Competitive research tools can help you find a baseline for what to do & where to enter a market. Before spending a dime on SEO (or even buying a domain name for a project), it is always worth putting in the time to get a quick lay of the land & learn from your existing competitors.
Seeing which keywords are most valuable can help you figure out which areas to invest the most in.
Seeing where existing competitors are strong can help you find strategies worth emulating. While researching their performance, it may help you find new pockets of opportunities & keyword themes which didn’t show up in your initial keyword research.
Seeing where competitors are weak can help you build a strategy to differentiate your approach from them.
Why spy on competitors
- Know which organic keyword drive more traffic
- Analyze why competitors doing better than me
- Improve own plan to beat them
Find What Your Competitors Are Doing Right
You should have an amazing list of competitor URLs by this point. The next step is to figure out why they are ranking well and how you can emulate the things they are doing right.
- Look around their site
- Get links where your competitors are
- Create gap content
- Emulate high performing competitor content
- Monitor competitor mentions
1. Open Site Explorer
Open Site Explorer also falls under the Moz tools umbrella, so once you’re logged into Moz, you have access to this as well.
To use this tool for keyword ideas, enter the competitor’s URL and go to the Anchor Text Distribution tab.
This will show you up to 20 keywords that your competitor uses for anchor text when link building, hence letting you know what they are targeting and how strong their link building campaign is with the number of root domains and links using that anchor text.
2. Google AdWords Keyword Tool
I know, I know, we all know about Google AdWords Keyword Tool. Usually I use the type in a word and let it make suggestions for me aspect, but for this exercise, I entered a domain to see what would happen.
The key is to go to the Columns, and check Extracted From Webpage. Then you will find that if you entered domain.com, it focuses on a particular page from the domain, and not the domain homepage. So if there isn’t a domain.com/index.html or other similar type of page, you won’t get the homepage’s keyword suggestions. But for other specific pages on the site, you can pin down the keywords that AdWords recognizes from those
SEMRush allows you to enter a domain and view ten of the top keywords that the website ranks for organically, showing the keyword, position in search results, traffic percentage, and other useful information, especially if you are going to use CPC for your website.
It also shows what URL on the site ranks for the specific keyword, but I removed that column to make the image fit in the space above.
Aside from just giving you your traffic score, Alexa also gives you the chance to see keyword queries that bring a high percent of traffic to a particular URL. Just go to the Site Info tab and enter your competitor’s URL. Once you Get Details, go to the Search Analytics tab to see top queries driving traffic to the site, and keywords that are on the rise / decline.
If you scroll down from here, you will also find lengthy lists of keyword phrases for high impact search queries for the URL, search engine marketing activity based on ads for particular keywords, and additional keyword opportunities that the competitor (or you) could pursue
Shows site traffic and demographic trends and details. Also allows you to download a list of their top 1,000,000 websites.
6.Google Trends for Websites
Free tool from Google showing traffic estimates, visitor country location, top 10 related websites, and top 10 related keywords. Only returns data for fairly high traffic websites though. Google also offers an Ad Planner, but it only shows data for sites in the Google display network.
Shows terms that competitors are buying or ranking for in the organic search results. Some of their best features are: a visual monthly SERP snapshot for keywords going back for about a decade (so you can visualize how the search result layouts have changed as Google has entered more verticals and made the search results more ad heavy), unlimited data download (many tools cap your depth) & AdWords ad copy tracking. They also have a feature for seeing historical rankings of a site at a glance, and their tools track the US & UK markets. Here is an in-depth SpyFu review.
Competitive research tool showing keywords that send competing sites the most traffic. Rather than scraping search results to track rankings, it looks at US click stream data from ISPs, a panel of users & those that have their toolbar installed. Here is an in-depth Compete review.
Newer start up similar to Compete.com, tracking a global data set. competitive research tool providing upstream & downstream traffic data for websites with data on numerous international markets
10. SE Ranking – track rankings
SE Ranking helps you monitor competitors’ search rankings on any engines and target regions, up to five projects per website.
You can get detailed reports on main competitors, including data on their average positions, traffic forecast, and website visibility. You can also gather data for the first page of any tracked query and ordered them by visibility.
