Free Tools to Do A Competitor Blog Audit

Your content is one of the greatest tools you have at your disposal, from a marketing point of view. It gets your name out there, attracts attention, bring in regulars, markets your brand, builds your authority, connects you to other experts… you would be hard pressed to find a way it wouldn’t be helpful. Having a consistent, high quality blog can launch your entire career, and turn a hobby into a money making venture.

But how does it rank with the content of your competitors? Competitor blog audit involves gathering data that allows you to compare your work with someone else’s, or to get a feel for what your target audience is looking for in a successful blog. It is something that every blogger should be taking part in regularly; to make sure they are constantly evolving with the needs of their potential readers.

Step 1 – Determine Your Competition

While you may be able to get some idea of what people are reading by looking at the biggest industry blogs on a topic (such as TechCrunch or Gizmodo, for example), chances are that you are nowhere near their level of visibility. Maybe someday you will be, but for right now you should focusing on websites that are more direct competitors.

Put as few as three on this list, and as much as five. If after you have made this list you feel the need to put some big names on there, one or two could be added. Just keep in mind that these big names will be best case scenarios for the future, as a goal in mind. When comparing their data, it should be as part of a longer term strategy, with the bulk of your information coming from the direct competitors to start out with.

Helpful tool: Use BuzzSumo to find recently active and successful blogs on any topic!

BuzzSumo

Step 2 – Look At What Content They Provide

Not all blogs are all about text blog posts. Multiple media forms is just a part of an overall, well rounded content strategies on the web today. Look and see what your competitors are doing on a regular basis. Infographics? Podcasts? Videos? Slideshares? Mini clips, like Vines? Comics? Are they specializing in one or two, or have they branches out into every niche possible?

Helpful resource: Here’s an easy guide to understand blogging easier

List all content under each name, and see what sites have what media in common. You should be able to narrow down what is working and what isn’t based on who is trying what.

Step 3 – Figure Out What Is Popular In Each Media Type

It is pretty simple to get an idea of what is bringing in the most benefits for your competitors blogs. SEO ranking is part of this, but we will look at that in another step. Right now, you should be looking at their engagement.

Helpful resource: Give this tool any blog RSS feed and it will pull out recent articles and their social media numbers

Social media analytics

Comments, social media shares, and referral traffic present a clear picture of how people are reacting to those topics, the tone of the post, and the media style. Take a collection of links to the most engaging content on those sites, and include it in your spreadsheet.

Step 4 – Start Sorting Out The Most Popular Posts In Each Category

Take the links you are finding, and start sorting them into categories by media type, topic, or style. That will give you a look at what is working most for each site. Note any patterns that begin to emerge, where the sites have data in common. If three of your five competitor blogs are getting a lot of engagement on posts that include infographics, but not a lot on audio podcast downloads, that should tell you something.

Helpful tool: Our Social Media Tool will process lots of links for you and return helpful social media stats and author details:

Social Media tool

You can also start to compare these links to your own content, to see what it has in common (or doesn’t) with your own posts. This process is excellent for pointing out things you may have been doing wrong, or just not quite nailing down.

Step 5 – Look At Competitor’s SEO Tactics

Finally, you want to know how people are driving traffic through direct searches. That means taking a look at the keywords they are properly exploiting, and those they aren’t.

Tool: Website Crawler and XML Sitemap Generator

You may be able to find some keywords they aren’t targeting, and take advantage of those ones yourself. Or find some keywords that you should be pushing for, as pushing past their SEO rank is an easy way to start getting more traffic.

What To Do With The Data

Essentially, this is just a way to seeing what is working for others, and what isn’t. How you choose to use it is entirely up to you. You could either start to focus on the same topics and media types that they are, or you could go the alternative route and start to focus on the areas that they are lacking. Both have a chance of improving your content strategy, and so boosting the popularity of your site.

Personally, I prefer to use it more loosely. I will see what topics or content get the most mileage, but will try and find a way to incorporate that into my own interests and work. Never forget that while you are auditing your competitors to see how they are improving their own success, you don’t want to copy them. You have your own strengths, your own readers, and your own style. You want to be easy to distinguish from the rest of the crowd.

Conclusion

You should be conducting a competitor audit at least once every few months. It just lets you keep an eye on rival sites, as well as find opportunities to connect with others, or get warning when something on your own site needs to change. As you can see, the positives are endless.

Do you have any tips for conducting competitor blog audits? We would love to hear about them, so let us know in the comments!

Responsive Email Tips to Improve CTR and SEO

With mobile responsiveness becoming a major new search factor in 2015, it is important to ensure both your site and your emails are mobile responsive. The better you configure your email template to make it easy to get to your site, the more traffic it will drive.

Pages you link from your email need to be optimized for mobile devices. The more compelling the page and the easier it is to navigate from any device, the longer the time on page will be. Bounce rates can also be decreased.

Responsive Email Tips:

Put some serious thought into how you create your email template. Your most important call to action button should be easy to reach with a thumb on a SmartPhone.

Fortunately, email providers have made it easier to immediately see what changes to your template will look like on other devices. Watch the video here on how a mobile responsive email template builder works.

When designing your template, your call to action button is most important. Position it first. Decide whether your social sharing buttons are more important to you than your social network links and place them accordingly. (Ask yourself whether getting your readers to share your content more important than getting them to visit your social network account?)

