Everyone wants to rank higher in search results than their competition. One of the best ways to achieve this is to stay on top of how the competition is doing online. What are they doing right and how they are doing it.

If you aren't aware what others in your industry are up to, how do you know what to do to improve and surpass your competitors?

Here, I'll detail some of the most important things to pay attention to when it comes to checking out others in their industry.

How Is Their Website?

A business's website is the key to converting consumers from just looking to making a final buying decision. If a business's website isn't converting enough visitors, then looking to see what is working and what is not on a competitor's site can help you implement (without copying) the positive things that are found on your site and ensure that future customers purchase from your business.

The easiest thing to do when assessing a competitor's website is to act like a customer. Can you find what you are looking for easily and do their pages load quickly? Also, be sure to look at how their site looks and works on a variety of mobile devices Then you will want to begin digging deeper. SEO Quake and Screaming Frog are great SEO tools to be able to analyze a number of different search parameters on other sites such as keywords, errors, links and much more. Once you have this data you can apply the things that are working for your competitor on your own website.

Don't forget to search for your competitors using industry keywords and see where they rank in search results. If they rank higher than your business, use the data to improve your site's ranking and if they rank lower, find out what things on your website is making it rank higher and continue to do those things and even add more.

What Are Customers Saying About The Competition?

Personal business reviews, written by satisfied and unsatisfied customers, are a wonderful asset to businesses, even though it might not always feel like it. These reviews let the business know, sometimes rather bluntly, what they are doing well and where they need to improve.

However, reviews specific to each business aren't the only reviews that are useful. You can also learn a lot from checking out the reviews of competitors on major reviewing sites such as Yelp and CitySearch.

If reviewers consistently compliment your competitor on something, consider how that, or something similar, could be implemented into your business. If, for example, your business is an Italian restaurant and another restaurant is always getting complimented for its free garlic knots, you might consider adding free breadsticks to the menu. In the same vein, you should also learn from common complaints. If reviewers don't like something about a similar business, there's a huge chance they won't like it if you do it either.

How Social Is The Competition?

Social media is the best way to reach your customers and prospective customers in this digital age. If you aren't getting much traction in your business's social media efforts, then you don't need to reinvent the wheel, you can learn what works by looking at what the competition is doing.

Things to look for in competitors' social media:

  • Posts that have gotten a number of comments, likes and shares
  • The audience they are attracting
  • Which social media outlet they get the most interaction on
  • What keywords and the type of content they are using

Once you see what works for your competitors you can then adapt it and add those ideas and items into your social media strategy. Make sure you don't copy exactly what they are doing, but you can use the ideas and keywords and then adapt it into original content and posts.

Where Is The Competition Getting Traffic From?

Just like all websites, not all business listing directory sites rank as high as others and there is a chance that your business may not be listed on the most effective sites. If there is a competitor that is ranking higher in search results, then checking out the listing directories where they are listed is a good idea. If your business is not on those same sites, then make sure it is added.

Other things to check for with business listings to increase your ranking in search results:

  • Check that you do not have duplicate listings
  • Make sure that the business listing is accurate and consistent with listings elsewhere
  • Verify the business listings on major directories such as Google My Business
  • Manage the business listings on a regular basis to ensure accuracy and consistency

These are just a few simple ways to learn from business competitors. The key is that instead of being frustrated with a competitor that ranks higher in search results or is gaining more customers, take a closer look to find out what they are doing right. Then, you will have some ideas to implement into your business's digital marketing strategies to improve ranking and bring in additional customers.

We know you probably have more tips up your sleeve for learning from the enemy, so please share below!

Hand-Picked Related Articles:

* Lead image adapted from JD Hancock