Why Use Competitor Analysis Tools
Irrespective of the industry or domain, your business is definitely going to face direct or indirect competition. Even with numerous marketing channels available today (social media, search engines, websites, apps, etc.), the competition is fierce. This, however, does not necessarily have to be a negative aspect. With the right competitor analysis tools and methods, you can extract a ton of valuable information about what strategies work and what don’t work for your competitors. With this information in hand, you can fine-tune your marketing strategy to get better results, faster, without having to go through multiple test campaigns.
Did You Know
As of August 2018, there were 17.95 lakh registered companies in India alone! Of these, 63% were still active.
What Competitor Analysis Tools Enable You to Do
There are many useful competitor analysis tools available in the market (which we will get to in just a bit) that let you access different types and levels of competitor data. These tools help you extract and access a competitor’s traffic data, the traffic sources (organic, paid, etc.), traffic geographies, targeted keyword segments, paid ads being run, SEO quality, backlink data, etc.
Knowing this information drastically reduces the time that would otherwise be spent on researching and testing marketing strategies. Consider keywords for SEO, for example. In order to find relevant keywords that drive useful traffic, you need to perform keyword research, setup content and pages with these keywords, wait for months to rank on search engines, and only then get insights as to whether the keywords are driving valuable traffic or not. By extracting keyword data from competitors, you get immediate insights into which keywords are driving the most traffic for your competitors, giving you an idea of which keywords you should be using.
While one important reason for performing competitor analysis is to see which areas of marketing your competitors are targeting, another important reason is to know the areas that are not being targeted. This opens up opportunities for quick growth and results because of the minimal competition.
In this article, we cover a total of 12 competitor analysis tools for six marketing activities: SEO, Keyword Analysis, Social Media Analysis, Email Marketing, and PPC Marketing (Paid Ads).
Competitor Analysis Tools for SEO & Website Auditing
SEMrush is an extremely popular competitor analysis tool for SEO. It helps you extract competitor data (and also research data for your domain) not just related to SEO, but across multiple domain metrics. Some key information it provides are:
Traffic metrics – Provides data on how much traffic a domain generates and segregates it by channel/source.
Backlinks data – Provides a list of all backlinks a domain has. This includes follow, no-follow, and lost backlinks.
Online advertising information – Provides data on a competitor’s PPC campaigns, ad campaign spends, ad copies, display marketing campaigns, etc.
Keyword ranking with SERPs – Extracts a domain’s SERPs for selected keywords, and indicates SERP movement over time.
Gap analysis – allows you to compare keyword and backlink gap between domains.
Site audit report – Provides a comprehensive site audit report, indicating errors and warnings and corrective methods.
Domain authority – Provides a domain’s domain authority and monitors its change over time.
Search engine visibility – It provides an overview of search engine visibility among domains for selected keywords.
Content generator/comparison – SEMrush lets you analyze a competitor’s content strategy and provides topic suggestions.
All this information can be extracted for any domain, which means you can use SEMrush to see how your own domain is performing and also as a competitor analysis tool for SEO. One of the most important features SEMrush provides is insights from collected data. You can add your domain as a project and list competitors, and SEMrush compares analytics data to provide actionable insights. SEMrush is a paid solution, but for a domain with limited (but useful) features, it can be used as a free online competitor analysis tool.
Ahrefs, similar to SEMrush, is a competitor analysis tool for SEO and is equally popular. Ahrefs provides features that let you perform keyword research, backlink research, content research, rank tracking, and web monitoring for your domain and competitors’ domains. These are some of Ahrefs’ most popular features:
Keyword analysis tool – you can extract keyword data by keyword, or by domain. Along with data like search volume and competition, Ahrefs also shows keyword click data which is something most other tools don’t.
Backlink research – Ahrefs provides a lot of data related to a domain’s backlinks. You can check other domains linking to a website, the anchor text, the inserted link, and also outgoing link from a domain.
Site audit – Ahrefs provides an actionable SEO audit report with data pertaining to pages, links, performance, etc. It also analyses all pages and provides an architecture structure, something many other tools do not provide.
Rank tracking – You can add your domain and competitors’ domains and check SERP rankings for keywords over time.
Ahrefs is one of the best tools for competitor analysis. The main difference between SEMrush and Ahrefs is that Ahrefs is better with backlink analysis- it provides more data, and with content analysis- it provides a list of top-ranking articles, links to it, broken links to it, and suggested topics. SEMrush, however, is better for someone looking to extract paid ad metrics as well as SEO metrics.
While perfecting SEO and website performance is important, what’s even more important is perfecting your brand image. Here is an article we recently published that will give you more insights: The Effective Guide to Efficient Brand Marketing for Businesses.
Competitor Analysis Tools for Keyword Analysis
Google Keyword Planner
While you can use the SEO and website audit tools mentioned above for keyword planning, they are both paid solutions. If you’re looking for a reliable keyword planner and competitor keyword analyzer, Google Keyword Planner is a great tool that is also free. You can enter a keyword, and Google Keyword Planner shows you your entered keywords and all other relevant keywords along with search data, CPC values, etc.
One great feature of Google Keyword Planner is that you can enter a competitor’s domain and it analyzes the website to give you a list of keywords that domain is ranking for and actively targeting (through their content). You can use this information to create your own keyword strategy. Since it is created and managed by Google, it is one of the best tools for competitor analysis in terms of keywords and is a free online competitor analysis tool.
Like Google Keyword Planner, Ubersuggest is a free online competitor analysis tool. You can use it to research keywords by adding your competitors’ domain and getting a list of keywords they are targeting.
