When was the last time you had a Online competition analysis carried out?
If it's been a while or you haven't had any experience with competitive analysis, I have good news for you: What looks like a monumental undertaking at first glance can now be accomplished with the help of of some tools efficiently - predicted, you know how!
In this article, I would like to explain what you can achieve with a competitive analysis today and which tools provide you with the desired insights.
What advantages does a competitive analysis offer you?
A competitive analysis helps you to better understand your competition, the Market position of your company and to be able to design them more efficiently in the future. Using modern tools, you will learn to understand how the market is developing and which of your competitors' measures are currently bearing fruit, so that you can then develop a strategy for your company based on these findings.
In order to carry out such an online competition analysis, it is advisable to collect the following data, among others:
- Organic range of websites with current and historical rankings for specific search terms on Google
- Search volume of search termsthat are relevant for you
- Backlinks from any website as a ranking factor for search engines
- PPC Ads of a website broken down by keyword and its traffic
- Costs and range of Advertising campaigns on Google
- Global or local development of search terms over longer periods of time
- Key figures for Social Media such as reach, mentions, interactions, etc.
- Search behavior and estimated sales figures on Amazon
In the following, I would like to describe some of the most important tools for competitive analysis in more detail and illustrate their benefits using a fictitious competitive analysis in the luxury watch sector.
This tool provides relative figures regarding the popularity of a term. In contrast to most SEO tools does not provide absolute figures, but shows the development of searches. Google compares the search volume of a search term in a defined region with the volume of all Google searches in the same period.
In addition, related topics and Search terms and their trends are displayed. This allows you to quickly identify emerging developments in the search behavior of a particular region.
Two concrete application scenarios of Google Trends are the assessment of the seasonality of a product and trendy topics (fidget spinner, CBD oil, ...).
The search for Audemars Piguet has followed a positive trend over the last 5 years, but shows no noticeable seasonality.
Google Keyword Planner
This tool has been used in online marketing for some time to obtain the number of searches for a specific search term directly from Google. What sounds like a tool for SEO is primarily intended for paid advertising with Google Ads. In addition to the search volume, the Keyword Planner also shows the quality of the competition and a recommended bid.
According to the Keyword Planner, the term "Rolex Submariner" is googled between 100,000 and 1,000,000 times a month, with recommended bids of between €0.60 and €0.80 per click, depending on placement. To obtain more precise data, you have to place a paid ad.
The Google Keyword Planner is an essential tool for PPC marketing. As all data comes directly from Google, the figures shown here are not estimates. In addition to your own campaign, you can also estimate how much your competitors are spending on their campaigns. However, this function is provided even more conveniently by SEO tools such as SEMrush, Ahrefs, MOZ or, in Germany, Sistrix and Xovi.
SEO tools such as Ahrefs can be used to find out even more information about competitors. As a first step, you can find out all related search terms for a generic term, such as "Rolex" in this case, as well as their search volume, the ratio between organic clicks and paid clicks and the CPC (cost per click).
The search volume of the keyword "Rolex Submariner" is given by Ahrefs as only 36,000, while Google Trends claims that there are at least 100,000 searches.
The 10 best results can be displayed quickly for all search terms. This also makes it possible to find the strongest competitors for individual search terms. Since Ahrefs estimates the monthly traffic of a page on a URL basis, it is easy to see how lucrative search terms are for the competition.
Ahrefs not only shows URL and domain metrics, as well as backlinks, but also the estimated traffic and keywords for which a specific URL is listed on Google.
If you want to analyze individual competitors in more detail, you can do this for both organic search and paid search.
At this point, I have selected the luxury watch store Chronext.de, as it is displayed directly behind Rolex itself for the search term "Rolex Submariner". As it turns out, Chronext.de is present in the organic search for luxury watches for many search terms and runs active PPC campaigns for its own brand name and for searches with purchase intent.
Ahrefs shows the top five ads with the largest share of total PPC traffic. But the ads can also be found here.
If you are interested in information on organic search, you can also create a list of the best keywords for which any website or URL is displayed. In this way, you can "steal" the most lucrative search terms in your own industry from competitors. Instead of having lengthy brainstorming sessions that result in an ineffective content plan, you can identify important keywords in just a few seconds.
A search for the organic search terms of Chronext.de shows both the keywords and their volume, but also the estimated traffic and even the URL that is listed for them by Google.
Once we have identified and analyzed the most important competitors, there is one more step we should not skip: comparing the competitors with each other (and with our own site).
Almost all SEO tools offer a comparison of rankings for keywords that are shared by some or even all competitors. For example, if we compare Chronext.de with Chrono24.de and Watchtime.net, the SEO tool XOVI presents a list of rankings for a whole range of keywords, which are sorted according to their search volume.
XOVI displays the search volume as well as the CPC and the organic positions of the various web stores.
SEO tools are also able to spy on competitors' backlinks, identify trending content and much more. They are traditionally particularly important in the affiliate business, but more and more online stores are now also using them to plan targeted content marketing campaigns.
SimilarWeb offers even more useful data. The tool obtains this from four different data sources:
- Publicly available data
- Anonymous user data
- Direct measurements
As a result, SimilarWeb receives data from real companies in various industries that share their user statistics, which are recorded by Google Analytics for example, with SimilarWeb. In this way, SimilarWeb customers can gain access to industry-specific statistics in order to compare their own performance on an industry-wide basis.
