Hey there! Back from a fantastic lunch, and ready to get right back to it! Next up, we have Laura Lippay. Laura’s going to focus a lot on competitive analysis. It’s what she teaches in-house people to do as part of their strategy.
Why would you want to perform competitive analysis? Maybe you got hit by a panda, or maybe you just have stiff competition. Whatever the case, you need to be better than your competitors to rank and be profitable.
Competitive analysis = intelligence [I love this part because I just mentioned to Rand Fishkin yesterday afternoon that part of SEO is like intel collection.]
Competitive analysis requires balancing blind development (what you think you might need to do) with intelligent development (with what you know you need to do, based on experience, data, etc.)
Competitive Insights Toolkit
When performing competitive analysis, these are going to be your basic tools:
- Market Research
- Popularity & Sentiment Research
- Feedback data
- Grab bag (you never know what you might find)
You need to find out who’s talking and where. This will help you figure out where to advertise, and where to engage in conversations to get customers. By monitoring these conversations, you can find out what people like and dislike about your competitors. This information will come from four sources:
- From competitors
- From you
- From industry
- From customers
For an example, Laura delves into the auto industry, and sites like AutoTrader and cars.com. These are some things user want, look for, and do:
- Search Tool Need – easy and deep drill; they want data that’s easy to find, and comprehensive
- Editorial Quality – trusted experts are preferred
- Forums as a Resourse – people were leaving sites to go to forums to ask questions; consider adding forums to your site
- Non-Buyers like to browse – can you track them, keep them there, and make money off them?
Dealers want stats – Who’s browsing their site? What are they looking for?
- Download the worksheet sample template for competitive popularity analysis
- Define your competitors
- And…I missed the last one. Blogger fail. Laura’s going to be launching a site soon, and I’m sure you’ll be able to find that information there. I hope.
Compare your presence with your competitors’
Dig in, look at their sites, see what’s working and not working for them
Do the same thing with Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
In looking at the cars.com Facebook page, Laura noticed they were basically putting up three types of posts: editorial, car reviews, and stuff about themselves. Do the same thing. Spend time on competitors’ Facebook pages to see what’s working, then do it; also figure out what’s not working, and stay away from it.
Open Site Explorer
This tool can show you the number of total links to a site, linking root domains, and new social stats, which Laura loves, so you’ll want to check those out. Open Site Explorer also allows you to compare up to five sites at once.
Laura used NetBase to compile this data, but there are cheap and free ways to get similar data. As an example, she looked at celebrity sites like E! Online and TMZ. She found data regarding how people feel about the sites, both positive and negative. This data can help you change the focus and direction of your site to give your users more of what they want, and less of what they don’t
Amplicate is a free social tool that shows sentiment. It divides comments into love and hate, which makes it easy. There’s no ambiguity. Everyone gets a pretty good laugh at the comments left for AutoTrader. They’re pretty profane and passionate. A lot of people seem to really hate AutoTrader! Something to keep in mind either for personal use…or maybe they need some online reputation management.
If you look around, you can find a lot of pages created by people who hate particular brands. They can be blogs, Web pages, or even Facebook pages. Some are filled out, some aren’t. It doesn’t really matter because even the empty pages can offer important data to your research.
This tool offers a lot of information about what people like, what they don’t, but one of the most interesting features is the ideas under consideration. People can state what they don’t like about a site, and offer suggestions about how to change things. People are telling your competitors what they want, so why not offer it to them?
There may also be data about what they company is planning to implement, and what they’re not. This can be a good way to use that poaching technique Rand spoke about earlier today to build your community when they’re not getting what they want from their current communities.
Using these techniques are worthwhile, even for small sites. The worksheet to download also has some graphs that can be useful. And Laura ends her session with a slide showing a cute puppy and kitty! I think all session should end that way, don’t you?