Measuring traffic and social metrics for your own site is easy – just take a peek in Google Analytics for a wealth of traffic, conversion, and social data.
Analyzing your competitors’ blogs isn’t so easy, but it is important. Proper competitive analysis can lead to new content ideas, better outreach, better guest posting opportunities, insights on marketing, and other helpful data that can improve your marketing ROI. In short, if you’re not analyzing your competitors’ websites, you’re missing out.
Measuring Website Traffic Rank and Reach
Two of my favorite tools to measure a website’s traffic rank (how popular it is) and reach (the percentage of the total number of Internet users that visit the site) are:
- Alexa.com – the go-to source for website traffic rank data.
- SimilarWeb.com – newer tool with a great interface that makes the data easier to digest at a glance.
These are the stats for the last six months for SEOmoz:
It’s worth noting that Alexa lists SEOmoz as the 395th most visited website, whereas SimilarWeb ranks it at 18,424. Alexa is known to have significant biases in its rankings, and SimilarWeb likely has its own set of biases. Just remember: this data isn’t precise, but it can provide valuable comparative data.
Geographic Traffic Data
Another way SimilarWeb can help is finding out which countries a blogs is most popular in. This can provide valuable clues about the types of cultural and geographic factors that may be at play with certain blogs. It also shows you where you should be looking to increase your audience base.
Knowing that the US, UK, and India are SEOmoz’s top three countries could give you an idea for a special content piece aimed at that specific group to help increase your popularity in that region.
Social Traffic (to the Website)
How many visitors are your competitors pulling in from social networks? It may be worth looking into what they are doing so you can learn from their success (or lack thereof). SimilarWeb provides social traffic data:
Alexa also provides Clickstream data that will show traffic from social sites:
Figuring out what your market wants and needs are is one of the tougher aspects of marketing. Knowing who your competitors are can help you build a more complete profile with the proper analysis. However, you can take it one step further by finding out where else your target market hangs out online after they visit your website or that of a competitor:
Alexa also offers insights under the Related Links tab:
This all leads to valuable insights about where or how else you could market your product. The ability to access information about what other topics, categories and websites are in the minds of your competitors’ visitors will deepen your understanding of your target market’s interests and online behavior.
It may not be a perfect measurement of the actual number of people that visit your competitor’s website on a regular basis, but the number of RSS subscribers can tell you roughly how many people find your competitor engaging enough to subscribe to their blog or other RSS feed. Depending on how your competitor manages their online presence (blogging vs. social media) this could be very revealing information.
I use Google Reader’s search feature to view the number of subscribers (another social reach signal) and the average number of posts per week (how much content I’m competing with):
Keep in mind that these numbers only include subscribers who are using Google Reader.
Note: Since I wrote this, Google announced that Reader is going bye-bye. Grr. Do any other RSS readers publish subscriber numbers?
In addition to driving social traffic, social sharing metrics correlate with more backlinks and higher organic rankings. They are also a great way to gauge whether or not your competitor’s content is really resonating with its audience. In short, savvy SEOs pay attention to social metrics.
Need a way to see social sharing metrics without having to look at the share counts of each blog post on their site one by one? Try our Blog Social Analyzer Tool. Simply paste in the blog’s RSS URL and the tool returns results for the number of times each post in the RSS feed was shared across the various social networks:
According to this data, Moz fans appear to be huge Twitter users. People also seemed to think that the last “Whiteboard Friday” post and the “Social Media Curation Guide” were excellent because they were shared on Facebook over 400 times.
When you need to get social metrics for a specific URL, Social Site Explorer is a great tool. Here is what it shows for the SEOmoz homepage:
What do I do with this information?
Before you allocate time and resources to competitive analysis, you need a clear goal in mind. You’re only limited by your own creativity when it comes to making use of the data you can glean from this quick analysis of your competitor’s blog. Here are some ideas to start with:
- Identify guest blog opportunities with the largest social impact
- Identify guest blog opportunities that are most likely to drive a high number of visitors to your site
- Monitor your competitors’ content and learn from their successes and failures
- Find out what countries your content should target
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from SEOmoz User Generated SEO Blog http://www.seomoz.org/ugc/competitive-research-6-tips-for-getting-social-audience-metrics-for-your-competitors-sites