Confession: I love stalking…

…..my competition. And as a marketing person in general, you need to do a sufficient amount of research on your competition. Keeping an eye or spying on competition is important because they do also have a good understanding of the market (which in turn helps you with half of the job) and help you position your product better.

My thought process on this maybe a bit cumbersome because I currently don’t use a lot of paid tools. If you have enough allocated in your budget for competitive intelligence, you can consider subscriptions to Crayon, Kompyte, Klue or Weavr. But it also depends on your requirements, your audience and the type of business you’re in.

But if you have got an hour or so a day, there are some resources you can use to keep tabs of what’s going on to make your job extra fun (I mean it).

SEO

  • My favorite is right-click → view page source. Obviously your comp can be smart enough to hide them but sometimes if you’re really lucky, you might be able to find a few gems like their page titles, keywords, and meta tags.
  • Moz is a pretty popular tool and keyword explorer is helpful in knowing content suggestions. SEMrush also comes quite close although I haven’t used it the reviews I got about the product are great.
  • Neil Patel has established himself as a master in the web traffic business. And he practices what he preaches - having a tool that is helpful to generate more traffic to one’s site. Uber suggest is one and also on the top of my list for keyword exploring.
  • Similarweb has a paid version but I use the free one. You can type in the url of your competitor website and get information like their traffic sources, keywords etc. Alexa also offers a free service but to make full use of everything they offer, you can get a monthly subscription of $149 a month to get competitor keywords, traffic sources, and referrals.
  • Adwords also has a key planner, you can use the url and get some suggestions for potential keywords you want to optimize for or do paid engagements.
  • Answer the public not only shows you keywords but potential content ideas based on what people are looking for.

But while you figure out what your competition is optimizing for, they could also be struggling to get to the top of the ranks. So do speak to your product teams and see how a potential user could be phrasing their requirements because searching on Google is naturally the first thing to do.

Content

Press releases

The first thing we would do is start adding competitor names on your Google alerts list. This will let you know as soon as something is published that includes press releases with their latest updates. These could include product updates, new office openings, and other major appointments that are important to the business side of things.

Interviews

You know how they say you can hide a dead body on page 2 of Google results? Try me. I would go as far as the 7th or 8th page to see everything ever published about the competition. What you will also find here are interviews, old articles where your competition is mentioned or referenced.

Product review sites

This is a great resource to know what your users like and dislike about the competition. Plus their weaknesses and strengths → a great source for your own SWOT analysis. Capterra, Gartner Peer Insights, G2crowd are some of the review sites I refer to learn the pros and cons of the competition.

Analyst reports

This can actually be a starting point as analysts are independent researchers and possibly unbiased opinions. Some analyst reports are standalone research pieces that give you the full low down of a single competitor or an industry report will also share the pros and cons that you can use for your SWOT.

Forums

Try the Quoras and the Stack overflows of the world to see how your actual user talks about your competition, how they stack against you and what the user is generally looking for.

Additionally, I also look at content libraries of the competition, check out their blogs to see the topics they cover. This not only helps to know what the user might be looking for but what your competition WANTS the narrative to be.

These are just a few things I do on a regular basis to see what’s going on with the comp, other than snooping through their social sites. If I’ve missed any or if you have any cooler ideas, feel free to share!