I started doing competitor research for each one of my web projects for my clients at Renegade Empire so that I would give the project the best chance of success.
Initially, I kept research to myself and didn't really have it in an organised way to present to the client, but then I created a short video for one of my clients to talk them through my process and they were blown away. Not only that, but the project was incredibly successful both for the client and for my agency.
That got me thinking - I might be on to something here! I documented my process for competitor research and packaged it into a productised service that we could deliver and sell to our clients, which have been doing for many years since then.
In this post, I'm going to tell you about the benefits of conducting this research and the tools to use and how to deliver this to the client.
What is "Competitor Analysis"?
Competitor analysis is when you research your competition and analyse their strengths and weaknesses so that you can create a strategy to differentiate and give your company or your client's company an advantage.
Some of the key points that you want your client to know are:
- An indication of how much your client's competitors are spending on ads
- What tools and software they’re using
- How the search engine results look for their keywords
- Competitors conversion strategy
The Benefits of Conducting Competitor Research
Even before you've won the project, you can position yourself as a consultant by talking with your client about your process for competitor analysis so that they can understand how much their competitors are spending, what they're doing and how we can differentiate and do even better.
Some of the other benefits include:
- showing the client what their competitors might be spending on ads
- debunking the myths that your clients might be holding about what it's going to take to achieve their online business goals
- giving evidence from your research to recommend additional services beyond what the client might have originally requested
- You become more than "yet another web developer/designer". This is about aligning yourself with your clients' goals to position you as a consultant and strategist.
- It will help to ensure that the website you create stands out and achieves the objectives of the project and their business
Tools to Help You Get Competitor Information
- Ahrefs is a good tool to use for competitor analysis, however, I use the free version of SEMRush to enter the client’s top keyword and pull up a list of the companies who are ranking best for that.
- Moz to look at open site explorer to look at links and backlinks.
- SEO META in 1 CLICK to find out the site meta title and description which you can copy and paste in.
- To find out what tech they’re using: BuiltWith or WhatRuns Chrome extension.
- Am I Responsive and the Google Mobile-Friendly test to get a quick view into the responsive and mobile-friendliness of the site
The Competitor Review Process
I use the below process within a Google Document to then perform the competitor analysis. You can copy and paste the below headlines and instructions into a Google Document, give it your own business branding then follow the instructions and fill in the details to create your own competitor analysis document.
1. Confirm Competitor List and Keywords
Ask your client who they think their biggest competitors are and using an SEO tool of your choice (such as SEMRush) then take a look to see if there are any other competitors that they aren't aware of.
2. Perform Competitor Research
Report on the following areas of a competitor's website:
Take a screenshot of the competitor website
- Tools: Skitch, Awesome screenshot, Fireshot
Include the top 20 pages that appear for their main keyword
- Tool: SEMRush
Get meta details
- View source / inspect element
- Tool: SEO META in 1 CLICK
- What is the competitor focusing on? What is important to them?
- What's included in their slider and primary heading?
Call to Action
- What is their main call to action?
- What is the CTA on their Buttons?
Discovery Technologies Used
- Use BuiltWith to report on what technologies they're using such as: HTTPS - secure browsing, the platform that they're using, any analytical tools, marketing automation tools, Facebook advertising, Google analytics etc.
- Include only interesting items.
- Include details about the software if it needs explanation. For example: "Hotjar - An all in one analytics and feedback"
- Don’t list development-related tools.
Google Indexed Pages
- Enter site:domain.com into Google
- Note number of pages.
Open Site Explorer Review
- Go to the link explorer page in Moz
- List Links
- Review backlinks and provide insight
- Add website to Am I Responsive
- Link to the site with the correct URL in the area provided
- Visit each social media site to get the relevant numbers such as how many followers, how many posts they do each week and their rating on Facebook.
Landing Pages and PPC
- Review using ispionage
- Log in with a free account
- Enter competitor URL
- Provide insight on advertising budget, ad copy used
- Screenshot ad example
- Link to landing page example
- Manually review the website homepage
- Provide around 10 points as insights into the website
Once you have followed these instructions and created your competitor analysis document, record a video of you talking them through this process (I like to use Loom and keep it below a 10-minute video) and then send your insights over to your client.
By following a competitor review process for your web projects, you position yourself as a premium consultant to your clients, you're more likely to achieve success the project and you'll have a valuable, productized service that you can sell.