Data useful for online competition analysis, such as monthly visitors, average duration of visits, bounce rate, average number of pages viewed, etc., can provide information on the competitiveness of your own web presence.
SimilarWeb offers a range of useful information that is accurately estimated based on competitors in the same industry, as well as other data sources.
Tools such as Jungle Scout and AmzScout are relevant for anyone selling on Amazon. In contrast to Google, Amazon unfortunately does not offer any specific figures for search terms on its internal product search; for this you need third-party tools such as Jungle Scout.
Jungle Scout is an excellent tool both for brands that want to establish themselves in a marketplace and for those that already sell on Amazon. As Amazon is also a search engine, the tool behaves in a similar way to the SEO tools already presented. Information on search terms such as their search volume, trends and PPC bids can be analyzed.
Before you offer a new product on Amazon, you can use the tool to analyze your competitors. You can answer questions such as:
- How much revenue does the average salesperson generate for a specific product?
- What is the average price in the product category?
- How many reviews do the best-selling products receive and how well are they rated?
- What revenue does the best performing product generate?
In this way, a well-founded product strategy can be developed for sales on Amazon. The demand for a product category can be measured and the product features defined. The costs for any PPC advertising are also known before market entry.
The browser plug-in shows important data relating to the search term "watch roll"
Amazon Brand Analytics
Registered sellers receive access to Amazon Brand Analytics - a tool that helps sellers to target their advertising budget.
The most popular function is the Amazon search terms report. Here you can find useful information such as
- the most popular search terms in a defined period,
- the search frequency rank,
- the 3 best products for a specific search term,
- the click rate of these products,
- and the conversion rate of these products.
Brand Analytics shows the search frequency rank for the term "watch box" and search terms containing the keyword, as well as the ASIN, the product title and the click/conversion rate of the top 3 products.
BuiltWith is a "technology lookup", i.e. it analyzes the technology used on any website. This makes it possible, for example, to find out on which technological basis the competition has created a website.
In our example, the tool categorizes with the website of www.rolex.de technologies used in the following areas:
- Analytics and tracking
- Content Delivery Network
- Content Management System
- SSL certificates
- Web Hosting
- Name Server
- Web Server
This analysis is particularly useful if a new website is to be developed or if individual features that are already being used by the competition are also to be used. The details displayed here are particularly useful for web programmers in order to understand the architecture of a website.
Social Media Analytics
Numerous tools can be used to understand how your own brand performs compared to competitors on social media platforms. Basic KPIs include:
#1 Mentions or Share of Voice
A popular KPI in the area of social networks is Share of Voice. This figure measures the share of your own mentions in the aggregated mentions of all competitors. For example, if the luxury watch market segment consists of the three brands Rolex, Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet and the social mentions in a certain period amount to 100, 80 and 120, Rolex would have a share of voice of 33.33 % (100 out of a total of 300 mentions).
The free SocialMention tool aggregates brand mentions for keywords in a specific region and language within a defined period of time.
#2 Engagement rate
Having lots of followers may look good, but it is of relatively little use if these followers do not interact with your brand. You can measure the level of interaction with a brand using the engagement rate.
It is measured by the number of interactions such as likes, comments or shares divided by the number of fans and followers. The engagement rate is not only a useful KPI for your own channels, but also helps to evaluate the performance of social media campaigns.
#3 Return on Ad Spend
This simple metric provides information on how efficiently the advertising budget was used. A campaign that generated a profit of €10,000 with advertising costs of €1,000 would result in a return on ad spend of an incredible 10:1.
#4 Contact price per thousand
Paid advertising on social media no longer has to be based on feeling. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter offer numerous data and targeting options to create a profitable campaign.
An important parameter here is the cost per thousand contacts. It indicates the cost per 1000 users who have seen an ad. However, it should be noted that this figure does not provide any information on user behavior. This means that the cost per thousand contacts correlates only weakly with the profitability of a campaign.
#5 Click-Through Rate
A classic KPI is the click-through rate (CTR). It is one of the most important parameters in performance marketing, as it provides information about the performance of the advertising material. It is calculated quite simply from the ratio of clicks to impressions.
A/B tests can be carried out using the CTR to compare several advertisements with each other and iteratively arrive at a high-performance advertising campaign. However, the quality of the target group should always be taken into account, as the CTR is heavily dependent on the targeting.
Popular social media marketing tools
There are a number of useful social media tools that can help you analyze the competition. A classic is BuzzSumo, which allows users to analyze competitors' content, measure engagement and find influencers. Another excellent tool for comparing brands and their audiences in social networks is SparkToro.
SparkToro displays the most popular social media accounts, hashtags, phrases, podcasts, websites and geographic locations associated with the two brands.
Google Alerts is a free method of finding out about news relating to your competitors. This useful tool allows you to filter out news related to a keyword (for example, the brand name of a competitor). A list of relevant news can then be automatically sent to your inbox.
The selection of sources, frequency and region are easy to set.
Google Trends provides us with the most recently published news related to the term "Rolex"
Conclusion on online competition analysis:
There is a wide range of tools that simplify online competition analysis and offer completely new insights. Which tools should actually be used depends on which marketing and sales channels are in the foreground.