On June 12th, #SEMrushchat discussed ways your competitors can help improve your content strategy with guest Erika Heald. The discussion offered many insights on the mistakes businesses often make and the different critical factors they forget to examine. Our community offered excellent advice and strategies any agency, consultant, or business can use.
Check out the answers our community offered below, and please share your thoughts in the comments.
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Look at the search results to determine how feasible it even is to rank, how we should structure our content, tone/sentiment analysis, what featured/rich snippets we can earn, and whether to focus on informational and/or transactional content.
I typically start off creating personas for my ideal customer. This helps me narrow down competitors that are both direct and indirect to my niche without getting caught up in analysis paralysis.
First, you have to know your customers. Where are they going for the information you don't provide? Which of your competitors provide that info? Second, you have to know where to find subject matter experts who can provide that information in a better way.
Where they rank for focus keyword phrases is an indication of their authority. Deconstruct the ranking page for topic representation, content relationships with internal and external contextually related pages. How does your page on same topic compare?
Before you can know what information to collect in a competitor content audit, you need to start by defining your goals. What is it that you hope to learn from your audit? What channel(s) are you looking to improve? What are some overlooked channels?
Set goals first. If you're going to be analyzing your competitors, figure out what you're hoping to gain from it beforehand so you know what to look for. This way, you'll have a clear focus and will be less likely to get distracted.
1) Gather competitor's content. 2) Categorize the content and utilize available data to gauge popularity. 3) Develop a competitor customer profile. 4) Find gaps in competitor content and competitor customer's wants. 5) Modify your strategy
1) Identify competitors to audit. 2) Identify the competitor's content channels with the most consistent engagement. 3) Analyze the problem most consistently solved by the content. 4) Analyze the technical aspects of the content.
Know which competitor(s) content you're assessing: website vs PPC landing pages; Instagram or Pinterest, etc. Know what you're auditing for: blog comments? Twitter RTs? SEO best practices? Essential to know you'll never know conversion data.
Identify which pieces of content are driving engagement, be it traffic (estimated of course), likes, shares, etc. Social signals send a clear message as far as what your shared audience finds valuable and interesting.
1) Isolate Competitors by Intent. 2) Run a Content Gap! -> Where do your competitors have visibility, where you don't? -> Are their sub-niches among competitors? -> What services of yours are at risk, with competitors edging in on your visibility?
It depends on context. I think looking at competitors content strategy never hurts, but you need to remain agile and adaptable. Remember your brand is unique and while ideas from competitors help, you ultimately want to create your own path and values
Of course! You can analyze all you want, but unless you've got the inside track you'll never know a competitor's CONVERSION data, which is ultimately what signals successful content. Without that, even the best analysis tools are just guessing.
It may be the case that your competitors are performing well but they are not taking the full audience needs into consideration and if you only rely on your competitor's analysis, you'll be missing a huge opportunity of improvement.
If your target audience is different, it will definitely have an impact. If you are posting the same content you will not see any benefits at all, prospects and clients will get bored reading the same thing.
One reason I didn't cheat on tests in high school was because I didn't trust that other people actually studied hard enough. I don't do that with content analysis either. I just gather insights.
Don't throw things at the wall and hope something sticks! Use audience insights (ie from social pages) to understand your audiences demographics, their wants, needs, interests, pain points, and their objectives in following you.
I am still always shocked at how often I have to say this... DEMOGRAPHICS. Seriously, the difference of 10 years or region can mean very different marketing strategies. Know ABOUT your audience!
Be genuine. People see through brands that only pitch their product or promote themselves. Take a vested interest in the needs of your audience.
A brand is never going to be able to attract their ideal customers with content marketing if they don't understand WHO their customers are, WHAT their unique challenges and needs are, and WHY customers choose them to meet those needs or not.
You have to know what your audience are searching for. There's no point creating content that is irrelevant to the customer's intent. User intent is key, people!
Content about common challenges that your customers face or issues within your industry. Create trustworthy content and advice for prospects and clients- all businesses need evergreen content.
It better be whatever your money-making KPI is. Typical top KPIs, depending on your vertical are sales conversions, leadgen or ads revenue on pageviews. Of course, don't overlook assist visits along a long path to conversion.
Backlinks is one area as it will tell you where the competitor is getting mentions. This could spark ideas on where you can seek mentions too. Keywords is another. Knowing the terms attracting the desired audience and ranking.
Different types of content will have different metrics. If it's an educational piece, does it get engagement and shares? If it has a CTA does it lead to product clicks? Etc. Picking metrics depends on the content's goals.
With Google reducing SERP inclusion down to two pages, I feel that content cannibalization will become a real thing again. I was fine owning more real-estate to push down the other guys, but fairness has been redefined. Build for the Cornerstone.
Thank You to All of Those That Shared Their Insights
Each week, I participate in and watch the SEMrushchats looking for great minds and fantastic tweets that offer expert-level insights to our blog readers. Please keep sharing your strategies and opinions. Don't miss this week's SEMrushchat on Wednesday, June 19th at 11 AM ET/4 PM GMT; the topic will be "Social Media Best Practices for Small Businesses."