No matter what anyone has ever said, Google has always wanted your site’s content to entice other sites to link to you. Google is looking for as many signals to know which sites it should rank, so with the invent of social signals, great content has become even more important. The search engines want to see that your posts are incurring shares, likes, +1, tweets, re-tweets, etc. With all of these data points, including backlinks, Google knows exactly who is the thought leader in the space, and who should be in that coveted #1 space in the SERPs.
Competitive research is important – you don’t want to have to “recreate the wheel” when you can find out what has been working for others in your space and do it better. There is something to be said about ingenuity, but there is also a lot of importance in knowing what works and using your valuable time efficiently.
When coming up with content ideas, how do you find out what is working for your competitors? How do you find out what their top blog posts are? How do you know which ones are their top posts? How do you know if what is being consumed by your target audience? Here is a simple way to find this out.
What You Will Need:
Open OpenSiteExplorer.org (link for the lazy http://www.opensiteexplorer.org/) and login.
Enter in competitor URL and hit Search:
Click on “Top Pages”
Export to CSV
Sort by the metric you feel most powerful. We usually look at the # of Linking Root Domains first:
Once you have this information, you can now see which of your competitor’s blog posts were most successful for them in gaining links and social mentions. See how they created their post and then evaluate if you can do it better.
Here are some things you can ask yourself:
– Is the information outdated?
– Are there any flaws in their data or info
– Can you add a video, images, graph, etc
– Do you have any additional background information that you could share?
This is one of Grantland’s most popular posts:
It was topical, it was informative, and came from a great source. You might not have a writer as well-known as Nate Silver, but you could write an update to this post. What really happened during the government shutdown? What were the effects and repercussions? How is it now seen in history?
Before brainstorming new content ideas, take some to see what has already been written and has worked for other sites. See if there are people who actually care about what you want the topic and see how it has performed for your competitors. Don’t re-create the wheel – start with the data that you can gather and attack the low hanging content fruit.
Note: You can see that using this method is not only beneficial for competitor analysis. You can take a look at your own blog posts that have worked in the past and see if you can update or enhance them.