Spying on your competitors? It’s not dirty – it’s another type of market research. Plus you make new friends and connect with others in your niche or topic area. Day 4 of 31 Days to Build a Better Blog (affiliate link) focuses on how to find out more about other sites in your niche.
Not only should you surf the site to find out who’s commenting, the type of content that is being published, the voice and style, etc. but you should also do some more detailed research on the site as well. Here’s where our investigation can get technical.
Digging Deeper Into Site Analytics
Go to Google.com and search “link: www.URLofBlog.com” to see which sites are linking back to the blog you’re researching. This gives you a great idea of where you could be commenting, guest posting or contributing because you’ve highlighted sites that you know will be interested in your topic area. Check out the activity on the site, what content draws readers, and even the site rankings on Alexa or Website Grader.
Now here’s the rub. Don’t get caught up in this too much. Really you can become obsessed and/or lose your own unique voice by focusing TOTALLY on others all the time. However, I feel that some bloggers avoid doing this exercise completely out of a fear of being somehow “influenced” and miss on the opportunity to connect. To learn. To study. To grow.
Homework – select one of the top sites in your niche topic area and run through a few of these stats. Come back and report which site you looked at, what you noticed and learned about the site, what ideas you got from your own blog by studying the site, and what OTHER sites and resources you found by searching their incoming links. Go forth and spy!