When you develop your website to promote your products and reach out to relevant customers, you have to give due consideration to your competitors’ websites.

You should make a careful study of your competitors’ websites. It can give you an informative insight on strategies used by them to attract customers. You can form your own digital strategy based on relevant information to help you score over your competitors.

You have to know the value of competition.

Identify the leaders in your field. You can use Yahoo directory, which can provide you with a view of the major players in the field related to your own industry.

You may find some big companies at the top, but you have to study their innovative approaches and products. You may also use websites like Media Metrix 500 to find out, which companies get the most traffic. Similarly, you may check out the number of relevant traffic that they get using sites like Alexa. They are free add-ons to browser and can give you an idea of the rankings of the websites. You may get a rough idea, as to where your competitors stand in the rankings.

It is a good idea to study the competitors’ websites very closely. You can find out right from the start, what products they offer, how they offer, or if they are offering anything better than what you are offering. Get an idea about the plus points of your competitors concerning their outlook, functionality etc. You would also be able to find out the niche link building strategy, they use.

Using plug-ins like SEO quake, you can find out the most powerful pages linked to your competitors. You would know, where the incoming links are from that give your competitors higher rankings. There are sites like Spyfu, which enable you to spy on these websites and understand what keywords prove to be helpful to your competitors to have traffic and prospective customers and how much they are spending on Adwords.

You may also find it useful to analyze the advertising campaigns they run and what they offer their visitors. There may be freebies, contest etc, which they may have arranged to keep the customers hooked to their websites.

There is also a site named ‘compete.com’ that can be used to see your competitors’ marketing strategies, keywords used, quantity of traffic etc. At the same time, also analyze the keywords being used to good effect. Are they using Meta title tag, description tag, keywords tag, Alt tags etc? Check the keyword density and their placement. Find out, if they are getting good rankings with the keywords, they are using. Find out, if they are involved in keyword spamming, using keywords or key phrases.

As you check out all these features you should also take a look at the website design and layout.

Find out if they are using search engine friendly web design basic HTML or ASP. Check how much and where they use flash content to make their site attractive. Are their sites easy to navigate and have they used a site map to enable improved indexing and page ranking?

Using the collected information analyze, what are their strengths and weaknesses of each one and note down strategies that can prove to be useful to counter this competition. Make a marketing plan based on this data. With proper analysis and planning, you can design a good website, which can help you rank higher in search engine listings.