25 Sneaky Online Tools and Gadgets to Help You Spy on Your Competitors
There are dozens of factors to consider when spying on your competition–what are they ranking for, what are they doing on social, is there a new platform you should be considering? It can be overwhelming, but paying attention to...
There are dozens of factors to consider when spying on your competition–what are they ranking for, what are they doing on social, is there a new platform you should be considering?
It can be overwhelming, but paying attention to what is working and what doesn’t can make or breatk your long-term success.
This is where marketing tools come into play. In many cases, the same tools that help monitor your own web performance can also help you gather data on your competition.
You might be using some of these tools already, without using the features that help you evaluate your competitors. Here are some of the best competitive analysis tools out there:
1. 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.
Best Ways to Use This Tool:Get competitors’ backlinksMonitor social (or other website) mentions of your companyMonitor keyword mentions
2. SocialMention – A Tool for Monitoring Mentions
This tool has lots of cool features that focus on blogs, video, and social (all the “cool” stuff). 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.
Best Ways to Use This Tool:Monitor and track keyword mentionsMonitor company mentionsCross-analyze what is being said across different social networks
3. Ubersuggest – A Tool for Keywords
Ubersuggest is an all-in-one SEO tool that provides keyword analysis, competitive analysis, and SEO data. You can use it to explore new content ideas, find keywords, and see what your competition is doing. There’s also an Ubersuggest Chrome extension so you can get data on keywords and traffic as you browse the web.
Best Uses For This Tool:See what content and keywords are performing best for your competitors Find keywords to target Get content inspiration Find new competitors
Price: There’s a free limited plan, or you can get a paid plan starting at $29 per month.
4. Owletter – A Tool To Track Competitor’s Email
Most of the competitive analysis tools on this list focus on SEO, social, or paid ads. This one gives you a window into your competitor’s email marketing strategy. Tell Owletter which sites to track and you get access to every email your competition sends, including when they send it and their spam reputation.
Best Ways To Use This Tool:See how often competitors send emails Track emails based on specific keywords Long term access to data so you can spot trends over time
Pricing: $19 a month for up to 10 sites/$79 per month for unlimited
5. Social Blade – A Tool for Social Media Follower Counts
See real-time stats about your competitors on social media, including follower counts and the number of uploads. This tool is a quick way to get a lay of the land so you can build a stronger social media marketing strategy.
Best Uses for This Tool:See where your competition stands on multiple social platforms
Pricing: Starts at $3.99 per month, but there is a free limited version.
6. Google Keyword Planner – A Tool for Keywords
Formerly the Google Keyword Tool and Traffic Estimator, this tool seems to have it all. Although it doesn’t focus specifically on competitor analysis (it’s more focused on your own website), finding competitor data is one feature of the tool. Because it’s from Google, it’s considered one of the best out there.
Best Ways to Use This Tool:Find competitor keyword data (paid and organic)Monitor your own website as well as those of your competitors
Price: Free, but you need to sign up for a free AdWords account to access
7. Instapaper – A Tool for Organization
This is a simple tool that allows you to save web pages for later to read on your computer, mobile phone, or even Kindle.
Once you sign up for an account (which takes just a few minutes), you can add the bookmarklet to your bookmark bar to keep things easy. When it comes to spying on your competition, it’s incredibly helpful to know who your competition is, first and foremost, and this tool will help.
Best Ways to Use This Tool:Save webpages to read laterAdd a bookmarklet to keep your content organizedVisit competitor sites and save content that might be of use to you
8. Monitor Backlinks – A Tool for Keywords
This is another company with great customer service, and you can follow different competitors’ backlinks and have them sent straight to your inbox, with a description of which are the highest domains, which are the lowest, and whether or not they are dofollow or nofollow.
You have a dashboard you can look at and compare your results, but I like to use it primarily to look at links my competitors are earning.
Best Ways to Use This Tool:Send competitor backlinks to your inboxAnalyze the highest and lowest domains of the links of your competitorsGet a good picture of links that are nofollow vs. dofollowCompare your results with competitors thanks to the dashboardFind new link-building opportunities
Price: Pricing varies based on how many domains you want to manage.
If you want to manage only 1, it is $25.00/month, 2 is a Freelancer plan for $48.00/month, 4 is a Small Business plan for $90.00/month, and anything more is a custom plan which you would discuss with the company to determine a price.
They currently offer a free trial, so you can test before you commit.
This definitely is one of my favorite tools because it specializes in competitor data. You can visit the homepage and type in a competitor’s website (completely free) and immediately get information regarding organic keywords and rank, ad keywords, and traffic. The best part: it all comes to you in a graphic format.
Best Ways to Use This Tool:Get organic keywords and ranks of competitorsGet ad keywords and traffic numbers of competitorsLook at data in a graphic format
Price: You can get a large amount of information right on the homepage search bar. (Try it out yourself and you’ll see in less than three seconds.)
If you want some really detailed data, plans range from $99.95/month to $399.95/month.
