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Researching your competition is an unbelievably important step in establishing your site online.  It will help set the basic framework for your internet marketing strategy, and if done effectively will also greatly reduce the resources you invest to increase your website visibility.  Part 1 of our competitive analysis blog post is sort of a tease; sorry for you more seasoned veterans.  We will start off with basic awareness of what we can learn from Google and how to get started.  The next few posts we will cover less obvious and more complicated ways to research your competition.  You should already know a few main competitors and a few search phrases of interest that you can start our research with.

Our example, since it is interesting to me, will be research for an ecommerce startup that sells home brewing equipment online (I keep telling myself, “one of these days”).  One obvious keyword phrase to start with is “home brewing equipment”.  I also know via word of mouth that Northern Brewer, and Midwest Supplies will be the bigger competitors online.  So now we can get started.

Starting with a search for “home brewing equipment” leads us to this helpful dropdown of Google suggestions.

Google Suggestion

Pay attention to this valuable information, Google Suggest is informing us that “home brewing supplies” is possibly a better keyword, or at least more popular.  Google will push that synonymous term to searchers over the one I initially thought of, as well as “home brewing kits” and popular local phrases too. This is a good way to start compiling a list of keywords to do competitive research on for our industry.

Tool Tip: Here is a free tool that can provide Google Suggest based keyword research – http://tools.seobook.com/general/keyword-information/

So let’s start again with the phrase that Google is pushing on us (you should start a list of all the other keyword phrase ideas to check on later). Our new search term “home brewing supplies” provided us with the universal search results below.  Universal Search will tell us more than just the competitor’s sites; it can also highlight the various ways to compete for search traffic.

Universal Results

Depending on your industry, and your search phrase, you may be surprised at the amount of direct and indirect competitors included in the results; and you can learn from both types of competitors.

One search will not provide all of the minable information you can obtain from basic Google searching, but you can use this process iteratively for other keyword search terms to build a list of valuable competitive information. This list will be great to have for my next post on researching the competition you have identified.

Key takeaways from this simple competitive research process are listed below:

  • Keywords that Google Suggest is providing that are relevant to your business.
  • Basic list of direct competitors to further research.
  • Basic list of indirect competitors to further research.
  • An understanding of what type of content Google thinks is important to display in the Universal Search results – this could be images, videos, news articles, shopping feeds, local business maps, etc.  If you know what Google likes to show for your industry searches, then you can plan to include it in your content strategy.
  • Price comparisons from Google shopping results.
  • Knowledge of which competitors are in the paid search game for your industry

Stay tuned for the next episode in Dr. Loudweiser’s Competitive Smackdown…

Related Posts:

Smackdown Part 2: Your Competitors’ Link Strategy & Indexed Content

Smackdown Part 3: Analyze Your Competitors’ Social Media Strategy

Use This Worksheet to Track Your Competitive Research

 

About the Author

Aaron Stevens is an Internet Marketing Strategist at The Loud Few who specializes in search engine marketing strategy. You can learn more about him here or follow him on twitter at twitter.com/MarmadukeBrew.

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