6 Ways Your Competition Is Using Digital to Get (and Stay) Ahead
In what seems like a daily battle to win the business – and loyalty – of both new and existing customers, simply having an integrated marketing strategy will only get you so far. You need to outsmart your competition every step of the way. Keeping pace is no longer enough. You should always strive to be one step ahead. But, how do you do it? Easy. Learn from what your competitors are doing well – and then beat them at their own game. Here are a few things the competition is already doing to have a leg up on you.
1. They’re Watching You Like a Hawk
Successful businesses pay attention to their competition. It’s par for the course. They are hunters; they seek out ways to capitalize on what they perceive to be weak spots in another business’s marketing strategy. Having a clear understanding of your position in the marketplace vis-à-vis your competition helps you be more proactive with your online and offline go-to-market efforts. A great way to do this is to see what people (aka, your potential customers) are saying about them. We know that consumers are highly likely to trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Pay close attention to the feedback and reviews they get – and take lots of notes. You will likely start to see patterns – especially around negative reviews – that can help inform what gaps your business can fill or how you can deliver a better overall experience.
2. Their Keywords Are Always Fresh
A thorough and relevant keyword strategy is a good way to get found online and boost your overall online presence. However, doing keyword research alone is no longer enough. Your competitors know that staying competitive in search requires leveraging tools and techniques for following and tracking new keywords and emerging long-tail phrases. You need to be just as aggressive with your keyword strategy. For starters, identify the terms your competitors are using. Learn from them, but don’t copy their efforts. Just because they are using specific keywords and phrases doesn’t mean you should rely on the same keywords and phrases, too. Your businesses are different; you need to carve out a unique space of your own. The insights you can help you find your business’s “sweet spot.”
3. They Use Social Media to Expand Reach and Build Community
Your competition knows that engaging target audiences across multiple channels is critical for long-term success. Social media is no exception to this rule. Customers expect their favorite businesses to be present on key social media platforms. It’s table stakes in today’s marketing world. Because social media is transparent, widely accessible, and the perfect medium for engaging customers in conversations about your business, it’s become a staple in every business’s marketing strategy. The best way to stay on top of what your competition is doing is to follow them on social media. (Hint: they are already following your business!) See what they do well and learn from their mistakes. Pay attention to what content sparks the most engagement as well as what creates the sound of crickets. Following your competition on social media can give you a wealth of insights that will make your own social media efforts even stronger.
4. They Consistently Pursue Backlinks
Backlinks are links from other sites to a company’s website. Search engines analyze these relationships to help improve traffic and search engine rankings for quality sites. Having a lot of backlinks is good, but the quality of those links matters a lot more. Some experts even say that one solid backlink from a respected website is worth more than 100 weak links. Your competition knows this. Not building out a solid backlink strategy risks missing out on all the SEO benefits they can provide. To get started, use a tool like Open Site Explorer to see which sites direct traffic to your competitors’ websites as well as to your own site.
5. Their Site is Constantly Being Optimized
Search algorithms are always changing. That’s why it’s absolutely critical to keep your business’s website search engine optimized (SEO) at all times – for building your business’s online presence, driving leads, and ranking higher in search results. They know that all the content on their websites must be optimized at all times – not just new content. Start by building a site framework that locks in best practices around high-quality keywords, description tags, title tags, and metatags. What they know, however, is that keyword stuffing fails. Search engines looks for relationships between keywords and phrases to deliver the most relevant results for any given search query. Limiting each page of content to no more than five keywords is the best way to achieve this (and minimize headaches).
6. They Use PPC In Full Force
Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising can generate huge traffic, but when your competition gets there first you need to make an equally weighty investment to catch up. To save yourself the trouble and expense, target long-tail phrases instead of common terms. Also, keep in mind that paid advertising works best when it complements a solid digital marketing strategy. In other words, there’s no point in spending marketing dollars on a paid advertising effort if your online presence still has a few gaps.