There's no arguing the fact that technology has done untold wonders for the business world. It's never been easier to reach a worldwide audience and unlike the old days, reaching this audience doesn't take a massive advertising budget.
This post is about another aspect of business that the internet is good for: checking out and analysing your competitors and their activities.
The internet is a great tool for monitoring who you're up against. There are tools out there which many users may be unaware of, ones that can provide great insight into your competition's strategies and allow you to model what's working for them... as well as helping you avoid what's not.
So with that in mind, here are four tools you can use to monitor the online activities of your competition:
For a monthly fee, SpyFu will allow you to download the keywords your competitors are targeting in their PPC ads, get insights into the campaigns that have worked and those that haven't. You can also get tips on the keywords you shouldn't be using.
This mostly free tool gives you analytics information on the performance of your competitor's website. Not only are you presented a bunch of numbers and stats, but Alexa also gives you actionable insights and tips on what to actually do with the information. For example, you'll get an estimate of the number of back links a site has, its global ranking, the site's top keywords and much more. This will give you an idea on how your site measures up and how to improve your own rank. You'll also get information such as their audience insights and even their site's load time.
3. Open Site Explorer
This tool from Moz works not only to provide information on your competitor's website, but also gives you lots of helpful statistics on other aspects of their online activities, such as the site's social metrics. We all want to know how the competition is doing on social media, don't we? Now you can check this out quickly and easily. This tool also allows you to see just who is linking to your competitor's sites too and whether these are quality links.
4. Internet Archive
Did you know that virtual snapshots have been taken of many sites throughout their existence? It's true, and thanks to this archive and its "Wayback Machine", you can get a glimpse into the life of a website's many edits and revamps over time. For example, you can take a look at a site over the course of a single year and see if its design and/or content is changed seasonally and model this practice on your own site. On top of this, it can be refreshing to see where a competitor started out - because it's all too easy to delude ourselves from time to time into thinking that a successful site started out that way!
With these simple tactics in your pocket, it will be easy to scope out the competition and see how you can stay ahead in the rat race that is the internet.