How To Use Competitor Content Analysis to Create Your Strategy

Lauren Oliver


October 6, 2022 (Updated: May 4, 2023)

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As a content marketer, you’re likely aware of competitor content analysis as a means to plan your strategy. Whether you want to work on specific keywords, break into new content areas, or redistribute your content publication strategy, competitor analysis is a valuable tool. With it, you can research the competition to see what’s working for them—and what’s not. From the best article structures to high-ranking keywords, farming this information can become the center point of our own strategies. Today, we’re talking about using competitor analysis to plan your content strategy with these topics:

Why Use Competitor Content Analysis to Guide Strategy Planning?

SEO strategy can be a seemingly endless topic to get stuck in. While it looks simple on paper, the sheer quantity of metrics you could pay attention to when doing research can get overwhelming. When planning a strategy, it can be tough to know where to begin.

There might be any number of advantageous keywords for your business. If you’ve already got your basic pillars down, where do you go next? One of the easiest ways to work out a better strategy for your business is to see what others are doing. Other brands in your industry also produce content marketing materials.

In fact, according to Statista, more than 66 billion USD went to content marketing efforts in 2021. With this in mind, you’re sure to find brands in your industry producing content. By examining what they’re doing, you can steer your own strategy. There’s a range of benefits to using competitor content analysis to form your content strategy:

Understand Keywords

Image with "keywords" in capital letters on a search bar background to depict keyword research in competitive content analysis.

Image via iStock by Juststock

Keywords are the foundation of SEO strategy for businesses. Companies that understand which keywords are most beneficial have a significant advantage. Not only can they boost rankings, but they can also generate more organic traffic. Knowing which keywords to focus on is the first step toward an effective strategy.

While any company can conduct its own keyword research, a good place to start is competitor research. After all, there are companies already ranking in your niche, meaning you have real case studies to look at. By conducting competitor content analysis, you’ll see what keywords other companies are focusing on. With a clear idea of what keywords would be beneficial for you, you can begin to plan a successful content strategy.

Target Search Intent

Search intent is continually overlooked by marketing teams. All searches on Google are split into four main categories: informational, navigational, commercial, and transactional. In different businesses, the content may stick to one or two of these areas. For example, a store like Ikea would have a lot of transactional content, like product descriptions, product videos, and product guides. Alternatively, a SaaS business might fall under informational and commercial traffic, attempting to pull in leads with content marketing.

The search intent that works best can change, depending on the industry and content niche. So doing competitor content analysis can help you understand what intent competitor content fulfills. Analysis and SEO tools let you break down a competitor’s traffic into each of these categories. By seeing where the bulk of their clicks come from, you can structure your content more effectively going forward.

Most of the time, traffic tends to be either navigational or informational. With this in mind, be sure to plan lots of future content that educates your audience and captures leads. Equally, optimize landing pages for local SEO if your business also operates in-person. With a narrower search volume, you can accommodate those looking for your business specifically.

Article Structure

Competitor analysis also involves looking through actual content pieces. Sampling what other writers have to offer will show you what’s common in your industry. Alongside giving information about what topics they’re writing about, checking out a competitor’s site will also clue you in about their article structures. Over the past few years, Google has shifted toward making content more useful for readers. This process started many updates ago and has continually become a more prominent factor. Most recently, with the release of the Helpful Content update, Google has cemented the importance of in-depth content.

Content that’s around 2,500 words or more is the average standard for generating leads and ranking well, according to Hubspot. People don’t want small articles that answer only one question. Instead, they want in-depth content that covers everything they need to know about a topic. By providing these longer articles, you create authority and the potential for more leads.

Looking at what style of article your competitors are publishing is a great way to shape your own content. While most brands produce longer content, it would help to know exactly what format they’re commonly using. For example, are they publishing listicles with a range of tips in one article, or are they posting how-to guides?

Knowing which article formats are favored in your industry is something you can find out through competitor research. Reviewing competitors’ blog pages is one such way to get the information you need here. From that point, you’re able to give your article ideas and keywords a more concrete structure before production.

