Tools to Follow Your Competitors and Form a (Better) Content Plan

As any marketer will tell you, keeping abreast of your competitors’ progress will help you become more successful. This same mentality can be applied to running a successful website. In order to keep your audience and customers coming back to your site, you will have to keep one eye on your competition regularly and make calculated moves. Luckily, there are several tools on the web that allow you to do just that: assess your progress, assess your competition, and  execute strategies to overtake them. Here are some helpful tools that content marketers can appreciate adding to their tool belt.

Audit and Analyze

Row1The first thing you need to do is compare where you and your competitors stand currently. There are various tools that allow you to check your rankings across endless parameters and metrics (PageRank, Link Portfolios, SEO value, Traffic, and several other variables). Here are some of the most popular comparison resources.

Alexa

Alexa is a web information company that pulls in page views and visitors to calculate weighted ranking. Sites with a lower ranking (i.e #1) are gaining more traffic than those with higher ranking (i.e. #5). There are three paid package levels offered by Alexa that go into progressively deeper insight as to how and why sites received their specific Alexa Traffic Rank.

Screen shot 2014-02-07 at 7.26.19 AM

Compete

Compete is a rigorous tool that monitors a sample size of the U.S. Internet population and ranks sites on a scale that is representative of the entire U.S. Internet. If you are an American-based company looking to convert American Internet traffic then you will find real value in this data. There are also three paid levels of Compete PRO that offer substantially more data for the U.S. Internet Market.

SEMrush

SEMrush is probably the most advanced tool for SEO keyword rankings. The Domain vs Domain tool even allows you to compare your websites’ keyword rankings directly against your competitors’. It will show the overlapping areas and possible pitfalls of your SEO strategy. SEMrush is one of the most common analysis tools for content marketers; they also offer an API key to integrate some of their data into other platforms.

Develop A Strategy

row2After you assess your current situation, the next logical step is to develop a strategy to improve the weak spots and leverage the strengths. Several of the aforementioned analysis software tools also suggest industry-focused strategies for improvement. However, I could not find any non-promotional consulting software. Here are a few other programs that suggest execution strategies.

Raven Tools

Raven Tools aims to centralize the key elements of most online marketing strategies. It pulls in site metrics, social media information, and Google AdWords to suggest possible opportunities in SEO, Social Media, PPC, and Content Marketing. Raven Tools is a great program for finding and developing a strategy to improve potential weak spots.

ravenanalytics3.7Moz

Moz is one of the most well-known tools website for analysis and suggestions. It pulls link profiles, brand mentions, keyword rankings, traffic sources, and almost any other relevant website metric.  Moz then offers actionable insight into ways to improve and boost traffic. It prioritizes the different strategies as well, so you can make the adjustments that are most important, first.

Execute A Plan

row3After receiving the analysis, most strategies will suggest an overhaul on your content. This includes organizing and scheduling more frequent postings, actually getting the content created, and optimizing it for search engines. Here are a few tools to help with facilitating the content creation.

Google Docs

Google Docs are an excellent tool for organizing, editing, and sharing information with multiple individuals. Google Spreadsheets can be easily transformed into a basic editorial calendar. It allows all users to plan ahead and keep track of when assignments are due and make notes within the sheet that all viewers can see. Google Docs definitely have their limitations, but if you are looking for a free tool to manage content production then this will do in a pinch.

Inbound Writer

InboundWriter aims to improve the overall performance of written content even before it is written. Using an analytical approach to content, this software suggests ways to optimize articles for better engagement and traffic. It can be integrated into CMS platforms and production systems to drive efficiency in your content.

Scribe

Scribe has proven to be an invaluable content tool, both for writers working to improve their content and bloggers hoping to improve their site content for search as well. Scribe’s keyword tool shows the popularity and competition and provides different keywords. This gives writers and bloggers an idea for what words and phrases their competition is using versus the keywords that users are actually searching for. 

