Though not all blogs publish their visitor statistics, it’s not hard to get an idea for how much traffic and attention a competitor’s blog is getting. You can indirectly measure its effectiveness by looking at things like domain authority, the number of social media followers your competitor has, and how often people are commenting or otherwise participating in the brand community.
Unless you have the most popular business in your industry, it’s only a matter of time before you discover a competitor’s blog that’s more popular than yours. It may be unsettling, but you can actually use this as a learning opportunity.
Why would your competitor’s blog get more traffic than yours?
Obviously, this is a big question, with dozens of potential answers, but I can separate them into three main categories. Let’s explore each.
First, though it’s not pleasant to admit, your competitor could be outperforming you with higher-quality content:
· Subjects. Your competitor might know your audience better than you do. Take a look at the types of topics they’re covering by noting some of the most popular titles you find on their blog. Are these different than the topics you cover? If so, they may be serving your mutual customers’ needs better than you are. Dig deeper into your readers’ psychology, and differentiate yourself by covering important subjects your competitor hasn’t yet touched.
· Details. Readers appreciate content that’s rich in detail, including comprehensive coverage of a given topic (points, counterpoints, links to more resources, etc.), and citations to high-authority sources for all facts and figures. Examine the density of your competitor’s posts, and compare them to your own.
· Voice. What kind of voice is your competitor using on their blog? If it’s distinguished from yours, they could be doing a better job of differentiating themselves from the rest of your industry. Of course, they might have just nailed a tone that your customers happen to love. Try to figure out if and why this is the case.
· Diversity. What types of posts are you seeing on your competitor’s blog? Are there mostly written posts, or are there images, videos, podcasts, and other multimedia material? For the most part, readers prefer blogs with a rich diversity of content options available.
· Quantity. Under ordinary circumstances, I downplay the importance of “quantity” in content marketing, but quantity does have value, especially considering the fact that evergreen content remains valuable practically forever.
History and Reputation
If your content appears to be about the same (or better) in terms of quality, they could have an edge with their history and reputation:
· History. If your competitor has been around for a decade and you just started your website, you can’t expect to see the same stream of traffic. They’ve been working on building their reputation and readership for years. Unfortunately, there’s no way around this; if you just started your professional career, you can’t compare your net worth to someone who’s been working for more than a decade.
· Personal brands. Does your competitor make use of personal brands to write, distribute, and popularize their content? Personal brands have a ton of advantages, including attracting more initial consumer trust and widening your social network. If they’re using personal brands and you aren’t, it could be the root cause of your traffic discrepancy.
· Thought leadership. Thought leaders, the movers and shakers of a given industry, always earn more traffic and attention than their conventional counterparts. Is your competitor creating controversial content, serving up new ideas, and stating bold opinions? If so, you’ll need to step up your game.
· Authority by affiliation. Finally, look at what other authorities your competitor is affiliated with. Do they have strong industry influencers guest posting on their blogs? Do they appear off-site on reputable publishers on a regular basis? This could be the determining factor in their higher visibility and authority.
Moving beyond the merits of your competitor’s content, brand, or notoriety, they could be getting their advantage through a superior content promotion campaign. Content promotion is just as important, if not more so, than the content itself — if nobody knows about your content, it doesn’t matter how amazing it is. Here are some tactics your competitor may be using to promote their content:
· Syndication. One of the best ways to get more visibility for your blog content is through social media syndication. It’s completely free to use, and could earn you hundreds to thousands of new views every time you share the article — especially if you already have a sizable audience or a connection to an influencer or strong personal brand. Check to see what social channels they’re using and how often they’re syndicating their material — then mimic that pattern if you’re falling behind.
· Referrals. Your competitor could also be taking a link-based approach to make their blog more popular, publishing off-site content with links pointing to their strongest on-site articles. This can greatly increase referral traffic. If you think they’re using this strategy, use a link-based search tool like Moz’s Open Site Explorer. And if you aren’t already taking advantage of link building, now’s the time to start.
· Advertising. Finally, your competitor may be paying for the traffic they’re receiving. Advertising on social networks like Facebook doesn’t cost much, and could send swarms of new visitors their way on a regular basis. This option is available to you, too, if your budget can afford it — just remember, paid ads are best used as short-term boosts, rather than long-term corrections to your strategic approach.
Use this list to probe deeper into the makeup and performance of your competitor’s blog. Which of these qualities and tactics do you see? Which appear to be the most responsible for the discrepancies between your blogs?
Once you identify where and why the gap exists, you can start working to close it. Update your strategy to improve on your weaknesses, and come up with some novel strengths based on what you find to be missing in your competitor’s strategy.
For more content like this, be sure to check out my podcast, The Entrepreneur Cast!