Your Take: Do You Conduct Competitive Research?In my post about checking your stat tracker’s privacy settings, I explained why you want to obfuscate your site’s most valuable data. I also shared one of the competitive research tactics I used several years ago, which was made obsolete (and then relevant) by many tools later on.
One of the big ethical issues I had with it was that I felt bad doing research on my “friends.” (at the time, I’d never met them so I hesitate to call them real friends… they were internet friends :)) My solution was to tell them that I was doing it, that they should lock up their stats, and I’d have to use more conventional means to find out what worked and what didn’t.
Competitive research is a must, regardless of your business, and I feel like it plays an important role in blogging. It’s important to see what works and then try to execute it or out-execute the competition.
But turnabout is fair play. Just as I was researching other sites, others researched Bargaineering. Once tools made it easy to see what a site was ranking well for, you could see every blog come out of the woodwork on terms that I swore were well hidden (there were some long tail ones, like six words, that were surprisingly effective… yep people found those too). It’s all part of the game and, most importantly, you shouldn’t take it personally. It just forces you to adapt and evolve, which is a good thing.
Here’s the key to competitive research, you can’t just study the leaders in your niche. You can start there but you have to be learning from the leaders of as many areas as possible. Try to implement what they do well and bring it home. Use them as inspiration so that you can start leading.
I studied a lot of mommy/family/frugal bloggers to figure out how they kick ass with sweepstakes (and how they have 50,000 fans on Facebook!). They do social well and use social media the way personal finance bloggers used to use search.
Do you conduct competitive research and, if so, how do you to do it?
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