How to find your online competitors

How to find your online competitors


It may be possible to achieve success by ignoring the competition and doing your own thing, but it’s a risky road.

Knowing your rivals and what they offer helps you make your products, services, and marketing stand out. In addition, it will enable you to set your prices competitively and help you respond to rival marketing campaigns with your initiatives.

You can use this information to create marketing strategies that take advantage of your competitors’ weaknesses and improve the performance of your business. You can also estimate any threats posed by new players on your market and current contenders. This knowledge will help you to be pragmatic about how successful you can be.

You may already be wondering “who are my competitors?” So, without further ado, let’s dive in.

Before we start on how you can find competitors, let’s first talk about the types of competition you have in the field.  

Who are your competitors?

Direct competitors.

They are directly competing for your customers. For example, if you’re a wedding photographer, your direct competitors are other wedding photographers in your service area. If you have an online course about well-being, they’re the other ones who have classes about happiness. When many start-up owners think about their competition, direct competitors are what comes to mind first.

Potential competitors.

They do the same thing as you and have the same target audience but aren’t selling in your market area. Potential competitors could become your competition if they choose to enter but either don’t have the infrastructure or have chosen to ignore your site. An example of a potential competitor is a professional or a company in another city.

Indirect competitors.

They are businesses in the same category, but they sell different products and services than you. So, for instance, it would be the difference between a freelance social media copywriter and a freelance website blog writer. You’re doing similar things, yet the target market between the two of you is different. 

Future competitors.

They are like potential competitors, but they’re much more ready and likely to enter your market. For example, it might be the more prominent national company that hasn’t entered your local market yet. So think of them as between potential and direct competition.

Replacement competitors.

They provide an alternative to the services you offer that solve the same problems. For example, for a gym, it would be an online fitness instructor.

Types of competitors described above can pull market share away from your company. So, how do you start finding out which ones are your competitors? Now that businesses focus on digital marketing to advertise their businesses, your first step is to visit a search engine.

How to Identify Direct Competitors

When identifying competitors in direct competition with your business, you’ll want to start with what you sell. A thorough understanding of your product and its value to your customers is crucial to identifying your direct competition.

Practical techniques for identifying direct competitors include:

1. Researching the Market

Have a look at the market for your product. First, evaluate which other companies are selling a product that would compete with yours. Next, talk to your sales team to determine which competitors they see pop up often in their sales process. After that, you’ll be able to take a closer look at those companies, their product, and marketing efforts and create strategies to outperform them.

2. Getting Customer Feedback

Your consumers are the key to unlocking your direct competitors. After they’ve decided on your product or service, you can ask them which other businesses/products they were considering. Buyers often reveal unexpected competitors that aren’t even on your radar.

3. Checking Online Communities on Social Media

Nowadays, your potential customers will often seek advice and recommendations on social media sites and apps or community forums like Reddit or Quora. By reading the conversations your customers have on these platforms, you’ll be able to identify your competitors further.

How to Identify Indirect Competitors

Indirect competitors have as much influence on your sales as direct ones. Moreover, as your indirect competitors write content that competes with yours, they have an even more significant effect on potential customers in the early stages of the buyer’s journey. So how do you discover them?

1. Conducting Keyword Research

Keyword research is the go-to way to identify your indirect competition. You can determine which businesses or publishers compete for space on Google by conducting a competitive SEO analysis. Most of your customers are looking for your products and solutions by typing them into search engines. For today’s marketer, that means that you compete with your direct competitors AND with every other website competing for keywords crucial for your business. So, they are your SEO competitors.

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2. Analyzing Search Engine Results Page of Google

Your indirect competitors are creating content about topics close to your value proposition. For instance, suppose you examine the value proposition of your product. In that case, you’ll be able to identify keywords that are central to your offer. After that, type the keywords into Google and see who competes with your content on search engines. Thus, people, organizations, or companies writing around your value proposition are your SERP competitors.

3. Taking a Look at Paid Data

Scan the keywords that are important to your business in Google Ads. Is there much competition for any of those keywords? If there is, check out which companies or websites are purchasing ads for those keywords. If websites pay for paid space on the search engine results page for a keyword, they compete with your content for the area on Google.

As you dive into the paid data, you might find that the website competitors purchasing ads are new rivals you weren’t aware of before. Those also might be known as your indirect competition.

All in all, by looking at your competitor’s businesses, you can save a great deal of time, finances, and heartache. Besides, you can use your competition as a source of new ideas. On the other hand, you may think you have something so unique that you have no competition. It’s possible, but you may have more competitors than you imagine.