Sep 22, 2014

3 Sneaky Tips to Help You Spy on Your Competitors Online

by Digital Marketing Institute

You’ve been so busy creating, measuring and monitoring your own digital marketing campaigns that you’ve forgotten one teeny, tiny, kind-of-essential element. One sly movement from a crafty competitor can change everything. Now we’re not saying that your competitors are evil (although that’s a distinct possibility). We’re just highlighting the importance of keeping a close eye on the competition to help you benchmark your own progress.

We’ve identified three of the best free tools that can help you analyse your competitors’ activities, performance and progress. And we unveil some valuable time-saving tips to help you get organised and stay ahead of the competition.

And for the super sneaky amongst you? We’ve thrown in some extra sneaky tips.

HubSpot’s Marketing Grader

Marketing Grader is a free tool from HubSpot that gives you an overall marketing score and categorizes your results into five key areas: blogging, social media, SEO, lead generation and mobile. To access the data all you need to do is enter a URL and your email address. This makes it super easy to check your competitors’ scores too.

Each key category contains a best-practice checklist. This allows you to quickly see the areas in which your competitors are performing well along with the main marketing elements they are missing. For example, if your competitors don’t have an RSS feed, email subscription option or authoritative sources linking to them, Marketing Grader will let you know.

Extra Sneaky Tip: Invest in the areas your competitors are missing to help you create a unique selling point and set yourself apart from the competition. For example, if your competitor doesn’t have a blog you can keep yours updated with regular, fresh content to give your website a competitive SEO advantage. Similarly if they don’t have a responsive mobile site you can invest in yours and use it as a marketing advantage.

Use HubSpot’s free Marketing Grader here:

Hubspot Marketing Grader | 3 Sneaky Tips to Help You Spy on Your Competitors Online

Google Alerts

Google Alerts is a great tool that helps you not only monitor your own mentions but also those of your competitors. You can monitor mentions by your competitor’s name, by keywords or by both. What’s more, if you don’t want to be annoyed by a barrage of emails, you can limit how often you receive an alert.

For example, you can request to receive an immediate alert as soon as a fresh mention arrives or you can limit your alerts to once a day. Similarly, if you don’t wish to be emailed there’s an option that allows you to set up a feed so you can check updates at your own pace.

Extra Sneaky Tip: Identify the topics your competitors are writing about to receive quality links. Are they any good? Perhaps you could tap into some of their most popular subjects and come up with your own unique content angles.

Another strategy is to identify what your competitors are not writing about. You can then take on the topics your competitors are neglecting and claim them for your own. Remember: your readers need a reason to choose your site over anyone elses.

If you want to get really sneaky (and we think you should) don’t just limit yourself to monitoring competitor sites. Instead, identify the best businesses who have a similar audience to yours and monitor their digital marketing efforts too.

Use Google Alerts for free here:

Google Alerts | 3 Sneaky Tips to Help You Spy on Your Competitors Online

Moz’s Open Site Explorer

Moz’s Open Site Explorer is one of the best tools in the business, allowing you to follow your competitors’ link-building efforts. You can get an overview of your competitors’ backlinks by PageRank, domain authority and anchor text for free. Website scores are derived from elements like site trust, total amount of external equity-passing links and more.

The best part? It allows you to compare up to five sites at one time. Once you’ve entered each URL you want to track, you’ll receive a beautifully-designed table that displays the scores of each of your sites along with an in-depth breakdown of each score.

Extra Sneaky Tip: Take note of any links coming from quality news sites and authoritative sources. Are there certain influential websites or individuals who are continuously mentioning and linking to your competitor? Make a list of your competitor’s influencers, adding in (in your opinion) the reason their website was mentioned.

Then review your own inbound strategy. Instead of merely copying your competitors, try and select your own (better) influencers and content angles that might compel them to link to your website.

Use Moz’s Open Site Explorer:

Open Site Explorer | 3 Sneaky Tips to Help You Spy on Your Competitors Online

One Final Sneaky Note:

It’s no good being sneaky if you’re just going to copy your competitors’ marketing activities – any fool can do that. Instead you’re going to get crafty and use your competitor analysis to go one bigger and one better, to create and foster a unique selling point, to keep ahead and to stay ahead.

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