Having an online business can have many challenges – designing a website that ensures a positive user experience, ensuring your shopping cart works properly and promoting your product or service appropriately through online and offline advertising.
And there is also your competition.
Competitive intelligence has become an essential part of initial business planning. Knowing who is competing for your customers in the online space is critical to your success, and knowing what they are doing in the online space is even more important.
So just how do you find out who your direct online competition is?
You need to determine how people are going to find you on the web. Having a website means that people will search for you, so it’s critical to focus on having the right keyword phrases on your website – in your content, your metadata, your images on your webpages and making sure your keywords are not too broad and general. For example, if you are selling custom made silk flower arrangements, the keyword phrase focus should be “custom silk flower arrangements,” and not “silk flowers”. Using long tail terms will ensure that you are targeting consumers who are looking for your specific product.
Here are some key questions to determine who is in your competitive landscape:
What are the main keywords that you are targeting?
For starters, determine your main keywords. Make sure you select relevant, targeted keywords, and include those keywords throughout your website.
Who comes up in the search results for your main keywords?
See who else shows up for your keywords in Google? Do some searches to see if they are indeed competitors for your product. Check out their websites to see if they are true competitors and if their product offering the same as yours?
Who is bidding on your keywords?
Using paid search is a great way to appear on the first page of search results, especially if your website is not ranking highly in the natural listings. You can use highly targeted creative to attract your potential customers, and drive them to specific pages on your website that will potentially enhance the conversion opportunity.
What are they doing out there to promote their product?
What other media are your competitors using? Are they doing any offline advertising, such as radio or newspaper? Do they have brick and mortar stores as well as online presence?
Are they using social media to reach their audience?
Advertising in social media has become a very popular medium to reach audiences. In addition to being rather inexpensive, it can target a wider audience. For example, Facebook has over 65 million active users, according to their website. And Twitter is now ranked as one of the world’s most popular websites. There are some great ideas on how to see what your competitors are doing, both from their social marketing efforts, as well as their website. You can learn what they are doing right and incorporate those learnings into your business.
There are many competitive intelligence tools that can help you find out what keywords your competitors are using, where they are advertising and the creative they are using for their paid search campaigns. Knowing your competition is the key to your business success!