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Competitor Monitoring: How to Track Your Competitors Online

Competitor monitoring is your gateway to decision-making and future-ready strategies. Unleash your business potential with the power of competitive intelligence. Start your competitor monitoring adventure now!

Home / Blogs / Competitor Monitoring: How to Track Your Competitors Online
Raghav Tayal

Head Of Operations - Digital Web Solutions

January 18, 2024

You are doing everything right, yet your competitors take the cake by ranking higher, driving more traffic, and generating more ROI than you. But how are they achieving that? 

Competitor monitoring can help you figure out how. A healthy competition is a great way to constantly stay updated with current market trends and deliver innovative solutions that solve a problem. Your competitors, in fact, will encourage you to constantly look for better ways to improve the nature and quality of your business presence. 

However, your competitor will not be out and open about what they are doing. Their secret sauce is always brewing, and you need to keep an eye on what is working for them and how you can include their ingredients into your recipe to gain a competitive edge. Let’s get started with learning how competitor monitoring works. 

What Is Competitor Monitoring?

Competitor monitoring or competitor tracking is the process of researching and analyzing what your competitors are doing to be where they are right now, how the target audience perceives their brand, the messaging they are using to attract qualified leads, and how they are keeping up with the industry’s evolving requirements. 

With effective and strategic monitoring, you will be able to understand your competitor’s approach to reaching your target audience and find creative, future-ready ways to drive traffic and ROI to your business.  

It also helps your brand build an attractive and promising perception from your potential customers. Competitor monitoring works as a magical mirror, allowing you to look at your industry and understand what is happening in order to plan your next move. Strategic steps to track competitors can be the key to becoming an industry expert in your niche.

Which competitors should you be monitoring?

It is important to understand who your competitors are. This will give your competitor monitoring a direction and will help you build your own data library, consisting of every research, tracking, or analysis you have ever done. Your competitors are of two types:

Direct competitors

These businesses offer a similar (or even the same) range of services as you are. Tracking and monitoring these businesses should be your priority as these businesses are running cutthroat competition with your business growth. Your customer today has many options and offerings, and they are likely to compare before making a final decision. When they find your offer to be worthy amongst others and value for money, they are most likely to choose your brand over others. 

Indirect competitors:

These are the businesses that offer different ranges of services but are catering to the same target market. These businesses are not competing with your business. Still, as they are tending to the same pool of potential customers, it is recommended to keep an eye on these businesses, which will give you ideas on new perspectives,  ideas, and approaches. Furthermore, it will significantly broaden your view of the industry, helping your strategies evolve and giving them a creative face. 

The collective benefits of monitoring and researching your competitors include:

  • Making better and more favorable decisions that are backed by real-time data.
  • Recognizing your competitor’s weaknesses and working your way around them.
  • Have an opportunity to increase your sales and ROI by continuously updating your strategies.
  • Have a better understanding of the market and be able to provide innovative solutions.
  • Create learning opportunities by observing, appreciating, and analyzing your competitors.
  • Make your business future-ready by gauging the steps your competitors are planning on and how you can do the needful to stay ahead of them.

Strategies for Monitoring Your Competitors

Monitoring your competitors can be overwhelming and tricky without knowing where to start. You may end up spending countless hours researching and yet have no breakthrough. Time is of the essence, and you shouldn’t let it slip by not knowing where to start from. 

While the first step is always to identify who you are competing with, the following steps must be done to ensure you are making the best use of your time, resources, and efforts to craft a ravishing strategy. Here are the steps you must follow to monitor your competitors smartly:

Uncover the Keywords They’re Targeting

Identifying the keywords your competitors are using to reach their target audience through paid and organic efforts will give you a clear idea of the keywords to take into consideration. Avoid keyword cannibalism or rewriting their content pieces as your own. 

Consider using keyword tools to identify the keywords they are targeting and ranking for. These tools also come with the feature to conduct a keyword gap analysis to help you identify the keywords your competitors are missing out on and include them in your strategy. 

Furthermore, these tools can also help you find long tail keywords, LSI keywords, semantic terms, and negative keywords. Having a broad spectrum of keywords will help you create an all-around strategy that caters to different levels of audiences at the same time without your efforts coming across as pushy or synthetic. 

