Online Marketing, Market research, If you have a website, there are certain questions you need to answer before developing an online strategy. Pertaining to search engine marketing, what keywords are you going to emphasize? What mobile strategy are you going to implement? What changes or enhancements are needed to improve business on your website? One of the best places to find answers is with competitor intelligence. Competitor intelligence is simply finding out what your competition is doing. There are many online tools that make gathering competitor intelligence easier. For example, a simple Google search can tell you a lot. Understanding your competitors gives you a strong advantage when developing your online strategy. With that in mind here are 4 ways you can easily analyze your competition right now!

What’s their social strategy like?

Social strategies differ greatly from one business to the next. Some businesses are more active than others; others operate on more social sites than others; some favor some platforms over others, i.e. Facebook or LinkedIn. Consider the number of social media platforms online these days: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram & dozens more. How active are your competitors on these websites. How do they engage with their followers?

On Facebook, there is a simple tool you can use. The “page watch” tool is located under “Facebook Insights”. This is an easy to use tool that quickly compares page engagement, how many posts your competitors have made and their page growth each week. Furthermore, if one of them has a post that’s getting a lot of attention, Facebook will kindly let you know. A similar tool for Twitter is Twitonomy.

Where do they promote themselves & where are they mentioned?

This is a key consideration when analyzing your competitors on the web. Understanding where they promote themselves, not just in terms of paid advertising, but where are they organically? How and where are they being mentioned? For example do they engage with other websites, bloggers, news publications or forums and what types of websites link to them?

Google tends to like a range of “natural looking” links and mentions from different types of websites, which all help to indicate a popular and authoritative brand. Google alerts is a extremely powerful tool for tracking trends across the web. It’s also useful for keeping track of where your competitors are being mentioned online, whether that’s on blogs, forums, or social media. It is easy to set up a Google alert for any name, product, or topic. Google will send notifications and updates straight to your email inbox.

Another powerful tool you can use is Social Mention, which focuses more on blogs, video and social engagement with brands, keywords and phrases.

What’s their website built with

Understanding what platform your competitor’s website is built on can be a useful means of finding new tools & plugins you didn’t know existed, as well as giving you a little insight into how their website works. Built With can scan any website to tell you what analytics they use, what types of advertising, and so on. Perhaps more importantly, Built With can tell you about the user experience the website offers, what’s it like on mobile or tablets, and the website’s ease of use?

When checking this feature keep in mind a study by Google Think: 50% of people said that even if they like a business, they will use them less often if the website isn’t mobile-friendly, and will visit a competitor website instead. Almost 50% said a bad mobile experience made them feel like the company didn’t care about their business.

You can quickly check your competitor’s responsiveness using a responsive design checker.

Content strategy

As you may know, Google loves nothing more than good, quality content. Understanding your competitor’s content strategy is highly valuable in terms of SEO. It’s just as important in terms of understanding their business strategy. For example, from a strategic standpoint it’s important to know what topics your competitors are actively engaging in, and to what end? What kind of messages are they focusing on? Are they more about developing long-term brand relationships, or are they about positioning themselves as an industry authority through valuable blog posts?

While you can never know every aspect of your competitor’s business plan, the type of content they produce, and how they promote that content, can give you a good indication of what that strategy is.