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How to spy on your competitors (in a friendly kind of way)

Author: Sharne Teh

No need to whip out a trench coat and find a pair of gloves and oversized sunnies to match; we’re not talking about conducting any unscrupulous, sweat-breaking espionage. We’re talking about easy and legitimate ways you can get an unfiltered look at your competition to better understand your market.

Now, you may think that it’s a waste of time to give your competitors too much attention (we’re totally for sticking with your brand!) but note that by completely ignoring what they have been up to could also mean that you may be ignoring key insights that could help your business! (Plus it’s more than likely, your competitors have already been spying on you to learn what you’ve been doing.)

So, ready to dive in for some knowledge? Here are some easy (and free) tools and techniques you can take advantage of to help you learn what things work or don’t work from your competitors.

Builtwith

Get a breakdown of the technology your competitors are using on their website in an instant. Simply enter your competitor’s URL and you can instantly learn about their:

  • Analytics and Tracking Tools
  • Widgets and Plugins
  • Content Management System
  • Advertising Tools
  • Email and Web Hosting Providers
  • And so much more!

Neil Patel

This is awesome for getting an insight on how your competitor is ranking organically and estimated traffic that it is bringing in.

Google Keyword Planner

One of the best places to start your keyword research. Discover keywords from your competitors by typing their URL into the input field under “Start with a website”. You can then take these keyword ideas to help put together your own list to target and bid to rank.  

Wayback Machine

Take a peek at your competitor’s web history. With this amazing tool, you’ll be able to see when and how often they update their website. Get a snapshot on how they used to look, what content they’ve tried and how they’ve evolved to what they are today.

Facebook: ‘Pages to Watch’ Feature

If you have a Facebook page for your business page, check out the “Pages to Watch” feature, a section found under the Insights tab. This is a great function for you to easily add pages to keep an eye on. You’ll be able to compare key performance metrics such as:

  • Total page likes
  • Percentage increase or decrease of likes in the last week
  • Number of posts this week
  • Number of engagements this week

Facebook Ad Library

If your competitors are currently running active ads across Facebook apps and services, including Instagram, you can search for them using the Ad Library to see just what they are promoting.

Follow their content

Numbers and tools are great but nothing beats the value of actual real content in our opinion. So, if you haven’t already, check out your competitors’ other social pages to see what they’re posting and subscribe to their emails. This way you’ll be one of the first to read their latest content releases. It could give you ideas on how to differentiate and improve yours for your audience or point out certain trends and topics which you’ve been missing out on.

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That’s it for now! We hope you’ve learnt a few new tools and techniques on how to spy on your competition.

If you want to start making some changes, to really stand out against your competition – give us a buzz and we can throw some ideas around 🙂