Competitive Intelligence Revisited: 40 Tools To Keep You One Step Ahead
About a year back we compiled a list of competitive intelligence tools and it turned out to be one of our most popular posts. Well its a new year now and we thought you deserved an updated list. We went through the old list and threw out a few services that are no longer useful and added a whole bunch of new ones for you to check out. Some of the sites are more convenient than others depending on your needs. Some are free and some our expensive. Some of them directly monitor competitors’ advertising efforts while others track social media channels. Some of them offer several services and others only one or two. Heck, some of them aren’t even meant to be competitive intelligence tools, but we think each has something beneficial to offer. It was by pure coincidence that it came out to be an even 40 tools so let us know if there’s more we need to add!
SpyFu is a tool that lets you find out what keywords your competitors are targeting in search engines. Not just keywords, mind you, but AdWords, too. All you have to do is type your competitor’s site in SpyFu’s search bar, and voila! Immediate results that show you the keyword and AdWords landscape for that domain. You can compare up to three domains at once and SpyFu also provides top 100 lists of SEM spenders, top keywords, most changed websites, and more letting you see the biggest and best in business. Many of the services are available for free but the full package will cost you $69/month or $469/year.
This tool is pretty neat because you can monitor so many things with it. With the competitor monitor, you can track market share, page rank, ad copy, landing page, and even the budget of your competitors on paid and organic search. With trademark monitor you can catch trademark abuse on paid search, or track the buzz about your brand or your competitor’s web-wide. With affiliate monitor, you can check out your affiliates for TOU compliance, watch paid search activities, monitor ad and landing page copy, and perhaps even recruit your competitor’s affiliates. The Search Monitor offers varying price points with the Starter package at $99/month and the Pro package at $399/month. Lastly, customizable monitoring packages are available for your individual business’ needs.
3. Yahoo! Site Explorer
This free tool allows you to explore all web pages indexed by Yahoo! Search. It offers a comprehensive site map for your competitor’s site (just type the URL in the box), where you can track the other sites that link to that website or the pages within it. The true value of this service is in evaluating your own site to make sure Yahoo! is properly indexing and crawling it. If there is a problem, Yahoo! Site Explorer will allow you to locate exactly where it is so you can correct it. This service is free.
The key to search marketing is focus. This tool gives you just that. It brings search marketing into plain view with paid and organic search trends, historical search referral data, and customization capabilities that allow you to filter top performing keywords as well as traffic for thousands of websites – including that of your competitors. With the Search Referrals tool, you can see what keywords drive traffic to a given site. With Keyword Destination, you see which sites get traffic from searches with similar keyword phrases. Compete Category Profiles allows you to follow trends, identify leaders, recognize new competitors, and track your own site within a defined category. A few of the services are available in a free demo but the best services are offered for a cost. The prices vary from $199/month for the PRO Intro service all the way to PRO Advanced for $499/month. Compete PRO also offers a customizable PRO Enterprise package.
Want to compare yourself to the competition with one single graph? FeedCompare can help. This tool lets you compare FeedBurner subscriber numbers with that of others. One of the cool features of this one is that it lets you zoom in on a particular month or year. FeedCompare’s service is offered for free.
This site helps you discover the best blogs. Or at least the ones which engage the most readers. With PostRank, you can find which blogs and blog posts are engaging people – so that you get an idea of what is hot out there in the blogosphere. PostRank Data tracks the major social media hubs to see what sites are being linked to and talked about. If you have your own blog, PostRank offers an analytics package which can help you track your social engagement in detail. An extension is also available that combines PostRank with Google Reader further allowing you to organize the blogs you follow. A free demo is available but PostRank also offers a personal tracking package for $15/month and an agency tracking package for $500/month.
7. Xinu Returns
This useful website provides you with a report that shows how well a given website is doing in terms of PageRank, backlinks, indexed pages, and even social bookmarking. You can also get information on the site’s syndication, validations, and other technical details that affect its performance in the search rankings. Xinu Returns is a free service.
