So, you want to improve your blog, right? DUH! Who doesn’t, am I right? And did you know that you can use competitor analysis to your advantage and improve your blog?
Before I go even further, I’d like to put a disclaimer here. I’m using the word “competitors” with a bit of cringe here. You see, in blogging your competitors are not exactly your competitors. Blogging is a collaborative activity.
Think about other bloggers in your niche as colleagues. You’re all in the same boat. Network with them and support each other. You’ll see that this is a recurring theme throughout this article.
That being said, I’ll tell you exactly how to research your blog competitors, how to identify them, what to look for when analyzing your blog competitors, and what to do with the information you’ve gathered.
What is blog competitor analysis?
Competitor analysis is the assessment of your competitors’ strengths, weaknesses, audience, promotional strategies, and monetization methods.
The goal of the competitor analysis is to find out what other bloggers in your niche are doing and how you can do it better or differently.
When to do competitor analysis?
Ideally, you should start identifying who your competitors are before you start your blog. That being said, competitor research is an ongoing process. It takes more than an afternoon.
IMPORTANT: Don’t get caught up in your competitor analysis. It’s very easy to start comparing yourself to the other bloggers in your niche. After all, bloggers in your niche are not really your competition, but more like your colleagues.
RECOMMENDED READING: 12 Things You Need to do Before You Start Building Your Blog
Why do you need to research your competition?
Your competitor analysis will help you determine:
- Information about your target audience
- How your competitors are driving traffic to their blogs
- Identify gaps in the market
- How you can monetize your blog
- How you can differentiate yourself from your competition
- It’s also a crucial step before you brand your blog
It will also allow you to create a more effective marketing and selling strategy.
You’ll also find out where your target audience hangs out. You see, your competitors are where your target audience is.
Identifying your competitors will also help you find bloggers to guest post with.
Who should you consider as your blog competitors?
Not every single blog in your niche is written for the same audience you are trying to attract.
Let’s say you are starting a blog productivity tips for stay at home moms.
A blog about productivity tips for business owners might be considered your competition as some of the tips probably will be similar, and some of the stay at home moms might be business owners.
That being said, focus on analyzing other blogs about productivity tips for stay at home moms.
How many competitors to analyze?
It depends on the size of your niche.
But I’d say that identifying 5 to 10 blogs that are close to what your blog is about, is a good amount to aim for.
There’s no need to analyze every single blog in your niche.
How to research your blog competitors
One thing before we dive into how to perform your blog competitor analysis: How long have they been blogging for?
You see, I genuinely don’t want you to get caught up and start comparing yourself. It most likely took them years to get where they are now. So, don’t expect yourself to get where they are now in a few weeks or even months.
1. Identify who your competitors are
First things first, you need to identify who your competitors are.
Where to find your blog competitors?
The easiest way to find your competitors is to do a simple Google search. Just look up your niche and the keywords you are most interested in and see what comes out.
I guarantee you that your competitors are on social media. Just look up your niche on different social channels, and once again, see what comes out.
You see, not every single blog is going to be included in those “best blogs about…” round-ups. I’ve found most of my competitors on Pinterest, for example.
Join different social media channels. I’d say that Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram are the best ones.
On Facebook, don’t forget to join groups in your niche.
Think outside of the box
Google and social media isn’t where it all ends.
Are your competitors replying to questions on sites such as Reddit or Quora?
Are they submitting their articles to Medium? Do they have a following there?
If you’ve read my guide to defining your target audience, you’ve probably noticed that in terms of the places where you can find your competitors and target audience, they are pretty much the same.
Well, of course!
As I mentioned earlier, your competitors are where the audience is.
2. Analyze your competitors’ websites
Don’t forget to look at your competitor’s website as a whole.
Those are some of the questions to ask when assessing the websites:
- What is the structure of the website?
- Is it easy to navigate?
- Or is the website so cluttered that you can’t find anything?
- What pages do they have on their blog?
- Can you even find them?
- What’s the whole web design like?
- Are they using contrasting colors?
- Or is it difficult to read anything?
- What does the layout look like?
- When you first entered the website, did it load fast?
NOTE: You can analyze your competitors’ websites on both desktop and mobile devices as those two versions will most likely look a bit different.
3. Analyze your competitor’s branding
Your competitors’ logos, color palettes, and fonts won’t probably tell you much though.
Pay closer attention to their tagline and mission statement.
If they don’t state that on their homepage, it’s definitely going to be mentioned in the about page.
If they took the time to write a good about me page, you’ll find valuable information there. You’ll know exactly who they are trying to target.
4. Analyze your competitors’ content
You need to analyze their content and content strategy.
- Are they using long-form or short-form content?
- Are they using other types of content such as video, podcast, infographics, etc.?
- How often are they posting new content?
- What does the content look like?
- What’s their writing tone?
- What’s their engagement?
