increase blog trafficComing up with new blog post ideas, week after week, can be tough. So, how do you find ideas for blog posts?

And how do you know which topics will give you a strong edge over your competitors? If you can work out which posts on your competitors’ sites are the most effective, you can use what you learn to get ideas for your blog.

In this post, we will share some top ways to research what your competitors write about, so you can get new ideas for your own blog and increase your blog traffic.

1. Which of their posts get the most shares?

If someone is your competitor, you want to attract the same audience as they do.  So, if people share their content, why wouldn’t they share yours, too? For this reason, it’s useful to research the engagement on your competitors’ posts and see the kinds of posts they are publishing. BuzzSumo is a useful tool for this kind of competitor analysis. Enter your competitor’s web address and BuzzSumo will analyze their blog content. It will display a table that shows how many social shares (divided up by network) each post got. Those with the highest engagement are at the top of the list. Things you can learn from using BuzzSumo for competitor analysis:

  • whether particular types of media (e.g. videos or infographics) get more shares than others
  • whether certain social media platforms get more shares for different types of posts
  • which social media platforms get the most shares overall.
buzzsumo most shared content data
View the content that’s shared the most on your competitors’ websites.

If you are not active on a social platform that your competitors are getting a lot of shares on, you need to start engaging there! And, if a certain type of post gets lots of shares but you don’t publish that kind of post yourself, you might want to start exploring that style as a possibility. This isn’t about copying your competitors’ posts.  Instead, find a style that is popular and write a post on a different topic.  Or look at covering a topic that’s popular on their blog, but in a new and original way.

As well as seeing which posts get shared a lot, you can also learn a lot from finding out who is sharing those posts. Next to each post in BuzzSumo, you can see a button that says ‘View Sharers’.  When you click this, you can see which influential people have shared that post. You can do that in the search for your competitor’s web address, as above.  Or, you can do a search for keywords that are related to your niche and see what has had the most shares overall.

buzzsumo influencers data
Find out which top influencers and bloggers are sharing content.

When you know which influential social media users are already sharing content that relates to your niche, you can connect with them you write similar content and see if they will share yours out, too.

2. Analyze Keyword Rankings

You can always get new content ideas by looking at the keywords your competitors are ranking for.  If you spot some keywords you haven’t covered, you have the opportunity to write an outstanding blog post based on them. You might just swipe some of your competitors’ traffic! There is a tool that makes this research easy: using SEMRush, you can enter the names of your competitors and find out the top ten keywords that are driving traffic to their websites. When you enter your competitors’ details into SEMRush, you see a list like this one:

semrush keyword data
Find the keywords that drive the most traffic to competing websites.

You will see the keywords and phrases that your competitors are successfully ranking for, including where they appear in the search results. There is also a number in brackets, which shows where they were in the search results last time SEMRush searched for them. The third column shows the average monthly search volume for the keyword or phrase, in the country you have chosen. This helps to make sure you don’t spend time targeting a keyword that only 12 people search for every month! The fourth column shows you the average cost per click, which is useful if you are planning to use Google AdWords to promote your site with these keywords. And, in the right-hand column, there is a link to the article or blog post on their site that is ranking for the keywords in question. This is really useful for helping you to understand what led to their success.

Take a moment to think about the possibilities. By using this data, you are able to find out exactly what is popular. With that information, you can then write detailed, carefully focused articles on your website. These posts will help you to move up the search results for the keywords and phrases that are already encouraging people to share elsewhere.

Do you want to take it a step further? Take the keywords you researched with SEMRush and use Google’s Keyword Planner to get more data on them, as well as suggested, related keywords. Or, if you have already published blog posts based on the keywords you have found, go back to them and make sure they are optimized and the best they can be. This will help to attract search engine attention for better rankings.

3. Find the content that is ranked the highest

Moz is a really useful site that helps blogs and businesses with their inbound marketing and SEO. Its online tools analyze and rank millions of websites according to their own, proprietary algorithms. Moz measures the Domain Authority (DA) and the Page Authority (PA) of each website, ranking them out of 100.  The higher the Domain Authority, the more influential that website is considered to be. When websites are influential, they find it easier to rank well on Google. Page Authority ranks individual pages on a website, so the PA shows how well each separate page of a website is ranking.

moz open site explorer tool
With Open Site Explorer, you can view backlinks for online content.

