How Do I Match My Competitor’s Content?
How Do I Match My Competitor’s Content?
Did you know that your competitor’s content can actually help you in your marketing efforts? It’s not the hindrance you think it might be. In fact, used with a little knowledge, it’s exactly what you need to be able to nudge ahead of them. Get a freelance writer creating content writing, based on lessons from your competitors, and you’re doing something incredible.
Your competitor’s content is information
In the olden days of marketing, you were left to a fair degree of blind guessing. It wasn’t easy to find out what your competitors were up to, without effectively going undercover. That’s not true now.
Your competitor’s website content is a shining beacon telling you exactly what they are doing. You’ve got all the information you need to learn from, right there, at your fingertips.
This gives you incredible insight regarding how to transform your own content writing strategy. It’s that industry-specific competitive analysis that you really need to leverage your own position.
So, on one hand, it tells you what you should be doing.
But it goes further than this.
Your competitor’s content writing also tells you loud and clearly what you shouldn’t be doing. It provides you with inspiration for seeing how you can do things better.
This all gives you one message:
View it as a learning tool, insight beyond compare, and a spring board to your own success.
This is all well and good, but what are you looking for? In essence, you need to be taking away one overarching lesson when you look at your competitor’s content: what works well and what doesn’t.
There’s a tendency for brands to get a little lost here. You know that in the modern marketplace, your brand’s individuality is paramount. You’ve had it drummed in to you that your brand is what draws the right crowd. That’s true. But it can blind you from seeing what works at other levels.
Competitive analysis provides the rock solid evidence that backs up the individuality of your brand.
It’s the concrete evidence you need.
But we get it. Competitive analysis is boring, time-consuming, laborious work. You’ve got better stuff to do, right?
Well, we’d argue that if you put in some effort now, you’re going to be saving yourself a great deal of angst and time in the future. Not to mention the pennies issue.
You need to break it down in to defining the good stuff, and the bad stuff, about what your competitors are doing. This in turn, will become the framework of your content strategy. It also brings something very powerful indeed: confidence in what you’re doing.
So, what areas should you pay particular attention to?
Your competitor’s blog
A blog is like a live stream to your competitor’s mind. It’s the best place for finding out what is going on, right now, today. It gives you a huge leg up in terms of defining your own blogging strategy.
You need to:
· Identify which posts do well.
· Work out how frequently they post.
· See how consistent they are.
· Calculate the length of each post.
· Find out about the post’s author.
· Look at their external blogging approach i.e. guest posts.
· Post popularity:
Take a look at which blogs are faring well. They may even list these for you. Take a look at which show up in search rankings, which have got great engagement, and which are shared. You need to write on these topics.
Here we have a nifty little tool that will make this super easy for you. BuzzSumo helps make it much quicker. You can see a couple of results for free, to get you started.
· Post frequency:
Next, you want to take a look at blog frequency. How often are they posting super-duper fresh content? There will be some adjusting here to see what works best for your audience. But knowing how frequently your competitor ‘does it’, gives you a great place to start.
Think of it like this: your competitors have already trained your market’s expectations. You need to meet those.
There’s also the general rule of thumb: whatever they do, do more. In fact a great little piece of research by HubSpot has shown that you will see a whopping 45% growth in traffic when you basically double the amount of new blogs in a month.
· Post consistency:
Now we’re getting in to tricky water as we know that creating awesome content writing in the form of blog posts is inordinately time consuming. You’re likely to start panicking that this simply isn’t possible, or sustainable. That, of course, is where you need a freelance copywriter to take the load. Fresh content, easy.
What really matters though is that you do address the sustainability issue. Ultimately, you’re going to be training the audience’s expectations too. If you’ve delivered fresh blog posts every Monday and Friday for months on end, you can’t drop the ball without backlash. So set a schedule, get a freelance writer on board, and stick to it.
· Post length:
Generally speaking, the longer the post, the better it fares.
However, this doesn’t just mean you can lob 2000 words at a page then sit back and relax. They need to be 2000 words of awesome SEO content. Again, for the love of all things marketing, get a freelance copywriter in on your content writing.
If you want to do it yourself, then take a look at your competitor’s offering, up the word count by around 20% and match or exceed the quality.
When you take a look at your competitor’s content, if you notice hugely variable post lengths, remember to look at which are performing best.
· Post authorship:
This is an interesting one, with the jury still out and wrangling, to some degree. One of the criteria for being highly ranked in search engines is ‘authority’. Your post’s author can lend authority and credibility to a post, simply through the use of their name.
When taking a squizz at your competitor’s blog posts, who is writing them? Is it a generic company brand with no personalisation? Is it the business owner whose name sits snugly in the by-line? Is it employees or guest posters? Is there a mixture?
This is simply about creating credibility for your brand. And the search engines love that.
Often, in small business, this is a ‘trick’ that your competitors simply don’t know. So it’s a really valuable way of edging ahead of them. Simply get a name and a unique bio to each and every piece of content writing in your blog.