Screen shot 2014-02-07 at 7.18.56 AMVisual.ly

If you are looking for content that is more engaging and appealing to the eye, then Visual.ly is a tool for you. This company has created a marketplace for Content Managers to connect and work with graphic designers on visual projects such as infographics, videos, and interactives.

Connect with Other Writers & Publishers

row4In addition to creating content for your website, many strategies require inbound marketing campaigns. There are several variations and companies that focus solely on inbound marketing, but here are a couple tools to help the novice content manager.

BlogDash

Guest Blogging has its merit if done correctly. One of the best ways to build brand equity and inbound links is by developing content and finding a place to publish it within your industry’s vertical. BlogDash is a platform that allows you to reach out to other bloggers who are looking for content. You can connect with these publishers and then facilitate a relationship for inbound marketing purposes.

FizzNiche

FizzNiche is a site that connects publishers with writers. If you are looking to get your name and company out on the web, this is an excellent platform to do just that. Write an article about your niche and your content will find its way to another publisher in your vertical. It is an excellent tool for finding new readers and increasing the value of your brand.

Sharing and Promotional Tools

row5Once you have created content and published — whether on your site or not – the  next step is to promote it for maximum visibility opportunities. Here are some very easy promotional tools that any content manager can use.

CurationReports

CurationReports allows you to monitor the social activity on specific URLs. Once logged in, you can store all your articles’ URLs and even order promotions to drive more traffic directly to your pages. They offer a free account and a paid version to archive all URLs. This is a quick and easy option to amplify traffic.

curationreports-homeGravity

Gravity is a content suggestion tool which is featured on a number of sites across the web. This promotions tool features relevant material to content that is featured on the page. This is perfect for content marketers focused on generating new visitors & growing out traffic, since you’ll gain access to a fresh audience.

Resonance

Resonance is a very interesting tool in the retargeting vertical. It works by following people who have visited your content before and suggests new relevant articles to them on other platforms, typically through social channels. It’s a great way to remarket the visitors who may have forgotten about you, and gives you a second chance to make an impression.

Measure

row6The last and most important step in managing content and executing a strategy is to measure its effectiveness. To aimlessly implement programs without any evidence of its merit is like driving a car with a blindfold – reckless and dangerous. Most of the tools mentioned above for analyzing can also be used again to measure changes, but here are a couple more tools that are great at measuring growth and effectiveness.

KiSSMetrics

KiSSMetrics is an excellent back-end tool to monitor the success or failure of your marketing campaign. It will show you where traffic is coming from, what they are doing once they hit your site, and who is actually converted. If you are not seeing results, KiSSMetrics will reveal it so that you can make adjustments. There are also 3 levels of subscriptions. It probably goes without saying, but while this is great for analyzing content success on your site, it won’t help you gauge success on someone else’s domain.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics can do many things, but for the sake of measurement its most effective feature is its ability to understand and trace the customer’s path. You can actually see the flow of traffic resources to see if your inbound marketing campaign was the source, or if the SEO strategy helped bump your site up in keyword rankings. You can set particular page views or actions as conversion goals to help measure customer acquistion costs as well. However you decide to use it, Google Analytics will show you the data needed to validate your strategy’s success or failure.

Takeaways

  • To be an effective Content Manager you need to understand where your site ranks in comparison to your competitors’.
  • Don’t wait to collect data and develop an action plan that can be reasonably executed.
  • Constantly analyze your data and if you are not seeing desired results, you need to try something else. Marketing success is all about trying something, testing it, and reiterating to always be improving.

We at CopyPress have been working hard to create a tool that combines many of the features above into one self-service platform. Our software allows customers to audit, manage, monitor, measure and monetize content marketing all in one place. We’re still in beta, and we’re gradually releasing features.

We’d love to have your feedback on how we’re doing so far. Give our beta a test run – it’s free and takes 2 seconds to sign up.