I’m not much into sports, but I do enjoy a good movie about them. Especially those behind-the-scenes types like Moneyball. I recently had the pleasure of listening to a former Pittsburgh Steelers player speak to a group of men. In his talk, he told us that the players spend more time watching film of the opposing teams than actually being out on the field practicing.
All the sports movies show their montages of the players out on the field, but rarely do they show them watching film. Yet studying the competition is one of the most important things they do! By understanding their competitor’s strengths and weaknesses, they learn valuable information that they use to beat the very competition they are studying.
Digital marketing is not professional sports, but you can learn something from the NFL about the value of understanding your competition. While the execution of a digital marketing strategy is still a defining factor in your success, what you learn from the competition can give you an advantage in that execution.
Your competition shows you which keywords are important
If your competitors are targeting specific keywords, there might be a reason why. When deciding which keywords to optimize, explore these first to see if your competitor knows a thing or two about them that you have yet to learn. You don’t necessarily want to duplicate every keyword, but you want to make sure there isn’t anything they are targeting that you missed. Find what works and ditch the rest.
Your competition uses messaging that resonates with your audience
Read through your competitor’s websites and see how they develop their core messaging. Look for specific selling points, way of phrasing benefits, and even how they lead their visitors thought the site to the conversion. Also, be sure to to review their title tags and meta descriptions in search results. Use that to craft your own messaging, one-upping them as best you can to steal the click from them—even if you’re ranked lower on the page.
If your competition has invested in any kind of marketing, they have probably researched and tested various messages to see what works and what doesn’t. You can benefit from their existing knowledge. This doesn’t replace your own research, but this makes it a good place to start. However, be sure to never copy their messaging directly, but infuse what you learn into your own content to give your audience more of what they want.
Your competition will show you how difficult they are to beat
When it comes to top rankings, search engines always grade on the curve. That means you only have to do better than the competition. For some that is a low bar, for others that can be quite high. Either way, to beat your competition you have to first be aware of what they are doing to boost their online presence.
Take a look at how well their content is optimized, and what they’re doing on an ongoing basis to build authority. Review their social media presence and how often they publish new content. This will tell you a great deal about how important digital marketing is to them overall. The more invested your competition is in digital marketing, the more invested you have to be as well.
Remember that digital marketing is always a moving train. Just matching what your competition is doing allows you to keep up. But to beat them you have to match it, one-up it and do it even better!
If you’re not quite ready for the pro leagues, start with the easy stuff and work your way up. Don’t expect to rank well for the most competitive phrases if you’re just starting out. Go for low-hanging fruit and build your web presence and authority day by day. By keeping an eye on your competition, you can use their knowledge to help you take them down and be a digital marketing champion.
Checklist for Overcoming Your Competitors:
- Select 5-6 competitors to review. Three should be for the long-game and three that are the most easy to overcome.
- Review their keywords, content, messaging, and aggressiveness of their digital marketing campaign.
- Set goals based on what you find and integrate your new knowledge of what they are doing with your existing knowledge. Create a marketing campaign that will move you closer to your goals.
- When you overcome the bottom three competitors, choose three more to take down next and repeat the process.