12 Ways to Find Out How You Stack Up Against Your Competition
What's the measure of a great brand? Increasingly, brands are defined by how they appear online. Even if you don't directly sell anything online, it's critical to think about how your website is perceived by others.
While there are dozens of variables that affect the online visibility of a website, these 12 metrics offer crucial insights into the intersection of your website's SEO value, its position in those all-important search rankings and its faithfulness to your brand. Use them to compare your online brand to your competitors'.
1. Analytics and Traffic Metrics
Your website comparison should begin with a look at your website's analytics. Since Google is the most popular search engine in the United States, Google Analytics is an important analytic suite.
Pay special attention to traffic metrics such as bounce rate and time on page. Compare them closely to those of your competitors using Benchmarking in Google. Or Marketing Automation platforms with competitive analytics available, such as HubSpot, is another great way to compare your website against your competitors.
If the data does not stack up, look for ways to improve your onsite content or overall website experience. Better website quality is one great way to get prospects to "stick around" on your website.
2. Quality Value Proposition
Your value proposition is basically a concise yet highly descriptive encapsulation of what makes your company different from your competitors. Ideally, it should summarize the essence of your brand while highlighting tangible deliverables or differentiators that your business is uniquely positioned to achieve.
Your value proposition should be highly visible on your website's Home page, About page and other relevant subpages. To fully support your brand, it should be echoed and expanded upon in subpage content throughout your site. If you need help devising your value proposition, look to competitors with a clear value proposition of their own and tweak it to highlight your unique offerings.
3. Ease of Website Use and Navigation
Prospects are rational people with numerous demands on their time. If your website isn't attractive and easy to use, they won't engage with it for very long before moving on to greener pastures. To boost your site's retention rate, invest in smooth, intuitive navigation that encourages prospects to explore.
Mobile-friendly navigation is critical as well. At a baseline, mobile websites tend to look more attractive than "desktop-only" websites. Moreover, recent search algorithm updates penalize sites that lack mobile-friendly characteristics.
4. Frequency of Content Publishing
When it comes to content publishing, more is almost always better. Frequent publishing creates more opportunities to support your value proposition and brand identity. It also allows you to be perceived as a thought leader with lots of ideas and the fluency to convey them.
Perhaps most importantly, frequent content publishing boosts your website's total page count, which is critical for your site's SEO value and provides more material for your prospects to explore.
5. Social Media Engagement
Frequent social media engagement is an important, often overlooked measure of website quality. Although it doesn't directly impact your site's SEO value, social media is an increasingly useful tool for driving traffic to your website and catching the eyes of prospects that might otherwise pass you by.
The tone and content of your social media engagement should function as a continuation of your onsite branding. Be sure to use audience-appropriate social media platforms, such as LinkedIn for B2B marketing and Facebook for B2C marketing.
6. Content Offers
A content offer is any piece of content that communicates value to prospective customers. In other words, each offer should answer the age-old question: "What's in it for me?" Examples of great content offers include brand-faithful white papers, case studies, product demonstrations and how-to guides.
7. Customer Incentives
Incentives entice customers in a more overt fashion. While you should never give away the farm, targeted incentives can dramatically increase customer engagement and boost the apparent value of your brand. Examples include promo codes for first-time customers and discounts or offers exclusive to social media.
8. Overall Backlink Count
Although Google's algorithms are increasingly sophisticated, they definitely favor sites with lots of inbound links. The reasoning is simple: Sites with more links probably have more value than "orphan" sites that don't attract outside attention. That said, Google can recognize when an inbound link doesn't make sense. As such, it's important to attract backlinks from relevant sites whose content supports your brand.
9. Quality and Quantity of Linking Domains
In addition to your overall backlink count, the quality and quantity of links from individual domains can favorably boost your website comparison. Seek links - lots of them - from high-PageRank domains.
10. Website Page Count
It sounds like a trivial matter, but your website's overall page count can have a big influence on your online visibility and the comparative strength of your brand. Be sure to create subpages for every discrete brand element and/or service offering that needs explaining. Just remember to keep your navigation intuitive and brand-friendly.
11. Domain Age
Right or wrong, Google and other search engines favor time-tested domains. The longer your domain has been around and active, the better it looks to ranking algorithms. It's also important to remember that older domains have more time to attract high-quality, brand-friendly backlinks.
12. .gov and .edu Backlinks to Your Website
Among backlinks, .gov and .edu links are the gold standard. That's because search engines automatically assume high levels of authority for domains with these extensions. If you can create brand-supportive content that's relevant to .gov and .edu domains, you'll likely see more and more links from these high-authority sites and better brand visibility overall.
It's important to remember that every brand is different. While these 12 metrics are critical to the success of your website and the overall quality of your brand, they're not the only elements standing between you and Internet marketing stardom. If you need advice or guidance on any aspect of online branding, don't hesitate to get in touch.