How to Spy on Your Competitors’ Digital Marketing Campaigns

By | September 14, 2019

– If you’re fundamentally devious, then listen up ’cause in this video, we’re gonna take a look at how to spy on your competitors’
digital marketing. (laughs) (upbeat drum music)
(air whooshing) (icon beeping) What’s up, people? Tim from Exposure Ninja
here and in this video, we’re gonna look at how to spy on your competitor’s digital marketing. Now, as any good spy knows, you’re gonna need appropriate eye wear so I decided to go out and
look for some spying glasses. Really good to be secretive when you are spying on your competitors. Now, unfortunately the
toilet store that I went to did not have a secret
competitor analysis spy glasses but they do have these
fantastic bride-to-be ones which I think give me a real edge. So let’s look at how to
spy on your competitors. There’s a few different
ways that you can start this but I’m gonna start from
the absolute beginning. Let’s imagine that you are in
the market of unique gifts, and in particular, you wanna target people that are buying gifts for their wives. So you might look at gifts for her, you might look at phrases
like a gift for wife. If you wanna go slightly longer tail, a bit lower competition, something like unique gifts for wife might be a good place to start so that is exactly where I have started. Now, I wanna make sure the
information I’m giving you is completely accurate. Now, at the moment, things are
feeling slightly rose-tinted, so I’m just gonna revert. Whoosh! Oh, that’s better. Okay, so we’ve got Google
search results here for unique gifts for wife. Firstly, it’s a good idea to take stock of exactly what sorts
of things you can see in the search results page ’cause there’s actually a whole bunch that we can learn just from this. So the first thing that we can see is this is a fairly commercial search because we’ve got
shopping results up here. So Google has decided and it’s tested and found that actually, people are buying as a
result of this search. We also have text results here as well which is quite interesting. Normally, nowadays, you’ll
see one or the other. So we’ve got two text Google ad results and then we have a featured snippet which is actually an informational post but it is still a list
of particular products. So we’re gonna check that out in a minute. If you’re targeting a phrase like this, that would be a really good spot to have. Then we’ve got related questions and then we’ve got the
regular organic results. So there’s a number of different
competitor analysis things that you’re gonna want to do here. You’re gonna want to have a look and see which of your competitors are running shopping ads and text ads. You’re also gonna want
to have a look and see what sorts of things your
competitors are doing to get ranked in this section here. So first up, we’re gonna check
out this featured snippet. This is on The Knot
which is a wedding blog. This is the post here, so we’ve got 60 Romantic
Gifts for Your Wife, including a map of the
stars at the time you met. (Tim gags) Lovely with the headline,
“When two became one.” So romantic. Eternity roses, fantastic. Cookies, now we’re talking. Oh yes, now we’re talking. Geez, look at the depth of some of those. Which one of those would you choose? I’ll be all over that one, I think. Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Anyway, so what you can see here is it’s basically a curated
list of probably affiliate links that go through to retailer websites. So it’s an informational post but it’s linking through
to commercial items. There are 60 different products
so it’s quite a long page, so it’s likely that people
are gonna be scrolling down, so it’s gonna be really good
user engagement metrics here. It’s also fairly likely that there’s gonna be some click-throughs, so that, again, is a
really good user metrics. The site loads quickly,
very simple, easy to read, so it’s a very compelling post and it deserved a top position. Now, another thing that
you’re gonna want to check out as you look through your
competitors’ websites and the sites that are ranking, what is the intent behind
each of these pages? So this one is clearly
an informational page, although they probably are
making affiliate commission through each of the clicks, whereas this GettingPersonal site is clearly an eCommerce site. There’s a very different intent there but as we saw from the search results, Google is perhaps catering to a variety of different intents here. Some people are searching for information, others are looking to buy, so we’re gonna expect
to see that mixed intent showing in the search results. When you’re doing competitor analysis, of course, you’ll want to dig in to your competitors’ websites in detail. We’ve got plenty of videos about how to analyse conversion
rate and stuff like this. Just to give you a couple
of quick tips here, so at the moment, we don’t
really have any categorization on this page at all. This is just gifts for wives and then it’s a kind of have at it. So one way that they could
probably improve this will be to then get you
to start segmenting down according to what does your wife like. Are you looking for a unique gift? Are you looking for a gift for the home? Are you looking for an edible gift? Are you looking for an alcoholic gift? If they can start to categorise them, they’re gonna increase
the click-through rate from people who’ve landed on this page. They don’t see something
that they immediately want because if you just show people a whole pile of different
products with no categorization, if they don’t see something
that they immediately want, they might say, yeah, it’s
not really right for us. Whereas if you show them categories, you’ve got a much better chance of them seeing something where they say, oh yeah, that looks good, and then clicking through
and now they’re in your site. So anyway, that will be
a really good thing to do if you were competing in
