“Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”

– Michael Corleone

Of course you’re not infiltrating another cartel in your city but there’s some wisdom to that famous quote from The Godfather. The same mindset can apply to competitors in business. No, you don’t have to treat them like enemies but if you closely watch them and use data you’re able to gather to your advantage, it could do a number of good things.

If you know what your biggest competitors are doing, you’re going to have less of a chance of being blindsided and losing all of your customers to them.

The transparent nature of the internet has made it a lot easier to see what your competitors are doing. You can use this fact to see what they are offering, what their promotions are, and what sort of marketing tactics they use. You can also use it to see how they interact with customers and to gauge their industry reputation.

Read on for some different ways that online competitive analysis can help you with your business as well as tips to help you conduct online some research.

SEO and Copywriting

You can see which target keyword phrases your competitors are ranking for on organic Google results. You can also see what their search engine summary says and see what landing page people who click go to.

By seeing all of this info, you can use the information to help you improve your own search engine rankings, landing page content, banners ads, and so on.

Social Media Presence

Beyond basic website info, you can analyze other things, too, such as a competitor’s social media presence.

Is there something that they are doing that you are not? Is there something they are not doing well that your business can capitalize on?

Sometimes the best way to surpass the success of a competitor is to figure out what gap they leave in terms of serving their customers and then find a way to show that you can fill it.

Online Reputation

Reputation is vitally important online. Not only should you be monitoring your reputation but you should also monitor the reputation of your competition. This can help you fill a gap, discover a weakness, and reveal other areas where your business can improve or where you can overtake your competitors.

By doing competitive analysis you’ll find out how much competition there is for your small business. Analyze what they do well, how their business differs from yours, and what their customers love, hate, and want. Use this info as a differentiators for your business, helping you attract new customers and helping you solidify existing relationships.

It is also important to keep up with your competitors online marketing collateral. Read competitor blogs, subscribe to their email lists, download their e-books and infographics, watch their YouTube videos, and set up Google Alerts to get real time info about your competition.

Whatever competitive analysis you do, conduct it regularly and methodically. Apply what you learn to climb the ranks of successful businesses in your industry.

If you continually watch what others are doing and do this in conjunction with your own continuous improvement efforts, you’ll have a strong grasp of your niche and a great chance of growing your small business.