Ultimate List of Top 29 Tools for Competitive Intelligence

On December 4, 2009, wrote:

Marketing research isn’t what it used to be. It has expanded to include the world of websites, blogs, social media, online advertising, and other web-based media. The great thing about this all is that there are lots of tools you can use conduct market research and gather competitive intelligence.

Our top posts on Lakeshore Branding have been about social media monitoring and competitive intelligence. So I thought we would share some our favorite tools and this list turned into a description of 29 tools for competitive intelligence. So check out the list and please let us know if we are missing any.
out smart them

1. SpyFu: Spyfu is a tool that lets you find out what keywords your competitors are targeting in the 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.
spyfu

2. The Search Monitor: 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. Lastly, 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


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.
yahoo site explorer

4. Compete PRO Search Analytics: 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 pro

5. Copernic Tracker: Copernic Tracker is a powerful site tracking software that monitors your competitor’s site and notifies you when it changes. It automatically looks for new content and lets you receive updates via E-mail, so that you can view the updated pages with the changes highlighted for your convenience. Not only can you archive different versions of tracked pages; you can even watch for specific keywords, to see what changes your competitors are implementing on their sites.
copernic tracker

6. Statbrain: Fill in a form on the Statbrain page and you instantly find out how many visits any site has. How does this work? Statbrain uses different resources on the Web (and a variety of search engines) and combines them with algorithms to produce an estimate of the number of visits a website gets.
statbrain

7. FeedCompare: 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.
feed compare

8. PostRank: 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. If you have your own blog, PostRank offers an analytics package which can help you track your social engagement in detail.
postrank screenshot

9. 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

10. Google Trends for Websites: 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.
google trends for websites

11. Google Insights for Search: 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

12. Microsoft Keyword Forecast Tool: This tool provides a forecast of impression count and predicts the demographic distributions of keywords. Just enter the keywords you’re targeting and you get the search forecast results, as reflected in Flash, pictures, or text.
microsoft keyword trends

13. Microsoft Search Funnels: Another great Microsoft tool for search marketing is the Search Funnel. It lets you visualize and analyze customers’ search sequences, so that you get an idea not just what they search for when they’re online but also, and more importantly, how – and in what order.
microsoft search funnel

14. WayBack Machine: You might think that a competitor’s website is “so 1996” – but if they’ve remained both consistent and popular, then it’s useful to find out what exactly they’re doing right. WayBack Machine lets you go back in web history and browse through over 150 billion archived web pages – from as early as 1996 to as recent as a few months ago.
wayback machine

15. Web Page Readability: Maybe the reason why your competitor’s website is outperforming yours is that theirs is much more readable. Want to know for sure? Check this site out and analyze the characteristics of a website’s writing. It uses a multitude of readability scores, which all guide you in coming up with simpler, more effective content for your audience.
web page readability

16. AttentionMeter: Enter up to five domains onto this tool and you get a quick snapshot of traffic data, with graphs from Alexa, Compete, and QuantCast
attention meter

17. Website Grader: Grades usually mean scores. With this free SEO tool, it’s no different. The score it provides incorporates information that includes website traffic, social popularity, on-page and off-page SEO data, and competitive intelligence. Moreover, Website Grader provides quick, basic advice on how your website’s Internet marketing strategy can be improved.
Website Grader Screenshot


18. 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.
google alerts

19. BoardTracker: Want to know what people in forums are saying about you and your competitors? Find out with BoardTracker. It’s an innovative forum search engine that tracks messages and sends instant alerts from forums and forum threads of your choice. It searches over 37,000 forums representing more than 63 million threads.
board tracker

20. 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.
Twitter Search

21. SocialMention: SocialMention provides real-time social media search and analysis and delivers them via E-mail, as free daily E-mail alerts. The results are real-time, and gives information about your competitors from content published in social media.
social mention

22. SEMRush: 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. Upgrade to a premium account and you can access and export more domain results and perform more queries per day.
SEMrush

23. BrandVerity: 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.
brandverity

24. Quantcast: 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.
quantcast

25. Linkscape: Powered by SEOMoz, Linkscape gives you access to the link data of over 54 billion URLs across 230 million domains. (Whoa.) With this information you can analyze what you competitors are doing successfully, and then use that as a potential strategy that will help you grow.
linkscape

