No matter your area of expertise, a key step in ensuring future success in a competitive field is developing an intricate understanding of what you’re up against. In the world of digital content, that means digging deep into your competition, learning their ins and outs and identifying where you can position yourself as the clear winner.
And while competitive analysis might seem like a no-brainer to the seasoned marketer, it may come as a surprise to discover all you can do with even a cursory glance at a few competing business blogs. Let’s explore eight key things any marketer can do by sizing up their competitors.
1. Determine whether your business is prepared to blog on its own.
If you’ve yet to dabble in the world of content marketing, blogging might sound like a breeze. But when you factor in a highly competitive industry, the effort required to devise an in-depth blog strategy and the time needed to churn out content on a regular basis, things will begin to seem a touch more difficult.
Before you give up hope, however, make sure to see just how much content your competitors create. Does running a competing blog seem achievable without cutting into essential everyday activities, or would it overwhelm your workday? If blogging on your own sounds like too much, there’s a simple solution: outsourcing your content work.
Marketing agencies around the world specialize in creating detailed, effective content designed to help send your business to the top of the SERP, and placing your work in the hands of such an agency drastically reduces the amount of time you’ll have to spend writing. Sure, you’ll have to settle on a blog strategy that works for you, but the time it frees up will likely prove priceless as you push your company toward success.
2. Decide what type of content you’d like to create.
For many businesses, choosing blog topics poses a genuine challenge – especially if you’re just getting started. That’s where competitive analysis comes into play. Blog inspiration is one of the most obvious benefits of combing your competition’s digital content. While it’s obviously critical to avoid overtly copying the work of a competing business, examining the types of blogs your competitors create and adapting these ideas to suit your own company is an excellent way to build a bank of blog topics that will fuel your content efforts for months (or even years) to come.
3. Determine which content prompts the most engagement.
Whipping up blog posts that sound like they’ll strike a chord with your audience is a solid starting point, but if you’re not delivering content that’s carefully designed to stimulate engagement, you’re doing content marketing all wrong. Before you start writing, scrounge competing blogs for the content that triggered the most comments and social share numbers (if they’re visible). This helps you weed out weak ideas in favor of topics that will actually serve your quest to build brand awareness.
But make sure you don’t take one successful post as in indicator that a certain style of blog means guaranteed success. Instead, explore enough competing business blogs to identify any potential patterns that suggest the appeal of a certain blog format or topic.
4. Develop an editorial calendar.
How often are you planning to post? Daily? Biweekly? Two or three times a week? If you’re still perfecting your content marketing approach, you might not even know – but rifling through the blogs of your competitors will give you a good idea of where you should be aiming in a matter of minutes. There’s a good chance that competing blogs will have different posting frequencies, but any point of reference is better than nothing.
At the same time, it’s important to remember – if a competitor posts a blog a day, that doesn’t mean you need to follow suit. Your editorial calendar will ultimately depend on a number of factors, including your company’s capabilities, your target audience, your business goals and more. This step in the process is another where it’s worth considering the benefits of outsourcing – especially if you don’t think your team is equipped to keep up with any of your competitors.
5. Identify which subjects your competitors aren’t covering – which could be your key to success.
An easy way to give your business an edge on the blogging competition is by taking note of which subjects they’re not covering that your customers may nonetheless be interested in. Creating content to fill these gaps allows you to position your company as a valuable internet resource that simply can’t be found elsewhere, essentially serving as your business blog’s unique value proposition (UVP).
Plus, don’t hesitate to cover similar topics, but be sure to flesh these articles out with additional information that your competitors missed or only vaguely addressed. Going the extra mile benefits both your audience and your website’s SEO status.
6. Identify inbound linking opportunities.
True blogging success is tough to come by without inbound links. Inbound links, also known as backlinks, are hyperlinks by other blogs and websites to your blog posts, and they’re typically earned by creating high-value content that includes compelling, in-depth information.
With the help of an analytical tool (there are plenty out there), size up a few competing blogs. Your tool of choice should allow you to identify which content has earned the most backlinks. And just like the patterns you’re apt to notice when gauging social engagement, you’re also likely to find patterns when it comes to backlinks, and you can incorporate this information into your efforts to earn links of your own.
7. Develop your company’s unique voice.
As you work your way through the blogs of longer-established competitors, you’ll probably notice that each company’s copy displays a unique voice that reflects the brand’s overall persona. In a perfect world, a brand’s voice would extend through every facet of a given company’s online presence, from their blog to their landing pages to their social media accounts.
Exploring several blogs will likely reveal significant changes between each competitor’s voice, since each business approaches their audience in a unique way, and this should come in handy as your company develops and refines its own voice. For example, while one competitor may excel with lighthearted, fun copy, you may have a more traditional audience who prefers refined, formal language.
8. Get an inside look at promotional tactics.
It’s perfectly fine to feel satisfaction after hitting the publish button on a high-quality blog post, but it’s important to remember that your work is far from over. The next step is making sure your audience can find your blog through strategic content promotion – and choosing the right promotional tactics requires a great deal of audience research.
But gauging your competitors’ online promotional efforts is an excellent starting point. Start by checking out the social media accounts of competing businesses, which, in today’s digital world, serve as essential promotional tools. Plus, sign up for mailing lists, which will help you discover how frequently newsletters, roundups and other types of content are sent out, as well as how these types of content are formatted. As with every other step of the process, copying your competitors’ tactics outright isn’t recommended, but an understanding of how these businesses operate might prove invaluable as you develop your own strategy.
Build a Content Development Plan that Works For Your Business
Analysis of your blogging competition can reveal insights that could benefit your content development and promotion strategy for years to come. But at the end of the day, always remember that your content marketing efforts should serve your business by catering to your unique audience – and that might mean straying from the path beaten by your peers.
No time to create great content that sets your company apart from the crowd? Contact a Virtucom Group content strategist today for a free 30-minute consultation, and we’ll work alongside your business to develop a strategy and create content that gets the job done.