How to Spy on Your Competition Using Google Analytics

Maxwell SMart
Spying on your competition
Maxwell Smart – Spy

Ever wondered what your competitors think of you?

With a little know-how, you can now get a lot of insight using one of Google Analytics’ little known features embedded within it’s standard version.

Here we show how we helped one client understand what their competitors looked at on their site, for how long, what they clicked on, and what they engaged with.

Thinking about giving it a try? Follow these steps to check out what your competitors are looking at on your website.

 

Analysing Your Competitor’s Movements

 

 Step 1. Write a list of your competitors

We started by getting a list of top 30 competitors. They consisted of the top 30 firms in the same industry vertical. It was no surprise that we found many of these companies in our reports.

Step 2. Navigate to Your Technology Reports

Once you have opened Google Analytics for your company website, go to the left hand side menu. Find Audience > Technology > Network.

Step 3. Incorporate the Network DomainNetwork Domain Google Analytics

The Network reports alone will give you some clues as to where they users are coming from, but the Network Domain should hopefully supply a little more context. To do this, select the “Secondary dimension” button above the data table (refer to the image to the right).

Type in “Network Domain” and select the option that appears.

This will produce a second column of data that shows more information about the origin of users that come to your website.

Step 4. Isolate Your Competitors 

This step involves combing through the list to see where potential competitors may appear. For our case study we were able to identify around 18 competitor firms out of the top 30 in the country.

You may find it easier to export the list into a CSV format to preserve or share the data at a later date. To do this, use the “export” feature at the top left hand area of the screen, shown here:
Export feature google analytics

Step 5. Build Custom Segments for Each Competitor

This will allow us to see the activity for each competitor separately, or all of them combined.

To build a custom segment, click on the + Add Segment button above the data table, then hit New Segment.

Go to Advanced Conditions  in the left hand menu.

Give your segment a name, preferably using a naming convention that is easy for you and others to understand later on, well after you have created these reports. I recommend using the naming convention:

Competitor 1: (Organisation’s name)

Select Ad Content and type in Network Domain. Select this, and type in the Network Domain entry for your identified competitor from your initial report. If you exported this information, it should be apparent in the Network Domain column of your CSV file.
custom segment

Once this is inputted, select save – and this competitor is saved as a separate segment. Repeat this step for every competitor you can identify in your first report.

Step 6. Analyse Your Competitor’s Behaviour

Now that we have our competitors separated from the rest of our web traffic, we can select either all of these segments and analyse their traffic movements. To do this, click to Add Segments and tick the segments you wish to compare.

 

Here are some reports that we recommend:

Competitor User Flow

Select one or several of your new competitor segments and navigate to Audience > User Flow  to view the traffic Competitor User Flow Report Google Analyticsmovements of your competitors as they move through your website, including landing pages drop-offs and click-throughs.

All Pages Report

Providing more context around each page viewed, including bounce rate, time on page and the number of individual sessions, the All Pages report allows us to delve deeper into how these users engaged with our content.

To find this report head to Behaviour > Site Content > All Pages.

Site Search

What were they specifically looking for? Alongside the Search Queries report in Acquisition > SEO, you can look directly at what they typed in to search for on your site. Reading your competitor’s intentions don’t get more specific than this! To find the site search report head to Behaviour > Site Search. If this area is empty, you may need to enable it in your View Settings in your Admin panel.

Competitor Engagement

Competitor engagement

Looking at GA’s engagement reports allows you to see how long all users from one or more of your competitors were on your site and how many pages per session – a good overall engagement snapshot.

 

 

Try Downloading this Custom Report

All a bit much? Feel free to download Goji’s – Spy on your competitor custom report and attach to your Google Analytics view.

Just remember to include only your competitor’s Network Domains!

How to do that? Simply replace your competitor names in the string below, and copy/paste it into the Advanced Filter field above the data table (or in the Network Domains report shown above):

Advanced filter google analytics

Filter String:

.*ReplaceWithCompetitor1.*|.*ReplaceWithCompetitor2.*|.*ReplaceWithCompetitor3.*

 

 

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