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Online Competitive Analysis

Step 3 – Research the Competition

You already may be aware of some of the competition, but it’s still a good idea to get a solid hold on what everyone is doing. Here are some tools to help you do it easily.

Enter keywords into a search engine that someone may use to find your business, or one similar to it, and check out the results. If you don’t seem to get very accurate results, try again using quotations around your keywords to get results that are phrased exactly as you present them.

I recommend creating an excel spreadsheet listing the most relevant competitors and collecting the following data:

• Company name

• URL

• URL page rank

• Owners & key employees

• Description of business

Page Rank

Page Rank is a number between 0-10 that Google assigns to URLs indicating their view of the importance of the Website. A strong page rank for most sites may fall between 3-5. Very few websites actually have a page rank of 9 or above. For example www.FaceBook.com has a page rank of 9 and www.Google.com has a page rank of 10.

You can check this quickly by downloading the newest version of the Google toolbar with a P.R. feature. To make sure that the function shows up on your web browser click on the ∇ symbol on the right hand side of the toolbar. Then select add/edit profiles and click on the “tools” tab at the top of the page. Check the box next to “page rank” and save the changes. A small horizontal bar will appear at the top of your browser similar to the one pictured here. It may be white or partially or completely green depending on the PR of the page you are on. If you move your cursor over the bar a short message will pop up that says: “Page Rank is Google’s view of the importance of this page (“x”/10)”. The number that appears in the place of the x is the Page Rank for the current page.

If you prefer not to use the Google toolbar you can also check Page Rank at www.prchecker.info/check_page_rank.php by submitting each URL. If you are going to check several sites, it’s faster and easier to just download the tool bar.

The reason you need to do this is to get a better understanding of whom you are competing against and what it will require to eventually be able to consistently outrank them in search engine results. Plus, it’s good to know how the different competitors measure up to each other, especially if there is fierce competition or if there are wide gaps between the rankings.

Note: Page Rank is only one indicator of the strength of a Website. It is possible to build a highly successful company and have a Website with a PR of 0. Also, it takes time to establish PR so new progressive companies may still indicate a lower PR than older established companies that may even be losing market share. My point is don’t put too much emphasis on PR. Just take note of the ranking, as it is an easy indicator to access.

Owners & Employees

Record the names of the owners and employees (you will want these so that later you can remove them from your mail and e-mail lists). You may easily find these on the Website itself or you can check for them at www.allwhois.com. If the domain owner has used who is guard to block the information it will not be available.

Description of Business

Record a brief description of their business, including their competitive advantages/disadvantages and their USP (unique selling proposition).

Join their Prospect List

Join their e-mail list. I would recommend using a non-business e-mail and first name only. If a competitor is important enough to you, it may be worthwhile to buy some of their products to further evaluate their company. Knowing your competition is part of the due diligence you must do to find the gaps in service where you can excel.

Note: Understanding your competition should never be confused with copying or stealing from them. Not only is that unethical but also ineffective since you will not be able to outshine your competitors by creating an unauthentic replica of them. Instead use the information to provide the same market with a better solution or to identify a gap in the market that is not being adequately served.

23 Comments

  1. Hi could I use some of the insight found in this blog basically give a link to your website?

    • Sure, you are always welcome to quote material from the site as long as you include the company name “Brassy Marketing & Publications” and a link.

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  3. How to add this to my RSS reader? Apologies I am a beginner :(

    • :) There is an an RSS “button” in the bottom left hand corner of the screen. Just click and select the place you would like to see the feed for example your Google home page. Let me know if you would like more help.

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  6. Do you have an rss feed (or whatever its called)? I couldn’t find it. Sorry, but I am not blonde ;)

    • Yes, it’s at the bottom left hand corner of the page :)

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    • Thanks, and yes I can post some photos. Thank you for the suggestion.

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