Where will you get your next content ideas? There’s a lot of advice out there about where to look. If you’re already looking at keyword ranking data, you’re probably aware of competitors and sites that are creating content and garnering traffic from your target audience. Your competitors are a natural place to find content ideas when the topics they’re talking about are resonating with your audience. To use competitor data to your advantage, we offer some tips on how and why you should be looking to your competitors for your next great content inspiration.
Mining Competitors for Content Ideas
When we say, “Look at competitor content for new topics” we’re not suggesting that you copy competitor content onto your own site. First of all, it won’t get you the SEO boost that you’re seeking, and second of all, it’s just unethical. What we are suggesting is that you look at what is drawing traffic on competitor sites to determine the topics, mediums, and methods that are resonating with target audiences and then using that information to create new content that reflects your brand and has a new spin. (You can also update existing content of your own if you notice that the way a topic is being addressed is shifting.)
Using the right tools, and a little bit of spycraft, there are several places to start digging for competitor content gems and discovering content nuggets to mine and use to gain back, or claim for the first time, audience share of mind.
Keywords and Keyword Groups
Based on the keywords you’re tracking for your own brand, find competitor content that’s ranking for those same keywords. To make this task less daunting, create keyword groups to segment keywords around the same things. Groups can be created for:
- Product lines and features
- Audience types
“In the GinzaMetrics platform we allow you to see how your competitors are ranking for specific keywords and keyword groups and the specific content that’s associated with those keywords,” notes Erin O’Brien, COO GinzaMetrics, “Using keyword groups will help you mine for content for specific campaigns or marketing needs – narrowing down your results will give you a clearer starting point.”
Use top keyword ranking data to track which keywords have changed the most both positively or negatively in rank and find the associated content to find topics that are waxing or waning in your marketplace. If a set of keywords associated with specific content is suddenly rising in rank, it might be time to prioritize creating your own content to meet that market interest.
Social Media Content
Look into what competitor content is being shared on social channels and then take a deeper look to discover what elements of that content are working. Is your competitor sharing the same content on various channels? If so, is one channel more popular than other social channels? Knowing this data can help you target which social channels to focus your efforts.
Maybe one piece of competitor content is popular across all social channels. In that case, look at the topic of that content. Here you will see what your shared audience is interested in and you can create content with your unique style and spin to engage audiences with your brand.
Use social data to see who is creating the most content and who has the most share of voice among audiences by looking at the number of followers, likes, shares, and pins. When you find a competitor that has a large social engagement, that’s a good place to look to see what content they’re sharing, what’s working for them, and what you should be trying.
“If you see that a competitor who continually outperforms and outranks you in terms of keywords is also garnering a large following and posting a lot of data on a particular social network, that may be a target for you to start posting more content of your own,” recommends Erin.
The key to winning back audience share is by identifying elements of the marketing mix that are working for your competitors and creating your own messages to match those elements. Look for sudden changes in audience share of voice or changes in messaging and content to keep abreast of market changes and possible product changes by competitors.
Learn From Niche Competitors
When we say competitors, we’re talking about more than just your largest direct competitors. In addition to the two or three direct competitors that you watch like a hawk anyway, look at the ancillary, smaller brands that may be peripherally competitive to you or may offer adjacent features or products. Although these competitors are not a complete overlap to your business, they may be stealing audience share with topics of interest in and around your business area of expertise.
Based on your own keywords and content, discover who else in the market is ranking for those topics. When you do, find out what kind of content they’re creating to discover how you can supplement on your own site.
“You’ll want to look at how you can take the themes that are resonating with audience members and find a way to make it your own by creating a different type of content,” suggests Erin. “If they’ve created a very popular blog post, make a video, a podcast, or a series of graphics. There are a lot of different ways to create your own unique version of a content angle.”
Discover More Than Blog Post Ideas From Competitors
Look at how your competitors are reaching your audience. If you notice they have a lot of popular videos and you’re not producing any videos, you may be missing an opportunity to reach your audience with the type of content they prefer to consume. Discover not only the messages your competitors are using to gain your audience’s attention, but how that message is being delivered.
“It’s important to look at your entire industry and your market to understand how competitors are reaching prospects, what is getting shared, and what is working as well as what is not,” advises Erin.
One of the things you may discover during your competitor research is a hole in the content stream. There may be a complete absence of a particular medium (video, Slideshare, podcast) that will give you an opportunity to reach audiences in a way that hasn’t been tried yet.
You may find that a competitor is approaching a problem in a particularly insightful way that you hadn’t considered before. Instead of copying that idea, understand the intention or general trajectory of their thinking and consider weaving that perspective into your own content to boost audience engagement.
Make the Content Your Own
Once you have some content ideas and topics to talk about, decide how to create messages based on your own brand voice and style. Crafting messages and developing content assets that will resonate with your audience takes more effort than simply re-writing someone else’s message and sticking it on our website. Some things to consider as you make the content your own:
- How does this message fit with your brand?
- What has worked in the past?
- How does what’s working for your competitors fit with your own style?
- What impact does the competitor content have on our audience?
- Does your product address this topic in some way?
- Can your brand address this problem?
- Is this something your brand can stand behind?
“The first step to making content your own is to make sure your service or product can deliver on what you’re planning to message. If you lead people to content and then fail to deliver, it’s ten times harder to get that audience back once they’ve been disappointed,” notes Erin.
Sometimes it’s better to let your competitors have audience share on a topic that is working well for them but is a solution that you can’t deliver on.
Get Ahead of the Competition
The purpose of monitoring competitor data is not to just establish a “me too” tag-along reputation. If you use the data to your best advantage, this strategy can actually put you ahead of the competition, and after all, that’s the goal.
It may seem like mining competitor content for new topics is a reactive strategy, and it would be if you were only monitoring one competitor. But when you look at the entire competitive landscape and start monitoring the whole ecosystem from a topic and keyword standpoint, you’ll be able to anticipate a groundswell and stay ahead of the curve by creating multiple kinds of content around a topic or multiple types of content for a particular channel.
“Look for the overall groundswell, not for flash in the pan, one time popular content,” advises Erin. “What you’re looking for is larger trends. Don’t focus all your efforts on one piece of content that got picked up and shared on social.”
Other Places for Ideas
Since your competitor data isn’t the only place you can get inspiration, I thought I’d provide a list of a few others. Each one could lend itself to an entire blog post. Hey! Maybe that’s my next content idea.
- Your webinar
- Your video or podcast
- Other content on your site
- Social media
- Keyword data
- Your newsfeed
- Your personal life
- Other blogs (like this one)