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Competitor Analysis and Research; Fast, Easy and Free!

| Blog | January 23, 2011


All business owners should be aware about data available publicly and how to gain competitive insights and business intelligence from this information. So here are tools and methods for researching and analyzing important public performance data about your competitor’s website FAST and for FREE! There are even some wonderful tools to make the process EASY, so don’t miss the conclusion.

How Much Traffic/Visitors Does Your Competitor’s Website Receive?


Traffic numbers from Compete.com are much more accurate than many people believe. They are not exact, but generally speaking they are in the acceptable range and get trends well also. So you can tell the difference between a site that gets 10 million visits per month and a site that gets 10 thousand. Google Ad Planner and Quantcast have similar estimates but can also give you the REAL traffic numbers on a site if the site owner is using the system and made the data public.

Find Your Competitor’s Top Rankings In Google & Search Engines


The top phrases a site is ranked for in google is another major aspect of its value. Top phrases usually referring to keywords that cost the most in Pay Per Click (PPC) or Google Adwords. Both of these services will tell you the top competitors organically and for paid search. Not exact, but definitely useful. I have matched up the data from SEMRush to literally hundreds of client sites and their data is highly accurate and usable for many types of research in the format they provide. So find out what your competitors rank for in Google, what they pay for in Adwords and how much traffic they could potentially be getting from those two channels.

Learn from their Search Engine Visibility Efforts & Backlinks


Digging further into their search engine visibility can tell you what phrases or ideas they are targeting, what their ad spend may be, connections they have and much more. Majestic SEO’s charts illustrating their backlinks over time is priceless because it shows if they have been successful in getting backlinks and this graph usually correlates to fluctuations in search rankings so keep an eye on it for your own web properties as well.  So if your site drops in the rankings a bit, this is a good chart to check.


Open Site Explorer will tell you what phrases they are targeting via “anchor text,” top sites linking to them, their top pages in terms of search visibility and much more almost instantaneously. Dig deeper though because this tool is one of the best out there.

What Are They Hiding on Their Server?


See what other sites they have on their server with easy “whois” and “reverse ip lookups,” they can show you new products about to launch, the quality of their hosting, other domains they own and more.  Check out their robots.txt file (http://www.robotstxt.org/) to see what they don’t want search engines to find.

Monitor Their Movements & Tactics With Easy Steps


Simple Google Alerts with their company name or URL can be one of the most effective things I have found. Also be sure to set them up for your own URL, company name and real name. You can keep track of who is writing about you online and when links get indexed to say the least. Subscribe to their Twitter accounts, Email Newsletters, RSS Feeds, Facebook pages etc. Sometimes Google Alerts dont catch everything on the social sphere so set up free alerts on SocialMention.com, use Twitter searches and tools like Hootsuite.

Analyze Your Competitor’s Website Easily With These FAST & FREE Tools

Chrome SEO

Finally, the icing on this cake are two tools we LOVE which make the process EASY. The SEO toolbar for Firefox and the Chrome SEO add-on for Google’s Chrome browser. Both are FREE, and have other useful tools installed so check them out. And now that you know the basics, subscribe via RSS or email so you wont miss our upcoming articles on more advanced research tools like Comscore, Hitwise, Forrester and many others. Also, please don’t hesitate to shoot us a question in the comments section below.

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8 Responses to “Competitor Analysis and Research; Fast, Easy and Free!”

  1. Great article Startup! I use Compete and SEM Rush but I was not familiar with SocialMention. Nice to add something to my SEO bag of tricks every once in a while. Thanks for the tips. Regards – Mal

  2. Thanks Mal, the importance of SocialMention grows daily as the major search engines screen out content from competing social networks and struggle to shuffle the fire hose of content from them into their index. Meanwhile, some social networks are cannibalizing the plain old hyperlink and making it hard for search engines to access their data.

  3. The numbers from those sites are definitely not precise most of the time, but guess if you examine the trend data it can be useful. Im still on the fence about compete

  4. Great in starting one’s website, this is an easy step process and clear understanding of how your site will be rated and tracking ‘traffic’ or volume & best of all the tools to help you ‘work smart not hard’

  5. Winston in Dallas on January 25, 2011 @ 8:35 PM

    That reverse ip lookup from yougetsignal.com is great, thanks

  6. Spyfu is also excellent for instant ppc stats on your competitors

  7. I like Hubspot and quarkbase too, please add them to the list!

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