Whether you call yourself a content, digital, Internet or just a plain old marketer, everything now comes back to the Internet in one way or another. Even some public relations pros are learning a thing or two from SEO experts, and those SEO gurus are slowly becoming more and more like PR people. No matter what your position in marketing, there are tools and online applications that can help make your job a little bit easier.
Keeping an eye on your competition is necessary for every business that is serious about their online presence. You need to know when and where your business' competitors are getting mentioned, what they are posting on their social networks, the content they are creating on their website and so much more.
You want to do what they are doing right, but only better. These tools can help with that.
1. Start with Their Backlinks
Using Majestic, Ahrefs, Open Site Explorer, SEMrush or your favorite backlink tool, you can export data on all the sites that are linking to your competitors. You can combine all of these to make sure you don’t miss any links, and throw it in a tool like Netpeak Checker or Buzzstream that will find any metrics you want like MozRank, Domain Authority, PageRank, TrustFlow and more.
Analytics and marketing genius Annie Cushing has a great tutorial on Moz, which shows you step-by-step how to do this, and you can watch this video tutorial if you want to see it in action.
Then you can use those competitor backlinks to import into Buzzstream, an outreach contact management system, which will find contact information like e-mails and social profiles. Then you can begin reaching out to these sites pitching your own content. You want to create content that is better than your competitors, and chances are if it is related to something they linked to from your competitors, that they would likely link to yours if you created a useful or updated piece of content.
Open Site Explorer also has a tool called Link Intersect where you put in your website and two of your main competitors. Link Intersect will then find sites where your competitors both have a mention from but you do not.
Notice under contacts that Moz just released a new feature that finds e-mails and social profiles that help making reaching out to those sites even easier.
2. Find Your Competitors' Best Content
One way to do this with a tool called Strip the Blog. You insert your competitor’s blog URL and Strip the Blog simply finds all of the social sharing metrics. From this you can determine their most popular pieces of content, see if they are outdated or what you can do to make it better, and go on from their creating that content by making it different.
Also, you can put your competitors into SEMrush and use one of their several features to analyze your competition. SEMrush allows you to find all the keywords that your competitors are ranking for in the top 20 for that have search volume. You can also get an overview of how much paid traffic they are getting, if they are doing paid search at all, as well as compare how much search engine traffic they are getting.
3. Stay Up to Date with Your Competitor
With all the clients and information you have to keep up with, it makes it tough to also keep track of what your competitors are doing. Ideally, you are really trying to outrank your competitors with your website. There are a few ways you can do this:
- Setup an alert for your competitor using Mention, Google alerts or Talkwalker. Mention is a freemium tool that also has an app and tends to find more alerts then the other two including mentions on social platforms. Google alerts and Talkwalker are generally the same, so if for some reason you don’t have a Google account then go with Talkwalker.
- Create an e-mail account and sign-up to your competitors’ newsletters. Then setup an IFTTT (If This Then That) recipe to trigger any time that an e-mail comes from your competitor that it forwards to Evernote. If This Then That is a free online tool that recently changed their name to simply IF, which allows you to create online recipes for automated triggers online. By doing this you can check your Evernote once a month or as often as you like and have an organized folder of what your competitors have been up to.
- Take their RSS feed and put it into your favorite RSS reader, like Feedly. From time to time go in and see what they are up to, or just simply go to their site. If you want to keep track of a competitor’s page that doesn’t have an RSS feed, you can copy the URL into Page2RSS that creates an RSS feed for it. Then any time that page is updated you will be notified by email, text or whatever you want if you set up a recipe in IFTTT.
4. Find the Best Content in Your Industry
Create a free account at Buzzsumo to find the most viral pieces for any type of content like infographics, guest posts, articles, giveaways, interviews and videos. You can even choose for the content to be recent, in the past month, six months or year. After inputting a topic it will bring back the social shares of the most viral pieces on that topic.
You can then go a little further by copying the URLs of the most viral pieces and throwing it into Majestic or Ahrefs to find all of their backlinks, and repeat the similar step earlier by putting those links into your favorite metrics and outreach tool.
5. Freshen Up Outdated Content
You want to create evergreen content whenever possible, but you can’t help that eventually information, stats, and facts change. So use a tool like Outdated Content Finder from Greenlane SEO to find content that is just that…outdated.
The pitch here is to create a new piece of content with updated information and then reach out to all the people who had linked to the outdated information. There is a very good chance that if they mentioned the outdated piece of information years ago that they would be interested to update their readers on the new information in the content you are providing.
Ever been on your competitor’s site and see a really cool feature that you wish your website had? If they didn’t create the script themselves then you may be able to find out what tool they are using.
If they are on a Wordpress site, or even if just their blog is on Wordpress, then you can put their URL into WhatWPThemeIsThat.com and it will not only find out what theme they are using, but more importantly will show a list of the plugins they are using for their site.
7. Steal Their Social Followers
There are a few different ways to steal their followers, my most favorite of which is Followerwonk which is used for Twitter. What you do is put in up to 3 competitors at once, and it will show you who follows all three of them, two of them, and the followers of each. If you follow the profiles of those who follow all three then chances are they are likely to follow you back.
You can look at the followers to see who is the most active, their retweet percentage, how many followers they have and how many they are following, as well as their social authority determined by Followerwonk.
Don’t just follow all of them and hope for a follow back though. The idea is to give them a reason to follow like sharing content with them that you think they would be interested in and engaging with them.
You can also use Followerwonk to analyze your followers and find the times that they are most active on Twitter. You can then take those times and sync with your Buffer schedule so that your tweets are going out at the times when your followers are on Twitter the most.
Use any or all of these tips in your marketing strategy to not only keep up with your competitors, but to help plan and curate your own content marketing plan to become the authority in your industry that your audience looks to for answers.
Do you have additional tips for keeping tabs on the competition? List them in the comments!