Man looking at an analytics board

How to identify who your competitors are

Competitors, you know they’re out there, but all too often, you don’t really know who they are or what they’re doing. Does this sound familiar? Perhaps you don’t have the time to carry out formal competitor research, or maybe you don’t know where to begin. However, with a few tricks and useful bits of technology, researching your competitors doesn’t have to be a difficult task.

Google your competitors

There are many ways to identify your competitors. However, one of the quickest and easiest ways to discover who is out there is to Google them. There are several ways to do this effectively. Firstly, find out what keywords match your business. If for example, you’re an online florist, your keywords might be “online florist” or “flowers for delivery”. Simply typing these into Google will show a list of related businesses. Alternatively, you can Google your own business and then look at the “People also search for” function that appears on the right-hand side of the Google search results. If you wanted to get super in-depth, you can also Google whatever competitors you find and then use the “People also search for” function to find businesses related to them.
Find more keywords

To uncover even more competitors, once you’ve identified one or two related businesses, you can use sites like SEMRush and SpyFu to find out more keywords. You can then use those keywords to search for more businesses.

There’s also the more traditional route of simply asking colleagues, suppliers, partner organizations and clients about potential competitors. If you have a particularly good relationship with a client, asking them about other companies that they considered or approached before using your business can be a good way to find out about serious competitors. Otherwise, some colleagues may have joined your business with a competitor company. They can also be a great source of information about your competitor’s inner workings and potential pitfalls.

Find similar websites

SimilarWeb is a fantastic free tool that you can use to find websites that are similar to yours (hence the name!). Simply enter your website’s URL and it will display up to ten similar websites. You can then use these websites to find other related websites and so on until you’ve built up a solid list of potential competitors.

Look up review sites

If relevant for your industry, take a look at review websites like Yelp which can help you discover new competitors. Likewise, reading through your competitor’s reviews will help you work out how well they are performing and how satisfied their customers are.

Keep your research going to find more competitors

Competitor research isn’t something that you simply do once and then never bother to undertake again. Competitors pop up all the time, especially if you operate in a fast-growing industry. You should always monitor new arrivals into your industry.
It is also important that you don’t just do your competitor research and then leave it in a folder to gather dust. You need to use the information that you have uncovered. Constantly monitor the companies that you have identified. Setting up a Google Alert can be a quick and efficient way to keep up-to-date with your competitors. Likewise, regularly visit their websites and social media sites to discover their latest marketing efforts. There may be a blog post, keyword or social media campaign that you can repurpose for your own uses!
Knowing who your competitors are is simply good business. By identifying competitors, you can supercharge your marketing efforts, discover new strategies to use and monitor what they are doing. Competitor research isn’t time-consuming when using the right tools, and it certainly pays dividends in the long term. So, begin researching your competitors today. You may find it gives you the edge you need to become a leader in your industry.

Displaying “Alternative to” competitors is good for business

Many people are afraid to say to their users who their competitors are, but if you do it and do it right, you can convert users that would choose your competition if they are undecided.

You don’t need to send the users a message telling them who your competitors are, but you can create pages on your website where you show the advantages of using your business vs. your competitors (remember that you control your website content, so you can write whatever you want that will gain the visitor trust).

Keep in mind that you, as the business owner, know very well your competitors, their strengths, and weaknesses, but the average user is not focused as much as you to know all of this. They will believe what they read.

Visitors arriving at those pages want exactly that, to see the differences, the advantages of using your software.

Be sure to include what features you have that your competitors do not, write in your own words what do you do better, compare the price and if it’s higher, explain why. Make a list of Pros and Cons to be easier to read, add a few screenshots and maybe 3rd party review sites if your score is higher.

Your page should always end with a call to action so the visitor can register to your website or subscribe to a newsletter so they can enter yours on boarding funnel.

Benefits for displaying your competitors

A lot of people are searching on Google for alternatives: “alternative to or “vs.” or “compare“. They are either unhappy with their current solution or want to see if there is a cheaper solution or just undecided.

