Competitive analysis on the Internet certainly differs from the classical understanding of benchmarking. Now, to analyze a competitor’s website and advertising campaign, you only need to have an understanding of the opportunities provided to you by various Internet services, and general knowledge about the business of the intended competitor.
However, this article will focus more on the formulation of problems and how to solve them, and the tools will be mentioned only as examples based on the residual principle. The fact is that with the development of technology, tools also appear and disappear quite quickly, so the main thing is that you understand the logic of the necessary research, and you can always find the latest tool for solving the problem.
Since the Internet is a sales channel, you need to understand that you are competing with another site in terms of channel coverage. Your task is to determine the volume of this channel (the audience of the thematic niche), and the distribution of coverage shares.
Analysis of competition in search engines
If we talk about search engine marketing, this volume can be expressed in impressions and clicks on thematically grouped keywords (semantic core). You need to collect this semantic core, estimate the volume of expected traffic for this core, and distribute it across the main search engines.
Yandex’s Word Selection and Google’s Keyword Planner services will help you collect statistics.
You can view the current share of audience distribution between search engines using Liveinternet statistics.
You can determine the main competitors in terms of organic search coverage by collecting (parsing) the TOP 10 positions for all queries in your semantic core. Coverage and its comparison is made in percentage terms of semantic core coverage.
For example, your site is in the TOP 10 for 46% of queries of the intended semantic core. This means that your main competitors will be all sites with a coverage of 47% or more.
To avoid being overtaken by some young and fast-growing site, you need to keep your finger on the pulse and repeat this analysis at intervals of 3-6 months, responding in a timely manner to changes in your higher-level and nearest lower-level competitors.
If you want to get visibility of the overall picture based on your competitors ‘ queries, backlinks, and search positions, you can expand your data using services like Megaindex, Semrush, Ahrefs, Similarweb, or Spywords.
Analysis of competition in contextual advertising
In contextual advertising, you need to identify competitor sites separately. It is not necessary that the site you found in the search is also advertised in the same amount in contextual advertising.
The logic for determining coverage shares is still the same. The only difference is in the data collection sources. Also, when collecting data, you need to understand that you will get the final report based on search queries and not on keywords used by competitors (and the difference can be quite large). You can also calculate only the maximum budget, but it is almost impossible to calculate the real figure for competitors ‘ costs for the context.
In addition to parsing placements directly, you can also try using reports from specialized intelligence services such as Advse, Spywords, and Semrush.
Analysis of traffic to a competitor’s site
So, knowing the sites of competitors, we can try to determine whether any of them use well-known free statistics / analytics services (hereinafter referred to as «counters»), and if possible pull out available open data from them.
It is quite easy to determine the tags installed by a competitor — just view the html code of the site’s pages.
A small difficulty may be caused by a tag container installed by a competitor, such as Google Tag Manager or similar. In this case, you won’t see anything in the page code other than the manager’s code. This problem is solved simply by using web development tools built into many modern browsers. you just need to open the web developer console, select the «network» tab, and reload the analyzed page. You will see all the page elements that are loaded, including calls to the Yandex. Metrica services.
If a competitor is trying to do analytics at least minimally seriously, then most likely you will find traces of Yandex.Metrica and / or Google Analytics. On an older site, you may find buttons for Liveinternet or even Rambler TOP100 counters. You should also pay attention to the counter from Рейтинг@Mail.ru. This can be either their old tag, which was installed a long time ago and has since been used only for viewing statistics, or a new tag, which can be used even without an image and is necessary for tracking goals and conducting remarketing in Target.mail.ru.
There is still a chance to meet counters from Openstat or HotLog. They also have ratings broken down by category, and sometimes there are sites with open statistics.
So, let’s try to get some open data:
- If the tag is embedded on the site as an image with numbers — then we study the numbers.
- We go to the service that provides the tag and try to log in to statistics. If it is open — we go in, study the numbers and other data, copy everything and save it for ourselves (sooner or later everything will be closed)
- If the entrance to statistics is closed, but the counter is missing, or there are no numbers on it, you can try a little trick. You need to find the code issued by the service for tags (you may need to register) and view the suggested tag options. Often, services have both counters without data (for those who don’t want to show them) and counters with basic statistics. We select the most informative version of the tag and embed it in the local html page, first replacing the ID in the tag code with the competitor’s ID. Here is such a small «loophole» to the data of other people’s statistics, almost nowhere it is closed.
If the exact data on the site itself is not available at all — you can get approximate figures using services such as Similarweb or Alexa.
Competitor’s sales and conversion analysis
So, if we already know the traffic to a competitor’s site — we can try to determine the sales volume of its products or services. Regardless of whether the goal on the site is an online sale, user registration, or any other explicit goal action, you can determine the average number of times this goal is completed per day, week, or month on a competitor’s site. Most sites keep such calculations in the form of a simple counter.
For example, it can be:
- Order Number
- Payment Number
- User ID
- Internal ID of user actions
You need to make a check mark by completing the goal for the first time and writing down an identifier that your competitor uses to identify the goal’s sequence number. Repeat the goal every other day, week, and month to measure the average daily, weekly, and monthly increase.
If you divide the site traffic per time unit by the number of goal completions during the same time period, you will get an approximate figure for the average site conversion rate for all sources. This of course won’t give you any detail, but it allows you to compare the competitor’s data with your data calculated in a similar way.