Analyze Their Rankings Against Keywords

Each keyword, when used strategically, can enhance the chances of a website ranking on search engines. When you conduct keyword research on your competitors, you can identify where they are putting their efforts and how they are investing their resources. 

Certain SEO ranking tools will help track your SEO efforts against your competitors in real-time. This will give you a better perspective of how things are going and if your strategies are working out. However, it is important to understand that your SEO efforts will not start yielding results from day 1. It takes time for a web page to get indexed by the crawl bot. 

Avoid refreshing your page frequently during this time with new, keyword-stuffed content. Instead, focus on providing valuable, innovative, and unique content that aims to solve a problem. Adhere to keeping your content to the point, easy to understand, and informative. Additionally, if you plan to use transactional, navigational, or broad match keywords, remember to find keywords that will help you decide the intent of your content. 

Other keywords that you should consider identifying during the course of your include:

  • Broad match keywords: The default match type of the keywords you are using will be assigned to give the set an easy-to-understand and locate category. 
  • Clickable keywords: Generic keywords that are used when running ad campaigns that maximize your potential of increasing clicks and, eventually, sales. 
  • Commercial keywords: These keywords are used to entice potential customers to browse a particular product or service but are not in the frame of mind to make a purchase.
  • Customer-defining keywords: The set of keywords that directly target your potential customers or market. These keywords are specific and will enhance your reach significantly. 
  • Evergreen keywords: The set of keywords that will forever be used by your potential customers whenever making a search query. 
  • Exact match keywords: As the name suggests, these are content or keywords that align with all the keywords that are being used in the search query, exactly how they were fed into the SERP. 
  • Geo-targeting keyword: Utilizing location-based keywords to attract highly relevant traffic to your website. 
  • Google Ads keywords: Keywords or phrases that are used in Google Ad campaigns. 
  • Informational keywords: Keywords used in content that is intended to provide information. 
  • Intent keywords: These keywords match the user’s purpose for the search queries being made. 
  • Keywords by length: Keywords that are identified by the number of words they have. These will include short-tail keywords, mid-tail keywords, and long-tail keywords.
  • Locational keywords: These are the keywords that contain specific locations in them to generate results relevant to the business’s geographic location. 
  • LSI keywords: Also known as Latent Semantic Indexing keywords, these are words or phrases that are related to the target or primary keyword conceptually. 
  • Navigational keywords: These are the keywords that indicate the user’s intent to navigate to a particularly relevant and specific website.
  • Negative keywords: Used in Google Ads when running ad campaigns, these keywords prevent your ad campaigns from getting triggered when a particular phrase or keyword has been used. 
  • Transactional keywords: These are the keywords that show that a potential customer is ready to make a purchase decision.

Research Their Most Shared Content

Researching the type of content your competitors share will help you understand the nature of content that works well for them. It will also help you analyze data and have your own records to get your own strategy started. For the same, it is always advised to watch the website (blogs, announcements, ebooks, or even newsletters) along with social media. 

If they are present on any other channels, keep an eye out for what they post there as well. Knowing what your competitors are posting, when they are posting, the frequency at which they are posting, and the nature of their interacting target audience will help you curate your own content marketing strategy. 

While you are in the process of collecting data, do keep the scope for creativity and innovation, as these traits will give a unique perspective to your brand, eventually making you stand out from the crowd.

Furthermore, when you have identified a pattern, you will also be able to decode many things, including why their current strategy is working and the touchpoints their strategy is missing out on. 

Remember, there’s no such thing as a perfect crime, and there’s always evidence left behind by even the smartest of criminals. Look for these clues, and you will be able to find your way into the heart of your target audience. 

Stay Alert for New Content

Understanding your competitor’s content marketing calendar will enable you to think out of the box. It will help you understand how specific type of content they are producing within their niche. Through this, you will be able to categorize the nature of content your business can produce and if it will be received well by your target audience. 

Google Alerts is an excellent way to set alerts for whenever your competitors are using a specific, targeted keyword. You will be amongst the first ones to know about the content published and will be able to make amends to your content marketing strategy and produce content that corresponds to their published content. 

After some time, you will be able to predict the nature of the content they are producing and identify the type of content your business wants to produce. By balancing these, your content marketing strategy will have a wider approach and potential to attract more traffic to your website. 