Google Trends for Websites is a pretty cool tool for finding out the traffic data and geographic visitation patterns of your competitors. Just enter the address and you’ll be shown a graph reflecting the number of daily unique visitors of that given website. You can compare data for up to five websites; from there you can view related sites and top searches for each one. While useful for recognizing overall trends, this service does not provide much information to help you analyze the reasons behind the trends. Google Trends will also only provide information for sites above a certain traffic volume. There is no charge to use Google Trends.
This tool lets you compare search volume patterns across several variables. You can narrow data into Categories; or anticipate demand for your business by filtering according to Seasonality (or given time frames); find out how the search volume is distributed geographically, across regions and cities; and see search patterns in other Google properties. Google Insights is available without charge.
We originally posted information about websitegrader.com, but grader.com has expanded their services to also include a TwitterGrader, SquareGrader, BlogGrader, BookGrader, PressReleaseGrader, and FacebookGrader. Each of these service will analyze your individual site or page and grade it. They will provide information on traffic, posts, followers, etc. to help you know where to improve. Each grader gives slightly different results based on what exactly they are grading. These services are free and you can find grades for your pages as well as your competitors’.
11. Google Alerts
It’s not just for monitoring developing news stories. It’s also for keeping abreast of what your competitors are doing. Keep tabs and get the latest on them by signing up for Google Alerts, which are delivered as E-mail updates on news and information about your competitors. This service will predominantly only return alerts for large businesses. You can sign up for Google Alerts for free.
12. Twitter Search
Well, yes, you can find out the trending topics anytime. But more than that, you can search important keywords, products names, and find out who among your competitors are using Twitter. Queries are crafted using Twitter’s advanced search operators – and you can save these too as RSS feeds. Searching Twitter doesn’t cost a thing.
SocialMention provides real-time social media search and analysis and delivers them via E-mail, as free daily E-mail alerts. The results give information about your competitors from content published in social media. Make sure narrow your search criteria and be very specific with the searches on this site though as it will return many results. It is free to use SocialMention to search social media.
SEMRush is an advanced keywords and competitors research tool, and it covers over 40 million keywords for 20 million domains. With it you can get the list of Google keywords and AdWords for any site, as well as a list of your competitors in the organic and paid Google search results. SEMRush may also be useful in identifying hidden keywords that your own research omitted. The free demo version offers you limited results while a SEMRush Pro membership offers the full set for $49.95/month. Custom reports are also available.
Want to find out who is bidding on your trademarks? Or do you wish to ensure compliance with your affiliate policies? Use this tool to discover ads triggered by search terms. BrandVerity monitors Google, Yahoo, and Live search results and sends you E-mail alerts when it finds ads that meet the criteria that you specify. The PoachMark service is available in a free demo, for $246/month in the Lite package, or for $799/month in the standard package. The Affiliate Watchlist service also offers a free trial and has more greater services for a cost.
This tool finds your audience for you. Quantcast provides one of today’s most accurate audience measurement services, and, best of all, it’s free. With the Marketer Checklist, you get to build detailed audience profiles and define the most receptive customer segments. You can also find similar audiences across the Web that “look like” those already interacting with your brand.
17. Alterian SM2
This software solution was designed for social media monitoring and measurement. With SM2, you can find out the gender, age, and location of who’s talking; listen to what they’re saying; assess their popularity or social media rankings; and find out where exactly they’re talking (blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) The site is now offering their Social Media Console (beta version) that all allows you to monitor and engage directly from the console itself. You can prioritize based on your own preferences allowing you to track what’s important to you. You can also respond from any individual account in the Console as well as view an entire discussion’s history to see the path it followed. One unique feature is the Sentiment Analysis tool that analyzes the sites and tells you whether conversations are trending positively or negatively. SM2 offers geographic as well as multi-language tracking. A free demo is available to test the site’s services.
Link Harvester is a free web-based link analysis software that makes sorting out duplicate links from the same site easy. This thus allows you to quickly and deeply query the search engines’ backlink databases. Free results are given and the site does also mention a more expanded package available for a possible $10/day.
