Let me hear you say it — my name is Bond, James Bond!
Becoming agent 007 and spying on your competitors is paramount to your blog’s success. Not only will you learn what works in your niche, but you’ll be able to strategize on ways to beat your competitors at their own games.
Think of how much time you could save if someone gave you an easy to follow roadmap for success showing you how to grow your blog’s traffic and make money.
Spying on your competitors provides you the required insights needed to create your own roadmap for success.
The catch is that it’s not easy to know where to look. Simply browsing their social media profiles might give you an idea of what they’re doing, but it doesn’t really provide much detailed insight.
And when you’re trying to build a map for success, insight is everything.
Thankfully, there are plenty of ways and places to spy on your competition in a format that gives you worthwhile, actionable information.
Let’s start by discussing social media.
How to Watch Social Media
If you’re simply looking at your competitor’s social media profiles and what their top-ranking pages on Google are, you’re probably going to be left with no direction or actionable feedback.
You must dig deeper in order to properly spy on your competitors and get the juicy information you’ll need to jump ahead of them.
So what’s the best way to keep tabs on your competitors on social media?
Buzzsumo allows you to see what’s working for your competitors on social media. You’ll be able to see the blog post, how many shares it’s received, and who shared it.
You’d need to spend hours researching in order to gather that kind of information for any of your competitors. Buzzsumo puts it in your lap within minutes.
Let’s say you want to write a blog post on How to Start a New Blog that’s better than the one your competitor just posted on Facebook.
You can take the best performing blog post of all-time (based on social media shares) and write a better one. Or a counter-argument to their assertions depending on what the topic is about.
Having access to the best performing blog posts on your topic will provide you with actionable insights as to what works and how you can improve upon it.
Pretty cool, huh?
Aside from using Buzzsumo to find your competitor’s best performing blog posts, I’d suggest you spy on their social media profiles to see who their followers are, as well as who they are following.
Pay close attention to the fans who are constantly engaging with them and they like/dislike about your competitor’s offerings.
This should give you a good idea as to what you should be focusing on and what to say far away from.
Now let’s take a look at your competitor’s backlinks.
How to Check Backlinks
The number of backlinks your blog has is in a good indicator of its popularity or importance with search engines. Search engines, especially Google, give more credit to blogs that have a larger number of quality backlinks and consider those sites more relevant in a search query.
The most important thing about backlinks is that they must be relevant… if you’re blogging about muscle cars, getting a backlink from my blog isn’t going to do much for you. However, getting a backlink from Autoblog will do you wonders.
The best tool for finding your competitors backlinks is Moz Link Explorer. The free version will show you the top 10 backlinks pointing to your competitor’s blog. To go beyond that, you must purchase the program or use the 30-day free trial.
I’d recommend using the 30-day free trial to spy as much as possible on your competitors. Once the trial ends, you can decide if it’s worth paying $99 a month going forward to have access to this tool.
Another popular tool with bloggers for finding their competitions backlinks is Ahrefs which also costs $99 per month with a 7-day trial which will set you back $7.
When I started out, I wasn’t looking to spend money on tools, so I used as many “free trials” as I could and busted my ass during the initial trial period to gather as much information on my competition as I could.
However, if you have the money, both programs are great for checking backlinks and doing keyword research… it’s just a matter of taste as to which you’ll prefer.
The key to using these tools is to check the relevancy and page authority of the links you’re looking at. This lets you know if a backlink is worth going after.
From there, you can move on to trying to get backlinks from those sources… if your blog is relevant there’s a good chance many of them will be willing to link to your blog.
Contact the site’s owner and provide them some kind of value in exchange for a backlink.
Depending on the situation this can be anything from letting them know that you have better, more up-to-date information on the topic, to make them aware of broken links within the specified page on their site.
Next, we will spy on your competitors’ content marketing strategy.
How to Understand Their Content Marketing Strategy
Understanding your competitions content marketing strategy will help you map out your own.
To this point, you have watched them on social media and figured out their backlink structure.
Now, you need intel on their content marketing strategy to put it all together and beat them at their own game.
The first thing I want you to do is to go to their blog and sign up for their newsletter.
Next… check your email to see if they sent you a welcome email. Pay close attention to what’s in this email as you might find it useful in creating your own.
Note: Don’t stop there, keep track of everything they send you for the next few months. You can set up an email filter if needed as some bloggers send frequent emails to their subscribers which can get annoying quickly.
Now, I want you to see what they’re blogging about… you can use Buzzsumo to see their most popular blog posts, but I think it’s more effective to do your own research and actually read some of their blog posts.
This will give you a great understanding of their writing style and the frequency in which they publish new content.
Remember the point is to figure out everything that your competitors are doing well, and improving upon it.
So if you notice most are only publishing twice a week, you might want to strive for three. Or perhaps you notice that their articles tend to leave out important details… you could write more in-depth articles on those topics.
These are things that no software will be able to help you with, so you must be willing to do the dirty work yourself.
Lastly, we want to figure out what keywords they are targeting.
If you chose to give Moz Pro a shot by using their 30-day free trial you can use it to see what keywords your competitors are chasing after.
Outside of that, you can use the Google Keyword Planner (free).
Simply type in your competitors’ website and the keyword planner will show you a list of their keywords.
This should give you juicy information as to what keywords you should focus on while writing your blog posts. Don’t go crazy trying to stuff a bunch of unrelated keywords into an article… focus on relevant and related keywords.
Make a list of the keywords you want to focus on, and write blog posts that make use of those keywords.
One great exercise which I do is searching my competitors’ blog for the keywords I am interested in going after.
If they don’t have a search feature I head over to google and type the following search:
- keyword or phrase + “competitors’ blog”
You can use different variations of your keyword or phrase if you don’t get relevant results.
Seeing how your competitors are using the keywords you are wanting to go after, can give you ideas as to what type of content you should be writing around those keywords.
Once you have that info… what’s stopping you from generating an even better post surrounding your keywords?
There’s so much information online about your niche and competitors that you’ll never be able to analyze through it all manually.
Heck, you could probably hire a team of marketers and still miss things.
However, it’s vital for you to spy on others in your industry to know what they’re up to and know what you can do to stay ahead.
Use services like Moz Pro, BuzzSumo, and Google Keyword Planner to decipher vast amounts of information and know what others are up to.
Don’t stop there though, do your own research to understand your competitors’ writing style and publishing frequency as no tool out there can replace you for this task.
Combining all these tools with your Bond-link intuition will keep you one step ahead of the competition.
And don’t be surprised if your competitors start spying on you!
How do you keep tabs on the competition?