My SMX West Session: Spotting New Trends First: Competitive Intelligence Lessons From Investing.com
Updated: Apr 27, 2021
Two weeks ago I had a great time speaking at SMX West in San Jose.
I decided to divide my session, Spotting New Trends First: Competitive Intelligence Lessons From Investing.com, into two parts. The first one was our own case study of our experience pivoting our focus to create a special Cryptocurrency section over the past 9 months (June 2017-March 2018), and the 2nd part was a collection of my personal tips for how to stay on top of new trends.
Here are the highlights:
First of all, what did we gain from pivoting our focus to cover the Cryptocurreny trend:
We received 10M new users who initially landed on our Cryptocurrency pages.
These users generated a total of 70M sessions, and over 200M pageviews.
In terms of links, it helped us gain over 2,000 new referring domains.
Our Crypto apps received over 600,000 new installs on both Android and iOS.
There were five main things we noticed, that made us realize something very big was going on.
First, we noticed that an aggregated article about a specific Cryptocurrency, received over 40K, which is about 50 times more, than an average, similar article would usually get.
Then, more and more users started asking for Cryptocurrency data through our Support channels.
As we track our competitors traffic regularly, at that point we started tracking a few Crypto focused sites. And noticed how their traffic skyrocket week after week.
We started seeing more and more news and searches for Bitcoin, and some other popular Cryptocurrencies on Google News and Google Trends.
And last, we noticed that something extremely unusual is happening to the Crypto prices.
There’s a lot of discussion around Agile methodologies in recent years, and the way I see it, the one thing that is the most important about Agile, is being able to spot an opportunity, and pivot to it quickly once you decide you’re after it. Bypass the regular workflow, and focus on something different entirely, even if only temporary.
Within a couple of weeks we hired a small but a dedicated Product team, hired a few new writers, and a few additional people for marketing, for both SEO and PR.
The idea wasn’t to cancel things, the idea was to simply push other project to the sidelines for a few months, and launch a new Crypto section with all the needed prices, news and tools, as fast as possible.
New Section to the App
The new trend and section was also added to our closest app release, and was an excuse to test something we wanted to test for a very long time. Which is an additional, separate app for a very specific topic.
The reason I think it’s interesting is because in the world of ASO (App Store Optimization), both Google Play and iTunes, are still very far away from Google as search engines when it comes to understanding app topics. So even with app deep links that exist already for years now, both stores are still very focused on each app’s main topic when it comes to rankings.
This means that if I have a great app, used by millions, rated very well by users, and someone is looking for a very specific topic that I cover among many other things… any low quality, small, even a relatively new app who only focuses on that specific topic has a great chance of outranking me.
Having a separate app for a specific topic also means that users can easily reach what they want, within a click.
In terms of launching a 2nd app by the same developer, at least on Google Play, after seeing our rankings skyrocket in a matter of days, we have to believe there’s some kind of a trust benefit for an existing developer launching an additional app.
Unique Selling Proposition
With all of the excitement of spotting the trend very quickly when the interest in Cryptocurrencies began to rise, one thing that was clear, is that some Crypto focused sites already existed.
Sometimes, all you really need is to find a single drawback in your market and fix it.
As none of our competitors offered all coins with a streaming real-time data, we built a page that does that. And as there’s a lot of confusion around the market prices, we also built a special weighted price Index for every single Cryptocurrency to clarify the market.
The other interesting thing entirely when you’re not the very first, is going global. We quickly realized that in many countries, there’s no local data or content for Cryptocurrencies at all. And we were able to be the first to offer it in 8 different countries.
Promoting a New Section
Once our new section was launched, even before SEO or publicity, we wanted as many users as possible to see it immediately, start using it and spread the word about it.
We positioned the section as number 1 on our main menu, and added a little “New” icon next to it. We then added the section to additional menu dropdowns.
We timed special desktop notifications to price changes, added push notifications to our app users, and used all of our traditional channels such as Email, Social Media, PR, content marketing to support our SEO efforts.
When it comes to a new section for a new trend, I can’t think of a more important team than PR.
As this market was quite confusing for journalists, instead of just offering them to have a look at our section or app, we offered them explanations and insights from our analysts, and that worked better that we expected.
Another thing that worked very well with Cryptocurrency PR is local data. And you might already have it without even knowing.
With Cryptocurrencies, price changes drive the interest more than anything else, so we decided to let the prices tell us what to write about. When these are produced fast, they can also help with content amplification. Influencers as one example are more likely to notice and spread the word when we are the first to break a story or provide deep explanations.
In some cases, consider a separate Facebook page Ongoing changes to trends:
As the Cryptocurrency market is very volatile we had to plan our marketing efforts, sometimes even daily, according to what the market would dictate us every time. In our case a certain coin could easily drop from the top 20 Cryptocurrencies list, and the interest would switch to a new one. On top of what it means for the content we create, this also had an impact on Social Media and PR, where we would switch our focus around on a regular basis.
