While I fundamentally believe that affiliate competition is a good thing, it doesn’t mean you should dive into a new market without understanding what’s going on with your competitors.
Here are a few tips I use to quickly evaluate my competition for a given topic.
Find the Big Small Players
If you start Googling around any given topic area, you’ll probably come across a pretty diverse set of results. On the one hand you’re going to find the giants out there: about.com, wikipedia, ehow, etc. There’s nothing you’re ever going to be able to do about these sites (well, not without significant investment, at least) so I tend not to worry about them.
Instead, I’m really looking at what else comes up outside of these guys. Specifically, I’m looking for individually run blogs. These are your true competitors. They’re what I casually refer to as “the big small players.” That is, they’re the guys who are doing well ranking for long tail keywords in your niche and trying to monetize their blog just as you’ll be trying to monetize yours.
Use Google Site Search to Evaluate Size and Activity
Once you have a good understanding of who these players are, you need to determine how hard it is to beat them. I use Google’s Site Search to get a quick sense of how large their site is, and how often they update it.
If the blog is more than a few thousand pages and updated everyday, it’s a pretty good indication that it’ll be a tough blog to beat out. If, on the other hand, it is rarely updated or hasn’t been updated in years, or if it only has a few dozen or a few hundred posts, you’ll probably be able to start beating them in rankings within a couple of months. You should continually track this and monitor your keyword rankings as you build your site.
This is just an introduction to evaluating your affiliate competition. If you need more help on what to consider about competition before you start a site, you may want to read the post on choosing an affiliate niche. Also remember that your competition will form an important part of your niche community, so it’s important to be aware of them.