How to Beat Your Competition At Blogging
Most brands understand the value of targeting content to their consumers and business objectives, but this can cause them to develop tunnel vision. Marketers often forget that their content is not just for their audience—it’s also for their competitors within the greater context of the content marketing landscape.
“Having a good product and providing great customer services are just not enough anymore,” writes Michael Brenner of Marketing Insider Group. It’s crucial that you understand what everyone else in your sphere is writing and talking about. There’s only one way to boost your knowledge—competitor research.
Without competitor research, it’s nearly impossible to make your content stand out. The American Marketing Association suggests there are two key challenges in achieving content marketing success. First, the barrier to entry is low. Almost anyone can create and publish content today. This high level of saturation means you need to ensure your content is always standing out from the crowd.
Second, the competition is high. Some of your industry’s biggest players have built-in loyal audiences, even with less than stellar content.
A content competitive analysis can give you the upper hand over these obstacles. Acknowledging your competitors’ content can provide surefire ways to win the race in SEO and, eventually, win over your customers.
How to perform competitor research
You should start your competitor research before you write your first sentence. Though you’re set on developing your idea, you must ensure your piece doesn’t regurgitate information that’s already on the web. Furthermore, competitor research can inspire new ideas and help you discover exactly what your readers and target customers are searching for.
When beginning your research, conduct a search for both your chosen keyword and tentative headline. It’s best not to limit this strictly to search engines; conduct the search on the social media platforms your target audience uses as well. Take note of the top 5-10 sites that rank for your search terms. Then it’s time to dive into the results.
Who & Why
Who wrote the top-ranking content? Are the authors established industry professionals or content writers and marketers? Where are these articles published—company blogs or consumer publications?
It’s important to identify the other companies and bloggers who are publishing articles about similar topics. Often, you aren’t just competing for readership for one topic or keyword. You could end up going head to head with the same content creators every time you publish a new piece if it’s a direct content competitor.
For example, let’s say you want to publish a piece about content automation. You conduct a search and find 5 other blogs with a post on content automation. However, further research reveals they’ve also published pieces about artificial intelligence and bots—topics you planned to cover as well.
Think bigger than just the one piece you’re working on; it’s likely you’ll face your competitors time and time again. What brand voice or point of view can you use to differentiate yourself from these sites?
- Why are these companies publishing similar content?
- What do they sell, and is their product or service a direct or indirect competitor for your products?
- Similarly, is their content a direct or indirect competitor for your articles?
- What topics do their other posts cover?
- What SEO keywords are they optimizing for?
- Why did that particular page appear as top-ranked when you searched your keyword?
- How will this affect your post’s ability to optimize?
What’s the objective of your competitors’ articles? Think about the information they’re providing and the questions they’re answering. This can give you insight into what readers want to know and what types of pieces are resonating with them.
Summarize the thesis of each competitor’s piece. Think about how you can do something different to stand out. Can you take an opposing viewpoint? Can you alter your tone to provide readers a fresh perspective on the same issue?
For example, you’re attempting to rank for the keyword yoga. The top-ranking yoga articles use an inspirational tone. Instead of following their lead, can you make it funny? Injecting humor could help you capture a new segment of the yoga audience.
Look for the flaws in your competitors’ work. Read the comments to find feedback on what each article is missing. Then, conduct research that fills in the blanks; make that information the focal point of your article. Listening to your audience can help you capture new traffic by providing additional value that your top competitors are not.
Let’s say you’re looking to write a piece about healthy tea. Each of your competitors has published an article about the 9 healthiest types of tea on the market. However, readers also want to know about the healthiest sweeteners. You could publish a piece that focuses on the 9 healthiest types of teas and tea sweeteners, or you could publish an entire piece on just the healthiest sweeteners.
Taking the latter approach gives you the opportunity to reach out to your competitors and collaborate. Since your sweetener article complements their tea articles, you can ask them to link to your piece in their content. This helps you place backlinks and build your search engine credibility.
Tips to stand out from your competitors
It’s important to create content that clearly differentiates you from your competitors. The way to do this is to build an original content strategy that prioritizes value and quality.
Your content doesn’t necessarily need to be longer to one-up the competition. There’s no need to write about 11 healthy teas if the top-ranking pieces focus on 9 healthy teas. It’s possible to overwhelm the reader with too many options.
Studies show that customers are more indecisive and less likely to take action when faced with an abundance of choices. Instead, avoid fluff at all costs. Don’t focus on the length of the piece; focus instead on making it comprehensive—whether or not this includes a higher word count.
Focus on your differentiators to attract new readers. How is your point of view fresh and thought provoking? Never plagiarize the competition’s work. In fact, don’t even use a similar approach. If everyone else is writing about the same 9 healthy teas, research those teas and make your own judgments. Perhaps you can find some different alternatives that are even healthier. Or maybe you’ll discover that some of those healthy teas aren’t so healthy after all.
Writing about the same 9 teas—and then adding one more—makes the content identical to everyone else’s. Be original. You can talk about similar tips, tricks, and life hacks, but offer a new angle that no one else has tried.
Keep in mind that originality takes time. You’ll need to put in extra work to ensure you’re truly adding value. One way to do this may be exploring other types of content. Perhaps you could shoot a video, in which you show and explain the ingredients used in those 9 healthy teas you discuss in your blog. You could take photos for DIY posts about making the teas or create a downloadable PDF with the recipes.
Supplement your content with other forms of media to instantly beat your competition.
If your competition has a strong hold on your desired keyword, you may want to optimize for a long-tail keyword. Use Google’s Keyword Planner, located in their AdWords platform. Type in your keyword, and scroll to the bottom of the first page of results. You’ll see several similar keywords that relate to your topic. You’ll also see the volume of searches conducted for these terms as well as a ranking of the competition (i.e. High, Low, or Medium).
Don’t expect to beat your competitors by chasing the same keywords and content. This is especially true if your website is new and you’re up against established sites with high “domain authority”, a statistic that indicates how well a page ranks in search engine results.
Put your audience first. What do they want to know? What answers are they searching for? You might begin your competitive research with a specific keyword in mind, but you could discover that your target audience might be searching for terms for which your competitors aren’t optimizing.
Let’s say your competitors are ranking for “healthy teas” but you find that there’s a need for posts about “tea sweeteners”. Don’t go after your competitors with an article about “healthy teas”; go after your customers with a post about “tea sweeteners.” You can offer them value that no one else is providing, and in the process, you’ll set yourself apart from the competition.
Select one of your blog posts that isn’t performing well. Where does it appear in search results of the keyword for which you optimized?
Go through the steps outlined in this post. What is your competition doing with similar content?
Do they have stronger keyword optimization?
Do they have more unique tips?
Do they have a differentiated tone?
Do they use other forms of content?
Now, how can you beat the competition? How can you stand out? Create a plan and put it into action. How will you add a new perspective, brand voice, or additional content to supplement value for your audience?
Then, measure your results:
In 2-3 months’ time, check-in. How has your search results optimization shifted based on the changes you made?
Are you closer to the competition in search engine results?
If yes, how can you further promote that piece on your social media accounts to keep pushing it forward?
If not, what other changes can you make?
To get the best possible results, work with Palm Beach Content Co. to create strong, optimized content that leaves a lasting impact.