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Creating a Killer Competitive Content StrategyA content marketing program is one the best ways to attract new customers and nourish your current customers and their needs. A new content project will be as successful as your content strategy. This is when you start developing content that expands off the larger idea that enhances your brand story and engages your audience’s interest. My focus is not on the standard “about us” and “contact billing” content pages, but more so focused on branding and developing your story within your markets.

Knowing where to begin is the challenge everyone faces when thinking about a content project. The best-case scenario is to know what your competition is doing in the race for search rankings.

This is how Google rates your site from a content perspective

  • Content Frequency – how often does the site get updated with new content
  • Content Quality – “focus on your audience and don’t waste our time” – matt cuts
  • Content Relevancy – The high level content area for your site

These are your content standing orders: to develop a content schedule, create meaningful content, and stay within your brand and market.

Using Content and Applying Actionable Returns

To be able to really create effective content and rank well within your market, there are some basic rules to follow. It is very important to identify and create content for the low hanging fruit – this being the top, basic, broad topic word that describes your product or brand. And at the same time trying to keep tabs on what your neighboring competitor is also creating. Blending these two methods together this will give you an actionable competitive content analysis. To be used as deeply as you want within your content marketing.

How to Measure Competitive Content

There are 100s of SEO tools that will grade links and find and analyze every bit of on-page and off-page elements down to domain c-blocks. The technical server side of SEO is in some ways uncontrollable. I have never seen a truly remarkable impact with rankings for some of them. They are good to monitor for statistical purposes once a year and in most cases will not make any impact on rankings. There are some premium tools that can automate a lot of the process of monitoring competitive rankings and content. These tools come with a high price tag for all small business to justify into their budgeting. Remember its only a tool, you need the resources to take action from the data in the tool. Focus on resources then tools. It’s easier to find a quality marketer then it is to find a software specialist. Most of the tools are used primarily by agencies due to the large volume of account they actively manage. What you account manager’s account to manager ratio?

The data these paid tools use is already free they reduce the time and it takes to manage. Our tool of choice for measuring content on other sites will be the same engine that drives your organic traffic. In most cases that is Google, internationally that can be very different. But Google provides the best benchmark for your site in regards to understanding ranking algorithms. We will never know it all but we know enough to be dangerous in a good way. 1500 ranking touch points enough to keep us busy, btu the smart SEO knows you only need to focus on a few for amazing results.

Starting a list of competitors

  1. Search your specific market within Google.
    Use: related:www.yourdomain.com this will show you who Google thinks is very similar to you.
    Google related search query
    A little on the engines in the US. Bing powers Bing.com and Yahoo.com for search results. Your only two search engines are Google and Bing. AOL and others are popular but are not the bread and butter for search. Unless you have a large amount of resources you should focus your efforts where you will see the most ROI. Facebook is a search engine but it is 120% social driven. There is no un-personalized version of it. Some would argue that you are your own audience. But that is not the case for people who possibly use multiple computers or shared computers.
  2. Create a spreadsheet to track all of the sites that come up in organic and within paid ads.
    Just because someone is only in paid doesn’t mean tomorrow they will not rank for your term. If they are bidding on your term, that means they are targeting – meaning it is valuable to them.
  3. Keep the list specific to the domain and TLD – e.g. domain.com, domain.net, or domain.mobi.
    Brand names are your physical competition. In digital nothing is physical. Everything is relevant – a data entry in your competitor data set. This data set is going to be very actionable. That is the important part. Depending on how targeted you are with your keywords will determine how big your list will be. Being not to broad but not to exact is the challenge. Even if you go to broad, to much data will not hurt you. Company spread content around sometime uncarelessly because they do not have a content manager or a process in place.
  4. The Competitive Content Catalog

  5. Start another spreadsheet for each competitor and make and index of their site.
    Use: allintitle:your phrase/keywords site:www.domain.com this will show you all of the pages that have the keywords in the title on your competitor’s website.
    Google AllinTitle search
  6. This is where being to broad will not help you. We need to dig into their digital catalog and see what is driving revenue for your competition. You need to focus on your content project and strategy. What topic are you covering? – Be specific you need to have a baseline on where you need to be.
  7. This list is now your baseline of what tomorrow needs to be. Make a plan to catch up and improve.
    After you have a catalog of pages, you now have your actionable content list of content that needs to be reimagined on your site in a way that is engaging to your audience. Just because your competition has it doesn’t mean its effective. Knowing what they have and copying what they have is another problem. Focusing on PageRank is another problem.

Post-Competitive Content Measurement

This list is something that needs to be updated if not monthly then quarterly. Depending on your competition’s content marketing initiatives it could be daily. There are many dashboards programs that help you track content and rankings; this method is not just rankings but a content catalog analysis.

Integrating this method with your content strategy will give you the competitive edge you need to drive future customers and customers from your competition. This will not tell you what will there tomorrow in regards to content. Your creativity and content planning needs to shine. Living in the content shadow of your competitors is not a strategy it is desperation.

Content Management Resources

Take a one-day a week and dedicate it to writing 3 pages of content that shows your value by understanding your audience’s needs above and beyond your competition. Another option would be to hire a freelancer. Freelancer can be great just be cautious of the content mills and poor quality. Having them work remote is great if they are a subject matter expert and can pump quality content quickly. Having a senior editor on staff can help you manage outsourced material by acting as an anti-churnalism editor. This will basically make sure the content is genuine and unique. By having your own edge to all your content you already have a mechanism in place to safe guard from regurgitated content.

Ultimate Goal of Strategic Content Marketing

Bring your car (content) to the race and beat the competition with the extra edge you have with your content (take their idea and make it better). No race is won when the cars (content) run the same and don’t show any problems (seo penalties). Depending on the length of the race (business year) and driver ability (content manager) you have the opportunity to take home the cup (rank 1 index, 600% more conversions).