written by
Irina Weber

The Ultimate Guide to a Competitive Content Analysis in 2024

Content Marketing 9 min read

The content marketing landscape is competitive, demanding creators to deliver content that captivates audiences and outshines the competition consistently. However, there's a powerful tool at your disposal to develop a winning strategy—competitive content analysis.

Let's understand it in detail with this step-by-step guide.

What is a Competitive Content Analysis?

Competitive content analysis systematically examines your direct competitors' content game, from their messaging and content formats to their SEO tactics and distribution channels.

By analyzing this data, you gain valuable competitor insights to refine your approach and establish your brand as a leader in the digital space.

Why is a Competitive Content Analysis Important?

A well-informed strategy is crucial for a booming content marketing arena. Here's how a competitive content analysis equips you for the challenge:

  • Learn from competitor wins and mistakes: Uncover your competitors' strengths and weaknesses. Learn what resonates with their audience and identify areas for improvement. This intel allows you to craft a targeted approach that capitalizes on overlooked opportunities.
  • Discover content gaps: Identify topics your competitors still need to address. That presents a golden opportunity to create unique and valuable content that fills a knowledge void for your audience and positions you as a thought leader.
  • Benchmark your performance: Evaluate your content strategy against established industry competitors. That sheds light on areas where you excel and pinpoints opportunities for improvement. It's a progress report, allowing you to refine your approach and continuously climb the content marketing ladder.
  • Craft a winning content strategy: Leverage the insights gleaned from your analysis to tailor content that resonates with your target audience and achieves your content marketing goals. You'll be able to identify the content formats and distribution channels that yield the best results, ensuring your content reaches the right people at the right time.

Conduct Your Competitive Content Analysis: Step-by-Step Process

This comprehensive guide will equip you for a productive, competitive content analysis mission. Ensure that the goal isn't to copy but to learn and adapt to create higher-quality content that surpasses the competition!

Phase 1: Identify Your Key Competitors

The first step is to pinpoint your main content competitors. Think of them as established players vying for dominance in the digital arena. Here are some ways to identify them:

  • Industry research: Analyze industry publications and reports to see who's consistently mentioned as a thought leader.
  • Social media: Scout social media platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn to see who your target audience follows and engages with on content-related topics.
  • Keyword research: Run a keyword search on your target themes. The websites that consistently rank high in search results are likely your competitors.

For example, you create content for a running shoe company. Your competitor analysis might reveal that established brands like Nike and Adidas consistently rank high for keywords like "best-running shoes for marathons" and "how to choose the right running shoes."

Phase 2: Gather Information on Your Competitors

Once you've identified your closest competitors, it's time to gather intel on their content strategies. Here's what you'll want to investigate:

  • Brand messaging: Analyze their brand voice, personality, and how they position themselves in the market. Understanding their approach allows you to tailor your content to complement or differentiate your brand.
  • Target audience: Identify their ideal customer. Understanding their demographics and interests helps ensure your content resonates with the same audience segment.
  • Content topics: Analyze the topics they frequently cover and the recurring themes or content clusters that perform well. That can give you valuable insights into audience preferences within your niche.

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For example, Analyzing Nike's content strategy might reveal that it targets a broad audience of runners with content focused on various running goals (marathon training, injury prevention) and product-specific features (cushioning technology, breathability).

Phase 3: Decrypt Competitors SEO Strategies

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the magic potion that fuels content discoverability online. Here's what you need to analyze:

  • Competitor keyword research: Uncover your competitors’ target keywords. SEO tools and competitor tracking tool tools such as SEMrush can help you identify their keyword strategy. Look for high-volume and long-tail keywords to understand their approach to search engine optimization.
  • On-page optimization tactics: Analyze how they optimize their content for search engines. That includes examining their title tags, meta descriptions, and internal linking structures. Understanding their on-page SEO tactics, you can identify areas to improve your content's search ranking potential.
  • Backlink profile: Evaluate the backlink profile of their high-performing content. Backlinks are citations from other websites, and a strong backlink profile can significantly boost SEO performance. Consider the quality and relevance of their backlinks to gauge their overall SEO strategy.

For example, let's say you are reviewing the example of a business insurance company. You might discover that a competitor prioritizes long-tail keywords targeting specific types of business insurance, like "cyber liability business insurance" or errors and omissions insurance." Analyzing their backlinks might reveal that they partner with IT companies or cybersecurity websites to acquire high-quality backlinks.

