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How to research competitors

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How to research competitors

Knowing how to research competitors in your market is vital to the success of your business. In this article we’ll discuss how to analyse your competitors. We’ll also provide you with some excellent tools to help you find out what’s working in your industry (and what’s not!)

Firstly, let’s look at what competitor research is-

What is competitor research?

Simply put, it’s researching your direct & indirect competitors online to see how their marketing strategies are working. Once you’ve put together your research, you’ll be able to analyse their strengths and weaknesses. You’ll also be able to identify gaps in the market and work on a plan for you to fill them.

Your competitors are also brands that target the same users as you. These brands don’t even need to be selling something similar to you, just that they’re fighting to get the attention of the same demographic you’re targeting.

So it follows that the first step in this article on how-to research competitors is to create a list of brands to analyse. Once you’ve got your list of competitors, it’s important to consider updating your research periodically. This is because strategies may remain the same but the market fluctuates. Conducting updated research will help you stay on top of market trends.  Let’s unpack this a bit more-

Why update market research?

Monitoring your competitors’ marketing strategies and their effectiveness will help you identify points for improvement. But there are other reasons to keep your research up-to-date:

Stay on top of results

You know which channels perform best for your business. But what if your competitors have identified other channels and strategies? You need to know about this and adjust your strategy if necessary.

Identify trends

Identifying trends that are seasonal or recurring can be very beneficial for your business. Knowing how trends fluctuate can help you develop promotional strategies to exploit these trends.

Learn from others

Sometimes it’s better to observe the mistakes and successes of other businesses and then strategise from there. This will help you save budget and time.

Without further ado, let’s unpack how to conduct your competitor research-

SEMRush Market Explorer

This is a seriously powerful tool that you can use once you’ve registered. Registration is free and you’re able to view 10 Market Explorer reports per day. With this tool you’ll be able to:

  • Map out competition in a growth quadrant
  • Qualify competitors based on audience size & market potential
  • View competitors’ online market shares and changes in their position over time
  • Create a custom market to research marketing strategies

With this tool you’ll also be able to get a breakdown of the market patterns, which will help you isolate the right audience for your business. Additionally, you can view which social media channels your competitors are using (this can be found in the Benchmarking report).

The next step in researching your competitors is finding out which platforms they use for their marketing and advertising-

Google Trends

This free tool allows you to uncover where your competitors are being mentioned online. This helps you understand the platforms they’ve chosen for their advertising and marketing. The great thing about this tool is that results are displayed in real time. This resource shows you how frequently a keyword is entered into Google’s search, relative to the site’s total search volume, over a specified time period.

For an in-depth look at how to use Google Trends, check out this informative article by WordStream.

Now it’s time to find out how your competitors are faring with their social media efforts-


This tool is very simple to use. Just insert a keyword/domain name in the search bar and click on Find Content. The ensuing output will be content containing your input, coupled with social media engagement. Hover over one of the engagement results and you’ll see how many likes shares and comments each piece of content received.

This resource is a great way to see which content marketing strategies are working, versus which aren’t.


This resource is a great way of finding out what your competitors’ PPC (Pay-Per-Click) keywords & SEO strategies are. With this tool you’ll be able to search and download their keywords and better streamline your advertising strategy accordingly. As they say themselves, “SpyFu exposes the search marketing secret formula of your most successful competitors. Search for any domain and see every place they’ve shown up on Google…”

They also have an excellent blog, packed full of resources for the savvy entrepreneur. You can view that here.


A free tool that helps you check for relevant keywords based on your business’ niche. You’ll receive SEO based tips and score your site for optimisation. This resource will also help you generate new keyword ideas. For more information on how you can use this tool, check out this informative article by BackLinkO

Lastly, staying up to date with your competitors’ tech is very important-


This is an add on to your Google Chrome browser that identifies the technology a website you’re on uses. Upon looking up a page, BuiltWith returns all technologies it can find on the page. Simple to use and a great way to gain insight into what works and what doesn’t.

This app is used by over 300 000 people and has a whopping 4.1 star rating over 486 reviews. Definitely a heavy-weight in its arena.

And there you have it, armed with these insights, you’ll be able to effectively craft your online marketing strategy and make sure it works, without breaking the bank.

Once you’ve gained these insights, you may need some assistance in optimising your searchability online. We’d be happy to help! Simply contact us and we’ll set up a time to chat about your budget and needs.

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