When you start out online, and even after you have some experience under your belt, competition can be a source of stress. There are bound to be people that outrank you, people that get more comments than you or more shares than you, and websites you just KNOW are making more money than you. So how can you defeat your competitors?
It's not about defeating them. It's about embracing the competition.
There are ways that you can spy on your competition to see what they are doing and how you compare. You can see what their page rank is, what their most popular pages are, how much money their site is worth, where they get their links from, how many links they have, their most used keywords, and a lot more information.
But the only thing this will do for you is to tell you what THEY are doing. It will only tell you how you can catch up to them. It will not tell you how to make YOUR site successful.
Do you want to be a copycat competition for this website you've got your sights on? Or do you want to be successful in your own right?
Here are some tips on dealing with competition in your niche. Note that most of them have nothing to do with the competition, but with working diligently on your OWN website.
1) Do not track your rank
This is hard to do, especially if you are just starting out. But looking at your rank is like trying to score a goal when you haven't even gone down field (I'm not a sports guy, so I'm not sure which sport that is in reference to). Basically, it's putting the cart in front of the horse.
Rank will come eventually if you write good content. Good content will not come ‘eventually' if you try to rank well. The better your site is, the more people will share. 1 post and 10 shares is better than 10 posts and one share.
2) Set scheduled competition analysis sessions
Checking what your competitors are doing every day is not helping you. Plus, it's distracting your mind from being creative. Rather than looking at someone else's site as a way to track your own progress or get ideas, look at it as a way to assess the competition to decide the next step for your own campaign.
That may see a bit contradictory, so here's what I mean: Don't follow someone step by step. Check in every month or couple of months just to see if they're still kickin'. If they are outranking you, find out why. Not to copy them, but to see where there are holes in your own site. Are they getting lots of comments? How's your social media doing? Are they using video? Maybe you should think about it. Find something you don't like about their site? Do something different.
Again, checking them out should not be about assessing them. It should be about assessing YOU.
3) Create a long term plan for yourself
It's easier to ignore the competition if you're busy. Plan out your website 6 months to a year in advance. Execute your plan flawlessly. I guarantee that 90% of people in any niche simply can't keep up in the long term.
From my own personal experience, I find that most people lose steam before 6 months is over. Making a 6 month plan means you won't be one of these guys. Recollect your thoughts after 1/2 a year, check if your strategy needs tweaking, and plan another 6 month. It takes 2 days to secure 1 year of work on your site.
4) Develop a site you love
Creating a site just to make money means you're going to be constantly looking at statistics. How much time have I put in? How much money have I made? What's my rank? What's my ROI?
While you should be asking these questions (after all, this is a business, not just a hobby), it's more important to focus on the quality of your content and reader engagement. Spend less time tracking stats and more time making each post, each comment, and each share matter, and I'm sure you will be happy with the results.
I'm soooo guilty of checking stats too much, including how much money I've made over the course of a day and how many visitors I've got to the site. It doesn't help me. It usually just stresses me out. This is another case of ‘do what I say, not what I do' unfortunately. I'm trying to change this about the way I run my site/business.
The best way to deal with competition is to not deal with them, but to deal with yourself. Focusing on your own content is the way to get more readers and keep them coming back. Trying to emulate or ‘beat' another site will show through in your work.
Tracking stats and keeping an eye on your competitors is fine, just don't overdo it or make it the focus of your work. After developing this habit and maintaining it over a longer period of time, you will surely be happy with the results.
I've written another post about competition and how it's not as dangerous as you might think. You can read this post here.