How To Monitor Competitor Activity: Five Simple Tools To Use
As marketers, we need to constantly monitor competitor activity and analyse it. Even substitute competitors can provide a hive of interesting opportunities and threats to respond to.
The digital landscape provides us with a host of useful and simple tools to keep on top of what our competitors are up in cyberspace. Learning what they do well and not so well can be used to our advantage.
We’ve put together five useful tools that can help you monitor competitor activity online. Some have an element of free data, while others require subscription sign-ups; however, each should provide insight into your competitors overall digital marketing performance.
Competitor Mentions – Google Alerts
The simplest tool to monitor competitor activity online is Google Alerts. Powered by Google search engines, it enables you to create an alert for any competitor content. The service sends an email when it finds a new result – such as web pages, newspaper articles or blogs – that match the alert term created. So if you want to know every single time your competitor is mentioned online, whether as a link or simply a mention, you’ll get that report. You can monitor keywords as well or broad areas like ‘Environment’. It’s up to you what you want to track.
Keywords and Search Ads – SpyFu
Spyfu is a great tool for keyword and ad monitoring. As well as tracking backlinks and rankings, Spyfu has a great keyword feature showing how many keywords your competitors rank for, thus indicating what keywords they are targeting in their paid search activity. It also details how much the competitor keyword targets overlap with yours for organic search traffic. Some keyword features are available for free (with data limits) to provide a taster. However, a subscription is required to access more data (but there is a 30-day money back guarantee).
Emails – Owletter
Emails are still a key element of many digital marketing plans, particularly in the B2B industry. Owletter captures, analyses and stores your competitor’s email newsletters into a dashboard, giving you a searchable database that keeps your inbox free. It enables you to track and analyse your competitor’s email marketing content in a fuss-free way. It does require a monthly subscription, which covers 5 competitors.
Social Media Activity – SocialMention
SocialMention can be a useful tool to monitor competitor activity as it focuses on blogs, video, and social content. Enter in a search term, either a keyword or a company, and the tool will tell you what’s being said about that term across blogs and social platforms. You can see how many times and how often it’s mentioned and you even can subscribe to an RSS feed for that term. It enables you to easily monitor company mentions for competitors (and yourselves) plus cross-analyse what is being said and sentiment across the key social networks. It is completely free as well, which is a bonus!
Of course, there are other tools that monitor Facebook and Twitter specifically (e.g. Topsy is a tool that’s all about Twitter where you can look up your competitors’ tweets all the way back to 2006 if you fancy), but SocialMention provides a good overview across a range of social networks.
Websites & Traffic: SEMRUSH or SimilarWeb
SEMRush is a popular competitor tool which shows a range of metrics mainly around search engine activities by entering a competitor URL (which handily can also be filtered by country). You can enter up to 10 URLs for free which will show limited results such as the amount of traffic by organic vs paid search but certainly provides some useful basic insight. To see all the data and more than 10 URLs you need to upgrade to a subscription.
SimilarWeb is a similar service which provides a free report on any competitor website or app. It’s a useful tool for monitoring competitor activity online by offering an overview of their website traffic. The free report will provide some insight into referrals, search traffic and keywords, social media, display advertising as well as similar sites and apps. You can upgrade to SimilarWeb PRO for more features but prices will depend on what your needs are.
While there are lots of tools available monitor competitor activity online, the above tools will provide a good starting point. These tools will ensure you have a basic understanding of your competitor’s online activities and enable successful competitor benchmarking.