At Cosmetic Digital, we like to say ‘keep your friends close, but your competition closer’. Because spying on your competition isn’t a nefarious or underhand practice at all, but incredibly commonplace. In fact, your competitors are probably already spying on you.
Before we go into the ins and outs of how to spy on your competition, it’s useful to know why. Tracking activity can help give you an idea of what your competitors’ next move will be, so you can stay one step ahead. It can also show their weak spots while giving you the chance to profit from their setbacks. By following our tips, you’ll gain an insight into your competitors’ content, keywords and their wider digital marketing strategies, so you can successfully plan your own, winning more queries and clients in the long term.
Follow your competition
All successful businesses have a strong foothold in social media, whether through organic content, ads, or a combination of strategies. It’s useful to scout out all their social profiles, so you can get an idea of what works where and what doesn’t. You can look at their post rate, number of followers (and whether they are worth poaching) and the campaigns and features they use, as well as the specific content the post about. You could even pick up useful tips about how to engage and communicate with your own followers.
Of course, the following doesn’t stop there. Why not subscribe to their emails, browse their blogs and check out their content updates, while you’re at it?
Review their reviews
We’d all love to be a fly on the wall when a client goes into your competitor’s clinic. The next best thing is hearing about their experiences after the fact. Seeing what your competitors’ clients say about them can build a picture of their strengths and weakness, which you can leverage to your advantage. For example, if a client criticises a clinic’s follow-up procedure, you can make sure you bring your aftercare A-game.
One of the best ways to hear about a client’s experience with a competitor is through reading their reviews. Google, TrustPilot and even TripAdvisor can give you great insight, but you can also try tools such as Brand24 and Social Searcher. These allow you to track mentions and sort by positive, negative and neutral.
Check their tech
Whether your clinic’s website is state-of-the-art or destined for a start-over, it’s handy to know what technology, software and plugins your competitors use, which can give an insight into how to make your user experience better when clients – new or existing – visit your website.
There are a few ways to check this out. You can view a webpage’s source code or use the tried-and-tested ‘inspect element’ option when you right-click, or trust in a tool like builtwith.com, which lists everything from a website’s content management system (such as WordPress) to its widgets, right down to its security features.
Spy and track competitors’ website traffic
We’d all love to know how many visits our competitors achieve – it can help us to know if we’re in the right ballpark. Thankfully, there’s a neat little tool for doing just that. Similarweb not only displays how much traffic a website gets but the source where it’s coming from (for instance, ads or organic SEO). This can highlight what’s working successfully for your competitor, which can give you an inkling of what to try for your own website. Semrush and Ubersuggest are two other tools which prove useful for this purpose.
Spy on competitors’ keywords
Uncovering your competitors’ keywords can help you to estimate how much it will cost you to use similar ones, or could help you to find more cost-effective alternatives.
Keywordtool.io gives a list of related keywords which can give you an idea of cost per click and search volume, so you know how competitive they’ll be. Semrush & SE Ranking do a similar function, showing how competitors rank on Google compared to you. It can even give you a list of keywords that your competitors already rank for. Finally, Semrush & SE Ranking can also show if a competitor is running Google Ads.
Of course, you can also see where competitors rank on certain keywords by manually typing them into Google – but while free, it’s extremely time-consuming to do.
Spy on your competitor’s backlinks
These are essentially places that link to your website from elsewhere, such as another website, an online directory, or even a social media profile. If they’re relevant, reputable and high-quality backlinks, it can boost trust in your clinic. Uncovering your competitors’ backlinks can reveal the types of websites that would be interested in featuring yours.
Lots of SEO tools allow you to download a list of your competitor’s backlinks, here are some of our favourites: Semrush is one of the top tools for checking backlinks. You can download a list of your competitor’s backlinks and determine what’s valuable, unearthing directories that you could sign up to, blogging sites that might be interested in guest blogging and potentially spammy websites that could affect your strategy. A similar technology we also recommend is Ubersuggest, which works in the same way but offers a limited free version. Another one of our favourites is SE Ranking.
Uncover their influencers
Many brands partner with ambassadors, or influencers on social media sites, which can help you identify useful partnerships you might want to try with your own clinic. Browsing an influencer’s social page or website can build a picture of the audience they have, useful stats, and popular hashtags, themes or topics in their posts.
It’s key to find an influencer who resonates with your own brand’s ethos and is of a similar calibre to your own clients. Be sure that any influencer you do partner with has followers who are as highly active as they are, and that they engage and respond to posts and comments.
There are a few other areas you should look into when determining how successful your competitors are.
Domain authority and page authority – typing the URL of a competitor’s webpage into a DA checker can show a high likelihood a website will rank on Google’s results pages, with a score ranging from 1-100.
Page score – clients won’t wait for a website that takes more than a couple of seconds to load. Checking the page score (i.e. load time) of a competitor can show how you compare, and highlight any problem pages or broken links that might need attention.
HTTPS – more secure sites are ‘HTTPS’, rather than ‘HTTP’. If yours isn’t, you might want to look into upgrading it, especially if your competitors already have.
Content – there are lots of different areas you can delve into here, including:
* Blogs: how often a competitor posts, and how long their posts are
* Website content: how many pages they have on their site and their general length
* Imagery: whether they use before & after shots (we know clients respond better to these types of images than standard stock imagery)
SWOT usability – how easy is your competitor’s site to use, navigate and understand? These can help give you pointers about your own website.
We’re here to help
As experts in digital marketing, we know what works and what doesn’t. We build our clients’ strategies on our unique knowledge and expertise in the sector and employ many of the tips we share on our own website.