Competition is fierce in business nowadays, especially online. But here are some tips and tools to get ahead of those competitors through some basic digital reconnaissance.
Okay, we all know the scenario.
We come online to make some money within a niche or industry and NEED to know what’s going on in the marketplace – to find out what our competitors are doing. But where do we start?
It’s not enough to find out what your potential customers’ needs and wants are.
You need to know who are the businesses that are currently meeting those needs and wants, and how they go about doing so.
Added research yes.
Added work to your already mounting pile of daily tasks, also yes. Though you’ll gather so much important ‘intelligence’ in the process, you cannot push this aside.
Because thereafter you’ll be able to statistically determine what your competitive advantage could, but more importantly, should be.
And just as business guru Jack Welch once said: “If you don’t have a competitive advantage, you don’t compete.”
But we’ll keep competitive advantage for another rainy day. Let’s dive straight into competitor reconnaissance, where the first task is to find 5 of the biggest players in the field.
Then look at how your website is doing relative to those of your competitors.
There are plenty of grading sites that will look at your website alongside those of your competitors to see how you’re doing with everything on there.
I’d suggest using the website “Grader” by HubSpot to find out.
Social media is also another good place to start. Determining how much Facebook fans, how many followers on Twitter and Google+, and how people are connected to that business will give you an idea of their business size.
You’ll also be able to see precisely who these people are with a general idea of their interests and why they are loyal to these businesses. The “Facebook Ads” function is also a great place to do some reconnaissance because you can look up the number of interested users by typing in a business or website name.
Another important area to recon is of course Traffic.
The number of unique visitors and pageviews a website generates both give you a huge idea of how your competitors may be doing in terms of the numbers coming in, and how long visitors staying on the website browsing through pages.
There are plenty of websites that offer such services such as “Alexa”, and you’d be a fool not to check this out.
Whilst we’re on the topic of traffic, we wouldn’t be making the most of organic traffic if we didn’t look at Google.
Therefore, do your keyword research.
Also, look at who are appearing on the first 3 pages with your keywords.
The right-hand side and the sponsored results will also give you an idea of who the main players are. You can actually find out how companies are doing through a tool called “SEO Book” alongside “Google Adwords.”
I’ll finish off with links because it’s one of the most important when it comes to rankings.
There are free services and software products that can determine how many backlinks a website has.
By knowing this, you’ll be able to find out exactly how many links you’ll need to get further up the ranking ladder and get more of your products or services seen before those of your competitors.
Use “Market Samurai” for this purpose amongst the many other functions related to SEO that this tool provides.
That’s pretty much it.
The people that tell you that it doesn’t matter what your competitors are doing are bad at business, and are even worse at digital marketing.
If you’re new in the online game, then chances are that your competitors own a large percentage of the market.
So you absolutely need to know your numbers in the market.
If you’re a fan of sports, you’ll know that the individuals or teams that go into a competition or game without researching their opponents – without knowing their opponents’ strengths and weaknesses at the very least – will end up on the losing side.
Especially if they’re the least skilled (or least talented) of the two.
This is the same when it comes to war, and any other event, duel or contest when there is competition against someone else.
But if you know your competitors, it’s a completely different ball game, and the competition becomes a much more balanced affair because you will have done your reconnaissance and will have your market intelligence.
Then the customers within touching distance.
And guess what?
Okay, it’s a lot harder to beat the competition online, but gathering the intelligence to out-think the competition is much easier than in the traditional world.
So by all means make the most of it.
NOTE: There are no affiliate links within this post.