pushes you to do better.– Gianni Versace
Keep these things in mind.
I’ve put together a list of things you’re going to need to figure out about all the others that exist in your space, that will help you in ALL these areas.
6 Things You Need to Know About Your Competitors
Here’s what you’re going to want to figure out;
- Who your competition are.
- Where your competition are.
- How much web traffic do they get, and what keywords do they show up in search for?
- What type of content and media is being used in your niche?
- What is the most popular content on their blog?
- How do they make money?
Let’s break each one down quickly, so you know what you’re looking for.
1. Who are Your Competitors?
This is blogging, so the competition will most likely be an individual, or a group of people with a blog.
Take a look at their blog, and find out a little about them. Almost all blogs have an ‘about me’ page, which tells you a little about that person or group. It usually has a story about them, which helps sell their product or personal brand.
Read their story, figure out how it leads into, or relates to their product.
What Makes Them Different?
Being an individual, sells. No-one wants to hang out with a thousand ‘Jennifers’ or ‘Rachels’, so being different matters. People buy from people, so you need to be you.
When you’re blogging, you MUST be a ‘real’ person that people can relate to, and trust. Hopefully as you read my articles, you feel that way about me.
Learning about you competitors, should only back this up. It should also help you feel more free to be yourself. Pretty liberating, isn’t it? You don’t have to act like a stiff, and be all posh, or ‘business-like’ (whatever THAT means!) all the time. You truly CAN be YOU!
Write notes about your competitors. Especially things you liked about them, and thei about me page. Things you like or seem fun to you, about their blog. Also, write the things you disliked, or felt you wanted MORE of.
What’s Their Style?
Is there anything that sets them apart from others, and makes them different? What makes them interesting?
- Are they more presentational, or are they wild and wacky?
- Are they straight talking, or more fun and entertainment?
- Do they curse a lot, or not at all?
- Do they share a lot about their personal lives, or are they more professional and private?
Maybe you can implement something similar in the way you present your blog.
You’re not looking to replicate anything, but inspiration CAN be a good thing. Your style, is YOUR style. Seeing what others are doing may actually surprise you that you really CAN be yourself and stand out in this crowd.
When I was doing my competitive research for THIS blog, I found a lot of things I was encouraged by. I have more of a technical background and graphics knowledge than some of the other business bloggers out there. As I build this blog, I’m able to show a lot more detail in the process. I give a lot more background information, but hopefully still keep it a little more fun, because I’m a little more entertaining than some.
Is there something MISSING amongst all the boredom in your niche, that you could brighten up, or bring to the table?
Compare the way your competitors format their pages, if there are any similarities that run throughout the niche? If so, take note of them. Knowing the way blogs are designed in your niche will be useful to you.
Who are NOT your Direct Competitors?
This is just as important as the people you ARE going to be competing with.
Is there anyone working in your niche that shows up for your keywords, but you’re actually NOT directly competing with? Maybe they operate within your niche, but don’t really do what you’re going to be doing.
These could be extremely useful people to you, especially when you consider marketing, or collaborations in the future.
2. Where are your Competitors?
By ‘where are they’, I don’t mean their physical location, i.e. where they live, etc. I mean where are they online? Where do they ‘hang out’?
- Where can you find them online?
- What social media platforms do they use?
- Do they have groups they are a part of, or run?
- Where do they publish their content?
- What events do they regularly attend?
- Do they hold their own events?
- Are they public speakers at trade shows, or similar things?
Where do your competitors show up on social media, (youtube, pinterest, facebook, twitter, Instagram etc)? You may find that certain platforms could work better for your niche topic, and so you could target those platforms first. Saying this, though, it CAN be a great idea to get onto a new platform first and be the first person there in your market.
Anyway, what we’re looking for here, is to see where your competitors are currently working.
Do they all favor one social media platform more? Do a lot of them use video, or not enough of them (which means there COULD be a gap there for YOU)?
How Many Social Followers do they Have?
Go to each of their social media accounts linked from their blog, and look at how many followers they have.
If they have a group, such as a facebook group page, how many members does the group have?
It’s useful information to know what the potential size of the audience is.
3. How Much Traffic, and for What Keywords?
I love doing this research, because I feel like I’m some sort of covert spy, looking into what the competition are doing.
The great thing about the internet, is that a lot of this information is completely transparent, and easy to find out.
Head to SEMrush.com, it’s one of the most useful tools for competitive research, and also checking on how your website is working for you.
Type one your competitors domain names into the search box. Then click on ‘Organic Research’ on the left hand side of the page, in the side menu, once you see the search results.
Once that page opens, you will be able to see how much traffic that site is getting per month.
You can also see keyword metrics, such as;
- What specific keywords they rank for
- What position they are in for that keyword in the Google Rankings, and how that’s changed recently.
- Whether they rank for more or less keywords now, than they have in the past.
The free version of this site give you only the top ten results, but you can change the way the keywords are listed in order of different metrics to see more information.
You can only do up to ten searches per day. If you register for the site, you can do a few more. When you run out, you can simply go back there the next day, and do more.
Alternatively, you could sign up for SEMrush.com, which will give you amazing amounts of data about sites and keywords, including your own site.
I check SEMrush.com regularly for info on my own site, to see what I’m ranking for, and how my rankings have changed.
4. What Type of Content and Media do Your Competitors Use?
When conducting this research, one of the really important things to know is HOW your competitors communicate with their audience. Also, what sorts of media is being used in those interactions. For example, does everyone in your target niche topic mainly use video and youtube channels only, or do they use more article-based content?
Are there a lot of images, or memes being used on their blog, and their social media platforms?
Are there a lot of tutorials and articles?
Do they have training courses? If so, what do these courses cover?
On social media, do they link to long post articles mostly, or are they sending people to their youtube account with video content?
5. What is Your Competitor’s MOST Popular Content?
Knowing what attracts your target audience, is extremely useful information.
What content on your competitor’s website is most popular?
Of their content, which is shared and clicked on, the most? Check out their social media feeds, look at their posts, and see which ones were shared the most recently.
Maybe even follow them, and see which posts get the most comments in a thread.
It’s useful to know what things people are interested in, in your niche.
6. How do Your Competitors Make Money?
This is one of the MOST important questions of this research, especially when building a blog to make money.
After all, if there’s no money in this idea we’re not doing it, plain and simple.
If there’s competition out there and they’re making money, you need to know HOW they’re doing it.
- Are they using affiliate links to earn commissions when promoting other products?
- Do they promote products through product placement in their content, and get paid on the back-end, as an influencer?
- Maybe (in the example of a lifestyle blog) they get paid to attend events, or travel somewhere and write reviews about the location? Perhaps they are wearing clothing they are sponsored to wear.
- Sometimes famous blogger and influencers get paid to speak at events.
- Do they make their own products, and sell them? Maybe a merchandise line, or a product specific to their niche.
- What about courses, either in person, or online?
- Is there a subscription, or service they offer?
Knowing how your competition makes money, means you know what you can do to make money yourself, and that you’re not just wasting your time.
You may even be able to find out HOW MUCH money they make, in an income report.
Take note of absolutely every way your competition is making money.
Some of them even produce income reports and publish them for all to see. These income reports could tell you exactly which of their income streams are making them the most money.
Making Sense of it All
Knowing all the above information is extremely useful, when planning to build your blog.
It helps you understand who surrounds you, where you might fit in, and sometimes gives you insights into a gap in the market you hadn’t considered yet.
I have an extensive article on how to do all of this competitive analysis and research, as well as put it into a spreadsheet, and put together a marketing plan for your blogging or online business success.
Check it out right now, it’s right here.