eCommerce against this business. Here we can see the product page. It looks fairly straightforward. It’s a customised product so the buying process is a
little bit more involved, then you’d have your
regular eCommerce products. We’ve got a bit of
information image-wise here about the frames. Not a huge amount there. We don’t really know what the
frames look like on the back. We don’t really see the
fixing kit that arrives or anything like that. We don’t actually know if the
little squares are 3D or 2D so basically if you’re
an eCommerce business, you wanna replicate the experience so someone would have in store actually examining the product as closely as you can on the website through images and videos, and they’re not really doing that here so it’s okay but it could
definitely be better. Product description is nice
in detail which really helps. There’s nothing worse
than an eCommerce page which has very little
information about the product and just expects you to
buy based on gut feel. And we also have customer reviews as well which is good for
third-party social proof. So a fairly well-put-together site, although definitely needs
help with categorization. Let’s have a look at a
slightly different take which is the Virgin Experience Days site, so this is an experiential
sale rather than a product sale so quite an interesting take here. Now, one of the things
that you’ll often see on eCommerce sites or shopping
sites that are ranking well is on their category pages,
they’ll have some text. So the bottom here, you have
some text about gifts for her which you saw before the
infinite scroll came up. There we go. And on this Virgin page, you
can see there similar things. They’ve got a bit of information here with some internal links leading
through to other sub pages. Here we have some
categorization which is nice. And if we just click on one
of these products pages, what can we see? We can see one picture, hardly
any information here at all, so they’re not a
particularly compelling sale. We’ve got the Add to Basket, But with Apple Pay which is nice, makes it a bit easier to purchase but really nowhere near enough
information on this page to convert as well as it should do. Okay, the next thing that we’re gonna do analysing our competitors is we’re gonna look at the links that they’re getting to their website because this tells us two things. Firstly, it tells us how
hardcore they’re going with SEO ’cause if they’re getting loads of really good quality links, it’s likely that they’re doing some SEO. And secondly, it tells us where they are being talked about online. Let’s look at an example. So I’m in Link Explorer
which is a tool by Moz. If you just google Link Explorer, you should find this very page, and then what we do,
put the site in there. So we have domain authority which is a score from zero to 100 and it’s a measure of how
likely a site is to rank based on its link profile. So this isn’t a Google metric, it’s an estimation of
a Google metric by Moz but it’s still a useful indication to see how authoritative
a particular site is. So in this example,
we’ve got 65 out of 100 which is pretty strong so if you’re gonna be
going up against this site, you know you’re not gonna be targeting as broadly as they are. You’re gonna have to be
targeting niche phrases, longer tail stuff in
order to win against them. The next things that we can see are the total number of linking domain. So this is the number of different websites linking to this site and then we can also see inbound links which is the total number
of individual links pointing at the site so you can obviously have
multiple links on each website. What we’ll usually do here is we’ll take a look at some of the links that they’ve got coming into the site. So we’ll go over to inbound links and this will show us in authority order the links that are
pointing at their website. So for example, here we’ve got links from
Wikipedia, from Google+. Google+? Bored Panda which is a content site. We’ve got links from The Sun which is a high authority website, not quite as high authority
as The Telegraph here. You can see The Sun’s got a DA of 93, Telegraph has a DA of 94. So we can get a feel for the sort of links that the site is picking up. Now, to take this a step further,
what we might actually do is have a look at some of these links and see what sorts of context they’re in because we might be able
to use these strategies for our own business. Now, you’ll be noticing here
that some of these links are marked and they follow,
some of them are via redirect. We’re not really majorly worried about no follow versus follow. As you do your outreach and
as you do content marketing, you’re gonna be picking up both types. Always obviously ask for a
follow link if you get the choice but if you get a no follow link, it’s not the end of the world. You still got the brand mention and we believe that no follow links still have some impact on ranking anyway. So let’s have a look
at the sort of content that are getting linked. So I do apologise if anyone is offended by the language on this page. It’s extremely rude and
I’m extremely offended here but what we’re looking at is
where the link is coming from. What’s the context of the link? Is this piece likely to be a piece of PR run by Getting Personal or is this a link that
they’ve just picked up anyway? So what we can do to find out is if we just search on this
page for Getting Personal. There we go. So it looks like they’ve been featured giving a statement
here, or maybe not. Oh yeah, been featured giving a statement and they’ve also picked off
a card from the page as well. So if you’re a competitor
of Getting Personal, what I’d be doing now is
looking at who’s written this, go and find her on Twitter, follow her, and if she ever tweets out
using a hashtag like PR request or hash tag join a request, you know that she might be
writing for The Telegraph so you wanna give an opinion because you might get featured. So that type of thing is a great way of building up your PR
