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How to Conduct a Competitive Analysis in Just Three Hours

Are you curious how you measure up against your competition, but don’t have the time or resources to undergo a thorough competitive analysis? Here are a few tips and free tools that will help you find gaps in your competitor’s digital presence and identify opportunities for your brand. In just a few short hours, you can use these tools to put together a high-level analysis.

Owned Media

Site Traffic Estimates and Stats

Alexa provides a ranking of your site, which is calculated using a combination of average daily visitors to this site and pageviews on this site over the past three months. The site with the highest combination of visitors and pageviews is ranked number one. Alexa also provides average bounce rate, pageviews per visitor, time on site and site demographics.

Compete.com shows a monthly traffic estimate. Comparing your site’s traffic stats to that of competitors provides a nice high-level understanding of where you stand with competitors, and what efforts might be required to level the playing field or surpass these competitors.

Organic Keyword Ranking and Traffic

Use SpyFu to see estimates on organic traffic volume, top organic keywords, ranking and more. The free search is limited to the top 5 organic keywords. If you would like a few more keywords, you can use KeywordSpy (limited to top 10). I personally prefer the user experience on SpyFu better, but can’t argue with the additional info that KeywordSpy provides.

Structured Data 

Google provides a free Structured Data Testing Tool, allowing you to see if a site or page has Publisher markup, authorship markup and schema implemented. It also provides a preview of what that page’s listing will look like on Google’s search results page. Unfortunately, it can’t show a preview of the meta description, as Google may customize that based on the search query. But you can view how the title and URL will look.

Google Structured Data Testing Tool.png

On-site Social Optimization 

Knowem.com has a free tool called Social Media Optimizer, which looks at site code to determine if various social elements are included, such as Facebook Open Graph, Twitter Cards and Google+ Publisher markup. It also shows how links will appear as posts on the various social channels when a user shares them. You can do this for the homepage of your competitors, but it’s more useful to evaluate individual product or other pages.

Facebook Post Example for http://www.hm.com/us/product/77518?article=77518-A

Content Evaluation 

Kapost launched a free tool, Content Auditor, late last year, which allows you to see what type of content is included on your competitors’ sites, and engagement rates on that content. Run an audit on your own site to see how you align in terms of volume of content, format, and social signals.

Earned Media

Inbound Link Evaluation 

Inbound links are an important aspect of any site, as they are considered votes of confidence and relevancy for websites, and are one of the top ranking factors for search engines. Use Open Site Explorer (OSE), a free tool provided by Moz, to evaluate inbound links to your competitors sites, and compare to your own site. You can see domain and page authority, total links and root domain links, as well as link anchor text for a small portion of links. Paying for Moz will get you more data, but the free search provides a high level view.

Twitter Evaluation

Use Followerwonk, another free tool provided by Moz, to compare your followers and following to competitors. Stats provided include volume of followers, engagement rate, average followers per day, average tweeks per week and more.

Paid Media

Pay Per Click

SpyFu also provides estimates for AdWords spend over time, monthly budget, keywords (again, limited to top 5 with free search), CPC, ad position and more. While it’s not a great deal of information, it gives you a 50K view of their paid search budgets, helping you to understand if your spend is inline or needs adjusting to maintain the same level of awareness and direct response traffic.

Facebook Ads

I don’t know of any free tools that do what SpyFu does for Facebook ads. However, you can take a look at you competitors’ Facebook pages to see if they are boosting posts. Liking their page may help you to get targeted with ads if they are targeting fans. If they are using retargeting, which many brands are, just visiting their site then going to Facebook may mean that you’ll see ads, and be able to manually evaluate what type of ads they use (engagement versus promotional) and creative elements. 

Do you have other tools you use for competitive analyses? Share them on Interstellar's FacebookTwitter and Google+ pages.