Why Best Practices Matter
Imagine you’re a child again. Today, you’re trying to learn how to tie your shoelaces. Because you have technology, you can perform a quick search in a few minutes.
With just a few taps on your phone, you find the best video to tie shoelaces. In fact, you find numerous videos teaching you different great methods on tying your shoelace. Therefore, the only thing to do is to tie your shoes and you’ll never forget how to do it ever again.
Digital marketing and practices it involves, such as search engine optimization, social media marketing, and others, are similar to shoelace tying. However, only people who can walk properly for hours have the best-tied shoes.
Therefore, only those who are leading in the industry search engine and social media rankings have the best practices in existence — or in another sense, the best methods to tie shoelaces.
Now, can we copy the way they tie their shoelaces? Is it possible to copy their marketing methods to our advantage? We definitely can.
This is why best practices matter, and why competitive auditing is greatly important for any business.
The Basics of Competitive Auditing
Find Your Core Competitors
However, copying a digital marketing strategy and improving upon it isn’t as easy as copying a shoelace tying method. It is important to find the best competitors whose methods you can copy and improve upon.
The best way to do this is to type in a keyword where you’d like your content to be found. For example, as an HVAC and plumbing company, you can search results for “experienced HVAC and plumbing.” Then, you’ll find the search engine’s top-listed item as your main competitor.
Next, look through their content. Assess whether it adds value and which areas need more detail. Afterwards, do the same for the next search results. For added data and research, you can use other keywords you’d like to rank for and review the competition’s content.
The next step is to list down the competitors you believe have positioned themselves strongly in the keywords. After you’ve done this, you can list down competitors you have found with poor positions with the keywords you searched.
In doing so, you determine which companies have the best practices to copy or use as a reference. If you have listed more companies, you can create a synthesis of methods that can help you get better results.
On the other hand, you have a list of companies with bad practices that you can avoid. In this way, you prevent yourself from ending up with the same results poor results too.
Search Their Branded Keywords
With a comprehensive list of good and bad competitors, you’ll need to know more about the following
- Products and services
- Buyer personas
- How they address buyer personas
- Topics they write about
- Keywords they targeted or are targeting currently
Many HVAC and plumbing companies use branded keywords. In fact, they even affix their physical service center locations in the long-tail keyword. For example, “Adam’s HVAC and plumbing New York” contains “Adam’s” as a brand name, “HVAC and plumbing” as the core keyphrase, and “New York” as the location.
Therefore, if Adam’s has great SEO practices, the HVAC and plumbing company will get plenty of traffic if they have ranking content for New York prospects in need of HVAC and plumbing services.
Google Trends is an excellent tool to see the branded keywords trend line of competitors. If their branded keyword strategy is working well, then it’s worth a look-see for use in your SEO strategy.
Monitor Competition Mentions
Social media is an effective tool to spread word about a new company product, promotion, or customer feedback. In fact, Twitter is leading when it comes to mentioning branded hashtags (which function similar to keywords), and Twitter handles of HVAC and plumbing companies.
Facebook, Twitter, and other social media networks monitor the number of times prospects and other avenues have mentioned the competitions’ brand name or used their branded phrases. One tool to monitor these mentions is Google Alerts.
Competition mentions show you the competition’s relevance in conjunction with the current market and conversations. If they’re doing something right, then it’s worth looking into and using to your advantage.
Try to See The Competition’s Link Activity
If you’ve read up on the basics of link building, then no doubt you know that inbound links are the lifeblood of any good campaign. To generate inbound links, you need good, actionable, and shareable content.
Therefore, a competitor with excellent number of inbound links to their homepage, articles, pages, and other website assets is worth looking into. Take note of the results of each company you’ve listed and identify their best content practices (what makes their content shareable or linkable).
Plot Trending Patterns Including Your Competition
Step two above details the relevance of a competition’s branded keyword in the current market. Therefore, plotting competition-involved trending patterns is finding out more about this aspect in better detail.
One great example of doing this is Moz’s study of two Chinese Restaurants in San Rafael’s San Francisco Bay Area. The website’s professional marketing experts tried to see why one of the restaurants outranked the others. Here are a few things they found:
- The top restaurant has a “thin” website that shows its menu and location.
- It has filled out its NAP and claimed its GoogleMyBusiness name
- The website’s organic search performs poorly than its closest rival
- However, its domain authority and page authority keywords allow it to top the competition
The entire study is a great look at how effective audits should be. Therefore, you can do this competitive audit to plot your competition’s trending patterns and see how even if you’ve “done everything right,” you’re still failing in terms of ranking.
Imitate Their Performance (But Never Copy)
With all these data on hand and with excellent selections of best practices to use, you’re reading to begin your site renovation, content additions, and introduce other improvements to your website.
As we mentioned earlier, even if you do everything right and nailed the aspect down to every small detail (as long as you don’t plagiarize content or closely resemble top-performing competition aspects), you can still find a few “blind” avenues that you might find difficult to understand or resolve similar to the San Rafael Chinese restaurant research.
Identify Their Best Practices… and Top Them!
It pays to know your enemies, and the best way to keep them close is to know their every move. For digital marketing for HVAC and plumbing, you can freely observe the competition and take note of their practices. In fact, you can adopt their practices and use them to improve your conversion rates too by following the methods we listed here.