We all know you want to stand out above the noise of promotion and reach Google’s front page; that’s why you have a website in the first place (if not, stop reading and get in touch with us—your business will not survive without one!). That being said, as good as it feels to stand out above the competition, bear in mind that there’s more than just what’s present at face value you can glean from them. In fact, there’s a lot you can learn from them in regards to online marketing.

If you want to stand a chance to succeed on the world wide web, learning about your competitors can help you make adjustments and improvements to your website and current marketing strategy (if any—if there isn’t, there’s your problem right there!). In particular, check out these five things we’re talking about exactly.

A Very Important Note Before We Get Started…

As great as your competitors may seem, you know what’s even better? Not copying everything they’ve done. You may like the same template for their overall web design, or the catchy slogan they constantly use as part of their branding, but nothing says “You’re penalized” quite like copying and pasting your business competitors and their websites note for note, frame for frame. Seriously, Google will pick up on that and knock your rank right off the front page, and even to the bottom 51+…and that is not a good place you want to be in.

1st lesson learned: no matter how much you envy your competitors, whatever you do, do notcopy them. People are smart enough to pick up on that.

  1. Their Customer Interaction

Some of the best ways we’ve seen competitors stand out is how they interact and stay in touch with their own customers. A good thing to take note of, however, is how they’re nottreating their customers. Maybe they stand out more because of the way they treat their staff, which in turn impacts how the staff represents the company (this can either be positive or negative—obviously the former is most ideal!). Maybe they stand out more because they actually don’t listen to their customers, at least not online.

Whatever the case, it’s a good idea to learn from them by checking out for yourself how they handle their customers. You can find out by following them on social media (yes, we’re serious), and even emulate the customer experience by purchasing one of their products online. You may find out there are things they are doing right online, but terrible offline, or even vice versa. You never know until you try.

Lesson learned: excellent customer service should be provided both offline and online!

  1. Their Pros and Cons

You may think you’re the only business that has pros and cons, but guess what—you’re not. Even your competition is not perfect, though they may appear to be at first glance. Do they offer great service offline, but not so much online? Is vice versa what’s going on? Do they always ask for your referral after a service is completed—do you do so?

These types of questions are important because they can help you answer where your own strengths and weaknesses as a business owner lie. Maybe you’re great with handling online complaints, but when it comes to real life interactions, not so much. Perhaps your competitors are the opposite in this regard.

Lesson learned: making comparisons can help you clarify your own strengths and weaknesses.

  1. Their Website

There may be something your competitors are doing right because of the way their website is designed and presented to their audience. We actually do recommend examining these sites before coming to us for consultation because there’s always something new to learn (we have other ideas about questions to ask us in this article, if you’re interested!).

Maybe they also haven’t updated in the past 10 years (a.k.a. an eternity in Internet time!), but your business is under the same industry umbrella. By updating your site, you’ll have an advantage over them. Or, perhaps they have a mobile-friendly website whereas yours is better suited to desktop only…even though you offer online shopping. This is another factor to consider, as mobile websites continue to increase as a necessity in online marketing (we have some reasons why this is the case, which are outlined in this article).

Of course…if you don’t have a website in the first place but have been in business for a while, there’s your obvious answer to why your competition stands out more.

Lesson learned: your website may need more help than you realize, or you need a website in the first place!

  1. Their Content

How often do your competitors post to social media? When was the last time they posted a blog post? How frequently do they post content, or do they at all? Getting onto Google’s front page can help your business stand out from the competition by being present on there.

SEO is not the only way to do it, either. Posting fresh content that is optimized, unique, engaging, and resonating with your desired audience can give your website and business the real edge you may need to stand out against the competition! So check on their content in addition to their website. If their content is great but their social media is lacking, or vice versa, you’ve just identified their strength and weakness in one sitting.

Again, if they have a content strategy in place but you don’t, there is another obvious reason why you’re not standing out in comparison.

Lesson learned: content is king. Use it to your business’s advantage!

  1. Their Online Reviews

As the saying goes “the devil is in the details” and nothing can be more telling than the online reviews your competition is receiving. Look not only at the positive reviews they’ve received, but also their negative ones. Is there something in common each one has? Was the problem itself addressed? How did they approach the issue (this one’s important and very telling!)? If their approach was less than ideal, or they didn’t respond at all, take this reaction to heart. Maybe you’re repeating their mistakes unintentionally or your customer service is what makes your business unique.

Lesson learned: You can learn from your competitors’ customers as well as from your competitors!

So, ready to learn from your competitors? One of the best ways is to have a website in the first place! If that’s what’s missing, or you can’t remember the last time it was updated, call us at V3 Media. We also offer one-on-one consultation if you want to have help before anything else!