How to Increase Time on Site

One of the easiest ways to increase time on site is to provide compelling videos, SlideShares or complex infographics. All of these will keep a reader engaged and on the page.

Choose your videos carefully. They need to grab the users attention immediately and keep it. The best bloggers will watch sometimes dozens of videos looking for the video that starts with a bang. If you produce your own videos, here are some tips:

  • Do not use a long introduction
  • Don’t start as a commercial for your business – your business info belongs at the end – not the beginning

If you don’t get their attention within the first few seconds you never will.

Similar tips apply to SlideShares. The best SlideShare will have a cover image that encourages interaction. Each slide should be visually appealing. Images are better than too much text. Stats compiled into colorful graphs work well.

Too often there are SlideShares with excellent information we don’t use because they aren’t easy to read or just too plain. If you want your information seen it must be attractive to your audience!

Reducing Bounce Rates

The key to keeping visitors from leaving your site after only viewing one page is to ensure they are presented with additional related content. This can be done manually within a page, but it is easier done automatically. 

Major sites use various services to present images that pull visitors to additional content. I’m sure you’ve seen images and link bait headlines meant to get that next click. The more curiosity you can create the more clicks you can generate.

Depending upon the solution chosen and how they’re configured, this concept may be keeping people on a site or used to generate income by selling space to advertisers.

Sites of any size can use TrenDemon to identify their top converting content and most visited content and automatically suggest additional pages for visitors to view.

Focus on High Traffic Pages

Put more thought into what images and links you offer from your emails. Optimize the landing pages to lead visitors to your best converting pages. Identify those pages using analytics.

Even if you use an automated method of encouraging visitors to visit additional pages, consider manually optimizing your top traffic pages and your best converting pages.

Update top traffic pages to keep them fresh. Ensure they include at least one image that will grab attention on social media. Push that image out periodically to each social network.

Use the tips in How to Build More Targeted Traffic to Your Blog to push even more traffic to your already highest traffic pages.

Learn From Your Results

How long visitors stay and where they travel within your site is largely under your control. Start noticing which images get the most interaction (likes, shares, retweets, and comments) online. What do they have in common?

Study your email open rates as well as your social media interactions and online stats. All of them can teach you what to avoid and what to do more often.

Continual improvement in everything you do makes a huge difference. Don’t just throw up that content and send out an email. Learn to hone your craft or be left behind by those who do.

Online Marketing Services: Why You Should Consider Charging by Task

I am sure a lot of our readers and members provide some sorts of online marketing services and thus they are facing with the well-known dilemma: How to measure and charge for the service? How to make your pricing competitive and clear while not under-pricing yourself.

[There’s also a follow up to this article on how to manage your own time more effectively]

With these questions we came to some of companies:


David Leonhardt from THGM Writing Services


“…estimate how much effort is involved and charge by the project”

First, let us draw a distinction between time-management and client billing.

For time management, that being my own work and work for clients combined, as well as any personal/family/household chores to get done, I work from a to-do list. I try to get the most important things done first, then I usually panic because the list is not shrinking very fast, so I turn my attention to quick things that I can tick off… then, being able to breathe more easily, I turn my attention to whatever is most important among what is left.

When it comes to client work, I estimate how much effort is involved and charge by the project. I really don’t want to watch the clock, and a lot of client work cannot be done in a single block of time, but rather needs to be interspersed with other work.


Tat Apostolova from Mum in search


“Charging for tasks keeps me motivated”

Back in the corporate world, when I was working in a job that paid for time spent in the office, I always felt undervalued. I’m a hard worker and I loved my job, so I was putting my heart into it when other people around me would just do the bare minimum and get paid a similar wage.

It just didn’t seem fair. I was a lot happier when I switched to a commission based job (in fact, this is exactly the reason I switched to a commission based job – I wanted to be paid fairly for my effort). Now that I’m running my own business from home, I charge for tasks. It keeps me motivated to work more productively.


Ashley Faulkes from Mad Lemmings


The future of work is task based

When pricing and measuring my work I try, or am still trying, to bring the cost of a service to task based. Basing your work and ultimately your value on a commodity is old fashioned and not useful. And after seeing many a worker waste time in the office and still get paid, I am sure is a pointless system.

One of the biggest issues with this idea is that people still see many services as commodities. So it is hard to sell, for instance, a website when there are so many competitors undercutting your services. Even if you are delivering a better product. So you have to sell your service based on a result, rather than on a service which can be evaluated on the number of hours you work.

One way to do this is to add things others cannot offer in the same service. Even if these things are not time intensive. That is where in my area marketing combined with web design comes together. Most people cannot do both well. Most web designers barely know SEO and cannot write at all. So by offering customers expertise that is not a commodity, you are able to sell a value based package.

I am not saying it is simple to achieve, but it is the future and we should all work towards it. Otherwise, we are doomed to work 9-5, only perhaps at home instead of in an office!


Andrew Isidoro


Task based + Pomodoro

I’m a big fan of task based tracking. Not only does it focus you on getting one thing completed but it also puts halt to the temptation to multitask which has been proved to reduce productivity. I’ve used task based tracking for a while now for my freelance business and I’ve found that it works particularly well with the Pomodoro technique to keep you focused and productive.

What are your tips for measuring your work and charging for it? Please share below!