How to do competitor analysis explained with examples?

There was a time when doing competitor analysis was time-consuming, costly, and very frustrating. But now you can do it from the comfort of your home. There are many tools that you can use for it, some of the most used are SimilarwebHitwiseGoogle Trends, and Google Display Planner.

In this post, we look at three companies Zara, H&M, and Topshop, and learn how to do competitor analysis using these tools.

1. Trend analysis –

From the trend data, you can see that H&M is more popular in the US than Zara and the performance of Topshop is not so good compared to their competitors. You can also see some huge spikes in the data, these spikes are for the early week of Nov before Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the US.

And if you look at the state level data, you can see that in all the states H&M is dominating. There is not a single state where Zara or Topshop is ahead.


Later, we will look at more data from Google Trends but for now, let’s pretend that we are Zara or Topshop and want to get ahead of H&M. So how do we do that?

2. Website traffic and engagement analysis –

In the above pic, we are looking at the worldwide data. One important thing to remember is that the numbers in the competitive intelligence tools will never match completely with your web analytics tools as it’s not directly from you. But it’s OK, nothing to worry too much about it. Just be aware of this fact.

The total number of visits H&M is getting during Jul to Sep 2017 is near around 300 Million, more than 100 million than Zara, which is very massive. The performance of topshop is not so good.

And the traffic on Mobile devices is higher than in Desktop for all these websites.

In terms of engagement, H&M is again ahead of Zara. Although there is not too much difference in Average visit duration and Bounce Rate but Pages/Visits have very high for H&M than for Zara.

We can also see how these metrics are changing over time, not only the visits metric but also other engagement metrics, which is really amazing for understanding how well are you doing against your competitors.

3. Traffic Source Analysis –

The three major traffic source for these websites are Direct, Organic and Referral. But the sad thing for Zara is that there isn’t a single channel where Zara is beating H&M.

Referral Traffic Analysis –

Here, you will find websites that are sending traffic to you and your comapetitor and also traffic percentage share.

If we ignore the traffic from Indeed, both H&M and Topshop are getting lots of traffic from rstyle.me ( www.rewardstyle.com) but Zara isn’t getting any traffic from them. This is definitely something that Zara should consider. Reward style actually provides Influencer marketing program to fashion retailers to increase their sales. Also the share of traffic from Buzzfeed is very low for Zara.

But look at the traffic from WhoWhatWear, Zara is completely dominating here. 85% of the traffic from this website is going to Zara. Finally something to cheer for after so many disappointments.

Social media traffic –

On social, H&M is getting more traffic than Topshop and Zara combined, Which is really massive. Few places where H&M is falling are Youtube and Pinterest. And both H&M and Zara is getting traffic from Vkontakte but Topshop isn’t.

Search Traffic –

Search traffic is more important than ever. Almost every purchase on the web starts with search. According to Google, People searches more than 3.5 billion times every day and out of this, 15-20% of the searches are totally new. And also one thing to remember is when it comes to search, you always need a good balance between organic and paid search. You can’t just rely on one, you will lose lots of potential opportunities.

The total search traffic on desktop for H&M is 48.2M between july to Sep 2017 which is almost 50% more than Zara. And out of that 86% came from organic and 14% from Paid compared that to 98% from organic and 2% from paid for Zara. There is some balance in traffic between organic and paid for H&M but Zara is completely rely on organic traffic which is not a good strategy. You can also look at the search traffic on mobile

Another area where Zara need to improve is the percentage of traffic between branded and non- branded search. Customers who use branded search, are the ones who already knew you. But if you want more opportunities then you need to focus more on non branded search. Customers who use these search terms are earlier in their purchase cycle and you don’t want to lose them to your competitors. Zara is again performing poor here.

Here is something more troublesome, Although the average pages/visits is higher for zara, it is sharply declining during this period, it’s also declined for H&M but not as much as Zara. Topshop’s pages/visit is held constant during this period.

And for the organic search, there is not too much change in pages/visit but if way less than H&M.

You can also look at the search traffic by search engines. Although all the companies are getting at least 95 % of the traffic from google, you can still find some places for improvement like Topshop can focus on getting some more traffic from Yandex because their performance is poor here relative to their competitors.

4. Text and Display ads analysis –

On the search ads tab, you can find more information about your competitor’s search strategy like their ad copy, the keywords for which their ad is showing up on google, average position of ads on Google SERP page, the landing pages.

And if you look at the similarweb’s Display advertising tab, you will find things like Which websites are sending the most amount of traffic to your competitors, which Ad networks your competitors are using to serve those ads. As we discussed earlier that Zara isn’t into paid marketing too much, but look how their competitors are getting lots of traffic from websites like Buzzfeed, Helpfreely, shu.com, etc. Out of the top 5 publishers, Zara is only getting traffic from youtube. You can also look at the distribution of traffic from different Ad networks, both H&M and Topshop are doing good here also but Zara is again lagging.

In the creative section, you can actually see the your competitors Display banner just like we see text ads earlier. The number of impressions these ads are getting and also where they are appearing. Just look at the name of the source in the UTM parameters in the link marked with the rectangle in the above picture.

5. Keyword Analysis –

Now, here is the Gold Mine. If you look at the Keyword tab in similar web, you can find lots of amazing data to plan your search strategy. Want to know your market share for the non-branded keywords? you can find it here. Want to know, which new and trending keywords are sending more traffic to your competitor’s website than yours? you can get it here. And how much it will cost you to bid on those keywords? you git it. You can even segment by search engines and type of search( regular search, shopping search, video etc.). The more you dig this report in similarweb, the more valuable data you can find to improve your SEO and PPC campaigns.

Organic and Paid Keyword Competitors –

Look at both the organic and paid search competitors, you will find lots of surprises here. You will find websites that you didn’t even consider your competitors.

To learn more – How to optimize Google Ads campaigns and keywords?

Let’s go back to Google trends and look at some Geographical data to find new areas of opportunity based on location.

6. Geographical data analysis –

The great thing about this geographical data is that you can find areas where your competitors are ahead of you and invest heavily on those areas to crush them.

For H&M –

For Zara –

For example, If you goal is to gring down H&M then you can see that H&M has a very strong hold in Utah, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Nevada but Zara doesn’t. So Zara can go aggressively on these regions to snatch customers from H&M and at the same time keep improving their performance in Massachusetts, Hawaii, Connecticut, and Florida.

One another strategy is to look at the geographical interest by category keywords.

This report will help you understand customers from which region is interested in jacket or any product or category that you are interested in. If you want, you can also further drill down into the metro or city level to be more precise with your ad targeting. Do this kind of analysis for some of the most important terms in your industry or something that is very important for you. You can find some important keyword ideas in your Google analytics keywords report.

If you want to learn more about how to use Google Trends and also how to find product-level insights from the Google Shopping insights tool, then make sure to read this post – How to increase online sales on a limited budget.

So, did you find this post helpful? Please let me know in the comment section. And if you do then please like, share and subscribe. Have a great day.

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