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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.)

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.