26. Quarkbase: This tool is quick and comprehensive. Quarkbase gives information on a website’s traffic data, similar sites, social comments, description, social popularity, and similar sites. You can also search top websites by different categories.
quarkbase

27. 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.)
sm2

28. Domain Inbound Links Checker: This free computer program analyzes up to 1000 links to a specified webpage, as well as shows the domains of these backlinks. Keep in mind, though, that this is more than the usual host and IP backlinks checker, because it shows the different classes of URLs, like .edu, .com., .net, and .gov, among many others.
domain inbound link checker

29. SEO Book Link Harvester: 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.


seo book link harvester

Are we missing one of your favorite tools? Leave a comment and let us know.

Contact Lakeshore Branding today for a Competitive Analysis at (312) 229-0038


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What do you think? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment.

46 responses to “Ultimate List of Top 29 Tools for Competitive Intelligence”

  1. James Honeywell says:

    Copernic Tracker has not been updated in years and I think its a dead product. I found UpdatePatrol to be a better alternative ( http://www.updatepatrol.com ).

  2. Chris Campbell says:

    Thanks James for the Feedback, we tried to put together a list of all the tools we have used in the past few years. Copernic, was one of those we have not used in a long time.

  3. Hi Chris – Thanks for the inclusion!

    Wow, where’d you get that screen shot? Our homepage hasn’t looked like that in ages. 🙂

    We’ve recently added multiple site support in our Analytics service, which enables account holders to track up to 5 sites per account.

    While we had a lot of publishers request that function so they could track all of their sites within one account, one could also employ it as a competitive intelligence tool and track any sites that are RSS-enabled.

  4. Chris Campbell says:

    Thanks Melanie, I just updated the screen shot. And it sounds like you have some exciting new features that are definitely worth checking out.

  5. Kathy S says:

    Uh, make that “definitely”, Chris. Too much defiance in the world already! 🙂

  6. Chris Campbell says:

    Thanks for catching that Kathy, just updated my comment.

  7. Mark Evans says:

    It’s interesting that of all the 27 tools you cited, there’s only one social media monitoring and analytics company. Companies such as Sysomos that play in this market include many of the features of many companies on the list, which means you don’t have to use multiple sites/services.

    Mark

    Mark Evans
    Director of Communications
    Sysomos.com

  8. Chris Campbell says:

    Thanks for the feedback Mark, we tried to keep the list to companies that offered free or limited trial uses. Many of our clients are small businesses, who can not afford the monthly cost of monitoring services like Radian 6, SM2 Pro, Crimson Hexagon and Scout Labs. If we included all the tools we have tried for social media monitoring, this list would be much longer.

  9. Hi Chris!

    Thank you for compiling this list. While reading this blog post, I discovered SpyFu.com, which was on top of your list, and it is simply amazing!

    -Nitin

  10. Hi Chris,
    You did a lot of work for this post! Nice! I am flattered that you put Scout Labs with Radian6 and Crimson Hexagon, as our solutions are similar, however, FYI, Scout Labs is only $99 per month, which is a fraction of the cost of others. So, while it is the platform of choice for Disney, Coke, Netflix, etc. its also hugely popular with small businesses and the agencies that accelerate them. We are proud to have earned the “highest ROI” label from our clients. Thank you again for all the work you did for this post.

  11. Steve_Dodd says:

    Chris, this is a great resource for SMBs. Another free site I’ve found useful is http://www.boardreader.com for forums and message boards.

  12. Chris Campbell says:

    @ Steve, thanks for sharing Board Reader. Looks like a good resource.

    @ Nitlin, thanks for the Feedback.

    @ Jennifer, I agree Scout Labs is a great resource at an affordable price point. Thanks for checking out our post.

  13. Johnny says:

    You can also consider the iSpionage PPC competitive intelligence tool they developed recently. It is a powerful tool created especially for PPC campaign monitoring and improving, rank checking and for spying on your competitors. It is quite reliable, i have been using it for some time now and it got me good results. You can check it out on their website.

  14. Frank Podlaha says:

    Thanks for list. We’re always interested in other tools that data mine Social Media.