Content Frequency

While one of the less important benefits of using competitor content analysis, this still can’t be overlooked. The general consensus is that companies should post between two and seven times a week. This large range accounts for all businesses, from those just getting started to large-scale enterprises. If your business is already up and running, the more content you can produce, the better.

That said, it’s a great idea to check how frequently your competitors are posting. Creating a benchmark for how many pieces of content you want to publish each week is a great way of planning your content calendar going forward. If all of your competitors are posting three times a week, then pushing your own goal up to four can rapidly put you ahead.

While increasing from 3 posts a week to 4 posts doesn’t seem like a huge jump, it’s a 33% increase in content output. Over time, this can really add up, helping you to break into a range of new keywords and shoot up the rankings. When planning out future content, it’s always a good idea to know what rough schedule you’ll be keeping to.

Read more: When Is the Right Time To Run a Competitive Analysis?

How To Use Competitor Content Analysis To Plan Your Strategy

Competitor content analysis can come in many forms. While most people opt for an SEO-led approach, you could also use manual research. We recommend dipping into both manual research and SEO tools to comb through competitor content, helping you to build up a more comprehensive picture of what they’re currently producing.

Of course, SEO tools are great for finding quantitative figures, like how many views certain competitor pages have received. But a large part of content can’t be boiled down to only numbers. The style, tone, and format of each article are also important elements to research. So before you plan your content marketing campaign, take note of several key factors in your research:

  • Headline title and style: Make a note of title length, style, and search intent.
  • Article format: Skim through competitor articles to see what formats are most common.
  • Article length: See what others are doing in terms of word count, and use best practices with format and style to determine suitable article lengths.
  • Competitor rankings: Looking at competitor content that ranks highest gives you a better idea of which content to favor.
  • Best keywords for your brand: Are there any keywords that relate to your business that you’re going to focus on? Put these on a list.
  • Best keywords for your competitors: Find the keywords that your competitors are ranking for. In the long run, it’s a good idea to create some competition for these spots to try and siphon traffic away from your competitors.

Using this information, you can enter the planning stage of content production. With the data points above, you’ll know exactly what titles and styles work for your competitors, how long their content is, and what keywords they’re targeting. From there, you can plan content briefs to support your SEO strategy. Take a look at the following steps as you get started with planning:

1. Use Competitor Analysis to Find Topics and Keywords

Knowing which keywords are best for you is always the first step in producing effective content. Working out which keywords are beneficial to your business will allow you to then get started on forming titles. Start with keywords, work your way out to entire titles, and content structures follow. Take a look at some of the keyword types as you begin your campaign plan:

  • Sweet spot keywords: Sweet Spot keywords are those that have a high search volume but low competition. These will be relatively easy to rank for.
  • Competitor keywords: If there are keywords that your competitors have produced weak content for, you can move in and create better content to knock them down the rankings.
  • Core keywords: Core keywords are those most relevant to your niche and are an integral part of your SEO strategy.

Are you wondering where to start with your competitor analysis? CopyPress has you covered. With our content analysis tool, you’ll get a full breakdown of your competitors’ strategies. Use the data in your report to see exactly how your content shapes up against your three biggest competitors. Uncover content gaps and find details on the keywords your strategy should be targeting. When you know where your content stands, you can plan a content strategy that achieves your business goals.

2. Plan a Content Calendar Using Competitor Analysis

Once you have a list of the main keywords, title structures, and article types that you’re going to focus on, create your content calendar. Looking at your competitors’ publishing frequency, determine how often your team should create content for your company blog. A good volume to start with is around three posts per week, and you can scale up content production over time. Fresh content means that any customers visiting your site see consistency in your brand’s content. A company focusing on its own content production is likely one that’s active in the field. Any business that posts once a month seems to be putting in minimal effort.