With SEO, we had to switch internal links, including in menus, way too often. Not exactly an SEO best practice, but sometimes user interest beast even that.
How to spot new trends first:
Three areas I covered: Competitors, our own data, and additional tools/methods available today.
First is simply to look at your competitors. Simply follow them regularly, look for changes, look for new links in the menu, new content, new features.
General traffic changes
Tracking your competitors traffic, even if just on a month to month basis will ensure that you’re aware if something very big happens to any of them, and it will then make you dig deeper until you find out what is it.
Three tools I mentioned: SimilarWeb (in this case even the browser extension is enough), Alexa, Quantcast.
Competitors’ Top and New Performing Pages
In this case, the Content Gap Analysis you want to perform should tell you which pages are bringing traffic to your competitors right now, that you don’t even offer.
If you’ll pay attention to these pages over time, new trends that your competitors will start covering, will suddenly show up in this type of analysis.
Three tools I use: SEMrush, Ahrefs, SimilarWeb (paid versions only in this case)
A Keyword Gap Analysis is an important part of SEO to spot keyword opportunities, but other sites’ new keywords can actually tell a whole story about the company’s current focus, beyond just finding potential keywords to rank for.
You can track competitor keywords with the exact same three tools as for competitor pages, so SEMrush, Ahrefs, and SimilarWeb will all get the job done.
Press Releases / Newsletters / Social Media
One thing you’ll get from the social media channels that you won’t from their Press Releases and Newsletters is their users’ initial feedback for the new trend. If you’re currently debating whether to join a trend or not, this feedback can be very helpful.
Our Own Data
Internal site search – If you have an internal site search, and a new type of product, instrument, book, recipe or whatever it is that you offer will start trending, it is very likely that your own users will start looking for it on your own site. So the next trend could be showing up in your site search. Make sure you track it.
Also it could be a branded Google search, which will probably bring users to your site as they were looking for it, but to a wrong page as you don’t have the specific item yet. This is where you need to drill down, and pay extra attention to your Search Console reports.
With the exact same concept, users could also open a ticket through your support system to tell you about something they want. You want to make sure that you’re aware of these new requests, even if supporting users isn’t your primary responsibility. Of course, the same idea goes to Social media inboxes too. Additional tools/methods available today
Google offers three specific tools, all of which are free that can be very helpful with spotting new trends:
Google News – Go to Manage your sections, and create your own custom section using specific search queries relevant to your niche. You need to manually choose them. If a new trend will start showing up in the news around any of your keywords, it will probably be in your new custom section. Also you may custom the “For you” area, which is where you tell Google News about your interests.
Google Trends – Start with the search terms that are trending right now, especially by category. Two, search a specific query, and look for the Related and Rising Topics under it. Google Trends also allows you to download a full CSV and get a breakdown including the percentage every query is up by.
Google Alerts – often used to track brand or personal mentions. It will simply bring keywords you manually set up to your inbox. It’s helpful when you already have a trend in mind and you want to follow it.
Reddit’s categories such as the “hot topics” and “rising topics” is where you can find some of the latest articles, new pages, or just discussions that are getting more and more popular right now.
As Reddit aggregates all types of topics the web has to offer, the more efficient way to keep up with the relevant trends is by following the most relevant 3 or 4 subreddits, and keep an eye for topics that become highly popular.
Twitter offers a simple Trending topics list per location, and if something really big is happening today, it will probably be there. You can play with the location manually to see if it’s a local, national or global trend.
Also check out the advanced search option, Twitter has a few search operators just like Google.
Two Search operators I find very useful are the list of keywords option where you can list multiple keywords and search for their popular tweets, and a location based search, where you can see tweets from specific locations only.
BuzzSumo, a great tool to find content that is most shared on social media. And it has a few advanced options. You can filter the Most Shared content by time frame, content type, and countries.
The “Trending Now” section is where you can find some of the latest topics by popularity, and filter them by a few industries.
Also check out BuzzSumo’s Facebook Analyzer, this is where you can search not only by keywords but also by a specific Facebook page, and see which posts did the best for them.
HARO – Help a reporter out
HARO is the service that sends PR opportunities directly to your inbox.
If you see a relevant query, you may apply, and perhaps get your quote in an upcoming story. I personally used it many times as a source and recently we also tried it as Journalists. It really is highly recommended.
But you can also use HARO to watch for trends. The Journalists who cover your industry will often be on top of the latest trends themselves, then they will be looking for sources to back up their stories. In this way, by keeping an eye on the HARO emails, you can stay ahead of new trends, before they become mainstream.
I also mentioned a few additional sources such as Product Hunt or the app stores’ trending sections.
By paying attention to multiple sources, from competitors, through your own data, and to additional media tools, we have the power to spot trends before others.
Personally I think that this is also a great way for us as marketers and SEOs, to make a real difference on our Product and Business, and push SEO’s agenda within our organizations.