Track New Links

Link building is the protein bar for your SEO strategy. By identifying the backlinks your competitors are using, you will be able to identify key elements of their outreach strategy and get insights into the type of audience they are targeting and how they are placing their content for more online visibility. 

Furthermore, you can also look at how their customers are responding to the content being published. Take the factors that made content likable into account and tone your content accordingly. The key here is to find your way around it without making your content strikingly similar to theirs. Backlinking is essential for your website to grow. 

Considered to be a ranking factor, backlinking to a high domain authority website makes it easier for Google crawlers to identify your website as genuine and credible. On top of that, if your website is enriched with high-quality, intent-driven content, your chances of ranking higher increase significantly.

Read Competitors’ Customer Reviews

Any form of content your competitors are posting should be analyzed thoroughly. Right from the keywords, visual content used, and even the customer feedback in the form of comments, reposts, and reshares. At the end of the day, everyone is trying to make their target audience happy and feel content with the type of services or products their business is able to offer.

Here is how you can analyze your competitor customer’s reviews for insights:

  • Pay attention to the positive ones first and create a list of features or experiences they have highlighted.
  • Are there any reviews that were initially bad but improved after the brand took action and handled the situation through exceptional customer service?
  • How useful are people finding their content, and which part of the content piece has been really constructive?
  • Is there content sharable on social media platforms by their readers? Some websites enable sharing of sections of the content and even sentences on social media platforms.
  • What are the negative aspects of their content that people didn’t enjoy? Was it the examples they shared or the depth of content? And how you plan on making your content value-oriented. 

Monitor Your Competitors’ Social Media Presence

Social media has made brands more accessible than ever. If your competition is on social media, pay close attention to:

  • The type of content they are sharing- carousel informative posts, fun video content, or infographics. 
  • How often is their content being shared, and how is the brand responding to it? Are they commenting with a “thank you,” or are they limiting their interaction with just a reaction? 
  • What is the comment section buzzing with? Are people sharing their own ideas to add to the conversation?
  • What type of people are sharing their content – influencers, people working in the same industry, or industry leaders?

Read Their Blogs and Newsletters

Whenever your competitors publish a blog or are sending out newsletters in email, consider subscribing to these and keep a constant watch on them. By doing this, you will be able to identify their methodology and approach for talking to their potential and existing customers. It will also help you understand the niche of the audience they are trying to reach out to and convert. Furthermore, knowing the spectrum of information your competitors offer will help you curate and update your strategy to improve the quality of content you publish and the messaging you follow. 

What tools can be used for competitor analysis?

Using competitor monitoring tools that are designed to help with effective tracking of competitors and research ensures you are getting the right information and insightful data and are able to keep an eye out for your competitors without wasting your own precious time. Here are some tools to consider:

Competitor monitoring tools for social media

  • Sprout Social: An effective and easy-to-use competitor analysis tool to track your competitors’ progress on social media.Key features of Sprout Social include:
    • The tool comes with features including social analytics, social publishing, campaign optimization, and social engagement.
    • The social analytics feature enables complete competitor analysis, follower analysis, and post-performance attribution.
    • Export performance results with report exporting to understand the scalability scope with report customizability.
    • Strategic social monitoring and listening to understand the evolving needs of your target audience closely, what they like, and what they aspire to have
  • Phlanx: This tool makes collaborating with influencers and managing relationships easy without missing a beat.
    Key features of Phlanx include:

    • Find and effectively interact with influencers for collaborations and brand mentions. 
    • Social media auditor to help you analyze and understand traffic, content reach, and more
    • Calculate engagement on social media platforms and video-sharing and streaming platforms like TikTok and Twitch.
    • Quick and faster contract generator to ensure you can implement your strategy as soon as possible.
  • Social Blade: The app works like a teammate for your social media strategy implementation and tracking.
    Key features of Social Blade include:

    • An interactive activity dashboard that makes tracking and analyzing data easier.
    • Customizable reports to ensure you get highly detailed and in-depth insights over every campaign.
    • Track engagement, performance metrics, and the influencers your competitors are working with.
    • Seamless social media integration for monitoring, performance management, and promotion

I-powered competitor analysis tools

These AI tools can supercharge your strategizing and competitor tracking significantly. 