database if you like. I’ve still got some more of these links. We’ve got one from BuzzFeed here. So what’s this about? “25 Unique Gifts Music Lovers “Will Want To Keep For Themselves”, so another kind of roundup post. However, they’ve got these products. I’m not too sure. But what you might do
is reach out to Chelsey and say, hey, Chelsea, if
you’re ever doing any roundup, so I’d love to contribute you something. We run this, let me know if
you’d be interested in anything. So you’re just kind of reaching out, you’re making yourself known as a potential way to get future links. So you can see that by
doing this consistently, you can start to build up an understanding of what your competitors have
been doing to pick up links and also what you need to do if you’re to pick up comparable
or even better links. So once you’ve analysed
your competitors’ websites and their conversion optimization, the next step will be to look at how they’ve got any
ranking that they’ve got. So without going massively into SEO, there’s a whole bunch of
different tools that you can use. You can use The Screaming Frog SEO Spider to take a look at page titles
and metas descriptions. But very briefly, just to give you a quick
rundown on optimizations, so the phrase that we searched for was unique gifts for wife, okay. Now, this page is actually titled “60 Romantic Gifts For Your Wife” so that gives me a bit of an indication that if I was gonna compete with this, I’d wanna title it unique gifts for wives or unique gifts for your wife and make each of my listings unique because that’s actually
what someone is looking for. So as well as the headline
or the title of the page, you can also take a look
behind the scenes of the page at the optimization of the metas. So right click and then View Source. That’s gonna allow us to
check out the page title and meta descriptions. So the page title is here, “60 Romantic Gifts For Your Wife”, very short, very simple,
doesn’t use the word unique which shows that it’s not as optimised for that term as it could be. Page title is a really
important ranking indicator because it’s a very clear signal to Google that these are the phrases
that we think this page should be relevant for. So “60 Unique Gifts For Your Wife” would likely be better optimised
for this particular term. Now, the other thing that we
wanna look at while we’re here is the meta description
which is the description of the site that you’re
asking Google to use when the site shows up in search. So here, we have looking for
romantic gifts for your wife, we’ve rounded up some
perfect ideas for her. Shop the best holiday and birthday presents for your wife here. So it’s fairly descriptive, doesn’t include any sorts of USPs or other reasons to click on the page which is what you would want to do if you wanted to improve
on this meta description. So once you’ve analysed
your competitor’s websites and you’ve had a look at
their conversion optimization, the content on the sites, and what they’re
optimised for on the page, the next step is to start having a look and seeing what else they’re ranking for. So we can use SEMrush to do this. There’s a free version of SEMrush, or you can get a free 30-day
trial at But it’s not publicly available. But between you and I, gets you a free 30-day trial of SEMrush which you won’t find online. And what you can do with this, put in your competitor site here, you can get an indication of how many visitors they’re
gonna be getting from organic, how much they’re doing with pay-per-click, you can get an indication
of their links as well, so other sites that are
linking through to them but the most interesting thing right now is the top organic keyword. So these are the phrases that
their website is ranking for. So you’re gonna see a table showing all of your
competitors’ best rankings. So we’ve got the keyword
that they’re ranking for, the position on Google, the volume of searches
per month for that term, and an indication of cost-per-click which is a great way to
get a very quick read on how profitable this
term would be to rank for. So for example, is
ranking top of Google, position one for personalised gifts. There’s 110,000 searches
for that term every month. And on average, competitors are willing to
spend one pound per click to advertise for that term. So it indicates that it’s
definitely, definitely a good term to be targeting. So ranking position one for that is solid. That’s probably gonna be
one of their best terms. We could also see from this though that a lot of people are
searching for Getting Personal, so they’re actually branded searches. 49,500 searches per month
for Getting Personal, so that tells us that
there are people out there searching for Getting Personal. Now, it looks like Google is
using branded search volume as a ranking indicator. So if lots of people are
searching for Getting Personal, it’s got a better chance of
ranking in search results because it is a well-known
and familiar brand which is exactly the sort of thing that Google wants to rank. So anniversary gifts, position one, personalised photo frames. What we’re getting from this
is a pretty well-ranking site. Now, of course, they could
get some improvement. Christening gifts are
only in position three. That’s a pretty decent search term. Teacher gifts, position two. Again, that’s a pretty
healthy search term. Mother’s Day gifts, 90,500. Very seasonable but they’re
only in position eight so there’s some work
that could be done there. But so far, it looks like
they’re ranking pretty well. Now, you can also see the pages that are ranking for these terms as well. So for example, if we were
to click on open the new page for the personalised gifts terms, if we’re competing for that term, that’s gonna show us
here’s what they’re doing to rank for that term. So we’ve got information
here up at the top, not a huge amount but we’ve got a bit. Then we’ve got
categorization which is nice, a bit more text about each
