This post is a Re-Mix of a post I wrote in 2006, Formerly called: “How to Scope Out a Competitor’s Website and Learn From It.”
It’s always fun and interesting to check out what your competitors are up to. When you type in a search for your keywords, who comes up? Are your competitors ahead of you or below you? Why? Do you know what kind of traffic they get? Do you know how many links are coming into their site?
In search engine marketing, competitive research and analysis is everything. Since search engines are all about ranking, the websites you see in the search engine rankings above and below you are your competitors. So it’s very helpful to know how to research those competitors to discover how and why they rank the way they do.
10 Free Tools For Researching Your Competitor’s Website
SpyFu is one of my favorites as it can show you how much money a competing website may be spending on pay per click advertisements. And is also useful to show you which organic keywords may be bringing in the most traffic. Tool Use Rating: Easy
SEO Digger is a free tool that will show you what keyword phrases different websites rank for. The ranking database is updated every 2 weeks and is usually very accurate. This can be a great resource if you’re trying to find out what phrases a competing website ranks for. They can also be sorted by order of Wordtracker popularity which shows how many times those phrases are searched. Tool Use Rating: Easy
If you are already familiar with SEOmoz, you know that they provide a host of tools that can help with SEO. Many of which can be helpful for competitive website analysis including: SEO Toolbox, Trifecta, Term Target, and their new tool called Linkscape. Note on Linkscape: this tools is definitely for more advanced users, but can be very valuable to search for link data on almost any website. Tool Use Rating: Ranging from Easy – Difficult
The Website Grader is an extremely user friendly site that will give a quick review of any website and show helpful data like: domain age, domain renewal information, meta data, backlinks, onpage factors, traffic, and alot more. The really helpful thing is that it gives easy to understand explanations if it happens to find any erros on the website. This is a great tool for discovering basic strengths and weaknesses with any competing website. Tool Use Rating: Easy
Niche Watch takes a little different approach in that it doesn’t start with a competing website, but with keyword phrases. You type in a phrase, and it will show you data on the top 20 competitors including backlinks, links to the page, Page Rank, and alot more. This is a great resource to see info on offsite factors for each website and it can often times give you great insight as to why a site is ranking the way it is. Tool Use Rating: Moderate
#6. SEO For Firefox
SEO for Firefox is one of the more famous tools of the bunch. Aaron the creator claims that over 50,000 people are using it. If you don’t already have Firefox, you may want to consider downloading it just for the purpose of using this great add-on. When turned on, this tool will show extra data under each Google result after you complete a search. The data includes useful things like: backlinks, page links, .edu links, pages, domain age, Dmoz, Yahoo Dir, and alot more. Basically it lets you see why competitors are ranking in the results, and based on the data, it’s usually very easy to see why sites are being ranked the way they are. Tool Use Rating: Moderate
Looking for exact traffic numbers for a competitors website? Too bad, that is priviledged information. But the next best thing can be found at a site like Compete.com. They compile data on millions of websites to provide you with fairly accurate traffic analytics, and basic search analytics; like which terms are used the most often to bring search traffic. It’s about as good as you can get unfortunately. If you want to compare data try Quantcast and Alexa. Tool Use Rating: Easy – Moderate
Link Diagnosis is a newer tool that I’ve only been using for a few months. But I have been extremely impressed so far. It basically will look at the backlinks of any website and examine the anchor text, Page Rank, quality of link, and number of outbound links on the page and displays it in an easy to read and export format. It is really sweet for being able to tell how strong incoming links are to any giving website complete with data on NoFollow links. Tool Use Rating: Moderate – Difficult
Search Rascal is purely a ranking analysis tool that allows you to see who is ranking for any given keyword. The unique thing about it is that it tracks past ranking and will show whether or not websites have moved up or down in ranking in the last day, week, or month. It is very handy. Note: only works for more competitive phrases. Tool Use Rating: Easy
#10. Google & Yahoo
Believe it or not, Google and Yahoo are a couple of the best tools you have available for competitive analysis. You just have to know how to use them… Google consistently has the best search results, so make sure you use it the most when trying to search for actual competitors. If someone is ranking above you in Google, chances are they deserve to be there. Yahoo is great for searching incoming links to your website. In fact, almost all the tools above use Yahoo’s data to search for links. To get an overall picture of how many links are coming in, visit Yahoo Site Explorer, type in your domain name with or without the www, and click on “inlinks”. This will give you a full picture of your incoming links. Tool Use Rating: Easy
I hope these 10 free tools will come in handy as you try to learn more about your competition. Make sure to keep track of your findings, and if you have any questions about how to use any of them, don’t hesitate to contact me.