Considering the importance of content marketing, companies that commit to consistent posting give themselves a huge advantage online. Distributing content frequently ensures your brand boosts rankings for target keywords, generates organic traffic, and gets more leads on your pages. And having a content calendar to track what’s in progress, who’s completing it, and what’s been completed can help your team stay on track and remain consistent in publishing business content. When creating your calendar, think about tracking these details:

  • Publication date and time
  • Content title
  • Author, copywriter, or publisher
  • Current progress or status
  • Deadline for completing content
  • Content platform

These details help your team map out where and when content goes live and leave room for adjustments along the way. By forming a content calendar, you’re also able to communicate more easily with your production team. Keeping everyone in the loop with a calendar ensures you stay consistent every step of the way.

3. Create Content Briefs According to Competitor Research

Since you have a nice healthy list of target keywords and article topics, creating a content brief should be a breeze. If you already have titles in mind for the content you’re assigning, include these in the content briefs you send to copywriters. As you outline content briefs, provide ideas for the primary headings you want copywriters to highlight. This creates a framework that allows writing creativity but follows a structure that optimizes SEO, content quality, and relevancy.

With this structure in place, you’ll also make sure that all the content you receive is about exactly what you wanted. A set range of main topics and subheadings ensures the writer stays on topic for the entire article. For keyword strategy, getting all the right headings down is vital. If you’re producing all the content yourself, then you’ll obviously know what to include. But your content writers might not be on the same page.

That’s where detailed briefs come in. The more information you give, the better. Just remember, if you’re producing hundreds of content briefs, the more detailed each becomes, the more time you have to spend preparing them. With this in mind, keep them short, sweet, and to the point.

4. Outline Link and Image Strategies

If you’re outsourcing your content to a team of writers, they may be able to do the heavy lifting when it comes to the content creation basics. But you should still create a strategy for including images and links. When planning a linking strategy for your content, connect top-level pages with clustered content within the same category or topic. This creates a flow between pieces on your blog. In your content calendar, you can make note of the internal links you want production teams to include in the content they create.

Images can be crucial elements to include in written content since visual media is often more engaging. Featured images, screenshots of tools in action, and infographics are just some of the imagery types you can use here. Remember to optimize your images and graphics for SEO, though. Think ALT texts, file names, and descriptions if needed. Equally, with more sites creating mobile-friendly content, make sure your photo dimensions are optimized for mobile browsing.

Readers process visual content much faster than text, meaning that adding images to your articles will do wonders for readability. Even with in-depth content, your readers are going to be skimming. Many people don’t read entire articles anymore. They might flick through the key points, but in-depth reading can be rare to see. So help them skim where you can. Including lots of white space, photos, and visual graphic content goes a long way.

5. Form a Backlinking Strategy

Another part of competitor research you shouldn’t overlook is your backlinking strategy. One of the biggest differences between a site that ranks well and one that doesn’t is its domain rating (DR). DR is a figure Google gives to websites as a relative score of how trustworthy and authentic a piece of content is.

Sites that have lots of authoritative backlinks essentially have many other sites accrediting their work. The more backlinks a site has, the higher its DR. The higher the DR, the easier it is to rank. So your analysis can show you where the majority of your competitor’s backlinks come from. If they have a large number of backlinks from high-authority brands, you could aim to replace some of these links. Reach out to these sites and see if they would like a guest post.

Alternatively, if you have more recent information or statistics, you can email the content editor and attempt to replace a competitor link with one to your own content. While this is a small part of content strategy, getting more backlinks to your site is vital. It helps you build trust, boost reach, and establish your brand as an authority in its niche.

Read more: Your Guide to Competitive Content Analysis for SEO

Team Up With CopyPress to Boost Your Content Strategy

Competitor content analysis can form the basis for your SEO and digital strategy. After all, we’re not creating content in a vacuum. Responding to competitors, improving on content, and battling for that top-ranking spot are all part of content marketing.

At CopyPress, we team up with our clients to help them achieve key business goals. Using our in-depth analysis and research tools, we help you discover valuable keywords to target in your SEO. Conducting in-depth competitor analysis should always be one of the first steps we take when creating content for our own sites. Schedule your strategy call and share your vision, and we’ll get started crafting a strategy to get the results you want.

Author Image - Lauren Oliver
Lauren Oliver

Content Manager at CopyPress

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