Blogging · April 28, 2022

5 Tools for Spying on Your Competition

Did you know that an ancient Chinese military document unlocks
many of the secrets to your online success? This book is called
“The Art of War” and was written during the 6th century by Sun
Tzu. This famous document is one of the oldest and most famous
studies of strategy and has had a huge influence on military
planning as well as business tactics.

Sun Tzu wrote about the importance of knowing your competitors
before competing. This wisdom is crucial to your online success.
Here are some quotes that verify this truth in the art of war
as well as business.

“If you know yourself, but not your enemy, for every battle won,
you will suffer a loss.”

“If you know your enemy and yourself, you will win every battle.”

Before you create your own marketing strategies, you must first
know your competitors. By understanding your competitor’s
strategies, you can always stay a step ahead of them.

The key is knowing how to obtain all of this vital information
without having to hire a PR firm, an FBI agent, or an undercover
spy. Luckily for us, all we need are a few online tools to find
out exactly how are competitors are running the show.

1. SpyFu.com (http://www.spyfu.com)

The first tool you should add to your arsenal can be found at
http://www.SpyFu.com.

SpyFu.com is the long-awaited sequel to Googspy.com, a free
competitive research tool that allows you to research your
competitors marketing campaigns. SpyFu.com, however, stands
head and shoulders above its predecessor, providing over twenty
times more data.

This website monitors nearly 4.5 million domains, showing you
exactly how much your competitors are paying for search
advertising on a daily basis, the total number of clicks they
are receiving, and their average ad position. SpyFu also reveals
the exact keywords that your competitors are ranking for in
organic search and who their top 100 competitors are.

You can start taking advantage of this undercover information
at http://www.spyfu.com .

2. Internet Archive (http://www.archive.org)

The next spy tool will enable you to explore a website’s history
and how it has changed over time. You can find all of this
information at http://www.archive.org.

Many of you have probably heard of the Internet Archive. However,
you may not realize that it is an extremely powerful tool for
spying on your competition. Using this free and simple tool you
can discover:

– How often a website has changed their copy?

– Whether or not a website is split testing? (This alone could
show you years of data on what type of copy works best. Testing
your own website copy is extremely important, but you should also
be checking to see what your competitors are doing as well. You
can learn volumes just by looking at what their sales page looks
like over time.)

– Find out if your competitors have made any big changes in
their offer, including price, bonuses, guarantees, etc.

If you’re just looking to have a little fun, then look up Google
(http://web.archive.org/web/19981202230410/http://www.google.com/)
in the Internet Archive and check out what their site looked
like in 1998. You see, competitive intelligence can informative
as well as amusing!

Next up is one of my favorite search tools.

3. Search Status (http://quirkbiz.com/searchstatus)

Search Status is one of the best SEO tools around. It is a
plug-in for the Firefox browser so it comes completely free
of charge.

You can use this tool to:

– Highlight no-follow links

– View any page in Archive.org

– Show all Whois information. This is especially useful if you
want to find out who the owner of a website is. (great for
setting up a joint venture)

– Show robots.txt file. This feature will show you exactly which
pages and directories a website does not want listed because
they want to keep them private. (can be quite informative.)

– Show Indexed Pages. Find out exactly how many pages a website
has listed in all 3 major search engines.

– Show Backward Links. This feature will show you exactly which
sites are linking to the current page or website that you are
visiting. This is especially useful for finding link partners
and affiliates.

The next tool will allow you to find out which web host a
company is using. This information can be found at:

4. WhoIs.sc (http://whois.sc)

Once you arrive at this site, you simply enter the domain name
into the search box. You will then be taken to a page that will
give you a wide variety of information on that domain. Scroll
down to where it says “name servers”. In this column you will
often find the exact URL for the web hosting company they use.

Our final spy tool comes straight from Google, allowing you to
keep full-time tabs on the Internet without the hours of
research it would normally require.

For many years, companies paid lots of money to PR firms to
provide news items and updates on their competitors, often
referred to as a “clipping service”. With the onset of the
Internet, these tools are now automated and free.

One such tool is:

5. Google Alerts (http://www.google.com/alerts).

Using Google Alerts, you can easily monitor what is being
said online about you, your company, your products, and your
competition.

Google alerts shows results from the Web, Google News, and
Google Blog search. All of this competitive intelligence can
then be sent directly to your email inbox.

Simply enter the terms you want to track and Google will scour
the Internet on a daily basis to keep you updated on your
particular industry.

These alerts can notify you of when new links start pointing to
your website, when someone uses one of your articles, or when
the blogosphere mentions your name.

If you want to keep up with your competitor, simply enter the
company name or their product and you can begin tracking what
people are saying online about them.

Google Alerts is an indispensable tool for market research.
Start creating your own Google Alerts at
http://www.google.com/alerts.

Keep in mind, however, that these are only tools. Some of the
most powerful competitive intelligence comes from actually
surfing around your marketplace, visiting the forums, and buying
your competitors’ products. This is the only way to get a
complete picture of what is happening in your industry.

If you want to win in your marketplace, it’s time you go
undercover.