This article outlines the following five steps to carry out a thorough website competitor analysis.
- Assessing Competitive Landscape
- Analyzing Website Traffic Metrics
- Social Media & Content Analysis
- Web Technology & Tracking Analysis
- Personnel & Corporate Structure Research
First let’s look at a video example of carrying out competitor research for a Clickbank product.
Website Competitor Analysis
Assessing Competitive Landscape
When entering a new niche you may have an idea who the big players are and who will form your direct competition.
Note down the domain names of any websites that you are familiar with.
Use Google to search for topics within the niche and look for blogs, companies, brands that operate in that market.
Search for Sub-reddits and Facebook groups and see what is being talked about.
Search for relevant hashtags on Twitter and Instagram to find influencers and look back to see if they are promoting any products or services.
Ideally we want to break down the competition into categories such as:
- Content Sites
- Digital Products
- Product Companies
- Service Companies
From this list we should be able to highlight the top 3-5 websites that are in direct competition with our own project. Let’s dive in and do further competitive analysis on these sites.
Analyzing Website Traffic Metrics
The first thing I want to find out is how popular the site is and how they generate traffic. For this I use the free version of similarweb.com
Here’s an example report for a site:-
Note that for smaller sites Similarweb won’t have much data. For this example however we can see the estimated number of visitors and traffic patterns. There’s been a steady increase in visitors up until this month. The geographic regions of those visitors with Russia and the US being the key regions.
Most of the traffic is direct meaning the visitors directly typed the domain name into the address bar however there are some referring sites. The referrals section may give clues as to where popular sites get traffic and back-links.
The search section shows the vast majority of traffic is organic (unpaid) however there is some PPC budget being spent on the keywords listed which are mainly Russian.
The display ads section shows where display advertising is being run and on what websites. Audience insights goes a step further by showing interest based categories which can be used to build custom audiences on advertising networks.
There’s also a list of “also visited” websites which will help build out the competitive landscape model.
Social Media & Content Analysis
The next step is to get a gauge of how active the website is on social media and how their content strategy operates.
The simplest way to do this is to visit the main website and find the social icons and any links to a internal blog.
The social media channels will provide vanity metrics such as follower count which are useful although easily manipulated. Engagement and the community quality can provide additional qualitative data points.
By browsing back over the past 3 months posts it should be possible to get a feel for:-
- The type of content that is being created
- The engagement rate of the audience
- Conversion intent or content purpose if any
- Core message or value propositions
- Audience / demographic targeting
The key aim here is to get a feel for what the company does, who they serve and how they go about communicating their message.
Web Technology & Tracking Analysis
The next step in the website competitor analysis is to look at how the site is built and what 3rd party tools and trackers they are using.
For this I use https://builtwith.com
Enter any domain name and it will analyze the sites code and provide detailed information on:-
- Analytics, Tracking & CRO Software
- Advertising Includes & Data Clues
- Widgets & Plugins
- Code, Libraries & Frameworks
- Mobile Portability
- Hosting, SSL, CDN’s
- Content Management System
- Content Syndication Techniques
The most useful aspect for me is the tracking and advertising data. You can see what ad network tracking pixels a site is running for example. It’s another clue as to where they are getting their traffic.
Personnel & Corporate Structure Research
In the footer notes of most sites you’ll find an about us page or some kind of guidance on the entity that created the site.
From there we can look up the corporation or person on LinkedIn to do further research.
If it’s a corporation we can see how many employees they have, where they are based and what their main line of business is.
Quite often I come across media companies or holding companies that list a portfolio of sites they run or are invested in.
From the employee list we can pick out key personnel and then look them up on other social networks such as Twitter. This may give some insights into what they are working on and where the site is heading.
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