7 Ways Digital Publishers Can Keep Tabs on the Competition

Oct 28, 2015

Article ImageWant to be recognised for your outstanding content? Then it's crucial you continually monitor the competition. From revealing opportunities, to highlighting failures; competitor analysis gives you invaluable insight into what works, and doesn't, as well as enables you to track how you're performing against others in the industry.

Use the seven tips below to keep a firm eye on the competition.

1.     Determine the keywords they're targeting -- A tool, like SpyFu, can reveal the keywords your competitors are targeting for paid and organic search. Once revealed, you can use this information to identify any keywords they're currently missing and jump on the opportunity to target these phrases.

2.     Track their rankings against keywords -- Once you've determined the keywords your competitors are aiming for, use an SEO ranking tool like AccuRanker to track your progress against them. You can also use the tool to see how your competitors are performing against your target keywords, if different to those above. In instances where competitors are outranking you, check out their website to see if they have produced any supporting content helping them to rank. If so, is it something (e.g. a guide) you could do better?

3.     Identify their most socially shared content -- Buzzsumo allows users to search for the most socially shared content by topic, as well as by brand. By entering a subject, or keyword, you'll be served a list of content, ordered by popularity. This allows you to see if your competitors are performing well enough to appear in this list, as well as potentially help you to identify competitors you hadn't considered before. Additionally, this tool is great for highlighting the best pieces of content produced by your known competitors. Input their URL for a list of their most shared content.

4.     Keep track of new content -- Google alerts are an easy - and free - way to monitor the competition. Set up alerts for particular keywords, to see who is regularly appearing on them, as well as branded alerts for your competitors. It's also worth creating notifications for your own branded terms, to track sentiment and manage brand reputation.

5.     Track their links -- Track any new links your competitors are getting with a tool like LinkResearchTool. Their link alert functionality will send you an email notification every time your competitor gains a new link. For any specific content pieces that have performed well for your competitors, enter the URL into Majestic. This tool will provide you with a list of domains linking to the piece; allowing you to create a potential outreach list of your own for any similar content.

6.     Stalk their social posts -- By keeping an eye on the social channels and posts of your competition, you'll gain an insight into what they're sharing, how they're talking to customers and the topics performing well - and not so well - for them. There are various ways to do this, the easiest and cheapest of which is to set up Facebook and Twitter lists. Like or follow your competitors' pages on relevant social channels (you may want to do this from a personal profile, as opposed to your business one) before organising them into lists. This way, you can easily monitor their content by clicking through to the list regularly, without having to visit their profile page, or relying on it appearing in your newsfeed organically. To track everything a competitor is posting, use a social listening tool like Hootsuite, which allows you to set up streams focusing on specific profile pages, as well as hashtags.

7.     Read their blogs -- Monitoring blog content produced by your competitors is a great way to spark ideas for content of your own. If they have a newsletter you can sign up to, do so to keep on top of their latest posts. Create rules within your inbox to ensure their emails go into specific folders, allowing you to sift through in your own time. Note down any topics doing well to help shape your own calendar. If there are any regular posts that perform well, think about how you could incorporate something similar.

From tracking your competitor's keywords and rankings, to monitoring their blog and social posts; regular competitor analysis will help you to keep on top of what's popular within your industry.

By keeping an eye on what your competitors are doing across all verticals, you'll be well on your way to ensuring your content remains stronger than the rest.

(Image courtesy of Shutterstock.)