  15. Roxanne Moudy says:

    I wanted to thank you for this great read!! I definitely enjoying every little bit of it I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post

  16. Clay Franklin says:

    Fantastic list of tools. I am taking web analytics in college this semester and this list is better than the one in the book we are reading by Avinash Kaushik. His blog is awesome though.
    Tweeted to share with my followers, this is great content.
    Thank you,
    Clay

  17. Sharpe says:

    I just couldnt leave your website before saying that I really enjoyed the quality information you offer to your visitors… Will be back often to check up on new stuff you post!

  18. Tally says:

    Hi buddy, your blog’s design is simple and clean and i like it. Your blog posts are superb. Please keep them coming. Greets!!!

  19. Anne Giles Clelland says:

    Subscribing to a number of the 29 services mentioned that charge a fee would be far more than the cost of AttaainCI (www.attaain.com), a competitive intelligence system created by Attaain, Inc., a fellow VT KnowledgeWorks member company. AttaainCI eliminates the need to go to 29 different websites to gather the various bits of info. as well.

  20. Chris Campbell says:

    Anne,
    Thanks for your feedback. Yes many of the services listed above do have a premium service as their business model- all of them have a free version or trial to gain competitive intelligence. I read your companies services and find it very difficult for your company offer the same competitive intelligence at the price point you are offering. I encourage people to investigate the different options and find the solution that works best for their needs.

  21. Lori Weiman says:

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for mentioning The Search Monitor – at the top of the list also. We’ve received some nice referrals.

    Many thanks again.

    Cheers,

    Lori

  22. Bob Wills says:

    You must know by now, your article goes to the core of many resources. Your lucidity leaves me wanting to know more. Just so you know, i will forthwith grab your feed to keep up to date with your site. Saying thanks is simply my little way of saying great job for a marvellous resource.

  23. Interesting post indeed shared by Bonnie on the Linkedin SCIP group. http://www.linkedin.com/groupAnswers?viewQuestionAndAnswers=&discussionID=11150018&gid=68320&trk=EML_anet_qa_ttle-0Nt79xs2RVr6JBpnsJt7dBpSBA

    I underline however Chris Hote’s intervention. These tools are a great starting point for CI professionals who wish to easily and effectively obtain market information…

    But what do you do with them once you’ve gathered this information from multiples sources? How do you deal with that phenomenal amount of knowledge? How do you filter it, organize it, enrich it with your people’s expertise, allow them to debate their opinions around it? How do you then give visibility to your CI knowledge and disseminate it to the business to whom it matters most and brings value? How do you then finally engage the whole company around this knowledge and allow internal insights to be fed back into your CI processes?

    I’d be really interested if anyone knows about such case studies and best practices which relate CI, knowledge management and communication as I believe they have to be so closely bound to be really effective.

    Kind regards
    Greg

  24. jason says:

    Great list. I myself love to use spyfu.com. I recently discovered it on a forum and now I use it all the time.

    I need to head of to quantcast and that looks like it could be useful. thanks

  25. Andre Rettkowski says:

    This is a really interesting article. Out of the blogs that I routinely visit is one of the more informative ones and continuously seem to have something that’s refreshing to read.

  26. Roger says:

    I personally think that in 2010 goes on, methods of on-page and off-page search engine optimization will differ as we think it. I think we will see a transformation towards user metrics in deciding ranking results. That included with increased personal SERP results and we’ll be seeing a huge change of the searchers experience with Google and the other SEs. Each search result won’t be created alike, just look at things like user involvement, bounce time, bounce rate, etc… Put your energy on a better user experience all around, and I think you’ll see better results in 2010.

  27. Chris Campbell says:

    Thank you Andre for your feedback, we appreciate it!

  28. Nick Cole says:

    Your list is excellent, I use about 10-15 of these regularly and shall be exploring the rest.

    You have however missed one that I think is worth noting and that is MajesticSEO’s “Competitive Link Intelligence” that allows you to track the amount of Backlinks over a given time on any domain.

  29. Peter Sabbagh says:

    Good recommendation for companies/individuals using social media – you may also want to suggest social media metrics; there are companies such as memcatch.com, Hootsuite and a few others that provide these metrics. With these platforms you can see which social media sites are producing the most value for your campaign. This is a great way to monitor your productivity. Don’t rely on exclusively on page views through analytics packages such as Google analytics; you should collect both social media and web site analytics.

