VPNs have become an internet multitool and are regularly used to unblock Netflix, keep one’s online activity private, and secure data in transit. A quality VPN, however, can do so much more.
As a business owner, you gain an advantage by being up to date on what your competitors are doing. This is a key factor in establishing your dominance in the market. And a VPN can help you achieve just that.
Keep reading to learn our five favorite ways to boost your competitor research with help from a VPN.
Check how they serve content to overseas visitors
Nowadays, many companies offer different products and website experiences depending on the visitor’s country. Netflix is a well known example, but there are other types of companies that do the same. Pharmaceutical companies, for example, need to tailor their websites to comply with the regulations of different countries.
All you have to do is open your VPN client, connect to a server in your chosen country, and access the website again. The VPN has unblocked the local version for that country. In most cases, you’ll see the same website just with some subtle differences.
Check if your competitors offer different pricing in other countries
The same goes for pricing. You could notice slight discrepancies in prices when looking on a competitor’s website. You may know that those prices would make no sales in the US, for example. Many online services such as Tidal offer different pricing for different countries.
You can check this by booting up your VPN and browsing the site from a few different locations and taking note of price differences. It’s good to have a separate tab open to check currency exchange rates.
Take note of discounts, sales, and general price differences for similar products to yours. This could be a major reason why your competitor has an edge in overseas sales.
Accurately check your competitors’ overseas Google search rankings
Google search rankings are different depending on the country you’re searching from. As such, your competitor might be way behind you in German rankings, but could be ranked first in the US.
With a VPN, you can accurately check this out and formulate your plan accordingly. It’s much more precise than changing the language of your Google account and launching a local search, as Google can detect that you aren’t physically located in that country, and the results won’t be as relevant.
Local keyword research
You can do this in many different ways using various specialized tools, but one of my favourite methods is using Google’s related terms and the suggested search functions.
When you write a certain term into Google, it will show you a drop-down list with autocomplete suggestions that are based on the most popular searches. The same goes for when you press enter to see the search results. At the bottom of the page, you will see a list with similar searches. You can use these suggested terms to write SEO-focused articles and to better promote your website.
This method can work excellently with a VPN.
That is, if you make Google believe that you are actually located in that specific country you’re searching in. The results are entirely dependent on your location, so searching for US terms from Germany won’t yield the same results as if you’re doing the same search from the US.
Unblock websites unavailable in your country
In some cases you can’t access a competitor’s website at all. You can’t see the advertised products or their prices. Nothing at all.
This means that they don’t sell any products in your country and have blocked access. Simply connect to a server in another country and see if you can access the site. If you know the specific countries they’re operating in, it’ll be a much smoother process.
Now that you’ve managed to access the website, you can see what types of products they’re selling, their prices, discounts, and so on. With all this research material, you can devise your own strategies to beat them at their own game.
It often turns out that gaining a fresh perspective allows us to tackle a problem with renewed vigour, and understanding how your competitors are approaching their international marketing efforts can provide just the freshness you need. I’m sure you’ll agree that adding such a powerful ability to your marketing toolbox is a good thing, and that anything that gives you better knowledge of your competitors’ processes and strategy is worth doing.