A small business marketing approach can encompass many aspects of trying to appeal to your customers. One area you should definitely look at is competition. Chances are that you are competing with someone for market share either online, in your locale, or both. Competitive analysis can help you improve your business and help you reach customers by figuring out what your competition is doing…and then doing it too, only better.Small businesses can benefit from gathering market intelligence. And with the advent of the internet, it’s easier to do that than ever. You can analyse a competitor’s business model from afar and use this information to the distinct advantage of your business. You can do this reactively and even more important than that: you can do it proactively as well.Things you can analyse from a competitive analysis, include:-Determine which keyword phrases your competition is ranking for within top search engines, such as: Google, Bing, and Yahoo! If they are successful, it can be quickly evident whether or not those rankings are helping them and you can figure out how they went about attaining those spots. You might be surprised to find out that some of your competitors are at the top spot by default or fluke. Very little effort on your part could de-throne them.-Check page rank and source of incoming and outgoing links. You can gather reporting to help you measure how your competition is gaining online rankings and that can help you decide on an appropriate approach.-Gather market intelligence on the reputation of your competitors. If you can figure out what their weaknesses are, you can do a better job in those areas and when people go looking to buy your product or service online, they can find out that you are the expert in a particular area.It used to be that larger businesses kept a lot of their marketing secrets under wraps and it was difficult for their competitors to find out those secrets. But the internet makes a lot of marketing facets very transparent and that can work to your advantage, especially if you are just starting out as you can benefit from someone else’s hard work.Not only can you see who is leading the pack in your niche for organic search engine traffic but you can also carefully dissect those results and use them to your advantage. Many small business marketing consultants make competitive analysis a service offering and there are tools you can use to help you gain insight into your competitor’s business and marketing model that will help you find ways to surpass their success.You’d better believe that once you achieve success (if you aren’t already there), your competition will be looking closely at your marketing techniques and strategy. Small business marketing is vital for success in today’s economy and the web provides some great tools, allowing you to gain a competitive advantage.