10. SpyFu – A Tool for Keyword and Ad Monitoring
This is an easy-to-use tool that lets you know which keywords your competitors are targeting, both in organic search and in AdWords. You simply type in your competitor and you can download an entire list of these keywords.
Best Ways to Use This Tool:Obtain a list of keywords your competitors are targeting for AdWordsObtain a list of keywords your competitors are targeting in organic search
Price: The Basic plan is $39/month, the Professional plan is $78/month, and the Agency plan is $299/month.
11. Competitor Analysis from WooRank – a Little Bit of Everything
This is a tool that has competitor data as just a small section of all it can do. You create your project, and then it will help you track and optimize your website based on the results of that project. If you want to spy on competitors, that’s an option.
Best Ways to Use This Tool:Create projects to trackOptimize your website based on project resultsSpy on your competitors as a potential project
Price: For agencies, they recommend the Premium plan for $179/month. For Webmasters, they recommend the PRO plan (only 1 project) for $59/month. You can start with a free trial.
12. SpyOnWeb – A Tool to Find Domain Information
This is a very popular tool because it’s so easy to use. With this tool, you enter a URL, Google AdSense or Google Analytics code, or IP address to find out what resources belong to the same owner.
In other words, when you type in a domain, you get results for all of the different IP addresses and then a list of domains that have that same IP address (in some cases a site will have more than one IP address).
Best Ways to Use This Tool:Discover the different IP addresses to find domain information
13. SimilarWeb – A Tool for Web Rankings
This is a tool that allows you to get traffic insights for any website. You type in a website and right away you’ll get the global rank, country rank, and category rank of that website, along with a nice graph that shows the weekly number of visitors in the last six months.
You can see how many leads come from social, search, referrals, display ads, and many more. There also is a big orange bar that lets you add competitors and even gives you suggestions on who you may want to watch.
Best Ways to Use This Tool:Obtain traffic insights for any websiteObtain global, country, and category rank for any websiteReceive suggestions of competitors you may want to watchView the data in graphic format
Price: There is a basic free account that offers limited metrics and data. You can contact the company if you’re interested in the enterprise package.
14. What Runs Where – A Tool for Monitoring Ads
Although this resource specializes in online media buying and helping businesses buy correctly, it has some great features for watching your competition. It supports over 40 ad networks across several different countries and allows you to track a list of your competitors. You then get an alert every time that competitor launches a new ad or publishes new content.
Best Ways to Use This Tool:Track ad production of competitorsReceive alerts each time a new ad or content is published
Price: Plans run for $299/month for the Basic plan and $399/month for the Full Coverage plan.
15. Link Explorer – A Tool for Backlinks
This tool comes from Moz, so you know it’s got to be good. It’s one of the most popular tools out there today, and it allows you to follow your competitors’ link-building efforts. You can see who is linking back to them regarding PageRank, authority/domain, and anchor text. You also can compare link data, which can help keep things easy.
Best Ways to Use This Tool:Find out who is linking to your competitorsCompare link data of your competitors
Price: You can get some data for free right away, but in order to use Link Explorer to the fullest extent, you will need Moz’s Analytics Standard package for $99/month.
16. Ahrefs – A Tool for Backlinks
This is another popular tool. It will show you things like top pages, IPs, and external links regarding your competitors. Speaking from experience, the site has great customer service and works with you to make sure you get what you need.
Best Ways to Use This Tool:Find IPs and external links to your competitors
Price: You can start a trial for $7.00, then upgrade to a variety of plans starting at $99.00/month.
17. Alexa – A Tool for Web Rankings
This is one of the more advanced tools available, and it has been rating websites for a long time (much like a PageRank). In fact, if you have the Moz toolbar, you will see the Alexa ranking of a site right there on your SERP.
This tool does it all when it comes to spying on your competitors (linking, traffic, keywords, etc.) and is an excellent resource if your competitors are international.
Best Ways to Use This Tool:Obtain data on international competitorsObtain rankings of websites for an overall picture
Price: The Advanced plan is $149/month for one user and one site. You can upgrade to the Agency Plan to include 20 users and 35 sites. You can start with a free trial.
18. Sprout Social – Social Media Management Software
Sprout Social helps you find and connect with the people who love your brand. With tools to compare social analytics, social engagement, social publishing, and social listing, Sprout Social has you covered. You can also check hashtag performance and Facebook reviews and track engagement on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Best Ways To Use This Tool:Listen to what your audience wants Track engagement Publish new content
Price: A basic plan is $99/month.
19. Majestic SEO – A Tool for Backlinks
One of the more popular tools, Majestic SEO allows you to download the link profile for any of your competitors’ sites. This means thousands and thousands of links will be right at your fingertips. You can export the link profile, and then slice it and dice it as you wish.
Best Ways to Use This Tool:Download the link profile of any competitorExport the link profile and move the data around as you see fit
Price: Choose from the Lite plan for $49.99/month, the Pro plan for $99.99/month or the API plan for $399.99/month. I recommend checking out their pricing page because it lets you know which types of companies should use which types of plans.
