Sizing up your competition plays an important role in developing a website strategy that fits in with your business plan. Competitors can teach you a lot about web design; a competitor’s website will show you what expectations and standards you’re working with. A website can often be the first piece of marketing a customer comes into contact with so your competitors’ websites will tell a lot about their company and strategy, as well as the customers they’re pursuing.
Here are some questions to ask yourself when seeking insight from a competitor’s website:
What first impression is their website making?
First impressions matter, even online. The design and functionality of a website is key in making a memorable first impression. What do visitors see first on your competitor’s website? How is the layout set up? Is the website engaging? What types of content is featured on their homepage? Pick out similarities to and differences from your own site. Decide which elements are working and which need improvements.
How does your website stack up?
A useful way to get great design tips is to run user testing on your competitors’ websites. This will tell you how competing websites are (or aren’t) meeting the needs of your customers. You’ll gain insight into the design and performance of the website. Some companies offer free website assessments that evaluate many aspects of your website.
Is their site mobile or responsive?
If your competitors’ websites have mobile-friendly versions or if the website snaps to fit different screen sizes, it’s a sign your competitors are not only up to date, but are also in the loop. Mobile and responsive sites administer to the needs of today’s consumer. Consumers are always on the go, browsing the Internet on tablets and mobile devices. Take a look at competitors’ websites and see how informed they are on the trend. If they’re not, consider it a competitive advantage.
Is the site easy to navigate?
User testing can help out in this department. Take a look and see if their navigation approach is simple or complex. How many times does a user have to click in order to get to the information they’re looking for? Compare the navigation set up to your own company’s website. How many times does the user click to get to your information? The fewer clicks, the better. If users can easily find what they are looking for, they are more likely to stay on the page longer.
Do they have a blog? What are they blogging about?
Blogging is a great way to get information to consumers without interrupting their day. Consumers are interested in reading posts that they can relate to and about topics they would like to learn more about. If your competitors have a blog, browse through some of their topics. Pick out the top few topics customers are engaging with and consider writing a few posts of your own.
What keywords are competitors targeting?
Organic search is generated by a consumer typing a keyword into a search engine. If your competitors’ research is detailed enough, they will have insight into which keywords have high searches and low competition. Look at the page titles, descriptions, headings, content, image tags, and URLs. Evaluate which keywords are effective targets for your audience.
What’s missing from your website?
Look at some of the tools and features competitors offer on their websites. What are customers responding positively to? Does the site have guides, free resources available for download, or other helpful offers? What about a simple search option to crawl the website? While you shouldn’t copy a competitor’s website from the top down, it might be a good idea to implement similar initiatives.
Competitors’ websites can tell you a lot about their company, as well as your own. Look at different advertising styles, content placement, and general site layout. By doing so, you’ll be able to gain insight into their customers and other people who might visit their website. This will show you how competing brands are drawing customers into their business. Run a quick evaluation on competitors’ websites and you’ll come away with a plethora of knowledge regarding how you can optimize your own.