It never hurts to keep an eye on the competition.
While it shouldn’t be the foundation of your business strategy, monitoring what your competitors are up to can definitely inform your own decision making process.
Brick and mortar stores have been doing it for years – think undercover shoppers and price-matching. Online businesses have it even easier, with the ability to have competitive intelligence delivered right to their inbox.
Here is just a small sampling of the tools and resources available to you!
Spyfu allows you to research and monitor the keywords your competitors are targeting, both through paid advertising and organic SEO. It also allows you insights into your competitors daily AdWords
There are lots of tools for monitoring the competition on Twitter, but one of my favorites is Monitter. Besides obviously following your competitors and keeping an eye on their tweets, you can use a tool like Monitter to receive notifications when anyone tweets your competitor’s business name. This is helpful for hearing both complaints and accolades.
If you’re haven’t already, make sure you ‘like’ your competitor’s fan pages. When determining who your competitors actually are, try to cast a wide net – for instance, don’t discount a company in the same niche just because they have a small fan base or low-level sales. The big guys all started off as little guys and if they’re going to get big, you want to know about it.
You may already be monitoring your own keywords and business name using Google Alerts, but I’d also recommend monitoring your competitors’. Receiving email notifications of press releases, new stories and blog posts, whether initiated by your competitors or by someone else, can be invaluable intelligence to have.
Opt-in to receive your competitors’ newsletters or other e-products. When you write your newsletter, do you keep in mind that your competitors may be reading it? Probably not, and neither do they.
Like most traffic-predicting tools, Alexa is far from perfect. But it will give you the ability to check stats like backlinks, keywords, audience data, affiliate information, general popularity and more.
Compete (a paid tool) allows you to track unique visitors, pageviews, keyword data, reach and more. As mentioned above, numbers provided by these types of tools are often inaccurate, but can help give you a general idea of trends and popularity.
Obsessively monitoring and researching your competition in an attempt to one-up them may work in the short-term, but in the long-term your best bet is to focus on providing the best product or service you possibly can. Gather data, learn from it, and use it to make your product better.