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When it comes to web design, there’s a lot you can learn from your competitors. In fact, watching what they’re doing is a key way to stay ahead of the crowd and ensure you’re not missing anything crucial. We do not recommend you copy entire strategies, however there is a lot you could learn from what other successful businesses are doing. So, what can you learn from them?

1. Customer engagement

Look at how they engage with their customers. Do they talk to them online through the website, social media, and so forth? What type of interactions do they have with them? How are they ensuring they keep returning? Do their customers ask questions, and do they respond?
You can learn a lot from customer engagement. For example, if a competitor has a live chat, you could ask the chat questions and see how they respond. Note down the tone of their voice, and if the responses are automated. Discover how helpful they are, you may even find that your competitors use engagement as a chance to upsell or promote other products.

2. Voice

When you’re looking at your competitors’ content, what is the style of their voice? Are they friendly and care-free? Do they have any keywords or phrases that keep showing up? Do they make jokes or are they more serious? What sort of tone do they take in their social media content compared with their website?
The tone of voice may change, depending on the industry. To understand what tone of voice to use, you must understand your target audience. Bookmakers, Paddy Power, use a cheeky tone of voice to be memorable and connect with their clients on a personal level. This marketing tactic has worked as it connects with their target audience – young men.

3. Navigation

How easy is their website to navigate? It is important when building your new website that you always keep in mind the customer journey, ensuring they can always find the information needed. How straightforward is it to get your contact information or price list, compared with your competitor? Compare your web design against theirs for ease of use and practicality.
A good tip is to track a journey. As a rule of thumb, any content should not be any further than three clicks deep. If your competitor has a shorter journey, which leads to the similar outcome to your website, such as checking out on a E-Commerce store, then you should rethink your strategy to make the navigation simple, easy and clean.

4. Blog content

Your blog content is a great place to boost your SEO results, cram in your keywords and show to your audience that you are an expert leader. It is important to look at what your competitors are doing and try to find ways to stand out in your content – whether that is in the topics you’re covering, the standard of writing, the quality of pictures you’re using, and so on.

5. SEO

When you search the keywords for your website, where do you rank against your competitors? It’s important that you are ahead of them; if you’re not, it’s time to look at what they’re doing and the words they’re using to see how you can get your site ranked higher. It is important to remember though that when your site is new, it will take Google a while to pick it up so you may have to be a bit patient too.
There are many tools you can use to track your SEO progress and also make comparisons to your competitors. Moz is a well known search engine optimisation tool, which allows you to keep a watchful eye on you and your competitors SEO efforts.
Remember, SEO is not an overnight journey and will not provide instant results. SEO is a long term strategy to draw in traffic. Have you seen our article on the ten SEO myths that you should not take into 2018? This informative article highlights what NOT to believe when conducting search marketing.

6. Monetisation

If you want to make money from your website, you can work out what strategies might work from looking at your competitors. Perhaps it’s pay-per-click advertising or affiliate marketing. Maybe it’s sponsored blog content or having an e-commerce store – there are lots of ways to explore this on your site.
If your website gets traffic, it will make money. Focus your time in driving traffic to your website and determine the best way to monetize on it.

7. Layout

As much as your web design should take on inspiration from your competitors, it also needs to stand out as being different. You can look at their site to find out what makes yours unique, but also to find whether there is anything key that your layout is missing. Perhaps it is advertising boxes, images, product launches or specific content options.
Remember, you should make sure that your website is optimised to work on multiple devices. This is because nearly half of all web traffic is now made via either mobile or tablet. Your website needs to look great and be friendly on all devices.

8. Testimonials

What sort of positive commentary do they have on their site that gives customers trust in their business? Take a look at what reviews, testimonials or feedback they have and see if you can integrate something like this into your site.
There are many third party integrations such as Trustpilot or Google reviews. Genuine positive reviews can boost your brand and also lead to higher conversions. Reviews are also a great way of understanding what you are doing correctly and what you can improve on. Bad criticism is good, as long as it helps you progress and become better.

9. Products

Get a sense of what products or services they’re offering and how they are talking about it. This can help you find a way to stand out and to establish what is unique about your website.

10. Content posting

Check out how regularly they post new content. This can give you an indicator of how frequently you should be posting, and what sorts of time of day work well. It is also worth signing up for their newsletter and social media to see how they share this content, and in what ways.
Ultimately, while your competitors might be the competition, they’re also a source of learning. By seeing what they do well, and not so well, you can use this to develop and grow your own website to ensure your content and strategy is on point and headed for success.