Competitor analysis is done to assess the strengths and weaknesses of one’s own and competitors individually and then to compare each other. Competitor Analysis is derived from Competitive Analysis theory and in the digital market too, if you want some benefit from Competitor analysis, what you need to do is identify improvements and innovations where You are OR can be Better than Your Competitor rather than imitating their strategy. New brands find Competitor strategy copying as one of the easiest ways when planning an introduction in a particular industry in the digital market. However, this particular imitation strategy can only help define a Strategy, it cannot and should not be considered a strategy in itself. Most beginners think of adopting the same strategy for optimizing budget, to save time on research and gaining direct insights on marketing, sales, behavior, product characteristics and whatnot. However, to position it correctly, this can only be taken up for the Goal of “Revenue Generation” and still it cannot assure success.
Here are some reasons I do not believe in using the exact strategy of any competitor within an industry.
- Different goals and Objectives
There can be many goals and strategies in SEO such as Website Traffic, Product Awareness, Lead Generation, Revenue Generation, Optimizing Budget or cost per lead and increasing repeated customers. Not all of these are important for all of them. For instance, even with a very similar customer base, market share and market growth, the promotional campaigns of H&M and Zara are very different. While one focuses on displaying a “High level of Variety in Styles”, another focuses on “Variety of designs in Street-Wear”.
It is never possible for two companies in the same industry to follow similar strategies in all functions. Each functional department is dependent on another to frame a strategy that can be suitable for the entire organization and so is the case for Digital Markets. Your strategy has to be dependent on team size, products available, market size, growth and most importantly the strengths the brand has and the opportunities it wants to seize.
This matrix graph shows how Competitor analysis is defined based on the Relative Market Share of the Competitor and Growth Rate. Not going much deeper in the context but if the rate of growth and market share are not similar, there is a low possibility of the success of the brand copying another. Therefore, if a new brand in fast fashion clothing wants to pick up the strategy of H&M or Zara, will not be an effective strategy due to the higher market share and growth rate of either of the 2 brands.
Additionally, the level of investment in marketing or human resources cannot be used initially, so a better way is to use A/B testing campaigns and organic ways for promotion initially before the test phase is over.
- Limited Readability
Your readability is expected to reduce because you haven’t properly studied your target consumers’ interests, pain points and trends in the market. On top of that, you are not even sure if the clients in the same industry or with the same preference are being targeted by you since you haven’t done a preliminary study initially. Your information can be attuned to the targeted consumer’s interests only after you know who exactly they are which sadly is not possible in imitation strategy. Behavioral or intent research can help you identify an innovative and directive way of presenting information eventually helping to enhance the readability of your content for SEO. For instance, the readability is higher for the article given by Semrush as it has a heading that explains for a wider understanding. Semrush is a pioneer in the SEO industry and makes most content based on research and not imitation and that’s why has a higher readability.
- Lack of new insights and Differentiation
Differentiation helps you stand out in the crowd, otherwise, the extremely high competition o the digital market will never let any new brand prosper. However, Differentiation doesn’t have to mean completely redefining or reinventing the product/ process or marketing activities. It is the small adjustments made with the intent of making life comfortable and enhancing user experience that can make the entire difference. In the realm of SEO, which largely revolves around Content Marketing, the imitation strategy of copying your Competitors’ steps and marketing tactics will eventually eliminate any possibility of Differentiation for you. Again, this is because the brand will not even know what to Differentiate from. Fresh perspectives and new angles are crafted only after a huge exposure to the issues and possible solutions where experimentation is a key factor that is eliminated in Copying Strategy. In the example above, imitation will induce you to write articles such as “Create”, “Engage”, “Rank” or “Generate” formats in SEO articles, but a researched strategy can tell you how “Popular myths” too are becoming popular these days.
- Missing the opportunities for Innovative learning
A strategy undertaken by imitating someone else’s strategy without taking into consideration your own goals, opportunities, research, trends and implications will never let you grow and learn. Imitation often comes with a perceived sense of safety because it’s a tried and tested strategy, but at the same time, a new strategy can help a business to make more informed decisions, reducing risks eventually. At the same time, only research and exposure adopted according to your business’ efficiencies can help you Invade Innovativeness in the business. After you have identified yourself as a Unique proposition, your popularity will touch heights, which is the basis of SEO ranking in the first place. I will give just the right example, this 3% suspicious leads from your “Original Strategy” are the basis of new insights. These can be new leads that will not just convert into sales but also give you insights into what new issues are there in the industry and then if you can solve them, you have the possibility of converting twice as many clients later.
- Unforeseen Google ranking and compliance issues
SEO ranking is adopted according to Google’s guidelines. If a business does not abide by its Google Quality raters guidelines, it can be penalized in many ways. If you imitate SEO strategies, which is pretty much the only strategy that can be imitated properly, there are chances of
1. Down Ranking: Copying the structure or meaning of content undermines the “T” or “Trust” factor in E-E-A-T. This can lead to loss of traffic and the possibility of new leads for the business.
2. De-indexing of Sitemap: Google may remove all URLs from its index if it detects any of the four E-E-A-T factors compromised or violations of “Quality Rater Guidelines” such as fake reviews, duplicated data, or keyword stuffing. Google offers a complaint section where businesses that suspect unauthorized use of their content without proper attribution can file a complaint, enabling them to request the removal of plagiarized content from Google’s search results or bringing the website entirely down.
Understand that years of efforts can be washed away by Google in one mistake therefore copying strategies that can be easily “Investigated” by your competitor himself or Google’s Algorithm should not be risked. It is rather suggested to hire or research yourself initially to find out about Google’s pattern to rank and then to Copy.