  • Kompyte: The tool uses AI to filter out the noise in the market and solely focuses on tracking and analyzing your competitors across millions of platforms and data touchpoints.
    Key features of Kompyte include:

    • The tool allows for effective AB Testing, Benchmarking, and Ad-hoc reporting.
    • The alerts and notifications settings ensure you are able to see what your competitors are publishing. 
    • Complete campaign analytics and management using collaboration tools.
    • Customizable fields and reports to ensure you are constantly tracking the right parameters.
    • Furthermore, the tool has features including engagement tracking, key performance indicators, and keyword tracking.
    • Complete real-time tracking of analytics, comparisons, and data alongside monitoring and time updates.
  • Crayon: A competitive intelligence tool that enables you to keep track of your competitors without missing a beat. The tool flags critical information and shows insights you can act from, sourced from millions of pages.
    Key features of Crayon include:

    • The tool uses advanced AI and ML abilities to source viable data across the internet.
    • Automated real-time notifications and alerts
    • Can integrate with a wide range of business software used across the organization. 
    • Collects info from online as well as offline sources to offer in-depth analytics that can be used to enhance the quality and effectiveness of your strategy
    • It’s an intuitive and easy-to-go-around platform.

Competitor monitoring tools for SEO

SEO competitive analysis is an effective way to understand how your competitors are getting their organic traffic and the range of SEO efforts they are using. These tools will also give you insights into where you are lacking and areas where you can sail. 

  • SEMrush: The tool is versatile and can be used for all-round SEO analysis of your competitor. Here is what the tool can help with:
    • Keyword Research to help you find and understand keywords that will drive more traffic to your website.
    • On-page SEO analysis that will help improve your website’s performance and ranking potential.
    • Rank tracking ensures you are able to track where your website is ranking on search engines regularly.
    • Constructive competitor analysis covering aspects including organic research of your competitors, position tracking, keyword gap analysis, keyword overview, backlink gap, and backlink analytics.
  • Ahrefs: The SEO tool is known for offering a wide range of services that can be used for multiple SEO research purposes. Here is what the tool can help with:
    • A complete and thorough analysis of the website structure to understand where your brand is missing out.
    • URL info to help you understand data types the crawler collected while it was going through the page.
    • Better and seamless outgoing links export.
    • Analysis of multiple seed sources and redirect chain issues.
    • Enhanced details on current website issues and how to fix them (instructions appear on the Ahrefs tool).
  • MozBar: The tool can also be added as an extension to your Chrome browser, enabling a team to conduct real-time, on-the-spot data analysis and identify scope for improvement in their strategies. Here is what the tool can help with:
    • The tool shows the website’s potential page authority, domain authority, and spam score.
    • Helps in identifying the potential ranking of the website.
    • Conduct a thorough on-page analysis including URL, page title, meta description, meta keywords, heading tags, bold/strong, italic/emphasis, and Alt Text. 
    • Analysis of general attributes, including robots meta directives, page load time, Google cache URL, the canonical link, and page load time.
    • Check if the markups are in place, including Schema, Open Graph Protocol, Twitter Cards, and Microformats. 
  • RankWatch: A top choice for conducting constructive competitor analysis and research, RankWatch is an easy-to-use tool that makes it seamless to understand what your competitors are doing and how you can have an advantageous edge. Here is everything you can do with RankWatch.Here is how you can use RankWatch to conduct competitor research and analysis:

    Step 1: Log into your professional RankWatch account. Click on ‘Dashboard’

    Step 2: Click on a new project and add your competitor

    Step 3: Now, click on the ‘Competitors’ tab

    Step 4: The tool will now show the ranking trend and other important information about your competitors. 

    To smartly track competitors, the tool is highly efficient and practical in providing accurate, real-time data. 

Assistance From AI Lara

RankWatch’s AI assistance, LARA, will show a list of possible new competitors, their organic traffic, different SERP features that are getting targeted, and the ads they are running.

Complete List Of Your Competitors

The RankWatch tool allows users to track an unlimited number of competitors. The assistant will show all the ranking keywords along with the ranking URLs, snippets your competitors are showing up on, and the average rank. The assistant filters all the information you might need to make the best of your competitor research.