11. Monitor Backlinks – look at backlink profiles
Monitor Backlinks is new to the market, but has already earned a great reputation. You can track various competitors’ backlinks, disclose a bunch of negative backlinks, and find quality ones.
It can help to analyze the backlinks of bloggers and webmasters in your field to build up your own link building strategy, build quality links from your competitors, and write link bait content.
You can also estimate the traffic increase based on keyword positioning and efforts to boost good backlinks to a certain website.
SpyFu – view competitor keywords
SpyFu is a powerful tool that lets you view all data on competitors’ keywords in both organic search and AdWords – and get even more related keywords. You just need to add competitors’ keywords and get an overall view of their strategy.
13. iSpionage – track keywords
iSpionage is one of the spying tools that makes it easy to see what your competitors are doing organic search. It has a set of tools that includes SEO competitive research, social monitoring, and keyword tracking.
How to best use iSpionage: This tool allows you to enter competitors and check out the best keywords for organic and PPC, how much they spend on both, and see the most effective ad copy. Then it provides comparison graphs for you – no number crunching necessary.
14. Quantcast – view audience insights
Quantcast helps get you get to know potential clients via detailed reports on: demographics, lifestyle and interest affinities, website, audience insights, and conversion level.
The reports give you a clear understanding about your audience, help to improve your marketing plans, and make your media campaigns effective.
How to best use Quantcast: It’s most useful for providing traffic figures based on demographic data to better target your audience in your campaign. Make sure to compare your data against that of your competitors.
15. SpyOnWeb – see behind the curtain
SpyOnWeb is a well-known tool that’s easy to use. It allows you to figure out which websites belong to the same website owner. It provides all information related to the entry on one page, collected from publicly available resources.
How to better use SpyOnWeb: You can gather all information about IP addresses, Google AdSense IDs, Google Analytics IDs, and Yahoo Publisher Network ID. Just n enter the domain URL and you will get results of all IP addresses and a list of domains with the same IP address.
16. AHREFS KEYWORD RESEARCH TOOLS
Ahrefs has a free trial of their keyword tools for all users as long as you sign up and verify using an email. With Ahrefs, you can see around 10-15 organic keywords from your site and what they rank for. I personally use Ahrefs primarily to check what backlinks I have received, they are the most accurate I have found in terms of reporting. Another cool feature is you can use the calendar view under backlinks to see when they were added and from what URL based on the date they were added. Really useful if you want to see your newest backlinks!
17. KW FINDER
Mostly an unknown tool, but I find KW Finder as an easy way to search for CPC data that Google AdWords also provides, but without the need to login and go through multiple steps to see the keyword volume and other stats. You will want to check the data with another tool if you’re going to do ad spending, because sometimes I have found the data to be slightly inflated. Otherwise – it’s a handy tool for getting search volume data and providing a quick gauge at how difficult it is to rank a keyword.
18. Google Alerts – a tool for monitoring mentions
This is a very simple and easy-to-use tool that will send reports right to your inbox. If you want to know every single time your competitor is mentioned online, whether as a link or simply a mention, you’ll get that report. You can monitor keywords as well. It’s up to you what you want to track.
19. SocialMention – a tool for monitoring mentions
This tool has lots of cool features that focus on blogs, video, and social (all the “cool” stuff). You enter in a search term, either a keyword or a company, and the tool will tell you what’s being said about that term across blogs and social platforms. You can see how many times and how often it’s mentioned and you even can subscribe to an RSS feed for that term, so you never miss a beat.
20. Topsy – a tool for social media
This is a tool that’s all about Twitter. You can look up your competitors’ tweets all the way back to 2006 (although you surely won’t need to go back more than a few months), and get free information when you type in a site. You can see how many tweets that company had, a list of those tweets, and which tweets were influential. Feel free to filter and get whatever information you need.
21. Marketing Grader – a tool for monitoring mentions
This is a cool tool because it gives each of your competitors an overall score based on social media activity, blogging success, SEO, and lead generation. It’s fun to see if their score fluctuates and then to notice if your score does the same.