Most businesses have main targets when it comes to competition, but these are rarely realistic and often don’t include the nearest competitors.
You shouldn’t always focus on the industry leader, as every business is unique. For digital marketing purposes you need to be realistic about your positioning, budgets, reach and other factors to discern who your competitors really are.
Firstly, you should differentiate the direct and indirect competition.
Direct competitors will be in the same marketplace or selling the same products. If you consider a comparison website for the same products or solutions, you would be on the same list as these competitors.
Indirect competitors may not be selling the same products or services, but they will appear for your search terms. The terms they rank for may overlap by nearly all terms, or just one. If the latter is the case, then you should consider the competitors at page levels rather than domain or business.
Here are a few ways to help discern your best targets for scoping out the competition.
This is easily done through Google Maps by simply typing in the industry or products that are relevant to you.
This also gives a rough indication of ratings and customer feedback through the star ratings systems on Google maps, which can be helpful and can often be surprising. This shouldn’t be taken at face value though, and it’s worthwhile checking the legitimacy of the reviews before further action.
Asking customers about their alternatives to buying from you is a great way to isolate competitors. If you are online only this may take a bit of setting up, but if you have a physical location, it should be straightforward and relatively quick.
Using third party tools such as Semrush, Ahrefs or others can return the domains who are ranking for the terms you are.
If you are in the unfortunate position of not ranking very well, you an use the other methods to populate your nearest competitor and go from there.
Some common sense is needed to remove those which are too separated form your terms, but you should be able to easily remove the likes of Ebay, Amazon, Twitter, etc.
Bidding on competitors is a tried and proven method. Whether it’s ethical or not is another discussion. Either way, you can search for variations on your brand and services to see who is targeting your keywords and terms.
Using Google’s own algorithm can help you find competitors in various ways.
You can simply search for generic terms, put in a few variations to see who gets autosuggested, or look at trends and similarly asked questions.
Another method is to use the search operator “related: [URL]”. This basically returns domains which are related to the one in place of [URL]. For example, you can search “related:Koozai.com” to see competitors.
Probably the most obvious one, but still relevant. Using company and industry knowledge can help you identify who you should be looking at for competing domains.
This is more of an issue for agencies and freelancers, but it’s easy to forget to actually ask the client who their main competitors are!
Finding out your competitors is just one stage of research and further work to help your site. You need to be accurate with it though, otherwise you could be making ill-informed decisions which could ultimately harm your site rather than helping.
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