of these different categories which is really good, and then
a bit of text at the bottom, so this is a pretty decent page. If you’re eCommerce, it’s a really useful type of page to have because personalised
gifts is a very broad term so this allows you to kind of funnel down into your perfect target customer and show them stuff which
is super relevant to them. The next thing that we’re
gonna do with this business is we’re actually gonna do
some advertising research. So with advertising research, we’re gonna look at the pay-per-click ads that they’ve been running previously. In SEMrush, under Advertising Research, you can see the keyword that
the ad’s been showing for, you can see the position on Google, you can see the volume of times that phrase is searched per month, and an indication of cost-per-click. If you hover over the little ad icon, you can even see the ad text as well. So here we can see gifts for men, they’re advertising against
that in position one so they’re hot on that term. We can see that vanity URL, so we can see the URL
which is showing in the ad. It’s unlikely that that’s
gonna be the actual URL that they’re running for that term because that is their homepage. That would be a bad idea. If we have a look at the ad text, it says, “Browse a full range of unique
and personal gifts online “with gifts from just 6.99, gifts cards, “and unique ideas that you
won’t find anywhere else online. “Fast UK delivery, award-winning.” So there’s actually nothing specific there about gifts for men which is something that I
would definitely suggest they add in that ad because that’s gonna increase
your click-through rate and lower your cost but it’s
really interesting to see that they’re going pretty
hard on these search terms. So if you were gonna be up
against them in pay-per-click, you can see exactly the
phrases that they’re targeting and you can decide for yourself whether you wanna go up
against some of those terms or you want to be a bit more
specific, a bit longer tail, and a bit lower competition. So that’s a very quick competitor
analysis that you can run. So the next thing that we’ll do after we’ve had a look at text ads is if your competitors
are running shopping ads, you can use the PLA
research piece in SEMrush to reverse engineer what
they’re doing there. So very similarly, we can
see the ad that’s running, we can see the keyword
that it’s been targeting, and we can see the URL. Now, these URLs are gonna be legit ’cause you don’t have
vanity URLs in shopping. These ads are made from the shopping feed so these are gonna be legit. So we’re basically gonna see which products they’re advertising for for the highest volume keywords. So we can see this page here
is a personalised glasses case. So you can begin to see which products they’re advertising for. Now, another thing that you might wanna do is check out what sorts of Facebook ads they’ve been running. So what we can do here is I can search in the Facebook Ad Library
for Getting Personal and see if they’re
running any ads currently. We can see here are all the ads that they’ve launched, some recently. We can also see, wow,
there’s a lot of ads here. So these are product ads in carousels and it also looks like they’re running some voucher code stuff. We’ve got some videos as well. So we can see, we can reverse engineer
their Facebook strategy. What we can’t see from this is the audiences that they’re targeting but what we can see is the
ads that they’re running. And if you see particular
products doing well, then you know that they’re
gonna have tested those so those are likely to be the ones that would do well for you if you have comparable products
in your inventory as well. So that is how I would do
some competitor analysis. We’ve primarily focused on search ’cause that is usually the
most commercial traffic but also having a bit of a
look at social media as well. So just to summarise them, step one is to run a search on Google for some of your target phrases. Have a look and see what sort
of results are showing up. Are they ads? Are they shopping ads? Are they organic listings? Are they informational? Are they commercial. All of that’s gonna give us feedback on what sorts of content
Google is valuing, showing in search results so that we know we can
match the intent of that with our pages. Once we’ve done that, we can analyse our
competitors’ conversion rates and their website layouts
by looking at how easy is it to take a next step with this business. What is the next step
and how compelling is it? If it’s an eCommerce business, how attractively are
the products presented? How simple is it to buy from them? Then we might wanna have
a look at their SEO. So taking a look behind
the scenes of the page at the page titles, meta descriptions, the content on the site, the headings that they’re using as well. Then we can head over to SEMrush, have a look at all of
the different keywords that they’re ranking for, as well as taking a look at the links that they’ve got from
Link Explorer by Moz. Then, we can head back to SEMrush and have a look at any ads
that they might be running through Google Ads and through
product listing ads as well. Finally, we can take a look
at the Facebook Ad Library to see if they’re
running any Facebook ads. So I hope you found this video on how to spy on your competitors useful. Don’t forget to like and subscribe. And of course, leave a comment if you’ve got any
suggestions for future topics that you’d like to see
us recording for you. If you want us to spy on your website and show you some things that you can do to improve your visibility online and the volume of leads and
sales that you generate, then don’t forget to head over
to to request a completely
free review of your site. Also, don’t forget to check
out the Exposure Ninja podcast. You can find it on any podcast platform. Just search for Exposure Ninja. Until the next video, see you soon!

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