Competitive analysis of your chosen niche is one of the most critical due diligence activities you’ll do when plotting how to start a blog.
Starting to work on a blog in a niche that’s uber-competitive is like paddling upstream without a paddle. The results from the work you’ll put in on content strategy will be negligible, and beyond that, it’ll be tedious.
There are some great tools that make evaluating competition relatively easy. This is true even if it’s not an exercise you’ve done previously.
Let’s take a closer look at these tools and a walk-through of the process.
How to Complete a Competitive Analysis
Conducting a thorough competitive analysis will help you to understand the players in your niche. And how you can best approach content to help you differentiate and have a decent shot to make money blogging.
Here are the steps to take in evaluating competitors:
- Examine your competitions’ domain authority and uncover the keywords core to their content marketing strategy.
- Evaluate these keywords to determine:
- The global search volume for the keyword(s) monthly and their level of keyword difficulty
- How many backlinks would be needed to be “visible” for the keywords you’re considering to chase
- Identify content gaps between what you are creating – or have already created – and your competition to attract a new audience
Let’s take a look at each of these in detail.
Evaluating Domain Authority and Content Strategy
A site’s domain authority (DA) is a score that predicts how well a website will rank overall on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). SERPs are the results you see when you search for something on one of the major search engines.
Domain authority is on a scale from 1-100. A site with a 0 domain authority hasn’t yet published any content. Sites with a 100 DA are mega-powerhouses. Think the Googles, Facebooks, and Twitters of the world.
You can use a site like Ahrefs or Moz to evaluate DAs as you’re doing a competitive analysis. A majority of sites have a DA somewhere between 35-60. If you’re checking out a niche where most blogs and websites have a 60 or higher DA; there’s a steep barrier to entry. It’s going to be very difficult to gain traction and develop traffic to your site.
If most sites are closer to 35, it’s a good signal a deeper dive is worth it to see what the keyword landscape tells you.
Keyword Competitive Analysis
Next, do a keyword competitive analysis if you’re ok with the difficulty level of competing in your niche.
Ahrefs is also a great place to do this work. It’s simple to search for the keywords in which you’re interested. Ahrefs will provide a keyword difficulty score (KD) from 1-100, similar to DA. The higher this KD, the more difficult – in general – it would be for content focused on those keywords to rank in the SERPs.
If most of the keywords have a 35 or less KD, then you’re in good shape.
You also want to consider the Global Search Volume (GSV) for the keywords you’re considering. It’s a good rule of thumb your keywords have at least a GSV of 1,000 or better to be worth the work to chase them.
If the keyword set you’ll be writing around has a 35 or less KD on average, and a GSV of 1,000 or better, you could have a winner! If the averages are anywhere near these averages, you should dig in and get to work!
The Link Building Competitive Landscape
The final consideration when doing a niche competitive analysis is how difficult it will be to build backlinks to your blog.
Domain authority principles apply here as well. The higher a blog or website’s DA, the more bloggers like you are pitching them for guest blogging opportunities or direct links back to their sites.
When you’re just starting, it’s best to target sites with a 30-60 DA for your link building efforts. Things start to get much more challenging around 60 DA. Link building is an effort in incremental growth. As your own blog’s DA starts to grow, the DA of sites you should target changes with that growth.
Like many things in blogging, you have to crawl before you can walk.
The more backlinks you drive from sites, the more your DA will grow. As your DA grows, you’ll be in a better position in SERPs to show up more often in search. With a better search position, you’ll naturally earn more organic traffic. Organic traffic increases can open the door to conversions, and making your business dreams a reality!
Knowing what content to create first is more than half the battle. This knowledge comes from an informed process, however. Flying blind is no way to fly. Instead, dig in and do a content gap analysis to identify accessible initial opportunities for success.
How to Do a Content Gap Analysis
A content gap analysis allows you to see what for which topics your direct competitors are ranking. And, also, where you have an opportunity to make up some ground against them.
Using a tool like Ahrefs, you can get a firm idea of where your competitors have a foothold, and where there are opportunities. If there are low competition keywords with a high global search volume your competition is not writing about, these are quality chances to poach some traffic and maybe jump your competition in search rankings.
A thorough competitive analysis that includes a content gap analysis can generate unlimited content ideas and keep your fingers flying on that keyboard for months to come. The work of identifying content gaps is a little tedious, but the opportunities it surfaces are well worth the effort.
Why Competitive Analysis Matters
Doing a thorough competitive analysis of your niche is one of the most vital activities you can complete as a blogger. Jumping headfirst into deep water without doing your due diligence first can lead to heartbreak.
Do your keyword research, understand what it will take to build links in your niche, and do a thorough content gap analysis. At that point, you can make a confident decision about pursuing your niche – or not – informed by hard numbers and the reality of your competition.
Blog to Scale helps bloggers understand the competitive landscape, and avoid the constant creation of content in favor of a smarter approach to blog growth. To learn more, check out what our Training Academy has to offer!