Chapter 1 - Define your market and competitors

In all markets there are direct and indirect competitors and it is important to look at both when carrying out a competitor audit. Direct competitors offer the same product or service, and tend to be in the same geographical area as you. Indirect competitors can satisfy the same customer needs as your product or service. For example Wickes and B&Q are direct competitors offering DIY help, but interior designers are indirect competitors, they help people spruce up a house by offering soft furnishings such as cushions/blinds/curtains and they also help with painting.

Analysing your competitors helps you to identify your own Unique Selling Proposition (USP). What makes you stand out from the crowd? This is crucial to stay ahead of the market and be at the forefront of consumers when they are looking for the product or service you are offering.

Define your new market, you may have a multinational brand or you may have a brand looking to expand overseas. For example, if your clothing company is looking to move to Sweden, analyse the competition, it will be different to what you have in your home market.
The retail sector can be extremely competitive. The margins can be low and the costs can be high, especially if you have an offline store, which you may be tied into for some time.

It is important to use a keyword research tool to find how these different terms are being searched, the competition and how difficult it will be to rank or target that term.

A great way to automate this whole keyword process is to use the automated market share and content strategy tool and from Authoritas. This can analyse your whole market in 26 countries/language combinations.

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From this you can easily see the different competitors, the number of keywords they are ranking for and the organic traffic. Then going deeper, into the Market Explorer you can view which competitor URLs are performing the best for a cluster of keywords. In the example below, it shows the best competitor URLs for “tv” related terms.

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Post Sale Services

Keyword research is one part of the competitor analysis, but it is important to also look at the other aspects such as post sale services. If your client is an eCommerce site, does it offer free delivery? What are the delivery terms and conditions? Go through the checkout process. Is it easy to add products to your cart and buy what you wanted on the site? Nearly 70% of carts are abandoned, even if they may be ranking high in the SERPs. High rankings does not necessarily equate to generating more sales. Many sites lose customers through the payment gateway. Your competitors may be suffering from a high cart abandonment rate, but if you do not, then you can focus your efforts on other areas of marketing such as content.

Content

Check out the blogs of the competitors, are they keeping their site up to date? If they have a multinational site, do they have an updated blog in other languages? Do they have a FAQ section on their site about delivery and getting in contact? Do they keep all their social media profiles updated? Do they respond to comments and questions from customers?

What does their email marketing look like? You could always sign up to their newsletter, see what offers they have. Are there any special deals for the different seasons, e.g. Black Friday, Christmas, Valentine’s day?

Site Speed

As we discussed in the On-page SEO Ultimate Guide, website performance and page speed is crucial for all sites. In May 2020, Google announced that it will be rolling out the Google Page Experience update in 2021 and Core Web Vitals will be ranking factors next year.

Core Web Vitals, also called Web Vitals are the performance metrics that affect user experience including how fast the page loads, the visual stability and the interactivity. So no more slow sites! If your competitors’ sites are performing poorly now and still by 2021 and yours is loading quickly, then you will be one step ahead of your competition

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