Benchmarking is an ongoing process of comparing your own digital performance against your identified main online competitors. There are multiple components of benchmarking, so the focus should be on the metrics most relevant to your industry and geography.
One of the reasons benchmarking is a critical component of every competitor analysis is an attempt to create an ‘apples-to-apples’ environment by defining measurable and meaningful metrics. Trying to identify best-of-breed reference points allows us to identify gaps between competitors and to come up with the most effective action plan.
Competitive benchmarking means ongoing monitoring. I recommend at least quarterly competitive analysis to satisfy the needs of reliable ongoing benchmarking.
Competitive benchmarking is one of the custom elements of each competitor analysis, but here are some general considerations as well:
There are many diagnostic tools on the market allowing you to check the health of your website. Some of these tools allow quick comparisons of the major web components. WSI’s Webscan is a web analytics tool, for example, is a comprehensive diagnostic tool designed to assess on-page and off-page factors. It also allows for direct comparisons of various websites and checks web benchmark from various angles. A periodic Webscan report (or similar) allows you to quickly detect changes in your competitive landscape.
A good measure of content quality and depth is a periodic benchmarking check of your competitors’ content changes. Some free tools, like Google alerts or Google site index check, can provide immediate insights into your competitor’s content changes.
Content Discoverability Benchmarking
Brand content discoverability is reflected in the ranking coverage for each particular domain. Due to ongoing content updates in your competitive surroundings, as well as search engine algorithmic updates, it is critical to periodically check and benchmark your rankings and those of your competitors. Being aware of your progress or decline is good, but knowing the competitor’s development versus your own property is much more important.
Paid Advertisement Benchmarking
For the purpose of competitive benchmarking, a constant review of your competitor’s paid advertising activities can bring immediate return. Due to its nature, paid advertising is instant and much more dynamic than any other form of digital marketing. Be sure you are up-to-date with your competitor’s Pay-Per-Click (PPC) activity as it can pay big dividends for your efforts. Neglect paid advertising benchmarking and your competitors will thank you for looking the other way!
Social Presence and Activity Benchmarking
Social benchmarking could become your secret weapon, as many organizations still do not take full advantage of social communication and social technologies. Social benchmarking can be as simple as becoming a follower of your competitor’s brands, or just monitoring their social activity. Ongoing monitoring is tremendously beneficial, as you may uncover a competitor’s hidden weaknesses.
A site’s backlink profile has been an important Google ranking factor from day one. The quality and reputation of links pointing back to your domain may be one of the deciding factors for your overall search engine visibility. Backlink benchmarking can help your efforts to improve your backlink profile and to uncover new potential referring domains to earn your new quality backlinks.
Other General Considerations:
- Check overall changes in visual appearance of your competitors’ web properties (web and social)
- Monitor changes in marketing messaging, which may indicate strategy, product, or service changes
- Constantly look for new products, new services, and new price announcements
- Be aware of any seasonal promotions
- Any business expansions or changes in your competitor’s geo-target
- Any changes to key personnel executive team
- Any additions to their project/case study portfolio
- Any new inbound/outbound advertising and/or corporate communications
If all this seems like hard work to you, partner with the right digital marketing agency for a competitive analysis report.
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