Using Moz’s Open Site Explorer tool, you can look up any website and get a complete list of all the pages on that site. You can then sort the results by page authority, so you can see at a glance which pages perform the best. For each page or post Open Site Explorer returns, you can also see which other sites are linking to it.

To use Open Site Explorer, you need a subscription to Moz. If you don’t already have one, there is a free trial available. There is also a free way to achieve similar results. Firstly, download the free Moz Toolbar. Then, combine this with the Google Site command, which is an operator search that you can use to find out which pages on your site have been indexed by Google. This way, when you search with Google, you can see the Page Authority and Domain Authority of all the pages in the search results.

To carry out a search with Google’s Site command, enter “” in the search bar (replacing with whichever domain you are researching). You can do this with your own website, and also with competitors’ domain names, to get a full picture of the Domain Authority and Page Authority.

google site command data
Use Google’s Site command with the Moz toolbar to discover the top-ranking pages on a competitor’s website.

The Site command is never 100% perfect, but it gives you a good idea of how many pages have been indexed and how well they are performing.  When you are looking at competitors’ websites in this way, you can find the best-performing posts and get new ideas for your own blog posts.

4. Track content-related conversations

Brand24 is a monitoring tool that I really love. You can use it to monitor mentions on blogs, websites, social media, image sites and forums. You can also filter the mentions to focus on one channel or another, by using the filters at the top of the page.

For example, on the screen below, I wanted to find conversations about a specific brand’s blog posts. I used the brand name as the keyword to search for, then I filtered the results so they only showed forum discussions. What I found was that, in one particular forum, there was a lot of discussion of the competitor I had searched for. This indicates it would be a good idea for me to join that forum myself.

brand24 data
Find out where people are talking about your competitors.

Brand24 can do more than this, too. Using this tool, you can discover which influencers are sharing your competitors’ content on social media, as well as who is most active in sharing their content. You can also find out which sites are mentioning the content. These all give you opportunities to find new influencers to engage and build relationships with. Then, those influencers may start promoting your content, too. You can set up alerts for conversations you monitor regularly. These will help you to identify platforms that could be useful and become more active there. Join in the conversations and make yourself known.

5. Analyze which backlinks are best

Searchmetrics researched and wrote a report about Google ranking factors. It is really comprehensive – the site analyzed more than 300,000 searches and looked at the top three search results for each one. What they found was very interesting, especially the fact that backlinks from relevant and high-authority sites are still really important for good search-engine positioning.

With that in mind, researching who links to your competitors, and working out which links are the most valuable, can put you at a real advantage. This is because, when authoritative sites link to your competitors’ content, they might also be open to linking to yours. Go back to those keywords you found in SEMRush. If your competitors are ranking well for those keywords, they almost certainly have some high-authority, high-quality sites linking to them. SEMRush gave you the direct links to the posts that were ranking well in Google. These become especially useful when you use them with another tool, Ahrefs.

back link data
Discover which high-ranking sites link to content on your competitor’s website.

Like Moz, Ahrefs is a tool that has its own proprietary ranking system, ranking domains from 0 to 100. You can register for a free Ahrefs account, then use the tool to analyze the URLs you discovered with SEMRush. Ahrefs will show you which sites are linking to those URLs. As Ahrefs displays the sites linking to your competitor’s content, you can click on the Domain Rank column to filter the results. This means the highest-ranking domains will be at the top of the list. You can then get in touch with those websites and ask them to link to your content.

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By carrying out research on your competitors, you can learn a lot about how to proceed with your own website. This kind of analysis shows you what is working for others.  This will help you to come up with creative ways to build your own content, based on what is already working for others. This might involve creating your own content on popular topics you haven’t covered before, or creating new kinds of content on existing topics, such as videos, interviews or infographics.

Sure, it takes some time to do this research. But, with tools like these, it is made a lot easier.  We certainly think it’s worth taking the time to do it! What are your thoughts on this kind of competitor research? Do you do it already?

If so, which tools do you use? Tell us in the comments below!

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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