Every writer’s nightmare is the loss of inspiration, right along with writer’s block, and easily on par with running out of topics to write about. The latter isn’t as terrible when you know where to look. And that’s exactly what we’re going to talk about today.
When you’ve exhausted your searches on software like Ahrefs, or Google Trends, and just can’t come up with anything good, the answer to your dilemma just might lie in the most obvious place that you’ve overlooked.
The answer lies in competitor content analysis…
By technical definition, competitive analysis is identifying your competitors, evaluating their strategies, and determining their strengths and weaknesses relative to your own service or product.
It’s perfectly natural to want to avoid animosity or to feel threatened by competition. But in knowing what your competitors are writing about, you may find hidden gems in the form of article ideas, and you end up increasing your productivity.
However, deriving inspiration from your competitors doesn’t automatically give you any leeway to go ahead and plagiarize their ideas. Inspiration is not (and never will be) an excuse to infringe on other people’s intellectual property.
What you want and need to do is derive inspiration and hopefully gain some new insight as you do your competitor content analysis.
Everyone knows how difficult it is to come up with new and original content ideas these days. Any idea you could think up has a high chance of already being in existence. For this reason, you need to know how to use your competitors’ content and twist it around — approach a new angle — and write something even better.
So how do you get started with your latest content acquisition?
In this article, you will learn:
Step 1: Know who your competitors are
Every business has a main competitor. Chances are, you already know two or five of them. But if you’re really looking to get the most out of your content scouring excursion, you’re going to want to identify the other competitors you’ve overlooked — or the ones that don’t really pose a big threat to your business, but are — in a sense — selling the same products or services as yours regardless.
According to Neil Patel, you have the three most common categories of competitors:
- Direct competitors: Similar products and revenue goal.
- Indirect competitors: Similar products but different revenue goals.
- Replacement competitors: Products are slightly different, but the same customers.
For extra reference, you can look into the other two, but for the most part, direct the majority of your efforts on tracking down your direct competitors — no matter how discreet they may appear.
There are over 200 million active websites available on the web. That makes finding a few competitor websites a bit of a challenge if you plan to do it manually. So, fortunately, there really isn’t a need for you to do so.
- Use Softwares: Tools like SEMRush, Spyfu, Ahrefs, etc are useful for finding keywords. Type in your main keywords and look for other websites that crop up in the results.
- Google search: To be really thorough, you can use good old Google search to help you identify your competitors.
- Go to SimilarWeb.com: SimilarWeb is a tool that allows you to enter a URL in order to identify similar sites. In addition to yours, you can also enter your competitor’s site so you can see their competition. The free version gives you 10 results, and doing it right will usually give you a list of 10-20 good competing sites to scour through.
Step 2: Look into other areas of your competitors’ site
The blog section is evidently the place you’ll be jumping straight into once you start your topic search. And while you’re skimming through their articles, keep an eye out for specific things that will aid your topic creations, and will give you more insight on what you’re planning to write. Look out for the:
- External links: Take note of the external links they use on their articles. They might lead to other important articles and interesting topics you haven’t looked at before. Take note if it if you find one that led to something that caught your eye.
- Comments section: Don’t neglect to skim through the comments either — if there are any. Comments are audience responses, and since your main goal is to right for the audience, then you need to know what they need or what type of questions they’re asking. Or even better yet, is there a specific sub-topic in the whole article that caught their attention? Maybe it wasn’t covered fully, and you can expand on them later on.
- Look at social media: As everyone knows, social media networks are a good place to share existing content and even announce new ones. In addition, they’re also good places for finding new topics to your rapidly drying up an editorial calendar. Look at your competitors’ follower base, and pay attention to their recent posts along with their CTAs. And afterward, you can use that information to construct your own strategy that will attract your target audience.
Step 3: Make a list of topics
Allocate a specific amount of time to look through one category of their blog (if they have several) to scan their latest blog articles. Jot down the ones you find interesting, or the ones you haven’t covered yet for future reference.
Ask these questions:
- How frequently does this website post new articles?
- Are they posting articles in a series or one topic at a time?
- Is this site posting reviews on other people’s content?
- Do they allow guest posting? If so, who are the guest bloggers? Do you recognize anyone?
Step 4: Apply the Skyscraper Technique
Coined by Brian Dean in 2015, the Skyscraper Technique succeeded in doubling organic traffic in a matter of 14 days. And since then, marketers jumped on the bandwagon and tested it.
And four years later, the Skyscraper Technique is still implemented by bloggers to beat each other in their bid to reach the top. Doing it correctly can give you an increase in traffic by as much as 110% in two weeks.
But how does it work exactly?
Well, now that you’ve found content and created your list of topics for reference, all you have to do now is to write a completely new topic, or write something similar but tackled from a different angle or present a new argument. The Skyscraper Technique is all about creating an even better version — or something else entirely.
If you choose to write on the same topic, then you need to write it in such a way that sets it apart from your initial source material. Write with the latest statistics and data. Make it longer, and create an even better structure. Or if it lacked detail, then make yours more comprehensive and thorough — covering all the bases.
What’s your end result?
By the time you finish, your own article is guaranteed to outperform the previous one. In creating the longest and most well-researched and in-depth article on the particular subject, you’ll find that your post may easily become one of the most helpful and credible resources on that specific topic.
For added value, don’t forget to include screenshots and high-quality images to keep your readers engaged. And of course, never forget to add internal links to other posts and cite your references.
Don’t shy away from doing a competitor analysis to gain some new inspiration. We all need to face the fact that so-called “new” ideas aren’t entirely new anymore. Every idea is derived from something or other, removing the complete originality that’s sought after.
Use your competitors’ past content as inspiration for writing something better and will trounce your competition.
Without a doubt, the value of quality content hasn’t diminished. To date, it’s the quickest and most fail-proof way to get ahead of the competition — when you’re doing it correctly, of course. By all intents and purposes, you must create content that answers people’s needs, and makes them want to share, view, and read.
Al Gomez is a Digital Marketing Consultant at Dlinkers and Sagad. With more than twelve years of digital marketing experience in search engine optimization, paid search and email marketing, he has contributed to a variety of online publications including Moz, Semrush, and Wordtracker.