When you are looking for avenues to expanding product lines or service offerings, one of the strongest tools in your arsenal is competitive analysis.
Thankfully, the availability of online research tools has improved, while analyzing offline and online competitive success is truly easier than ever before. With the right tools you can discover entire product line opportunities that you might be missing out on.
I have used the following tools in business to rapidly size up competition, locate product gaps, and recommend changes. Whether you’re in charge of marketing, operations, or the owner your small business, these helpful online tools will give you a serious competitive analysis advantage:
Screaming Frog SEO Spider
Screaming Frog SEO Spider is a fairly lightweight desktop application, for both Mac and PC, that can be a huge time saver. One of the best ways to analyze the services and products your competitors offer is do look at the individual product pages on their website.
You can also download the URLs of the competitor’s website with Screaming Frog, and analyze the meta data and on-page content to inform your decisions. Screaming Frog is free for the first 500 pages you analyze and then there’s a paid version after that. If your competitors have huge sites, you’ll need the paid version for a complete picture.
SEMrush, created by SEO/SEM professionals is a competitive research and business intelligence tool that reveals organic and Ads keywords for any site or domain. You can also view keywords and pages that drive the most competitive traffic. If a competitor ranks for high value product keywords that you don’t even list on your company website, this is a golden opportunity.
The tool offers many features, but one of my favorite is the site vs. site comparison tool where you can compare your website against one or two or more competitors and show common, unique, and shared keywords. SEMrush offers a limited free version, but for extensive analysis opt for a more robust paid subscription.
BuzzSumo is a social analytics tool which finds the most shared content and key influencers for any topic. It is an excellent content marketing and SEO tool. This app helps website owners quickly identify what content is working well by revealing the most shared links and key influencers for any topic. It’s free to use and you can run a search in seconds.
However, you may run into problems with this tool if competitors do not create a sizable amount of content. For example, if you sell custom fireplaces in Dallas, Texas it is very likely your competition is not blogging or writing ebooks that you can analyze well with this tool. This is both an obstacle and an opportunity, illustrating a gap in the marketplace for good content. If this is the case you can still get ideas in your industry by expanding the search to larger companies or companies in related industries that are not your direct competition.
Google Search Operators
The most basic online competitive tools is Google Search. It remains one of the most powerful tools for analyzing competition, and with the right search operators you can extend its power even more. One of the best search operators for analyzing product opportunities is the “website:” operator.
For instance, you would type in the site you’re researching (e.g. site:example.com) and then view results of all the pages Google has indexed on the website. Compare this to your own site. Do competitors have a lot more product pages and category pages than your site? This is an opportunity. How do they organize and present their products or services? There are many questions that this simple search can answer.
As eCommerce continues to grow and the content glut increases over the next few years, it’s crucial to use the right online tools to size up your competition. It’s now easier than ever to conduct competitive analysis, but at the same time companies are pushing out more content at higher volumes which means more factors to analyze. Use the above tools to your advantage to inform your product line decisions and take your company to the next level.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Joseph Robison heads digital marketing for Coastal Creative Reprographics. The company innovates with an online-first approach to the traditional large format printing industry and is based in San Diego. Joe loves helping startups grow through organic methods using clever and creative tactics. Connect with @coastalrepro on Twitter.
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