Regardless if you’re selling toys or pool supplies, you need to keep an eye on your competition by analyzing them in order to keep up with them and to keep making sales. In pre-internet days you had to find out who your local competition was and who was selling through catalogs. The emergence of the internet added another task to that list. And even though finding out who your competitors are isn’t that big of a job, keeping up with them requires some analysis know-how, man power and fortitude.
Who are your Competitors?
So how do you figure who your competitors are? To get started simply search for your main keywords and keyword phrases (toys, pool supplies) on Google (most popular search engine) and one other, like bing (as a balance) and see who comes up in the search results. Most likely you’ll see the largest most popular companies dominating the first page of the search results. While you shouldn’t just give up in wanting to compete with large corporations and ignore these results, you have to also be realistic of how and on what level you can compete with them (unless of course you’re planning to grow your company that large). That’s where more specific keywords play a role.
Sure, a lot of people will search for a generic term like ‘toys’, but people will also search for something more specific, like ‘toys for kindergardeners’ or ‘GloBonz Deluxe’ (glow-in-the-dark dinosaurs). Your next step is to search for those keyword phrases and see who comes up. Does it look like these companies are more the size of yours? Fewer larger competitors? The companies that show up for these more specific keywords is who you can realistically compete with to start. Now make a list of all the main large and small competitors from the first two result pages. Leave room for notes on each one. If you like Excel, go ahead in use that for your list, otherwise a plain text file is sufficient.
If your company shows up on the first page for your keywords, congratulations! Your next step is to analyze and optimize conversions, meaning to turn as many visitors to your site as possible into buyers (try different designs, better descriptions, different color ‘buy’ button, split testing, larger product images, smoother checkout etc.)
Competitive analysis: What are your competitors doing right?
Now that you have a list of large and small competitors, it’s time to analyze their websites. You’ll find and tools to your competitors’ and your own website in our section.
– Who is linking to them?
– Do they have articles on different websites?
– What is their presence on social media sites?
– What countries are their visitors from?
– Do they have a Pay Per Click campaigns? What keywords do they use and how effective is it?
– What is the strength of their pages based on keywords?
– Where do they advertise? What is their marketing effectiveness?
You can find out pretty much anything about another website with free and paid analytics tools. Overwhelmed? Start by trying the free tools over at or . Pick three of your main competitors, make a list and take notes. You’ll get a lot information that you may not know right away what to do with, but just stick with it. In time you’ll find that some information will be extremely useful to you, while other information might be more than you care to know, or you simply don’t have the time or personnel to analyze it and act on.
What if you don’t have time for all the analyzing and research?
First of all, if you’re serious about what you’re doing, you should take the time, or hire someone to do it. But if you’d rather get started now and you’re looking for some ‘action items’, then do this:
– Start a blog. Install a WordPress blog on your site and start writing about the products you’re selling, your business, news within your niche etc. Publish a blog post a minimum of once a week; more often is better. Be sure to use your main keywords in titles and text. You can hire someone to do this. You can also schedule the time post are being published, which is extremely helpful if you’re trying to coordinate marketing and sales efforts.
– Get started with social media. You can automate having links to your blog posts posted on Facebook, Twitter and a myriad of other social media sites. This will increase visibility across the web, even if you don’t like to personally tweet, or run a Facebook page. Of course, the more attention you pay to your ‘friends’ and ‘followers’, the more successful you’ll be. But getting set up at all is your first step.
– Set up alerts. To notify you of trends and who writes what within and about your niche, and . You’ll get an email message at a specified interval with all results related to the keywords and other parameters you input. This is a quick and easy way to give you an overview of what’s going on in your niche and also provides for topics for blog posts.
It’s easy to get anxious in trying to keep up with your competitors, but keep in mind that it’s what makes you different from others that will ultimately make you successful. Assuming you and your competitors all show up on the first page of the search results, which company will be the most successful? It’s the one that offers excellent customer service, a friendly place to visit, good product descriptions and images, a website that loads quickly, a smooth checkout experience and overall a sense of trust. And finally, as you’re diving into analyzing loads data, don’t lose sight of this most basic fact: there are real people at the other end of your internet connection.