Study competitor content to identify strengths and weaknesses…

… and identify your own strengths and weaknesses

You know your website needs more content, or better content, or both. But where do you start? How do you find out what works and what doesn’t, pin down the content people appreciate most and establish what you’re missing?  
Business writing is all about meeting visitors’ needs squarely and skilfully. You want them to stay on your site once they’ve found it, appreciate the experience, find everything they need and feel they can trust you.
As a business copywriter I take a sensible short cut. Yes, I use key term research. But because understanding what your best-performing competitors are doing helps give my business writing a direction, I also check out what they’re doing and how they’re doing it.
You can do this in two ways:

  1. Punt your key terms into a search engine and see who appears on page 1 of the search results
  2. Make a list of organisations you already know are competitors

Competitor content analysis

What do you look at?

  • How much content they’ve provided for their customers and prospects
  • How often they update their site/blog
  • The subjects they cover
  • The tone and style
  • The level of detail they go into
  • The key terms they use and the way they use them

Your aim?

To figure out how to add value your competitors have missed, and do it better than them. To provide all the information people could possibly need to make an informed buying decision. To do it in a logical, prioritised way so everything is easy to find. To go into the right amount of detail using the appropriate medium for the job: video, infographics, words, downloads, blog posts, new pages and so on. To write with more confidence and authority than everyone else, in a way that makes more people want to keep reading. To apply the right level of gravitas or light heartedness, whatever suits your brand best. And to keep up the good work in the long term.

Deeper competitor analysis

If you want to explore and analyse deeper than just the content, you can also look at competing sites’:

  • Performance – do they load faster and more smoothly than yours?
  • Architecture – is everything just a couple of clicks away or do they make people dig deep to find the information they want?
  • Mobile rendering – does it look just as good and work equally well on a small screen?
  • Backlink profile – who is linking to their sites, where, how and why
  • Buying process – is it shorter and easier than yours?
  • Meta data – Have they written search-engine optimised meta data and if so, how have they done it?
  • Images – have they made all their images accessible to sight-impaired people?
  • Video optimisation – have they optimised their videos for SEO and made sure they’re accessible to people with less than perfect sight?
  • Social activity – are they socially active? If so, which social channels are they using and how often are they posting?
  • Contact procedures – do they make it easier than you for people to get in touch?
  • Terms and conditions – are they plain English or legal-speak? The law says they should be as plain and simple as possible

Knowledge is power. Methodical scrutiny of competing business’s websites gives you the clues you need to create better content that sells more stuff.

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