Depending on your niche and your location, you may know some of your top competitors, but online things are different. You compete for the top positions in the SERPs, and these places are hard to come by without effort and constant competitor monitoring.
The sites that rank among the top ten results in Google’s SERPs are your main competitors online, but so are those that outrank you in Google Maps and in mobile SERPs. To outsmart your online competitors, you need to get ahead of them in the search engine results, and this is a complicated process that involves continuous SEO efforts to maintain your top position in the SERPs once you gain your top spot.
Harness Competitive Intelligence Using an SEO Tool
You have a whole arsenal of SEO tools to gather intelligence to outsmart your online competitors. Some are free, but the best are paid and offer a wealth of tools to find out your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses.
SE Ranking offers a research solution with a keyword position tracking tool that enables you too:
- Monitor up to five competitor websites simultaneously to find out their positions for the keywords and search engines you target
- Automatically reveal and track your TOP-10 online competitors in the SERPs
- Access the entire list of your competitors in the SERPs
It also has a backlink checker that lets you research competitors’ offsite optimization campaigns; a website audit tool that checks the technical SEO health of your site, spotting key errors that could affect your position in the SERPs and offering actionable recommendations to improve your SEO.
The SE Ranking research platform has a social media management tool within SEO software, which allows you to update and monitor your Facebook and Twitter profiles in just a couple of clicks. SE Ranking offers this suite of tools at a cost, but you can try before you buy, as you have a 14 days free trial. Plus, their most affordable plan is priced at as low as 5 € per month, and it offers excellent features to get you started if you have a small site – albeit it provides no access to the social media management tool available with the other plans.
SEMRush is another great SEO tool to gather intelligence to outsmart your online competitors, and it offers more in-depth features than SE Ranking. True, they are pricier – with their most affordable plan $ 99.95 monthly. But they have a rich suite of tools for professional SEOs. Here are just some of the features that make SEMRush a preferred competitor research tool for many SEOs and SEMs (search engine marketers).
- Compelling keyword research tool to find the right keywords for both SEO and PPC campaigns
- Discover long-tail keywords
- Research multilingual and multi-regional markets
- Get a quick understanding of competitors’ keyword rankings, both in desktop and mobile search.
- View competitors’ landing pages displayed in the SERPs for every given keyword.
- Discover new organic online competitors in the Google or Bing top 20.
- Track competitors’ position changes in the SERPs (both in Google and Bing) and compare them to your own.
- Understand competitors’ PPC strategies and budget; analyze their AdWords; see their traffic, volume, and CPC estimations for every keyword; discover how you can improve your PPC bidding strategy, performance, and efficiency; and reduce your online ad budgets.
- Discover new competitors in Google Ads (formerly AdWords) and Bing Ads.
- Localize your ad campaigns - analyze keywords and ad texts in over 100 countries, and in more than 20 languages.
- Analyze competitors' display ads.
- Discover new display advertising publishers your competitors are using or not.
- Conduct an in-depth link analysis to improve your link building strategy and spot new referral traffic sources.
- Define your product listing ads competitors in Google Shopping,
With so many features, SEMRush is a gold mine for webmasters who want to improve their SEO and to outsmart their online competitors. Even the free version of the SEMRush keyword tool offers rich data – albeit you are only allowed ten searches per day.
Another excellent tool to spy on your competitors is SpyFu. It shows a monthly overview of each site you decide to monitor, including SEO overview with their top organic competitors, matching keywords, most valuable keywords, new keywords, keyword rank gains and losses, front page keywords, keywords that just made the front page, keywords knocked off the front page, backlinks, and organic rank history.
SpyFu is excellent to discover your online competitors’ strengths and weaknesses for both their SEO and PPC efforts. The free version is excellent to give you a general overview, but with pro you can uncover a lot more. Their basic plan is just $ 33 monthly and no matter what plan you choose, you'll get unlimited access to all the SpyFu data you want.
Other excellent tools you can use include:
- ahrefs – which adds new SEO tools and features almost weekly to help you with your competitive analysis, keyword research, backlink research, content research, rank tracking, and web monitoring,
- BuzzSumo – to analyze what content performs best for any topic or competitor and to find the key influencers to promote your content.
- Ranksignals – to discover your competitors’ backlinks.
- SimilarWeb – to benchmark your website against any competitor in the world to see how well you are really doing regarding overall visits, time on site, bounce rate and page views per visit. This is also great for keyword research, but most interestingly, it allows you to find out which websites people visit in the same browsing session as the website you analyze – meaning that you will discover new audiences. Discover the sources that generate traffic to any website, reveal any website’s most popular and trending inner pages, and much more. They have an excellent free plan.
Monitor Your Competitors’ Social Media Efforts
Just like SEO, social media marketing is a significant revenue generator for many companies around the world. If you want to outsmart your online competitors on social media channels too, you have enough tools to gather intelligence and to find out which are their strengths and weaknesses.
Here are some of the best tools to see what your competitors do and to attract followers, comments, and likes on social media.
Fanpage Karma allows you to analyze your Facebook profiles and to monitor competitors’ activities. They also offer analytics for Twitter, YouTube, Google +, Instagram, and Pinterest. Here are some of the most interesting tools offered by Fanpage Karma:
- Analyze engagement, best times for posting, best topics, and types of posts for your pages and for your online competitors too.
- Compare an unlimited number of pages and discover trends on time.
- Discover influencers and learn everything about your fans (their interests, how they like to communicate with your page, etc.)
- Evaluate your posts for the best KPIs.
- Monitor yourself and your competitor’s pages on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn.
- Create, schedule, and publish posts on social media.
Social Mention monitors more than 100 social networks and allows you to track and measure what people are saying about you, your company, your competitors, a new product, or any topic across the web's social media landscape in real-time.
HootSuite is one of the best tools to manage your social media content. You can manage up to ten profiles and have real-time analytics and scheduling at your fingertips. They support Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest. You can discover new content by creating search streams by hashtag, location, or keyword to find compelling and curate content that you can share on the fly.
Other Useful Tools and Tips to Outsmart Your Online Competitors
To outsmart your online competitors, it is always useful to learn how they attract their clients. Monitoring their social media efforts is just one of the ways to see which type of content they use to generate buzz and to boost their online reputation.
But you could also use a tool like Built With to find all about the technologies they used to build their sites and to improve performance.
You should also check review sites to see how their clients talk about them. Bookmark their blogs and newsrooms to see what they write about. Set up Google Alerts to know when the media and bloggers talk about them, when new reviews are published on TripAdvisor, and so on.
When you gather all the data you need, develop a marketing plan that surpasses their efforts: better content, more appealing offers, ingenious perks for your clients. Refine your online presence continually, and you will stay ahead of the game.