Additionally, Ubersuggest also extracts key metrics like your competitors’ ranked organic keywords, monthly organic traffic, backlink data, domain score, etc. You can use it to view a competitor’s top pages, get content ideas, and also perform a site audit like you can with SEMrush or Ahrefs.
Here’s a great video that gives you insights on competitor analysis and also a tutorial on how to use Ubersuggest: How To SEO Competitor Analysis – Spy On Your Competitors Keywords & Top-Ranking Pages To Outrank
Competitor Analysis Tools for Social Media
Sprout Social is one of the best social analytics tools. It lets you gather data for platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. It lets you track published posts, engagement, likes/dislikes, etc. for your social media handles and for competitors. This gives you a trend analysis for the performance of your posts and your competitors’ posts.
Along with extracting competitor data, Sprout Social also analyses keywords to give content ideas, identifies influencers, and extracts sentiments based on reactions to topics, products, competitors, etc.
Social Blade provides user statistics and data for selected handles on social media platforms like YouTube, Twitch, Instagram, and Twitter. It is a great tool for competitor analysis – primarily to find your most core competitors based on numbers. You can track their growth on a day-by-day basis. For quick information about a competitor’s social media metrics, Social Blade can be used as a free online competitor analysis tools.
Social Mention is a tool that provides data on those blogs, images (through alt-text), videos, questions, microblogs, etc. that have a mention of the entered keyword. This is a great tool that can be used to identify websites/links that have mentioned your brand, so you can maintain brand reputation. You can also use it to identify websites/links that mention your competitors so you know where they are posting their content. You can approach the same or similar websites to get your content published.
Quick Search is a great social and brand reputation management system and lets you access social and brand mentions for your competitors as well. You can enter a term, your brand, or a competitor’s brand name on Quick Search. Then, it analyses social network sites like Facebook and Twitter, news sites, forums, and blogs to collate information of all mentions for the entered term. It also extracts sentiment data, content ideas, etc. based on the entered term, which can be used to tailor an effective social media strategy.
If you’re looking for ways to improve your social media marketing skills, check out this article we recently published: Social Media Marketing Trends to Watch Out for in 2020
Competitor Analysis Tools for Email Marketing
Mailcharts is a nifty tool that gives you insights into your competitors’ email marketing strategy. It extracts information like email design, subject lines, content, emailing frequency, etc. It collates this information and creates visual charts so you can have a graphical view of what your competitors are doing right with email marketing. You can use this data to tailor your email marketing strategy, improve the design, and match emailing frequency.
Owletter, similar to Mailcharts, tracks your competitors’ emails, and extracts and collates important information like emailing frequency, design, and content. It uses this information to provide visual reports and also notifies you when there are spikes/dips in your competitors’ emails. It uses this to prepare a trend analysis which you can use to plan your own email marketing strategy.
Competitor Analysis Tools for PPC marketing
Spyfu has a lot of similar features to SEMrush and Ahrefs – Competitor SEO analysis, keyword research tool, keyword rank tracking, backlink tracking, etc., and they are pretty much on par. What we will cover in this section is what Spyfu is most popular for- its competitor PPC insights. Spyfu is one of the best tools for competitor analysis in terms of PPC data.
Spyfu is a competitor analysis tool that lets you extract keyword related information from your competitors, and this includes information from PPC (pay-per-click) ads. You can enter a competitor’s domain, and Spyfu extracts the keywords that are being targeted through paid channels (Google search ads, display ads, etc.), and also gives you insights on the search volume, cost-per-click, and the performance of each of these keywords. You can also enter your own domain, and Spyfu identifies competitors based on the keywords you are targeting and then provides insights on what keywords you are missing out on, based on what is working for your competitors. It also provides what keywords you should not be targeting, based on what hasn’t worked for your competitors.
Spyfu not only gives you insights per keyword, it actually provides complete information on a competitor’s ad campaign history. This is vital information because unlike SEO, PPC campaigns cost you per click, and you save a bunch of money and learn from your competitors’ experiments rather than spend and run your own PPC campaign tests.
Similar to Spyfu’s PPC keyword analysis features, iSpionage also helps perform competitor analysis for their PPC ads. You can research a competitor’s PPC ad history and current live ads by directly entering their domain, or enter a keyword/your domain and iSpionage identifies prospective competitors for you and extracts their PPC keyword data. You can also get information about the competition for each keyword/topic and which ad copies and strategies are getting the most click-through-rates for those keywords.
Each of these tools provides an ocean of insights into your competitors for different areas of marketing. It’s sometimes easy to get carried away with competitor analysis, and this might prove to be more harmful than beneficial. When preparing a marketing strategy through competitor analysis, follow three important rules:
Identify the right competitors: As a startup with 20 members, it does not make sense to consider an MNC with 5000+ employees as your competitor, even if they provide the same service. The numbers will only overwhelm and discourage you. Select competitors who are in your niche market, and also whose metrics are within an achievable range.
Learn from the metrics, not the strategy: Most of these tools will give you an idea of the exact strategy your competitors are using, and you might be tempted to implement them immediately. Refrain from doing so. Look at the metrics instead. Are they at a good level? Are they on par with other industry leaders? Is the ROI positive? These metrics will tell you if the strategy is working for them. If yes, you can begin incorporating it into your marketing strategy.
Create a marketing strategy: With the metrics and an understanding of your competitors’ strategies in hand, you can now tailor your own marketing strategy around your business and customers, implementing what works for your competitors and disregarding what doesn’t.
The high level of competition can be daunting, but it is also the reason for tons of historic data. With these 12 tools, you will be able to gain deep insights into your competitors’ marketing history and use that to create a successful one for your business.
P.S. To get better at digital marketing (which is what these tools are used for), check out this article we recently published: Digital Marketing Trends to Watch Out for in 2020