Adding KPIs As Per Requirement

Track your competitors on the parameters that you want to. Set key performance indicators that allow you to keep track of how your competitors are performing for factors that are important to you. Click on the ‘Table Settings’ and choose the parameters you want to look out for. 

Spying On Competitors’ Ad Copies

Understand and analyze what makes your ads dull and how your competitors always have an influx of customers. Here’s how:

Step 1: Click on the tab named ‘Ad Copies’

Step 2: Select your competitor’s name from the drop-down menu, and the ad copies they are using will appear. 

Competitor analysis tools for content

Analyzing your competitor’s content will help you understand the nature of the content they are producing and how it is helping them attract more traffic. It will also help you find creative ways to improve your strategies and give them tough competition. 

  • Surfer SEO: A cloud-based on-page optimization tool that efficiently compares your pages with the ones that are ranking high on SERP. It tactfully draws comparisons and helps in upgrading your current content marketing strategy.
    Key reasons to use Surfer SEO:

    • It has a unique and highly functional content editor that makes it possible to produce high-value and intent-oriented content.
    • Highly comprehensive and detailed SERP analyzer that provides detailed insights from a content point of view, enabling businesses to add, prune, or create new content pieces. 
    • The content auditor makes it possible to edit content to improve the piece’s ranking and content quality. 
    • The content planner makes it easy for large and busy teams to plan their content and streamline the processes.
    • Keyword research feature to find and analyze keywords your competitors are using. 
  • Buzzsumo: The platform makes it incredibly easy to keep an eye on currently trending news stories and social media alerts that will help ensure your social media strategy is constantly helping your brand grow.Key reasons to use Buzzsumo:
    • Insightful reposting through a user-friendly dashboard. These reports can be exposed.
    • Social analytics helps in thorough competitor analysis and post-performance analysis of campaigns.
    • It helps in finding worthy content sources while also generating tactful content suggestions.
    • Monitoring and listening to ensure you always know what’s going on in the conversation. 
    • Social measurements and influencer identification to contact influencers and collaborate with them.
  • Similarweb: The tool is known for making research intelligent and effortless while ensuring everything you note and observe can be used to turn tables in your favor. 

    Key reasons to use Similarweb:

    • A centralized platform that makes management of platform data, reporting, and data collection similar
    • Custom research sources and advanced data collection to garner more information and better insights about what your competitors are doing.
    • Reports and seamless integrations, along with the convenience of segment-trending.
  • Feedly: Cut through the clutter in the market and help you find the kind of information you are looking for. The tool is intelligently designed to assist you throughout your content research and analysis. 
    Key reasons to use Feedly:

    • Useful collaboration tools and document management to ensure that everything you do is being traced and tracked.
    • The tool allows multi-channel distribution along with the feature of reporting/analytics.
    • The app also has seamless integration into social media platforms, enabling enhanced trend analysis. 

What key metrics should I track to understand my competitors better?

You need to outline the key metrics for close competitor monitoring to keep the view vast. This can make tracking and keeping an eye challenging and haphazard. Instead, consider tracking these KPIs:

Competitors’ SERP rankings: Where on the SERP are they ranking, which types of topics they are ranking high for, and subsequently, which topics they are trailing to rank for?

Competitors’ social media presence: To gain an understanding of how their social media strategy is unfolding, its alignment with their content strategy, and the results they are getting. 

Competitors’ unsatisfied customers: Analyze their reviews to recognize where your competitors could be doing better and how you can cover the gap.

Monitor the FAQs: Track the questions the target audience asks about their business or to them. How will your brand answer these questions with solutions (in the form of service or product)?

Their PPC advertising strategy: To understand where they are placing their ads for maximum visibility and clicks and the key components of their ad copies. 

Competitors’ backlink-building strategy: Identify where your competitors are getting their backlinks from and how they are utilizing them to scale higher on search engine rankings. 

Competitors’ on-page efforts: Track the sections that were crawled by the bot and how it worked with your website.

Parting thoughts

Competitor monitoring is a great way to test the waters and start taking action to gain a competitive advantage. While you are constantly monitoring and analyzing their performance, strategies, and tactics, keep room for your own creativity and innovation to flow through. The purpose of competitor tracking is to have additional data (tried and tested type) to experiment with new ways to attract, nurture, and convert your target audience. 

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