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Analyze Competitors’ Content to Optimize Your Content

For a successful website, the development and maintenance of quality content is essential. An analysis of the content of your market rivals can help you to create appropriate content for your own customer needs. Prior to developing your own material, research can reveal which types of content are significant and will resonate with readers and which won’t.

For a successful website, the development and maintenance of quality content is essential. An analysis of the content of your market rivals can help you to create appropriate content for your own customer needs. Prior to developing your own material, research can reveal which types of content are significant and will resonate with readers and which won’t.

A competitor analysis offers two major advantages: First, it can identify directly relevant content that’s very likely to be linked to, or otherwise shared, on social networks. Second, it can help determine influencers who may then become a focal point for seeding later.

The First Steps

The preliminary step is to identify some of your relevant competitors to act as subjects for your subsequent analysis. Spend time determining which ones because you can’t afford to spend time, or money, analyzing irrelevant competitors.

The next step is to conduct a content audit. This is a kind of inventory that provides a detailed overview of the content of your rival sites. Proceed using the following three steps:

1. Click through each site to acquire an overview of content types and categories.

2. Consider each website’s information layout and categorization concepts.

3. Log the substantive topics and their corresponding content form.

SEO expert Pierre Kuby divides content into 38 different types. For example, content can appear in the form of checklists, interviews, graphics or tables.

When scrutinizing content categorization, determine how the respective category relates to the main theme of the website.

For clarity, document your findings in an Excel spreadsheet.

Identify New Content Immediately

According to Google, the timeliness of content (freshness) is an official ranking factor. So check competing websites regularly for new content. Continuous, systematic monitoring allows detailed conclusions to be drawn about a competitor’s content strategy. Moreover, it’s also useful to note which categories have fresh content and at what intervals.

Those who prefer not to do this task manually can crawl the domains of relevant competitors using a tool such as Screaming Frog. If monitoring occurs, for example, once a month over a period of twelve months, you can then evaluate the results over time and draw conclusions about your rival’s content management. Since Screaming Frog also captures the number of words on each sub-page, it’s easy to figure out to what extent, and how often, the site is updated with fresh content.

Your competition may provide ideas you want to consider for your own content strategy.

Character and Style of Content

To analyze the content itself, the following questions can be used as a starting point:

  • Who writes the content? Is it always the same authors or do rival sites use contributions from guest authors?

In particular, you should identify which authors create what content and the volume and type of social response it then generates. Among others, these may include shares on Facebook or Twitter. Perhaps you might be able to attract these same writers to your own website and thus increase your reach.

  • To what extent does the structure and scope of the content vary?

Distinguish whether the length and shape of the content remains constant or whether it’s adapted for each different theme. What governs the structure of the content and does this seem to make sense?

  • Is the content emotional or objective in style?

Check whether the target group is approached at a practical or emotional level.

  • Does the site use original or stock images?

This reveals whether your competitor, by using original pictures, places a value on attention to detail or is happy just to pay for stock images.

  • Is the content uniformly structured?

Is there a comprehensible structure? From these findings, you can draw conclusions about your own content structure and thus optimize as needed.

Your competitor content analysis should clearly establish the target audience. The following questions will assist with this process:

  • Are visitors treated formally or informally?
  • At what points are elements of reassurance, like certifications, introduced?
  • Which emotions do your business adversaries seek to address with their content?

What Content Generates the Most Response?

Quality backlinks are a sign of quality content, and identifying content that’s been frequently linked to should prompt ideas for new content relevant to your target audience. In addition, a spin-off benefit of research is that it identifies ready-made contact points for seeding and distributing content.

Social responses are another important indicator of popular and relevant content, and Social Crawlytics, for instance, is a free tool designed specifically to analyze social signals.

TIP: Evaluate popular posts on social networks as well as comments from users. Doing this, you will learn first-hand what is especially relevant for your target audience. These findings can then be integrated directly into your own content planning.

Conclusion

Competitor analysis is about more than just copying strategies. Analyzing a rival’s content strategy will help you to develop significant competitive advantages and advance your business profile.

In addition, a competitor analysis helps with the planning of new content because taking your inspiration from successful competitors reduces the risk, time and money you might otherwise have to invest in content that may have no relevance for your (shared) target audience.
 


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About the Author:

Paul Winkler is an online marketing consultant from Dresden. He is the founder of deskreport where he and his team offer online marketing competitor analysis and advice. Furthermore, he conducts workshops in which he shows companies how they can monitor their rivals online.


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