Competitor analysis is the assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of current and potential competitors. Knowing what your competitors are doing can be advantageous to your next move, it allows you to keep up with others in your niche and can give you new ideas and approaches towards your own marketing efforts. That said, watching your competitors too closely can also have its downfalls. You don’t want to become obsessed with monitoring what others are doing as you will easily lose track of your own goals.

So, how often do you check up on your competitors? Are you even aware who else is targeting the same traffic and keywords as you are? I wouldn’t suggest making competitor analysis a part of your daily routine, but every once in awhile it’s worth checking out the competition to see what opportunities and threats there are in your market.

One key rule to follow is this; be inspired, but don’t copy. When you see a competitor is doing a great job at promoting a product, it’s very easy to just do exactly the same thing. But, it’s important that whatever you do is original, doesn’t blatantly copy what another affiliate is doing and ensures your site has it’s own USP. By taking inspiration from others work, you can start thinking about how you could apply a similar approach to what you are already doing. Take a small part of their idea and turn it into something of your own.

There are a few main things I would suggest looking out for when it comes to analysing your competitors performance:

What keywords are your competitors ranking for?

You’ll struggle to find a free tool that shows you all of the keyword ranking data for your competitors. It’s also going to be difficult to get a list of keywords for a given site at the click of a button. But, with a little bit of manual research and observation you can get a pretty clear idea of where your competitors are ranking and for which keywords.

As I’ve already mentioned, this isn’t a thorough investigation into a competitors website and you don’t need to perform a competitor analysis every week. The aim of this activity is quite simply to keep an eye on what others are doing and spot any opportunities you can take advantage of.

So, to begin identifying who your competitors actually are, I recommend checking which keywords your own site is currently ranking for. Then, make a list of websites you spot ranking for the same keywords in a similar position. You’ll probably notice you have two or three main competitors who are targeting and ranking for the same keywords. By performing a handful of searches yourself, you will get a good idea of who’s ranking for each keyword you also target. You can also look at who ranks well for a keyword you are trying to rank for. This will help you identify any areas of weakness on your own website which may be stopping you from climbing up the serps.

Where are your competitors getting their backlinks from?

Now you have a good idea of who your competitors are, you can begin looking further into their marketing strategies. There’s a good chance that your competitors have done some link building so take a look at where they are getting their backlinks from. There are various paid tools you can use to find this data such as ahrefs.com, or if you want to see partial data without the cost, you can check out sites such as monitorbacklinks.com.

This data will show you where links have been obtained from and what anchor text was used for the link. You can use this to compare to your own link building efforts or to find new sites which are likely to give you a backlink, too.

What opportunities and threats can you see on your competitors website?

One of the first things you probably think of when it comes to competitor analysis is to do a SWOT analysis, and that’s my next suggestion! A SWOT analysis looks at strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and I recommend doing this on your own website as well as your competitors. Reviewing these elements will help you establish what you’re doing well and not so well on your own website, what others are doing well, what competitors are doing which you’re not and of course, anything a competitor is doing which may have a detrimental effect on your success.

This analysis will help you identify where you place against your competition, and, if you see something working well for another affiliate, it will give you ideas on new approaches or marketing methods to try yourself. It will also raise your awareness to any aggressive marketing campaigns or highly successful strategies which may impact your own performance, giving you an opportunity to cover your back.

You should place yourself in the shoes of the visitor when performing a SWOT analysis to help you identify the strengths and weaknesses of a website from their point of view. After all, it’s the visitor you’re trying to convert and not another affiliate, so bear in mind what you and your competitors are doing well to make the customer journey simple and effective.

Are your competitors active on social media? If so, what’s working well for them?

Social media is a great tool for sharing content and driving relevant users to your site. Whilst not all affiliates choose to create a presence on social media, many do and it’s worth while seeing how your competitors are making the most of their social channels. If an affiliate is relatively active on socials then chances are they will have links to their profiles on their website. Take a look at the number of followers, how frequently they post, what type of content they post and the amount of interaction they receive. You will quickly be able to identify how well they utilise their social accounts from a quick overview of their profile.

It’s also a good idea to see what content has worked well on social for your competitors as this will be a good indicator as to what sort of articles you should focus on to appeal to your target audience. You can use buzzsumo.com to see the total number of shares across the main social channels for each piece of content on your competitors site. It’s also worth running a similar check on some of the bigger industry influencers who may not be your direct competitors, but who target a similar audience as this will also help you identify new content ideas.

So, you now have a deeper understanding of where you sit against your competitors, what you’re doing better than them and what they’re doing that you can take some inspiration from.

It’s good to stay on the radar of fellow affiliates to help you stay one step ahead of the competition. A few tips to keep up to date with your competitors is to like their social pages, subscribe to their blog feed, sign up to their mailing list and set up google alerts to keep an eye on new content from your niche as a whole. This enables you to keep up to date with what your competitors are doing, without the need to perform a full competitor analysis too often.