Those users are either unhappy with their current solution or want to see if there is a cheaper solution or just undecided.

alternative to google trends

Websites like Alternative To and G2 Crowd rely on people searching for this keywords.

Make sure you create a page on your business website so you may rank in front in Google so visitors arrive on your website.

Examples of websites that display their competitors

Chargebee comparing to Chargify and others

  1. Address the pain point of the visitor in the first paragraph: “Looking for a Chargify alternative?looking-for-chargify-alternative
  2. 3rd party reviews from G2 Crowdg2crowd 3rd party review
  3. Feature comparisonfeature comparation
  4. Clients testimonials that say why did they switch to Chargebee (very smart).clients testimonials
  5. Other clients highlightclients highlight
  6. Links in the footer with the competition (benefiting a lot for search engine traffic).footer link competition

Other good examples of businesses showcasing their competitors on their website (in a smart way).

Drift as Intercom alternative – they rank #4 on Google on keyword “intercom alternative”, in front of AlternativeTo.net

drift intercom alternative

Chatra as Drift alternative – ranking #2 on Google for “drift alternative” (probably until Intercom decides to create a page to showcase the alternative of Drift). They have a nice image in the header.

chatra vs drift

Intercom as alternative to Zendesk for Customer Support – intercom is also targeting the market, adding “customer support” (Zendesk Alternative for Customer Support | Intercom) or “live chat” (Olark Alternative for Live Chat | Intercom)

 

Startup Strategies Track Competitors

Startup strategies to keep track of your competitors

I remember when I started my last startup, Monitor Backlinks, that almost every day I was tracking my competitors’ websites, blogs, social media and try to figure out what they are up to, why did they do the things they were doing.

You have to be honest with yourself; competitors know a lot more than you do about your niche; they have been working for years trying to optimize their business, increase leads and conversion rates, while you are just starting. You don’t need to copy their every move, but at least stay up to date with what they do so you don’t waste time making the same mistakes or optimize your website and startup faster.

Strategies that will help you decide what can you learn from your competitors

Tracking your competitor site changes

You only need to review once most of the pages of your competitor, to get an idea on how they organize the information they publicly display to their visitors. Some pages will require you to come back and figure out if they have changed anything.

From my research, I saw that the homepage and pricing page could change every month (usually small stuff, like adding a testimonial, a certificate or an award badge, the copy of the text …). As an entrepreneur, you will most likely try to remember everything in your head, but you can also try Competitive.Business tool to track the website changes and have a clear history (visually and text) on what changes; also you will get alerted via email when something changes.

Monitor the blog and social media accounts

The blog and social media are where your competition marketing employees will write articles about their niche (so your niche).

Do not think that this is random text, just to have some content on their website; the topic of the articles are usually well planned, targeting specific keywords that are well researched to get high keyword rankings on Google and drive free inbound leads that their sales team can work.

You do not need to read all the articles from beginning to end carefully. It’s enough just to scan their headlines and try to figure out if that article was written to target specific keywords to rank in Google or if it’s a very long article, to be very well documented and their audience will find it excellent and link to them, boosting their startup website.

Also, your competitors’ will announce new or improved features on their blog and social media. That means that you are already a step behind when you read that article, but it’s better to know and think if it’s worth implementing for your startup or not. And don’t worry, you are working on something else that your competitors are not working on while they improved their app.

Trial emails and their newsletter

Create an account on your competitor website and keep track of what emails they are sending. You will learn their free trial conversion funnel and apply some of the strategies to your startup. It’s common that they might offer a discount after the trial ended, or invite the user to a 1-on-1 demo call.

Also, their newsletter may contain invitations to webinars. If they are doing this, it is a confirmation that that marketing channel works for them.

 

Takeaway for your startup

All of the above strategies are free to do manually, and they provide a ton of knowledge, you have no excuses if you don’t do it!

There is a lot more to talk about when tracking your competitors, but just remember, knowledge is power, but also, knowledge is time-consuming. Find a balance, focus on building your startup while keeping an eye on your competitors.