19. SEOmoz Tools
SEOmoz offers a wide array of competitive intelligence tools to give you an edge over your competitors. Our favorite service is an updated version of Linkscape called OpenSiteExplorer. This site lets you see who is linking to your competitors’ sites as well as to your own in a direct comparison. You can ensure all the links for your site are operating properly and directing users to the correct location. SEOmoz has several other tools such as the SEO Toolbar that provides real-time site information on the site your viewing. It will highlight no follow links and immediately provide easy access to more powerful tools. The Trifecta report offered by SEOmoz gives a site report with information from Alexa, Yahoo! and Quantcast. The Juicy Link Finder gives up to 100 possible links for any keyword searched. The Historical PageRank Checker helps you find PageRanks back to 2007. SEOmoz also offers the following tools available for use from that are still in prototype stage: Competitive Link Research Tool, Linkscape Visualization Comparison, and the Link Acquisition Assistant.
20. Microsoft Advertising Intelligence
Formerly adcenter Add-in for Excel, Microsoft Advertising Intelligence is a keyword research tool that operates though Microsoft Office 2007. It provides you with lists of possible keywords useful for your business including information on relevance, volume, cost history, geography, and demographics. You will see data of user searches and KPIs to help you decide which keywords are best for your PPC campaign.
A free report card is available through diyseo giving you a side-by-side comparison of you and one of your competitors. The report will display information about your site’s accessibility, keyword rank, indexing, and back-link information. More in-depth data is available with their subscription service costing $49/month or $499/year.
Obviously LinkedIn is not meant to be a competitive intelligence service but the information available can go a long way in telling you what your competitors are up to. Simply follow the companies you are competing with to see what they are up to. If they are hiring a lot of programmers, you might suspect a new web-service is in the works. If you see a lot of marketing professionals popping up, a new marketing campaign might be soon to follow. Other information such as a changed or additional addresses might also tell you they are expanding.
This is a pretty convenient service that really streamlines social media monitoring. This site will follow the social media channels to provide you with a full line of analysis. Sysomos automatically tracks sentiment to see if your business or a competitor’s is trending positively or negatively. They offer a text analytics system that gives a breakdown of conversation content so you don’t actually have to read any of the feeds yourself. Demographic tracking is done for you and they utilize an influence identification and engagement tool that tells you who is driving conversations. Sysomos also offers historical, global, and multilingual tracking.
Simply search a domain on iSpionage and they will display information on a site’s top keywords, main competitors, and social media mentions. They can also provide you with in-depth information on a business’ PPC campaigns. iSpionage offers a lot of information for free but they also have subscriptions at varying price points. The iSpy Silver package is $59/month or $299 for a 6-month subscription. ISpy Gold is $89/month or $299/6-months and finally, the iSpy Pro package is $129/month or $449/6-months.
Radian6 is a social media monitoring service that can not only give you in-depth analysis but also help you manage your campaign. Their Radian6 Reports give you the information on what people are saying about you and your competitors. They will run your social media for you with their Managed Services so you don’t have to worry about finding and hiring the people yourself. The Listen Station will organize your social media monitoring for you so you can get only the information you need and want. The new Engagement Console allows you to view and post directly from your desktop as well as share with employees without ever having to visit the social sites themselves. This wide array of services starts at a base-price of $600/month with discounts available for charity organizations.
This is yet another useful service offered by Google allowing you to organize your web-marketing efforts. Double Click Ad Planner will help you define both your and your competitors’ key demographics to help you discover what’s relevant to those audiences. Of course, this service is able to utilize the endless data available through Google giving you a complete profile of a site. After discovering the information available here, you can then begin to put together a plan for the sites and keywords you might want to advertise with. You can also market your own site to advertisers through this service.
This service bills itself as the next generation of social media monitoring. With more in-depth analysis than simply displaying whether your business is trending positively or negatively, Crimson Hexagon ForSight delves deeper and claims to provide a more complete understanding of what people are saying. Their service can help you with competitive placement, campaign tracking, new product guidance, early warning, and more. You can start with this service by requesting a demo.
Lithium offers a myriad of resources to not only help you track your brand but also give you solutions and ideas to help you grow. They start with the idea, people who follow and speak about you online make up your “social community” and understanding this community is the key to harnessing social media for your business. Lithium’s Social Media Monitoring service offers a 14-day free trial to show you exactly what they can provide. They never limit your results, provide data and analytics, help you respond to your community, and give you automated sentiment results. The Lithium Customer Intelligence Center will give you the insights you need to nurture and grow your social community.