20. The Search Monitor – A Tool for Keywords & Competitive Analysis
This tool is not nearly as popular as many of the others, but I still think it offers great information. It focuses solely on competitor data. Also, it allows you to monitor affiliates and trademarks. It monitors results from Google, Bing, Yahoo, YouTube, and Baidu along with blogs, websites, forums, news, mobile, and shopping.
Best Ways to Use This Tool:Monitor affiliates and trademarksView results from Bing, Yahoo, YouTube, and BaiduView results from forums, news, mobile, and shopping
Price: There is a Pro package for $599/month or the Ultimate for $899/month. You also can pay a few dollars more for extra keywords. There is an option for an Enterprise package where you call the company and discuss a price.
21. iSpionage – A Tool for Keywords
This is another keyword monitoring tool that allows you to type in a competitor and see the best performing keywords for organic as well as for PPC (in both Google and Bing), and how much the competitor spends on both organic and paid search. You can see the competitor’s most effective ad copy, and you can look at graphs that compare all of this data.
Best Ways to Use This Tool:Analyze best performing keywords of competitors for organicAnalyze best performing keywords of competitors for PPC (Google and Bing)Find out how much competitors spend on paid search and organicView the most effective ad copy of competitorsView the data in graphic form for comparison
Price: The Starter package is $59/month, the Professional package is $99/month, and the Advanced package is $299/month. Contact the company for customized Enterprise package options and pricing.
22. Ontolo – A Tool for Backlinks
Although often labeled as a backlink tool, this also focuses on content marketing. It helps you know how to prioritize your content to keep things moving, learn where to promote your content by identifying authors who link to your content, and gives you suggestions for link-building opportunities.
Of course, this is a more advanced tool so there are quite a few more details that go into how it works, which is why I highly recommend their free trial.
Best Ways to Use This Tool:Identify authors who link to your contentReceive suggestions for link-building opportunities
Price: The Professional package is $97/month, and the Agency package is $297/month.
23. Link Prospector – A Tool for Backlinks
This is one of my personal favorites because it’s all about link building and how that relates to your content. You choose your type of report – guest posting, links pages, reviews, donations, content promotions, or giveaways – and then enter your key phrases. A list of link-building opportunities based on what you’re looking for is generated for you.
Best Ways to Use This Tool:Get link-building opportunity suggestions
Price: If you are going by the credit system, you can try it for free and pay as you go with 1 credit for $5. After those choices, you can choose to select a package, all of which have monthly fees and price per credit per month. It’s a tad confusing, so definitely check out the website to see their price chart.
24. BuzzSumo – A Tool for Viral Content
Want to practically guarantee the success of a blog article or other piece of content? Then look no further than BuzzSumo, a tool that lets you track the virality of nearly every piece of content online.
Best Ways to Use This Tool:Track the types of content most popular for a given keywordSearch and contact influencers that have shared content similar to yoursFind out which pieces by your competitors have received the most shares
Price: Free for a few searches a month. Paid plans range from $79/month to $499/month when billed annually.
25. Feedly – A Tool for Content Marketing
Your competitors are publishing content all the time. But it’s nearly impossible to check up on the dozens of competing blogs you want to follow. How can you know what your competitors are publishing? How can you stay up-to-date with their content marketing strategies?
With Feedly. Just plug in their blog and get updates whenever they release new content.
Best Ways to Use This Tool:Track competitor’s content marketing strategies and get instant updates when they publish new contentFollow your favorite marketing blogs and learn new techniques as soon as they’re released
Price: Free for up to 100 sources, paid plans start at $6 per month.
Can You Spy on Your Competition Without Using Marketing Tools?
The answer certainly is “yes,” but it does take a little bit of planning and preparation. If you’re not interested in investing in any tools or relying on any free tools, use the help of Google and Bing to find the site owners by doing some advanced query searches.
There essentially are two different approaches you may want to take. Both of the following strategies are more advanced “secret cheats,” but they will keep you away from using any tools!
Find All of Your Competitors’ Websites
There are four steps you can follow if you want to find your competitors’ websites:Reverse Google Whois LookupsPerform Reverse IP LookupsReverse Google AdSense LookupsReverse Google Analytics Lookups
Competitive analysis is the cornerstone of a successful digital marketing plan. Use the data you find to build a stronger social media plan, find better keywords to target, or even up your email marketing strategy.
Keep in mind that most of the competitive analysis tools above offer a free trial of their upgraded version so you can give them a test run before making a purchase. Definitely take a look at the free trials before paying.
If you can’t find one, try emailing the company. You might be surprised at just how many will give you a free trial even if it’s not explicitly offered!
Once you’ve settled on a tool (or two or three!) make sure to add competitive analysis to your overall marketing plan. Keeping your eye on the competition is crucial to long-term growth.
Are there other competitive analysis tools I missed? Share your favorite tools in the comments!
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