eCommerce Insiders

What You Should Know About Your Competitors


Your top competitors have a lot to teach you.

They know what keywords sell, what content their audience prefers, and what marketing activities will engage that audience.They promote their businesses in a unique way, sometimes implementing ideas that are completely new to you. And they are probably seeing different results from you-potentially much better results.

You can learn from them, though. And it doesn’t even take much effort to do it.

There is nothing wrong with spying on your competition. After all, businesses have been gathering information about their competitors for years. Unlike the old days though, you no longer have to pick your competitors brochures, secretly peek at their trade show stands or send a friend to their store to check their prices.

You can now conduct most of the research online, from the comfort of your own office.

Here’s what you should know about your competitors

1. Their Keywords

Keywords are the backbone of almost every online marketing activity. Your customers use them to find the products they want to purchase online. You use them to optimize your pages, product descriptions, online ads and more.

What’s more, keywords relate to different customer buying intents. When customer types a keyword into a search engine, they either want to learn about solutions available to them, compare vendors, or buy. Knowing what keywords perform best in each category can help you improve your targeting.

There are many applications that can help you research the keywords your customers use: MOZ, SpyFu, and many more.

Regardless of which tool you use, when checking your competitor’s keywords, focus on the following metrics:

–       Keyword’s search volume. The total number of searches for the keyword per month will tell you how popular it is.

–       Your competitor’s position for a keyword. In case of organic traffic, your competitor’s rankings for a given keyword could indicate how much work you will have to do to outrank them.

–       Total organic results for a keyword. Another important metric from an SEO point of view. It indicates what is the total competition in Google for a given keyword. In other words, how many websites try to rank for it.

–       Keyword trend. Not all keywords receive the same traffic throughout the year. Some are seasonal, so before you start changing your website, check what is the current trend for a keyword. It might turn out that it is only popular in the summer, allowing you to focus on other keywords instead.

–       Cost per click. You can also research how much it costs to advertise per keyword.

Some keyword research apps (like SpyFu) also allow you to see the traffic your competitor receives per keyword and their estimated budget. This is very useful knowledge that could help you save a lot of money in PPC advertising.

2. Their Backlinks

Backlinks are still the most powerful off-site ranking factor. In order to promote your site in search engines, you need to gain high quality links pointing back to your site.

Analyzing your competitor’s backlinks can reveal opportunities for you to build quality backlinks as well. Moreover, with a more in-depth analysis, you can also analyze and understand their SEO strategies. This can provide you with new ideas to implement on your site.

Ahrefs is a software that can help you look into your competitor’s backlink profile to see what links you could recreate yourself.

When analyzing a competitor’s backlinks, answer the following questions:

–       What site is the backlink on? The quality of the site linking back to yours is a strong link quality factor. Basically, you don’t want to recreate links from shady or low quality sites as these can actually have a negative effect on your rankings.

–       What type of a site it is? Is a link on a blog or an industry related article in a national publication? Knowing this will help you assess what are your chances at recreating a link.

–       What is the anchor text distribution? Anchor text is the clickable text in a link. Historically, companies have tried to use keywords they wanted to rank for in their anchor text. Today, after so many Google updates, too many keywords in anchor text can actually have negative effect on your rankings.

3. Their Offers

Not all competitor research can be done through dedicated software. Similarly, online marketing is not just about SEO or PPC. Your competitors use other techniques, like promotions and other offers to differentiate themselves in the market.

Coupons, discounts, free shipping – your competitors might use any of these to attract people to buy at their store. Therefore, when peeking at their website, pay attention to their current promotions and how they structure them. You should do this especially with competitors who are perceived as leaders in your market. If they do something well, it means that it very well might be worth implementing on your site.

4. Their Social Interactions

There is an amazing piece of software called Mention that allows you to monitor the web for mentions of particular keywords, phrases, brands etc. Most companies use it to monitor their own mentions (and I recommend you do the same), but also consider setting up alerts for your competitors as well. This will give you insight into:

–       What your competitor’s audience (likely your target audience as well!) posts online about them.

–       How your competitor responds.

–       Where your competitor’s mentions appear (what social channels).

… and more! Monitoring your competitor’s social interactions can help you establish which social media channel is the most effective in your industry, what social interactions your audience prefers, and what topics resonate with them the most.

About Pawel Grabowski (76 Posts)

Pawel Grabowski is an ecommerce veteran and freelance copywriter for hire, helping small businesses communicate to their customers and prospects through effective web copy. For more info, visit

Twitter: @pawelgra77

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