Subscribers to AttaainCI have access to Hoover’s Inc. information on 65 million companies, 85 million websites, and profiles of over 700 industry sectors. You can track information on the latest industry news, social media mentions, new hires, and marketing metrics. AttainCI differentiates itself by allowing comparison based on your type of relationship to a business (competitors, customers, affiliates, prospects, partners etc.). They offer a 7-day free trial to test their services and if you like what you see, you can subscribe for $149/month or $1609.20/year for the first user. It’s $79/month or $853.20/year for each additional user.
MajesticSEO offers a variety of different services, most revolving around backlinking information. The free service provides basic data to see a site’s backlinking structure. They also provide information on your domain’s “neighborhood,” allowing you to see if you are too close to potential troublesome sites. Clique Hunter is a unique tool that shows you groups or clique’s based around a certain domain. The free information is rather limited when compared to what’s available with their paid subscription plans.
HootSuite is a site attempting to organize all of your and your business’ social media into one simple to use service. With this service, you can allow multiple employees access to your social media allowing for a team management of your campaign. HootSuite offers you the ability to schedule Tweets so they are published exactly when you want. They will also track results of your social media efforts. HootSuite is integrated with different services like WordPress blogging and in the process of adding others.
Similar to HootSuite, MemCatch is hoping to redefine the social media landscape by combining all of your social media into one service. With MemCatch you create a profile where you can post links, videos, messages, and more to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. all at once. Why is this useful for competitive intelligence? MemCatch will then track your posts giving you data on how many people are viewing your posts, the demographics of the viewers, which posts are being forwarded on, re-tweeted, and more.
Not a traditional intelligence site, LivePerson’s main service is to help a business actively engage their visitors through chat. But they also provide intelligence statistics on who is visiting your site, how they are navigating, and gives you the tools to convert visitors into sales. They offer packages designed for small, medium, and large businesses with varying price points.
UpdatePatrol lets you keep a close eye on any site of your choosing. Any time a site your following makes a change, UpdatePatrol will notify you and highlight the changes when you visit the site. They can monitor an unlimited number of sites, text files, pdfs, and more. Their service is available in two packages. The Standard Package costs $69.95/month and the more versatile Pro Package comes in at $129.95/month.
Want to find out what people are saying about you, your competitors, and your field without signing up for a subscription service? WhosTalkin offers a simple search that will instantly scan popular social media sites and let you know what people are saying. You can save the results by downloading the automatically generated Excel spreadsheet of your results.
Still working to expand their services, BackType gives you basic information on how much people are talking about a site, topic, or person. They provide a graph of the results that easily allows you to see spikes or dips in a given time period. This quick breakdown can help you discover which campaigns drive conversations.
37. Authority Labs
Find any site ranking in Google, Bing, and Yahoo! all in one place with Authority Labs. Sign up for their service and you can see a side-by-side breakdown of where sites fall. Prices for Authority Labs range from $24/month for the Basic plan to $99/month for the Pro plan. Custom packages are also available.
38. Raven Tools
Raven Tools is a full service web-monitoring and management service. They can provide any information you need, from keyword ranks, to backlink information, to SERPs and a lot more. They will also help you manage your campaign for you. The Solo Plan starts at $19/month and is their most basic. The most popular service package is the Pro Plan which costs $99/month. The ultimate package is the Agency Plan which comes with a price tag of $249/month.
SEOBook features a large number of tools to help you optimize your presence on the web. If you want to monitor competitors, find underutilized keywords, view search analytics, or simply track search engine rankings, SEOBook can do that and more. Best of all, you can use all these services for free. All you have to do is sign up!
Jigsaw provides a directory of businesses and professionals to help you stay connected in your industry. You can find information on your competitors or make contacts with potential business partners. The company search tool allows you to find and view the major bullet points of a business such as ownership, number of employees, estimated income, and a brief synopsis of what they do. Jigsaw is free to use.
This article was written by Ryan Flynn a marketing intern on the Lakeshore Branding team.
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