Pablo Picasso once said that “Good artists borrow, great artists steal.” Everybody wants to innovate – to create something unique. Yet many great business ideas come from learning ways to spy on the competition.
If you want to lead your market you must know what the leaders are doing. Many of my clients ask how I find out about their competitors so easily, and so frequently. The answer is that I spy on them! We can all learn ways to spy on the competition, steal their best ideas and apply them to our own business. And this can be done legitimately, without any need for industrial espionage.
“Do all you can to find out what your competitors are doing, and them beat them at it,” says research analyst Sonal Patil. “Several tools will help you take a peek at your competition. Although it’s easy to spend a lot of money on expensive tools it’s not necessary to break the bank and still keep a watchful eye on your competition.”
Patil offers up the following tips for learning ways to spy on the competition effectively and economically:
Start with Google. Although it seems obvious, many businesses simply use Google to check their own statistics. It is very easy to use Google to spy on your competitors. Simply insert the major keywords to your business into Google’s search window and review the top sites that come up. Don’t forget that Google Adwords are also important and so is voice search optimization. Review both the paid and organic search results, and make a list of the companies on the first page.
Check the source code. Once you have identified your competitors, go to the home page of each site. Then right click on the page and look for “View Page Source” on the window that appears when you right click. Click on “View Page Source” and you will then see the source HTML code for that page. Now, go to the top of the ‘Head’ section (towards the top of the page) and review the following:
‘Title’ will provide the SEO Title given to that web page.
‘Description’ will give you the Meta Description tag used for the webpage.
‘Keywords’ are the list of the keywords used for the page.
Make a list of these words and descriptions for use on your own site where appropriate.
Use spy tools to review competitors site optimization results. You can get a lot more information using one of many spying applications available online. One of the best is Spyfu and they do have a free version that you can try. Spyfu will help you understand the search marketing formula your competitors are using. Ispionage does the much the same. You can maximize the accuracy of your results by combining Spyfu and Ispionage and comparing or averaging them. It’s important to understand that these tools cannot directly access the accounts of your competitors. They simply take information from the search engines and give you that information in a format you can use. If you like the information you’re finding, you can always upgrade to one or both of these tools.
Install the SEO Toolbar plugin for Chrome or Firefox. SEOToolbar is a free tool you can use to see how search engine view your competitors. Install the SEO Toolbar plugin which is free for Chrome and Firefox, and you will get a whole host of data about any website URL you wish. Included is SEO information, link data, social media data, age of the domain and more.
Use Google Alerts. Don’t just set up alerts for your own keywords and site. Google Alerts will help you understand anything new that’s happening in your niche. It’s a free and very useful tool, when used to its fullest potential. There are many more ways to use Google Alerts to understand your competition. Read more about that on Jenn Grace’s blog here.
Too many businesses fail to perform competitive analyses on a regular basis. Using these tools can help you develop a process for keeping an eye on the leaders in your market, and learning how best to compete with them.