In the marketing world today, content is everything. You can no longer just throw up some cute, catchy, ad and expect people to pay attention. People are skeptical and for good reason. We are constantly slammed with ads, offers, and promotions. I’m sick of it and I bet I’m not alone. So taking this into account, what is left? Content! In order to be successful, you need to give people something they want to look at, something that benefits them, something informative!
So how do you know what people are looking for? Look at what your competitors are doing! A Competitive Content Analysis is exactly what it sounds like, you are going to compare and analyze your content and your competitor’s content. Here are steps to take to successfully do your own and start generating content that people actually want to read!
Step 1: Find your competitors
I’m sure you probably know who your competitors are but take a closer look. Make sure you get a list of a few different kinds of competitors. If you’re a small, local company make sure you have some small, local competitors as well as some bigger, well-known ones. This will ensure that you are taking a broad look at your industry and getting the best information from your analysis.
Step 2: Begin your analysis using a site map tool
We like using AuditMyPC for this step. Then click the image to the right that says “Audit my PC Sitemap Generator + Webmaster Tool” to start the program.
You will see this page:
To begin, all you need to do is input the web address, (helpful tip: check the “exclude images” box, it will save you time in the end!) hit the green start button, and wait!
The bottom, right hand corner is where you can watch the crawl. Based on the size of the site, the crawl will last anywhere from 2 minutes to 15 minutes. (Helpful tip: input “site:webaddress.com” into Google and you will have a rough estimate of the number of pages that will be crawled)
Once the crawl is complete you can begin the next steps to start the analysis.
Step 3: Export site map
Click on the “sitemap” tab underneath the URL and you will see this page. Yes, it is a little intimidating but don’t panic, it will get cleaned up soon!
There are a few sub-steps in Step 3 that you must do in order to successfully export your sitemap. I am going to explain those steps in pictures, just to make it a little clearer!
Sub-Step 1: Export Delimited File
Sub-Step 2: Save as .TXT file
(important so it will open nicely in Excel)
Sub-Step 3: Open with Excel
Make sure that you use the semicolon as your delimiter so your list comes out clean!
Once you successfully open your file, you will end up with a large list of words and numbers (pictured below) that probably don’t make a whole lot of sense initially. This is where a little bit of work will come in. You will have to put your organization skills to use and be a bit little creative in order to come out with some good info!
Step 4: Organize your spreadsheet
I personally delete all the columns after “mimetype” which leaves me with only the 4 most important columns to organize; URL, Title, State, and Mime Type. This step makes your spreadsheet cleaner and easier to understand.
In order to organize this spreadsheet and have a useful sitemap, you will need to have some Excel skills (if you don’t, recruit someone who does!). The goal of this organization is to have a list of all the different pages on each site so that you can compare your content to competitors. This process can be a bit tedious, requires patience and time but it is worth it! There are several different methods to organizing this list but these are the things that you want to get rid of:
- Any failed page
- Any images (indicated under “mime type”, sometimes images get crawled even if you check the “exclude images” box!)
- Any duplicate pages (sometimes there is a glitch in the crawl that creates a distinct pattern in the spreadsheet. If this happens, just delete those pages)
Once you have organized this spreadsheet, you will want to take note of these 2 things:
- How many total pages there are
- Where is the bulk of the content (Blogs, services, about us, etc)
You will want to repeat this entire process for your own website as well as at least 3 competitors. The more competitors you analyze, the more valuable your information. Once finished, you will be left with a complete list of all the pages on each website.
This list is valuable because it not only tells you where all of the content lives but also what type of content. Look at your most successful competitor, where does their content live? What are they doing that you aren’t doing? Look at your weakest competitor, what are you doing better than them? Get what I’m saying? There is no secret formula once you have your lists complete. You can always go back and add more competitors or revise your lists when you have time. But, for now, this is a great way to get the ball rolling and start improving your content and engage your customers and viewers.
There is much more you can do with Competitive Content Analysis so check back soon for more tips!