How to identify your competitors (for better keyword research)

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Ever wondered why you have not attained the first position even after creating an informative website and amazing social media profile? Well, that may be because you might have left out the important factor of the market i.e., identifying your competitors.

Well, no business can survive in isolation. So yes, competitors are present in every market, be it in physical or digital form. The most important part is how quickly you can identify and analyze your competitors and gain a competitive edge in the market.

To survive in this fast-paced and ever-changing business environment, you need to learn how to identify your competitors (for better SEO keyword research) along with users and their preferences. 

Before reading further, let’s understand what the main objective is behind performing competitor keyword research. Well, it’s simple! It is to include all the relevant keywords in order to be ahead in online presence, visibility to the audience, and the top position in search engine ranking.

There are innumerable ways available on Google to discover your competitor, but here are 7 best ways for you to learn how to check competitors for keywords.

Understand the type of competition and their relevance

The first and the foremost thing is to identify your own space in the industry and your position in the Search Engine Result Pages. Take a look at the players ahead of and behind you in the line.  

Here the competition is for visibility, ranking, and audience. There are 3 types of competitors-

  • Direct - Those competitors whose product and audience are the same as yours.
  • Indirect - Those competitors whose either product or audience is different.
  • Semantic - Those competitors whose product might be different but catches your audience's attention and time.

Direct Competitors

You may already know this, right? Well, direct competitors are simply individuals or businesses who sell similar and identical products to the same target audience as yours.

Example, Adobe or Skylum Luminar. Both companies provide professional grading photo software.

Learning from Indirect Competitors

It is easy to find direct competitors in your market. What makes your approach different is your search for indirect and semantic competitors. It requires a more creative approach and finessess.

The goal that every player is trying to reach, to be visible to the audience. Indirect competitors may not be from your industry but are selling the product or services that are capturing your audience’s attention. 

How to identify what keywords competitors are using? 

Well, it can be done by analyzing their techniques and content. Competitor keyword research is a tool that will not only increase your online presence but will also help you generate more business ideas.

That’s why you have to be updated with your industry trends to spot indirect competition in your space. Your findings after research will help in delivering distinctive content apart from your competitor.

Learning from Semantic Competitor

To be in line with the rise and fall of the present trend, you have to keep semantic competitors in your list too. You should track your audience’s movement to know what kind of content they are consuming.

Keywords change from time to time, and therefore searcher’s queries also. Semantic competitors can help you to identify the keywords that are doing rounds in your space.

Studying a semantic competitor might give you some new ideas on how to attract more audiences in your industry with more exposure and right content strategy.

To recognize the less-established players in the online market, you need to consider semantic competitors. As these players are the primary source of exposure for not-so-popular contenders; but might become your indirect competitor if you don’t recognize them in time.

Do manual searching and find the topmost competitor

Before studying any other competitor in the line, take a look at the top competitor. Just google the keyword and select the one at the top position.

Research how their content is made and delivered to the audience, the thought process behind the content, why audiences spend time and time again on their platform, and how they attract more people to become their audience.

Also, take notice of the ads that appear on the top of the page. The business has paid for that ad and keyword to appear in the SERPs. It will tell you which keywords are important for your competitor and are being targeted.

Not only the keywords, but they are also producing content that is making the audience engage more with their site.

Copycat - The ranking competitors

Let’s say you have amazingly great content and a good platform, still your visibility is not up to the mark, then what will you do? You will ask yourself how to identify your competitors (for better keyword research), right?

Well, first identify the competitors, then check their visibility and engagements. If it’s more than yours, then find out the primary and secondary keywords they are using for more outreach. 

How they summarize their content and present it is also important. Utilize their way and make your content more interesting enough. This is not advice to copy, you have to imitate the keywords and information (that you think users will benefit from) only. 

Make sure to come up with an original asset that can answer all the queries of your audience. In short, as per this strategy, you need to do what ranking competitors are doing, just in a better way.

Use Social Media

Social media is the right platform not only for exposure but also for tracking your audience’s behavior and pattern. See who they are following and what for. (Generally, this can be answered in the comment section).

This will let you know who your direct competitor is. Observing how they are engaging more audiences on their profile, can help you understand how you can adopt these practices in your own unique way to drive traffic.

There is a facility of conducting polls that you can leverage and get to know more about their preferences, tastes, and likes. If you are innovative enough, you can also extract what they want from your content and what is currently missing?

There are other websites available for references, like Quora and Reddit, to get to know your audiences much better. Youtube, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter are also not behind; they are a real-time platform.

Track the local pack

If you wish to become the top search in local search, then change your strategy as per the local rules and regulations. The local pack is nothing but the results shown for a “near me” query.

Google uses different factors to include local content in the local pack. It uses distance and relevance of your google business profile.

To get a position in the local rank, first, you need to analyze other players, how they are getting positioned and why? Monitor their actions and make a note of what unique strategy they are applying to be in the first position. Then apply the same to get yourself up in the local pack ranking.

Utmost important is keyword research, without which your competitor wouldn’t have been your best competition.

Here are some examples for better understanding the competitors in the virtual world. As mentioned above, Adobe and Skylum Luminar are the direct competitors in the professional-grade photo editing software industry.

In the same industry, Snapseed and VSCO can be called indirect competitors, as both of these are apps for mobile usage.

As for semantic competitors, Digital photo and Photo district news both are online magazines targeting photographers.

The best and most efficient ways are mentioned above, here are some of the additional tips on how to identify your competitors (for better keyword research), that you can use to be more effective with your keyword research.

Few Additional Tips -

  1. You can also use pointers from guides. A guide is a long-form of content that in-depth explores a specific topic. Reliable and relevant information is available here.
  2. Thought leadership articles are also another type of long-form content that is written by an authoritative person. You can extract some very important insights into associated keywords.
  3. Industry experts can also provide you with valuable information for your content and can also increase reliability on your content (because it is quoted by an expert itself)
  4. You can also take hints from edutainment content i.e., entertainment and education both, to express in an amusing manner.
  5. Links and mentions in between the content are also helpful. It refers to review sites, authoritative sites, or publications, all of these generally have large followings. 

Final words

When managing your online presence, identifying and analyzing your competitors is extremely important. It’s not an option, but a necessity. If you are not conducting competitor research, you are missing out on a lot of valuable opportunities to grow.