One of the great things about the web is that it provides you with almost all the information needed to learn about your competition. Whether you're trying to find their customers, sales strategies, pricing or key words, almost all the data you're looking for is available online. The key is knowing where to find it. This post is part of a series discussing 10 web marketing tips your healthcare staffing agency should do right now.
Part of a successful online marketing strategy for your healthcare staffing agency is to understand and analyze your competition. Keeping track of what services they offer, how they bring people into their site and what messages they're using to promote their brand will provide a good overview of how to better position yourself against them.
Here are some helpful tips for conducting competitive research in the healthcare staffing industry.
Identify your competitors. Identify and make a list of your competitors. Include 3 companies that do exactly what you do. For example, if you are a mid-size staffing company doing per diem nursing in Orlando Florida, find 3 companies that fall into this same categorization. Then add at least 2 outliers. Using the same example, an outlier in this case might be a large national travel agency and/or a per diem allied health company in Chicago. The outliers will help give you ideas on how to expand your message and target audience. It will also help you see what's working for companies with which you are not directly competing. In addition, it's a good idea to choose both companies that are doing well and those that are not doing so well. You can learn from both.
Locate websites. For each competitor, make a list of all of their websites and the pages within each website. Take notes for each page as to the primary message, images and keywords being presented.
Page Rank. Search engines rank websites according to their popularity and relevance to the search query. So it's safe to say the page rank of each competitor's targeted keywords is important. However, because of social search results, varying search engines and other constant changes to Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) this measure is becoming less and less reliable. Therefore, it's good to pay attention to but don't focus too much on it.
Traffic. Analyzing your competitors traffic gives you an idea as to the number of visitors they get. There are some great tools for this that give you data such as regional relevancy and what search terms prospective visitors might be searching for to find them. There is a list of such tools at the end of this post.
Keywords. The next thing to know about your competition is how effective their keywords and link building efforts are. Keywords are incredibly important. Keywords tell search engines the content of your site and what words your competitors are targeting. A successful competitor has done their research and knows full well what keywords to use to drive visitors to their site. Studying this information can give you great insight into their overall online strategy. Be careful, however, that you can truly rely on the data. Unfortunately, most companies simply guess at what they think the best keywords to use are without conducting proper keyword research.
The easiest but somewhat technical way to find what keywords your competitors are targeting is to go to the page source for each page on your competitors sites. To do this, find the option for viewing the source of a web page in your browser (or have someone who knows how to do this help you find it). Once you can view the source take notes on the titles, meta descriptions and keywords being used on each page. This will give you a great understanding of the keywords each competitor is targeting.
Another great way to do this is through Google's keyword tool (see below). This tool will actually identify and suggest keywords to you based on the urls you give it. Plug your competitors website URLs in here and take note.
Sitemap. Another useful tactic is to determine whether your competitor is using a sitemap to improve the indexing of their website. If you find a sitemap, it's reasonable to assume that this competitor is at least relatively well informed on current search engine marketing tactics. To find this out with reasonable chances of success, enter the following URL into your browser’s address bar: www.competitor.com/sitemap.xml (type in the actual URL of your competitor followed by /sitemap.xml). This is the default file name for Google sitemaps so if your competitor has one this will often provide you with a resulting page full of useful xml data.
It will also show you how many pages your competition has indexed. Take note of the amount of pages each competitor has. The more indexed pages, the more likely their content is building links and rank online. Be careful here, creating a bunch of pages isn't going to improve your customer user experience. Therefore, if you're looking to easily create more pages with valuable content consider creating a blog for your healthcare staffing company. Every blog article is a new page and a new opportunity to rank for a valuable keyword.
Backlinks. If done correctly, backlinks serve to drive traffic from another website to yours. If the referring website is of high standing and contains content related to yours, this link is very valuable at improving your page rank. It's easy to find websites linking to those of your competition. Doing so will help you create a plan of getting these same or similar sites to link to you.
To do this, go to Google and type in the following: link:www.yourcompetitorname.com (type in the actual name of your competitors website preceded with link: ).
The results will include a sample of the backlinks that Google ‘sees’. Do this same thing in Yahoo and compare the results. The results will be different because of how the two search engines share information. For Yahoo, type in the following: linkdomain:www.competitor.com.
Remember, only focus on those sites that are reputable, display relevant content to yours and have decent page rank.
Social Media. Social networking is an important component for every healthcare staffing agencies online marketing success. Therefore, don't overlook your competition in this area. Identify all of your competitors blogs and social media pages on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. Be sure to follow, subscribe to and friend all of them. If they send email newsletters sign up for those too. Conduct searches for your competitors brands on places like Facebook and Twitter to see what people are saying about them. Also, don't forget to subscribe to Google Alerts for your competitors. This will give you near real time updates on any mentions of your competition on the web.
Following these tips will give you a good idea as to the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors. In addition, here are some tools that will help even more with this effort.
Backlinks and Page Rank:
SEOprofiler.com – http://www.seoprofiler.com
SEO for Firefox – http://tools.seobook.com/firefox/seo-for-firefox.html
LinkDiagnosis.com – http://www.linkdiagnosis.com
SpyFu – http://www.spyfu.com/
SEO Digger – http://www.seodigger.com/
Niche Watch – http://www.nichewatch.com/
Google Keyword Tool – http://www.googlekeywordtool.com/
Google Trends – http://www.google.com/trends
Understanding and researching your competition in the healthcare staffing industry is important to implementing a successful web marketing campaign. Staffing Robot has the expertise to guide you through a complete and thorough competitive analysis on all of your competitors. Let us know if you have any questions or would like further information on successful competitive research strategies for your healthcare staffing company.
Next post – Conducting Effective Competitive Analysis on the Web
Once you're successfully promoting your brand online it's important that you're monitoring and measuring all of the activities surrounding these efforts. In the last post in this series, we'll discuss tools and tips on how to effectively monitor your healthcare staffing agencies brand online.