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Spy on Your Competitors; 10 Tips To Monitoring The Competition
The old adage, "keep your friends close,
and your enemies closer", is applicable not only to
personal relationships but business relationships as
well. While I'm not suggesting that you befriend your
competitors, it is important that you are cognizant
of your competitors' business ventures and methods.
It is important to realize that while
monitoring your competitors is essential, it could easily
become an obsession. Therefore, it is crucial that you
strike a balance when incorporating it into your business
plan. There are several ways to conduct successful stealth
competitive intelligence operations. While it is fanciful
to imagine yourself as a secret agent or spy, none of
these techniques are difficult, hidden or secretive.
In fact, most of them are tools or services available
to all businesses.
1. Ego Searches What are ego searches?
Ego searches are keywords or keyword phrase searches
for a specific brand, product, or company name. Ego
searches are a great way to monitor mentions of a competing
product. You can automate the set up of ego searches
using RSS, so anytime a competitor's product or brand
name is mentioned in the news, blogosphere, or print
you receive notification and the details in an RSS feed.
How to Setup Ego Feeds - http://www.feedforall.com/ego-searches.htm
Create RSS Ego Searches - http://www.rss-tools.com/ego-search-feeds.htm
2. Competitive Intelligence
Competitive Intelligence is defined as the process of
gathering actionable information in a competitive environment.
Competitive Intelligence is researching the business
environment or techniques that another business uses.
Competitive Intelligence is often used to influence
a strategy for business development.
First, it is necessary to know your competition.
Background research can be conducted using the tools
at DNS Stuff http://www.dnsstuff.com
, and various other websites. The DNS stuff website
will allow you to do a whois lookup. A number of other
research tools are also available on the site.
3. Google Alerts
Receive notification via email on the latest relevant
Google search results (web, news, etc.). Define the
Google Alerts using a competitors company name or product
http://www.googlealert.com/ (3rd party
tracking service) - Google Alert is the web's leading
automated search and web intelligence solution for monitoring
your professional interests online. It tracks the entire
web for your personalized topics and sends you new results
by daily email.
4. Meta Tags
Have you ever considered what keywords or phrases a
competitor is targeting on their website? Have a peak
at their meta tags by simply viewing the webpage source.
Pay particular attention to the header tags that include
title, description, and keywords. Are these keywords
part of your marketing mix?
Arm yourself with information. The Googspy website is
particularly useful when used properly. Enter a keyword,
company name, or domain, click the results and view
the companies top 25 competitors. If any of those websites
are using pay per click on Google, you will also be
able to obtain a partial list of the adwords they have
purchased. The website gives you a glimpse inside competitors,
but the list they provide is by no means exhaustive.
6. Incoming Links
There are a number of ways to determine who is linking
to a competitor.
A simple search can be conducted in Google
and MSN for "link:domain.com" (replace domain.com with
competitor's domain). In Yahoo enter a search for "linkdomain:domain.com"
(again replacing domain.com with your competitors name).
The search will produce all webpages that provide a
link to your competitor. Ideally you can request links
from the websites as well.
Other BackLink Tools - http://www.webuildpages.com/tools/
Search for Places to Submit to; this site
another tools that works in a similar way - http://tools.seobook.com/general/link-suggest/
; simply enter the keyword and a list of sites that
will allow you to request links appears.
7. Alexa Ranking
Use Alexa to determine not only who is linking to a
competitor, but also to determine what sites are related
(list yours) . Alexa monitors web traffic trends, and
a list of similar websites. Alexa also has the ability
to show a website's popularity trends. http://www.alexa.com
8. Website Monitoring
It is generally a good practice to monitor competitors,
and you can do this using a tool like CodeMonitor. CodeMonitor
takes a snapshot of a websites' HTML and notifies of
any changes. The differences in the web pages are highlighted,
making it easy to discern what changes occurred. CodeMonitor
is a free online tool, that can be found at: http://www.emarketingperformance.com/tools/codemonitor/
9. Comparison Tools
MarketLeap has some great search comparison tools that
allow for you to compare domains and ranking. Marketleap's
Trend/History report gives you a view of how you or
a competitors website's Search Engine Saturation has
performed over time. It also verifies search engine
placement based on keywords so you can quickly discern
a competitors ranking for various phrases in the top
search engines. http://www.marketleap.com/publinkpop/
10. Other Useful Spy Tools
Domain tools has a mark alert that allows you to monitor
the use of a trademark. They also have a number of domain
tracking and monitoring tools that can be helpful. http://www.domaintools.com/
Keep in mind that while you should be
aware of the direction a competitor is moving. I do
not advocate copying a competitor. These tools above
are to assist businesses in monitoring their competition.
I am not suggesting that you replicate, duplicate, or
copy anything that a competitor does. Use the competitive
intelligence to make sound business decisions about
the direction you want to take.
About the Author:
Sharon Housley manages marketing for FeedForAll http://www.feedforall.com
software for creating, editing, publishing RSS feeds
and podcasts. In addition Sharon manages marketing for
a wireless text messaging software company.
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