You can learn a lot about what you should do to get more traffic by spying on what the competition is doing. Why try to come up with a game plan totally on your own when the blueprint for success is already right there in front of you?
How well is your competition doing in the search engines? Especially when you’re first starting out, it’s so important to get a feel for how sites of authority in your niche rank in the search engines. You should investigate what their content is like, how engaged they are with the community as a whole and on platforms such as Facebook and other social sites. You should also get a feel for what their link profile looks like.
As someone trying to get traffic, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. If something is working really well for one of your competitors, it only makes sense to try it yourself. You’ll adjust your findings for your exact goals and audience. Note that there are differences in the way you get traffic depending on the niche or market you're in.
Some markets, like weight loss, are so competitive that they can seem next to impossible to break through. But, by evaluating the competition, you can put your own spin on things and find unique angles that will make it easier for you to rank in the search engines and get a ton of traffic coming your way, even in otherwise competitive niches.
Find The Top 10
I suggest you find the top 10 sites in your niche that you admire. Get on their lists, start commenting on their blogs, and read the articles and blog posts they put out. This is helpful for networking and building relationships, but it will also allow you to see how they drive traffic over time.
There are sites you can use, like ahrefs.com, that can help you investigate a site's link profile. Along with these tools, it can also help to focus on the human element. The human element of search engine rankings is becoming more and more important.
You can also set up Google Alerts (or TextWalker or Mention.com alerts) for the domain name of your competition, their top keywords, and so on. This can help you quickly see where their links are coming from, who is talking about them, and how frequently. You might be surprised as to how frequently they are able to keep their name in the news, on other blogs, in press releases, and so on. You can gather this data over time, learning and growing as your competition does.
Of course, you’re always going to want to do better than the competition. Always be brainstorming ways you can put your own spin on other people’s ideas. Also, don’t think of these people as competition in the way that they're your enemies.
You'll get a lot further if you develop contacts with those who are already successful in your niche. You can partner up with them, launch products with them, send traffic to one another, and more. You’re not alone in this business, and you’re not alone in getting traffic. Later, we’ll talk on how to leverage the traffic of your competitors.
Researching the Competition
As I’ve mentioned, when it comes to figuring out where to build links, it’s definitely a good shortcut to look at the link profiles of your competition. You might be surprised that they have some really excellent links that seem next to impossible to get. Or, you might be surprised that their link profile isn’t as great as you expected it would be-- that it will actually be pretty easy to “beat” them.
Again, you can use the website ahrefs.com to investigate their backlink profile. You can do this for each competitor you are interested in. Focus on the links you can easily acquire and develop a plan to acquire links that will be a little more difficult. As always, it's most important to find links that are related to your niche.
Build your links up over time. Spend a little time doing this every day and you'll soon have a winning link profile that makes newcomers and experienced marketers in your niche more than a little jealous. There's no secret here-- there's only work and dedication. And, let's be honest, this isn't exactly backbreaking work... but it can really pay off for you, big time.
Using Flippa to Research the Competition
One tricky thing you can do is use Flippa.com to investigate websites in your niche that are up for sale. This is a fantastic way to reverse engineer the success of others.
The marketers who list their websites for sale on Flippa have a vested interest in giving as much information about their link profile and sources of traffic as possible. They share this information freely because it can help them make the sale. The more traffic they have, and the more specific they are about how they got that traffic, the more likely they are to be able to sell their website to someone else at a premium.
As an outside observer, you can easily use this information to your advantage. They often list where they’ve gotten links, how they’ve gotten links, what their social media reach is like, and exactly what they did to get where they are. This is very valuable information, and it’s not something a lot of people know how to do, or even know that it’s possible to do. Use Flippa.com to stay on top of the competition, because they’re laying it all out on the red carpet for you there.
Beating the Competition
I don’t want you to think that all you have to do is look at what the competition is doing and copy their moves exactly. Use what you discover for inspiration and to figure out what you need to do to rank even better than they are. You can find out how many more backlinks you need, how many more relevant links you need, what you need to do to get some social media buzz, and how easy it will be to beat them for your desired keywords.
If you focus on quality and building authority, it will soon be easy for you to beat the competition in the search engines. Pay attention to what your readers want and need and Google will naturally want to rank you better.
If the competition is pretty poor as far as content and readership goes, it won’t be hard at all to beat them. But, if you’re trying to beat sites of authority that have huge followings, you’re going to need to find a unique way to break into that market and provide just as much quality, if not more.
Ranking in the search engines isn’t something someone can just hand you a blueprint to follow and you’ll be successful. You have to look at the clues and best practices and build your own blueprint based on your niche and your desires. If you do that over time, your site will become highly ranked in the search engines and you’ll have an authority site everyone else admires.