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How to Do Competitive Analysis for Free

How to Do Competitive Analysis for Free

spy on your competitorsSuccessfully analyzing your competition is critical if you want to beat them. In order to get, and keep, a leg up on them you need to know what they’re doing, and how those actions may impact you. Since they are continuously trying to beat you, checking on them should a regular exercise for you. Some of the things that you can determine from researching your competition:

  • products they are selling
  • sales text they use
  • pricing
  • what their customers think of their products and service (i.e. reviews)
  • who their customers are
  • changes they’ve made
  • how they are getting traffic (where links, keywords)
  • sales channels they use
  • where they source their products
  • how they fulfill orders

You may know some of your main competitors, but it’s always a good exercise to check since new businesses are being started all of the time. Compile a List of Competitors I would keep a spreadsheet to make it easier to note which competitors you’ve researched, what aspects of their business you’ve analyzed, and your thoughts. The first place to check are the search engines; use Google and Bing to view the search results of keywords you are interested in, and also note the ads that show up to see who is generating traffic from pay-per-click (PPC) ads. Also check Alexa, where you can enter your URL and see the “Related Links” tab which shows potential competition. After you’ve had a chance to explore and dissect the sites you got from your initial list, add to the list by visiting some of the following places and typing in the URL’s of the competitors you noted so far:

Learning About Your Competitors

You can find out about your competition’s product offerings, pricing, sales text and reviews just by looking at their sites. If they provide SKU’s or other product info, you can search the internet and sometimes find out who is supplying the products to them. It can also tell you something like how they are fulfilling their products if you find that they are selling on Amazon and the item indicates it is being Fulfilled by Amazon (see below). Internet searches can also tell you where they are selling, which may give you an idea of additional sales channels you can use. learn how competitors fulfill orders Once you have your list of competitors, you can find out more about them: Quantcast is a free tool that can tell you information about your competitors customers. If you find that their demographics are different than yours, you may find you are targeting the wrong audience. Here you can site the age info for my site which shows that most of my visitors are 35-45. learn the demographics of your competition with quancastArchive.org is a cool non-profit website that takes snapshots of websites so you can see what they looked like in the past. Using Archive.org can give you some insights into what competitors are thinking by seeing what changes they’ve made in design, text, products and pricing. They also provide a chart for the site that will tell you how often the site is changing: see how your competitors change their look of their site Links are an important way of not only generating traffic, but also of improving search rankings. The more quality links that you have, the better you ratings get on Google and Bing. The Open Site Explorer is a free tool that provides you information on who is linking to a given domain. ahrefs is a paid tool that provides more information on the links than free tools including trends in links, recent additions and removals (of links), the anchor text they are using, see what attracts customers to competitor sitesYou can also see how your competitors are getting traffic through numerous tools. Most are not free, but you can gather a little info from some free tools. Alexa’s “Search Analytics” tab for a website (see right) will show you the keywords generating the most traffic for a given website. It will also tell you how the keyword traffic has changed over the past month (trends), some of the places they may be paying for advertising, others who are getting traffic for these keywords (if you click on a keyword) from search and from paid advertising. Spyfu will allow you to see a limited information on competitors for free, while iSpionage will let you see a few competitor reports for free – they provide more details than Alexa, but you’ll have to pay for them to get unlimited usage. You probably have to pay if you want good information on your competition, but it can be well worth it – without traffic, you don’t have sales. Here’s a list of some tools you can check out for determining how your competitors are getting traffic:

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