Phase 4: Perform a Competitor Content Analysis

Now we delve into the heart of their content strategy: their content itself! Here's what to take into account when you’re performing a competitor content audit:

  • Content types: Identify the types of content they create—blog posts, infographics, videos, or a mix. Understanding their content format preferences can help you determine the best formats for your content strategy.
  • Content length: Analyze the typical size of their content pieces. That can give you insights into audience preferences for long-form, in-depth content versus shorter, more scannable pieces.
  • Publishing frequency: Track how often they publish new content. Maintaining a consistent publishing schedule is crucial for audience engagement. Analyze their publishing cadence to inform your content creation timeline.

For example, Your competitor analysis might show that a leading athletic apparel brand creates a mix of content formats, including blog posts with training tips, video demonstrations of running techniques, and social media content showcasing athlete partnerships. They might publish in-depth training guides less frequently but consistently share shorter, inspirational content pieces several times weekly.

Phase 5: Assess Content Quality and Quantity

Having meticulously examined your competitors' content strategy, you're now ready to evaluate the quality and value they deliver to their audience. Here's what to consider:

  • Depth of information: Analyze the comprehensiveness of their content. Does it delve into topics sufficiently, or does it leave the audience wanting more? Identify opportunities to create content that offers deeper analysis and actionable insights.
  • Writing style and tone: Evaluate how they communicate with their audience. Is their writing style formal or informal? Informative or entertaining? Understanding their approach allows you to tailor your content's tone and style to resonate with your target audience.
  • Audience engagement: Analyze how their audience interacts with their content. Do they generate comments, shares, and social media buzz? Look for elements that encourage engagement and consider incorporating similar tactics into your content strategy.

It is also crucial to understand content cadence. That refers to the volume (how much content is produced) and frequency (how often new content is published) of their content creation. High volume and consistent frequency indicate a solid commitment to content marketing.

Analyze their mix of content formats (articles, videos, infographics, case studies, etc.). A variety of formats caters to different audience preferences and can boost engagement.

For example, Let's say you discover a competitor's blog posts tend to be informative but need more in-depth analysis of specific running shoe technologies. You could use this to create content focused on detailed comparisons of different shoe cushioning systems or personalized recommendations based on running style.

Phase 6: Research Their Content Distribution Channels

The best content goes unnoticed if no one sees it. Here's how your competitors spread their content across the web:

  • Social media presence: Identify the social media platforms they leverage most actively. That can reveal valuable insights into where your target audience spends their time online.
  • Email marketing efforts: Analyze if they utilize email marketing to distribute content. If so, explore the types of content they promote through email and the frequency of their campaigns.
  • Influencer marketing strategies: Investigate if they collaborate with influencers to amplify their content reach. Consider potential influencer partnerships that could benefit your content distribution strategy.

For example, your analysis might reveal that a competitor utilizes Instagram heavily to share visually appealing content showcasing their running shoes in action. They might also partner with fitness YouTubers to create sponsored content reviews.

Phase 7: Compare and Find Best Practices

After gathering this wealth of information, it's time to consolidate your findings. Organize this competitor data into a clear and concise format, making identifying patterns and critical takeaways easy. Consider using spreadsheets or mind maps to represent your competitor analysis visually.

For example, Create a spreadsheet with columns for each competitor, outlining their brand messaging, target audience, content themes, SEO strategies, content formats, content length, publishing frequency, content quality, social media presence, email marketing efforts, and influencer marketing strategies. That allows easy side-by-side comparisons to identify strengths, weaknesses, and potential content gaps.

Phase 8: Leverage Your Findings to Craft a Winning Content Strategy

Now comes the exciting part: transforming your insights into action! Here's how to harness the power of your competitive analysis:

  • Fill content gaps: Address topics your competitors have yet to explore, establishing yourself as a thought leader in those areas.
  • Expand your distribution channels: Reach a wider audience by exploring new distribution methods your competitors might need to utilize. Experiment with different platforms to find the best fit for your target audience.
  • Adjust your content production schedule: Align your content creation with competitor activity to maximize impact. Consider publishing high-value content around the same time as your competitors to leverage audience interest, but ensure you offer a unique and valuable perspective.

For example, your competitor analysis revealed a focus on running shoe reviews but a need for more content on injury prevention exercises. You could create a series of video tutorials demonstrating targeted exercises to strengthen common running injuries. That would cater to a specific audience need and position you as an expert resource.

Over to you: Outperform your competitors

You can ensure your content strategy stays ahead of the curve by continually monitoring your competitors' strategies and adapting your approach accordingly. Remember, the goal isn't to copy your competitors efforts but to learn from them and use those insights to create content that is even more valuable and engaging for your target audience.

Competitive content analysis empowers you to make data-driven decisions about your content strategy. By following this comprehensive competitor analysis approach, you'll gain valuable insights into their strengths and weaknesses and identify untapped opportunities in the market. This will empower you to craft high-quality content that resonates with your target audience and propels your brand forward.

Competitive content analysis