How to Perform Market and Competitor Research for SEO and Digital Marketing

 

Why do you need to do market research and competitor analysis?

In this age of information where there are literally thousands of new competitors in every industry across the globe, it is absolutely paramount to perform detailed research into your market and competitors.

We’ve outlined an easy to follow process on how to do your own market and competitor research for your business (Click HERE to download the Ultimate Step-by-step template to market and competitor research!)

This research will help you identify what your competitors are doing with their marketing across SEOGoogle Ads (formerly AdWords), Social Media and more). This will then allow you to:

  • Identify opportunities you can leverage on to outperform or outrank your competitors
  • Identify key areas that competitors are outperforming and learn what they are doing differently
  • Uncover key threats that may have been unknown prior to the research and competitor analysis
  • Further solidify confidence in key areas of your marketing that are working well and outperforming your competitors

How To Complete Market Research

Before finding out what your competitors are doing it’s a good idea to understand your industry and key market trends to be aware of online. For example, you may regularly have down periods during the year (like air conditioning or swimming pools) and this type of research and data can help pinpoint these trends and the effect it can have on your digital marketing.

 

Business Overview

Guidance questions:

  • What key products/services do you provide?
  • What locations do your service your customers (local, national, international)?
  • What is your point of difference? (i.e. what makes your different from other businesses in the industry?)

 

What’s Trending

Find out what’s trending for these keywords (i.e. seasonal changes, changes over the past 5 few years)

  • Go to Google Trends
  • Put in key keywords that are relevant to your business (e.g. dentist, dentist CITY, financial planner)
  • Make sure you’ve selected the right target location and that you’re not reporting on a default location (e.g. USA)

 

News Articles

If relevant – it may be a good idea to review what’s being talked about in the media related to your industry and top competitors. Recent news articles can contain valuable information of awards, legislation updates and things that are likely to either provide a boost or a challenge to your business.

  • Are there currently any issues facing your industry? (e.g. legal changes and legal issues, big companies going bankrupt, downturns in the market)
  • Are there any opportunities that some businesses are taking advantage of? (e.g. changes in technology)

Identify your Target Audience & Build Customer Avatars

One of the most important steps of market research is identifying your target audience. Who do you think will benefit most from your product or service? Check out this article for more about Market Research for Small Businesses just getting started.

Segment your audience based on their location, demographics, personality traits, and buying habits. Once you’ve done that, create a customer avatar, or a made up person that might be interested in your business.

With that persona and general audience in mind, you can adjust your product, service, marketing, or price point to fit their needs. Make them realize that your business will provide them with more benefits than your competitors. While this might change what you originally had in mind, it is in your best interest to keep your audience’s needs in mind. Without them, you don’t have a business.

Perform a SWOT Analysis

Performing an analysis of your key strengths and weaknesses is a straight-forward and effective task to perform at least annually.  Some key things to keep top of mind when performing this analysis is:

  • Keep it simple – don’t overcomplicate endless lists of possibilities
  • Focus on key areas in each area, and be specific (not too generic)
  • Keep it factual (avoid opinions)
  • Be honest (don’t add things to strengths that aren’t…)

Identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats for your business and put them together in a SWOT Analysis table.

Review Your Competitors

Once the market research is complete it’s time to work out what your competitors are doing – sometimes it can feel like you don’t have any competitors because you’re so niche, but this just isn’t the case. For example, a business that specialises in a very specific type of financial planning is competing with other financial planners that offer more generic financial services (such as banks etc).

 

Identify Your Competitors

You may feel you have a good grasp on who your top competitors are, however, it is important to not miss this step. Keep these questions in mind when researching competitors:

  • Are you thinking of non-obvious competitors (e.g. where else do dollars go if not to your top specific competitors? For example for Be Media, we have obvious competitors of other digital marketing agencies, but we also compete with publishers like realestate.com.au and carsales to print, radio and outdoor advertising dollars).
  • Have you research competitors further abroad (e.g. statewide or national?)
  • Don’t overestimate that your main competitor is a major retail chain if you are a small boutique shoe store

A quick way to double check you are covering all your bases is to google key terms relevant to your business and see if there are any stand outs you may have missed.

 

Spy on Your Competitors

Now that you have identified your competitors, there is some great tools available to spy on their tactics and strategies.

  1. Google Page Speed Insights– simply enter your website (or competitors) to see the overall Google performance score. This tool also gives you specific action items to improve your mobile and desktop website speed and performance.
  2. Spy Fu– this is a very useful spy tool that shows you your competitors Google Ads performance and tactics, allows you to discover the SEO keywords your competitors are ranking for and spy on your competitors marketing strategies.
  3. SEO Quake – this is another free tool you can download and run an SEO audit of your site, examine internal and external links and compare domains and URLs in real time.

Competitor Breakdown

To understand what’s different between competitors you’ll need to analyse their businesses and digital presence. After you’ve identified 2-3 businesses to analyse, review the following:

 

Business Overview

  • Who are they?
  • What do they do? What products/services do they provide?
  • What locations do they service their customers?
  • What is their point of difference? (i.e. what makes them different from other businesses in the industry?)
  • Advanced: To go more in-depth consider looking at their on-site SEO.

 

Website Content Review

  • How is their on-site content different from your website?
  • Do they regularly update their blogs/news articles? How frequently do they update? What topics are they discussing?
  • Are they doing anything you aren’t doing?

 

SEO Structure Review

  • How are your competitors using keywords, are they included in:
    • The page title
    • The URL architecture
    • H1 Tags
    • Content
    • Internal links
    • Image alt text

Digital Presence Review

Social Media

  • How many followers/likes do they have? (FacebookInstagramTwitter)
  • How active are they? How many times are they posting?
  • What type of content are they posting?
  • Any customer engagement? (i.e. likes, comments, shares)

 

Paid Search

  • Are they using Google Ads (formerly AdWords) to drive traffic to the website? (search keywords related to their services to trigger results – it’s best to do this in the morning in case their AdWords budget runs out)
  • Are there any examples of past SEM or Display banners in SEMRush that competitors have used?

 

SEO

  • Besides reviewing the website content and SEO structure – what keywords are driving the most traffic to their website? (follow steps above in market research)
  • Website conversion optimisation– is it easy for people to convert on their website? Are there buttons to call or email the business? Enquiry forms? How does it look on mobile?

Our team loves discussing your competitors and marketing tactics to overtake them! Click HERE to arrange a time to meet with one of our strategists and get your battle plan together.

 

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