As a new or even seasoned blogger one of the hardest things to gauge of is where your blog stands relative to your peers. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve assumed that someone with a large Instagram following had comparable reach with their blog. An equal amount of times I’ve underestimated just how large some blogs reach actually are. So what is the easiest way to compare your blog performance to your peers? I recorded a video to show you exactly how I asses mine and my competitors key performance indicators.
While I don’t think trying to analyzing everyone else’s traffic is the key to your success, I do think periodically (quarterly) checking the temperature for your growth and your fellow competitors can provide a good benchmark. Even for the established bloggers who already have influencer income, knowing where you stack up to the competition has real financial incentive.
Which Competitors to Study
Whether you are new to the blogging game or you’re a experienced influencer, I recommend that you keep track of 3 -5 other accounts who are in the same niche as you. Here are the top 4 competitors I recommend that you keep tabs on.
- A blog in your niche that started around the same time as you (so you can watch their growth)
- A blog in your niche with the similar traffic (so you can compare your results)
- A blog with double your traffic (so you can study how to get from A to B)
- The big time blogger you love (their results might even surprise you)
What Tool Gives Lifestyle and Fashion Bloggers The Most Valuable Insight
All the reviewing of their social media accounts and reading of their content won’t lend you the deep insight that you can gain by seeing their website analytics and getting an idea of their marketing strategy. Think of it like being able to look over an influencers shoulder as they review their Google Analytics.
While I do like to review the analytics for my competitors I don’t need to study them closely enough that I need a paid tool. Instead I use the FREE and PRO DEMO version of SimilarWeb.com. There are other tools out there which are similar but of all the ones I’m familiar with, SimilarWeb is able to give me the most insight for free and appears to be the most accurate.
In the video below I give you a walk-through of exactly how to use SimilarWeb to check the performance of your blog and how to use the tool to compare. You can check it out below.
6 Key Metrics to Look at When You are Comparing Your Blog Data to Competitors
If you aren’t well versed in Google Anayltics or have an understanding how these components interplay with the reach and growth of your blog; here are the key items that you should always look at first.
1. Total Visitors: How many people are coming to your site each month? Is that number trending up or is it trending down? If you keep publishing good content you should keep trending up, even if you don’t do anything.
2. Average Visit Duration: This is how long people stay on your site. At first you’ll be disappointed thinking, how could someone only stay for 60 seconds. Trust me that’s good. With the majority of most audiences on mobile, 60 seconds is a long time for someone to stay with you. My average time on site is above average for my niche. This is most likely attributed to the fact that I have high organic traffic and that I’m wordy and not posting just pictures (this also really helps with organic search below). People who are finding a post because they are looking for something in particular will stay are digest the post in more detail than they would if they are just skipping over from social media.
3. Traffic Sources: Where is your traffic coming from? If you have high traffic from social that means that you need to continually use your social media influence to drive traffic to your site each time you write a new post. Initially I did this and then realized that I didn’t need to let my Instagram followers know that I have a new post. Most likely, based on analytics they aren’t following me on Instagram to stay in the know for when I have a new blog post. Instead my traffic comes from organic search. In my case that means I can afford to write less frequently and focus on creating really rich content that will rank well organically (I’ll save the nuts and bolts of getting Google to like your content in a separate post).
4. Referrers: This tells you what other blogs are linking to your website (or your competitors blogs). Having some strong top referrers will definitely contribute to traffic growth. In my case I had LifeHacker.com quote and link to a blog post of mine in one of their posts. You’ll see in the screenshot that LifeHacker has a global rank of #777 which is really high – that means they are the 777 highest trafficked website in the world. While that placement was over a year ago, it basically took my website traffic from 1 -10 overnight and had those results linger for months after. Truthfully, this is an area that you can have a big win in with just a little effort.
5. Social: Always look at social because it’s such an important element for influencer and the results sometimes might even surprise you.
- Instagram – appears to not be included (or at least in the free) but Facebook and Pinterest are.
- Facebook – a huge traffic referred and grossly overlooked for lifestyle and fashion bloggers in particular. I’ll save my insights there for another but it’s without a doubt my secret sauce.
- Pinterest – I was never tracking my performance over there so learning that it was driving so much traffic was such a great surprised. From doing some comparison learned that Amber Fillerup Clark from BarefootBlonde.com uses Pinterest as a massive growth tool. If it’s good enough for her, it should be good enough for the rest of us!
6. Competitors: For the big players or people who have certain indexing, you’ll be able to see who their similar website are. If you are just starting using this tool now and have large enough traffic, you’re in luck, SimilarWeb will basically tell you exactly who your competitors are.
The Bottom Line
If you are a blogger trying to turn your passion into an income, it’s time to add some competitive analysis into your balancing act. If you have ever wondered why another blogger got a paid sponsorship the answer almost always comes down to traffic analytics. SimilarWeb is the same exact tool that brands are using to vet you for sponsorship opportunities and all the followers and post likes in the world won’t tell them nearly as much as they are learning from checking your stats. So turn the tables on them, use the stats to your advantage to leverage your time and focus on what you are doing that is working.