· Guest posting:
Once you’ve spent some time looking at their blog, it’s time to venture out in to the big wide world. If your competitors are publishing guest posts elsewhere, or putting their name to things, then you need to emulate this.
This is actually a great strategy for you on two levels, Firstly, you’re quickly working out where you should be posting, and secondly, you’re figuring out a new audience or accessing one who isn’t hearing you yet.
Guest blogging can be even more daunting than blogging on your own site. You’re basically saying to an industry authority “hey, do you like me?” and we all know: rejection hurts. That isn’t an excuse for shying away.
If a site has accepted guest articles from your competitors they want stuff like this. That’s a confidence boost. They’ve already demonstrated that they are willing to work with bods just like you.
That said, it’s definitely an area where a freelance copywriter is worth their weight in gold. They will know how to write in such a way that your post is accepted.
Again, BuzzSumo is your handiest tool here. If you pay for the premium tool, they will show you all the backlinks to your competitor’s website. You can then investigate these to see where you should be getting guest posts. If you want to avoid spending cash on tools, then you can also try Backlinks Watch. It’s a bit clunky but it’ll do the trick.
So, with blog posts nailed, what else matters with your competitive analysis?
Social media is ridiculously useful for two things: understanding your customer and knowing what your competitor is doing. It’s the place that your desired audience is active. Go and see where they are engaging and find out more.
The very first clue is to look at which platforms your competitor uses. There will be a reason why they are on LinkedIn but not Instagram, or why they post regularly on Twitter but their Facebook site is languishing unloved.
Then take a look at what they are posting there. What are their ‘engagement drivers’? Do they ignite debate? Do they share other people’s content? Are they offering a bit of light relief, or serious education?
This won’t necessarily form your long-term strategy. After all, you want to do things better and a bit differently. But it doesn’t provide you with an excellent starting point rather than flailing around in the dark.
Now what do you do?
By this stage, you’re armed with a great deal of information. What do you do with it now?
Firstly, realise the potential gold mine you’re now sitting on. Great stuff, you’ve just given your business an awesome leg-up.
Your next mission is to: do content bigger and better.
At this stage, you take what they do and keep it broadly in line, but make it better. Effectively, you want to be nudging them out of top-spot in your customer’s minds and nicely wedging yourself in there instead.
There are two ways to do this. Firstly, through absolutely outstanding content writing and creation which outstrips their efforts. Secondly, by simply adding your name in their arenas.
Putting your name ‘out there’
Your competitors have likely done a mighty fine job of creating and developing the audience. You’re now the cool kid that’s coming in to an already established group. You have currency, if you know how to use it.
There are a few different ways in which you can do this. The easiest, and most obvious, is to generate blog posts and content which agrees with the current landscape of debate. You need to get your name to the debate.
It’s a bit of a minefield, but directly arguing the case against a competitor’s point of view is another option. It’ll get you noticed, but practice caution. Remember, people generally resist change. But, as an engagement driver, it shouldn’t be sniffed at.
Outstanding content creation
There’s nothing new about the notion of creating even better content than the competition. In fact, Brian Dean explains this ‘Skyscraper Technique’ perfectly.
Armed with your competitor analysis, you now take pieces of content and make them absolutely incredible. You up the quality factor, and by result, the length. You make it unique, but have it sending out the same message. You add something more. You use different mediums, you add in more relevant stats and facts, and you make it, frankly, incredible.
With this fabulous piece of content, you then head on over to the people who’ve already linked to this kind of content. You show them what you’ve got, and hopefully you’ll get a nice worthy backlink in return.
Think of each piece of great competitor content in this way:
· How can I do this better?
· What can I add to it?
· What statistics can I use that are more relevant?
· What images would help this?
· How can I lengthen it in a worthwhile way?
· How can I make it better functionally?
Then you do something really quite clever. You link to the same resources as that great content already does. This is like a Mexican wave to Google, signalling to ‘hey, come over here, this content is relevant to ALL of these other ones.’
In short, your content now becomes the ultimate resource in that microcosmic niche that exists. Naturally, people are gonna want a piece of that. Combine it with some savvy SEO and you’ll be on to a winner with the search engine rankings too. [link to post 9]
Are you now seeing why competitive analysis was actually really worth the investment and time? You can do it better, simply because you know what’s working for them.
To round it all up…
· In short, don’t feel daunted that your competitor has got this nailed. There are always ways to improve.
· Invest some time and energy in to competitive analysis early on, and maximise on the information it gives you. Find out what they are doing and which bits really work.
· Find out what your competitor does and do it bigger, better, with more BANG.
· Engage in the wider audience engagement with your own voice.
We’re not denying that this whole process takes time and a fair chunk of skill. That’s where getting a freelance writer in on your content writing act can really help. Find them through a platform (but do your freelancer platform homework) or come direct to the source in our content shop.
Chrissie Brown is chief copywriter here at TCN. She has an enviable reputation in the industry for creating content writing which outstrips the competition. Furthermore, she teaches these techniques to others so that their content strategy wins the game.
Main image source: Flickr