There is no doubt about it: the Internet has become the most powerful force in the world. It is a place where retailers can promote their promising new business, where people can meet like-minded individuals, where artists can share their works, and where entrepreneurs can find new opportunities.

Business people on a track starting line

The World Wide Web has created numerous opportunities for all kinds of people. But how can a retailer harness this massive force that we call internet?

Simple. If a marketer wants his company to surpass its brick-and-mortars status he must invest in a website, brand his business, work hard to expand its presence on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Google+ and also create a loyal community.

Monitor Your Competition

What most retailers fail to do is to monitor the performances of their competition. It is not enough to simply grow your website.  You must also understand what your competitors are doing to rank better in SERPs, because in the end that’s the most important thing: to attract organic traffic from Google and other search engines. Here are three things that you should consider when conducting competitive analysis research:

1) Check Your Competitor’s Rankings

SEO may have changed over the years, but one thing has remained the same: backlinks are still the backbone of all SEO practices, because they determine the Domain Authority and Page Rank (an algorithm developed by Moz) of the page. These parameters are essential because they show how credible the page looks in the eyes of Google.

2) Find Out What Sites Link to Your Competitors

Determine what type of sites are linking to your competitor’s pages and acquire similar links for your own.

3) Compare Your Alexa Rank with Other Websites

Alexa is one of the most accurate tools for determining the volume of traffic that comes to a website. Things are quite simple with Alexa: the lower your ranking, the higher the amount of traffic.

If you subscribe to Alexa you will be able to check out a lot of interesting things like backlink history, successful keywords, and overall ranks. It may not be the nicest thing to do, but spying on your competition can help you understand what you are doing wrong.

Research Keywords

Old-fashioned gold key on top of dictionary opened to the word KEYWORD

Check Your Competition for Keywords and Choose Them According to Trends

Every website starts with keyword research (or at least it should). Before you can decide on a name, or niche, you must conduct thorough research to determine which keywords will be profitable for your business. If you do not choose wisely, you might never be able to get any conversions.

Before you start your adventure, Google the keyword
that you are thinking of using, check the Page Rank
and Domain Authority of  the top 10 results, and
determine whether or not you could top that.

You can also identify keywords by spying on newcomers. You can do this by checking Google Alerts or Talkwalker Alerts.

Now that we have determined the three most important things that you should be keeping an eye on, let’s discuss three Competitive Analysis Tools that will help you with the process.

1. Open Site Explorer

MOZ has been developing excellent SEO tools for quite a while. Many webmasters consider it to be the holy grail of competitive SEO, and that’s just an understatement.  Not only does MOZ feature an incredibly powerful set of tools, but it is also powered by a great BLOG, where experts share their knowledge. Although I will only focus on the Open Site Explorer, it is safe to say that all the tools are extremely useful for presenting and monitoring analytics, enhancing SEO efforts and branding your business.

Open Site Explorer is one of the four free tools which will enable you to check link popularity, and monitor existing backlinks. If you are trying to promote your website with the help of a guest blog posting service, you should definitely keep an eye on the links that you create.

The free version (because there is also a PRO paid version) can help you predict Page and Domain Authority, calculate total number of inbound links and determine the domain’s ranking potential (with the help of over 40 parameters). I recommend you to “abuse” the Total Links feature, which will show you all the links that a site has.

For the reasons stated above, and many other, Open Site Explorer is one of the best tools for competitive intelligence and targeted link building.

SEOMoz open site explorer

Source: Kissmetrics

2. Raven Tools

Competitors will never reveal their success stories for free, but Raven Tools can definitely help you uncover them. The Raven Company has understood how important it is to break down your competitor’s SEO strategy, and this is why it has come up with numerous tools. Two things I really appreciate about the Raven Suite is the user-friendly interface and seamless integration with third party tools (like MajesticSEO, Facebook, Twitter, Wordtracker and SEM Rush).

Here are some of the many things that Raven can do to help you with Competitive analysis:

  • The Competitor Manager will track and organize all selected competitors, analyze quality scores, pages, links and domain statistics. For easier tracking you can also add different tags and export relevant data.
  • Many people use the Site Auditor, Site Performance and Research Central tools for their own page, but these three gadgets can also offer valuable data for any competitor you want. You can analyze the performances of their Site with the Site Auditor, compare key metrics side-by-side (local listings, overall quality and social integration) with the Site Performance Tool, and if you really want to take things to the next level, the Research Central feature will collect extensive data from the domain.
  • Last but not least, after you are done with your analysis, you can create beautiful reports and sheets to turn your efforts into something actionable for your online campaign.

Raven Tools

3. Keyword Spy

The best way of learning from your competition is by identifying the most powerful ones, and gaining competitive intelligence from them. As I mentioned earlier, keyword research is a vital aspect of SEO, and if you manage to determine the most powerful contenders, you can use important data from their keyword strategies.

Keyword Spy is a free tool that can offer Organic Competitors reports. All you have to do is to enter the targeted keyword or phrase in the search box, click enter, and go to the Organic Competitors tab. By doing this you will find companies that you might have never thought off, and also see how different keywords behave. This tool is something you will want to have in order to dig deeper.

Keyword Spy Competitive Research

There are definitely many other tools that you can use for competitive analysis, but the three mentioned above are probably the easiest to use, and the most accessible for those who are not yet very experienced with SEO. What tools do you use for competitive analysis? Please share your thoughts with us!