    Peter Sabbagh
    http://bit.ly/ckfUSS

  30. JT Klepp says:

    I like http://www.nuconomy.com. Provides good insights into your blog, with a deeper focus than Google Analytics.

  31. Akhil Srivastava says:

    Hi Chris,

    When i started reading the article ‘topic down’ i was under the impression that it will give me insights about the entire spectrum of Competitive Intelligence like online, offline, print etc. Today there are players in the market that cover the entire gamut and also provide services on that.

    I understand that you are talking about only those tools which you have experienced but it will be interesting to know about others as well…

  32. Chris Campbell says:

    Akhil,
    Thanks for the feedback, like I mentioned in my feedback in a previous comment- we focused on online marketing competitive intelligence. We are a digital agency and we would not be able to properly talk about measurement outside of the digital side.

  33. james campbell says:

    Sir, i just looked at some of your listing on the web, wow! it made me excited, just thinking of the many possibilites your agency offer to entrepreneurs. Now i want to read everything you have to publish.

    Thanks!

  34. Sami Matani says:

    Great article. I’m sure it could be updated since Dec 2009! I’d look forward to that

  35. lakeshorebranding says:

    Hi Sami,
    We are defiantly working on an updated version for 2010. Look for it in the next few weeks. Thanks!

  36. Michelle says:

    Can’t wait to see your updated list! This is very helpful to startups/small biz. Thank you!

  37. Tony Verre says:

    LSB Team,

    Wow. This is a fantastic list! I think it was mentioned earlier, but Copernic is dead weight. However, updatepatrol sounds interesting and useful. There’s a couple tools that I hadn’t heard of before (i.e. QuarkBase and Web Page Readability Tool)

    Thanks for a tremendous list. Bookmarked. That’s for sure. 🙂

  38. Joel Halbert says:

    Hi Chris,

    One more to add to this excellent list, http://www.webalertpro.com is a new hosted service for tracking changes to your competitors websites. It’s easy to use and has powerful features for monitoring sites and managing your alerts (disclaimer – am company co-founder!).

    Joel Halbert

  39. Greg Gentschev says:

    Also check out Brekiri, a tool for researching companies and industry segments. It combines company data, SEC filings, and web search. So far, we cover IT and life sciences. You can check out the beta version here:

    http://dev.brekiri.com

  40. Viet Hoang says:

    Great list! But what do you think about more sophisticate competitive intelligence tools such as Digimind’s software? A number of big firms are using it (Microsoft, Roche, Schneider Electric…). Here is the website:http://www.digimind.com. Any ideas anyone?

  41. Gulftrotter says:

    Hey,

    Interesting list !

    I was looking for a tool which allows you to harvest a bunch of urls based on demo criteria:
    lets say that you want sites that are only visited by Male-age:35-55/income: xx,xxx-xx,xxx…
    You define the criteria and the tool find the urls.

    Thanks for your inputs,

    Regards,

  42. adan says:

    great list Chris. I am sure the market by now has come up with lots of other new tools. It would be great if you could update this list with new and more robust tools.

    I have been using a couple of other tools that I would like to mention here, one of them is adthena and other is adgooroo. adthena is more fluid and intelligent in its reporting where as adgooroo base its reports on keywords.

    Even though all these tools are and can be a big help but it all boils down to how effective and accurate their intelligence is! All of them have their own algorithms to calculate SoV, Ranking, Spend etc ..

    Again in a nutshell a brilliant post and I would look forward for an update version of it.

    thanks,

  43. adan says:

    Forgot to add the URL’s to their websites. http://www.adthena.co.uk and http://www.adgooroo.com

  44. pat says:

    Hi Just found this page and think it takes an overly web analytics focused view of competitive intelligence, which in its purest form is so much more than just this. p

  45. Peter says:

    just 2 more tools:

    1, Twilert – like Google Alerts for Twitter
    http://www.twilert.com

    2, CompeteMonkey – e-mail notification when your competitors start using a new service like Olark, ClickTale, etc.
    http://www.competemonkey.com

  46. TheVirtualWatchmaN says:

    Great list, i found its useful. You can add also rss intelligence… It had collaborative a approach better suited for company co-working.

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