- Are people commenting, liking, and sharing the content?
Have a look at your competitors’ social media channels as well.
- What kind of content are they uploading?
- Do they have a community of some sort?
- A Facebook group?
- What kind of posts are they sharing in the Facebook group?
Subscribe to their email lists. Pay attention to their lead magnets.
- What are those lead magnets?
- What other content are they sending to their email list?
- How often?
- What do their opt-ins look like?
- And what about their landing pages?
5. Analyze your competitors’ promotional and marketing strategies
Of course, every blogger promotes their blog somehow. You need to know how.
- Where do your competitors promote their blogs?
- Which social media channels are they using?
- Are they also writing for other publications?
- Are they active on sites such as Reddit or Quora?
- How are they trying to capture email list subscribers?
- What products/services/freebies are they offering?
- How are they marketing them?
6. Analyze your competitors’ audiences
The easiest way to do it is to read through your competitors’ comments sections. Then go back to their social media channels and have a look at their subscribers and followers.
- What are they commenting?
- What do they like about your competitor’s content?
- What are their audiences struggling with?
Look at the demographics.
- Are their followers predominantly men or women?
- What ages are they?
- Where do they live?
7. Analyze your competitors’ SEO
- What keywords are your competitors ranking for?
- Have you seen your competitors appearing in rich snippets?
- How many backlinks do they have?
- What’s the dofollow/nofollow ratio?
- Where those backlinks come from?
To be completely honest with you, SEO is not exactly my forte. But I found this guide to SEO competitor analysis from Moz. It’s an amazing guide, so if you want to analyze your competitors’ SEO, definitely check it out.
8. Analyze their web traffic
There’s no way you can see exactly how much traffic your competitors are generating.
What you can do though, is to look at their engagements. The number of comments their blog posts are getting can get you an idea.
If they’re using social sharing buttons, you might be able to see the number of shares.
Don’t forget to check out their followers, likes, comments, etc. on their social media. No, any of this data won’t tell you exactly how much traffic someone is getting to their blog.
To get a clearer idea, use a tool such as SimilarWeb.
9. Analyze how they are monetizing their blogs
Now, we’ll have a look at how your competitors are monetizing their blogs. Just a simple scroll down will tell you if they’re monetizing their blog with display ads.
If you read through some of their blog posts and see affiliate disclosures, you know that they are making money with affiliate marketing.
But let’s go even further.
Are they offering consulting services? You’ll most likely find out if they make money with coaching or consulting if they have a work with me/services page.
Are they selling digital products? Or even physical products? If so, what kind of products are they?
Use the information you find to determine how you can create a new original product.
Tools to research your blog competitors
Here’s a short and sweet list of blog competitor analysis tools that will make the whole process a lot easier for you. The majority of those tools are paid, but all of them have a free version or at least a free trial.
Google is going to be your best friend when conducting your blog competitor analysis. After all, you need to first find your competitors, right?
With SimilarWeb, you can compare your traffic volume, ranking, referral sources, and more to your competitors’ websites. You can also see insights into the visitors of the website.
SimilarWeb is a paid tool, but they offer a free trial where you can see 5 results per metric, one month of mobile app data, and three months of web traffic data.
BuzzSumo will tell you what the most popular articles on your competitors’ blogs are, as well as worldwide trends in any niche and any topic you like. You can also use this tool to find popular topics to create content.
BuzzSumo is a paid tool, but they offer a limited free version which provides you with 10 searches per month.
Moz and MozBar
Moz also has a Chrome extension called MozBar, when you can see your competitors’ page authorities, domain authorities, and links on the go.
Moz is a paid tool, but they offer a 30-day free trial.
SEMrush is a paid tool, but they offer a 7-day trial.
Apart from being a keyword research tool, you can also use Ubersuggest to analyze your competition. You can see estimated domain traffic, ranking keywords, most popular blog posts, and more.
Ubersuggest is a free tool.
What to do after you’ve analyzed your blog competitors?
You could gather the information you’ve collected, and create a document. But I have a different suggestion for you.
Now that you know who your competitors are, connect with them, and support each other.
Yes, running a blog is like running a business. In fact, it is running a business. But in blogging, you grow with your competitors.
You all have different messages, reasons why you started your blogs, who you want to help, and how you want to help your readers. All of you have different approaches and have different ways of how you appeal to your readers.
Network with your competitors and support each other.
You can learn a whole lot from your competitors, and they can learn a whole lot from you.
Competitor research is a long-term process. It takes time to identify who your competitors are, what they are doing, what their strategies are, etc.
Don’t get caught up and start comparing yourself. It’s for analytical purposes only. The goal of blog competitor analysis is to identify your competitors’ strengths, weaknesses, strategies, and how you can do them differently and better.
That being said, your blog competitors are also your friends. You grow together. Identify your competitors, connect with them, and support each other.