It started out innocently enough, with me manually looking for new keywords. Then I realized I had found a goldmine that could do more than just give me keywords for my PPC. There is nothing new about researching competitors as part of your marketing plan, but the philosophy you use in thinking about online competitor research may be a can of worms that will catch you fresh fish!
But let me remind you, I started out looking for keywords – using an interesting tool, a Keyword Density Analyzer, which is traditionally used to determine how many keywords a page contains for search engine optimization purposes. What I found was that by using this tool to analyze competitor sites, you gain a wealth of information. Here’s some of what you can learn:
New Keywords – A keyword density analyzer pretty quickly gives you an idea of the keywords that your competitor is using in terms of SEO. This may or may not differ from your focus in terms of keywords, and can give you valuable words for your PPC campaign. It can also open your eyes to a hidden opportunity. There may be an audience you are not reaching out to – while your competitor is.
If you want to test this out, choose two competing organizations and run them through a keyword density check. What you will get back is the number of times certain phrases (two to three words) are repeated and also how often single words are repeated. I tried this, for instance, with Dell and Hewlett-Packard. Single words that came up for Dell were computer, laptop, accessories, and printer; meanwhile HP.com yielded printer, computer, server, and laptops. While for strong brands this may not be too relevant, for small to medium sized businesses with less brand recognition, this kind of search can reveal a lot in terms of niche markets, and new audience targeting via keywords.
Get a picture of their online strategy – We all know what goes into our search engine strategy, both natural and paid. We obviously do not optimize for keywords that aren’t lucrative for us, and neither do our competitors. Effective online marketing often boils down to ”the more targeted the better results.” Take a look at who your competition has chosen as their strongest audience, and whether or not it differs from yours. If they don’t match up, you may have found yourself a new audience to speak to with your SEM or other marketing programs.