No business exists in isolation – and the chances are there are plenty of organisations competing with yours. So if you sell online, an in-depth understanding of your competition is critical to the success of your own initiatives.
You need to identify the competition, gather information about them and convert that data to actionable intelligence to get one step ahead. And to stay there.
Fortunately, there are a range of free tools available that can help.
1. Google Search – Do a search of the main keywords related to the products you sell or services you provide to find out who is dominating search results. And then use the Site Search command (prefix the URL with site) to find out how many pages of a competitor’s web site Google has indexed. The results can offer a useful insight into the reasons behind a competitor’s ranking in the results.
This also works in Bing and Yahoo.
2. Compete – Provides free information, including site traffic history and competitive analytics, for any website with more than 1,000 visitors per day. Use Compete to get an idea of a competitor’s web traffic over time and their relative significance as reported by Compete’s Rank. Additional insight is available via paid subscription.
3. KeywordSpy – Allows you to perform keyword research and tracking to analyse your competitors’ PPC spend and paid search campaigns. A snapshot analysis of paid and organic keywords, ad copy, budget and URLs is also available with full in-depth data linked to paid subscription.
4. Alexa – The best option for smaller sites that attract fewer than 1,000 visitors a day and don’t generate sufficient data to appear in some of the other indexes. Alexa provides traffic stats, search analytics data and audience demographic. However, the data it returns may not be truly representative given that Alexa data is driven by the download and use of the Alexa browser toolbar.
5. Google Insights for Search – Allows you to compare search volume patterns across specific regions, categories, time frames and properties. Also provides the ability to compare two search terms or URLs side by side, as well as related and rising search terms. Like some of the other tools mentioned above, Google Insights doesn’t work for smaller sites.
Knowing how you compare in a competitive market is an invaluable insight. It can help identify quick wins, as well as shape your long-term strategy.