18 Free Tools to boost your Competitive Research

When you are thinking of building a new marketing strategy for your brand/product, one of the things you look at is how your competitor is faring in terms of content & execution. It can always act as a source of inspiration or a new thought as to how you can improve your own services looking at your competitor’s execution. Competitive Data is the best source for your brand to modify your own plans rather than your assumptions.

Use these 18 Tools for your Competitive Research

There are various tools (free/paid) which makes your life easier to spy on your competitors in the digital age. Here we look at some of the alternatives which you can try to stay one place ahead and strategize accordingly.

SEO Competitive Tools

Search Engine Traffic is one of the most sought after traffic sources for brands. More often than not you are vying for the same keywords as your competitor, but how would you like to digest that information? Looking at keyword based information (paid or organic) helps you build your keyword/content optimization & lets you be ahead of the race. Some Tools which can help you with the information related to SEO are given below:

Open Site Explorer

One of the many tools which fall under Moz, you can go to http://www.opensiteexplorer.org/ to get started and compare up to 5 websites to look at website relevant metrics. You can have up to 3 searches daily for free accounts after which you will need a Moz account to sign in and access the tool. The Domain Authority & Page Authority metrics are developed by Moz which helps compare websites according to their content efficiency out of 100. The more the rating, the higher authority the site has in Google search rankings.

Linking Root Domains tell you the external linking websites (or backlinks) to the main page. Mostly a higher number of backlinks is a positive signal for the website and one of the factors to be taken in to consideration if your brand is behind in acquiring quality backlinks compared to the competition. You can also look at some of the authoritative links each website has to review which websites are your competitors targeting (and if you can leverage some of the same category).

ScreamingFrog

ScreamingFrog is a free download which helps you give an overview of the basic elements of the pages of your website. The elements include page titles, descriptions, image tags & much more. You can check if your website is better fir compared to your competitor & if there are any new keywords which your competitors are targeting which you might want to have a peek at.

ScreamingFrog SEO Competitive Research

You can look at individual pages to figure out their details & keywords. A pretty handy free resource to have when analysing your own as well as your competitor’s keywords.

SEMRush

SEMRush provides lots of great information about competitive profiling related to adwords as well as organic traffic. The paid version provides in-depth information on a website you enter by choosing which domain of Google would you want it to search for (India is not available yet).

Keyword Research with SEMRush

Below are some of the features you will get with the free version:

    • Organic Traffic vs Ads Traffic
    • Organic Keywords (Top 10)
    • Ad Keywords (Top 10)
    • Competitors in Search (Top 10)

A paid version of the tool will give you an indepth report of organic traffic & Ads traffic competitors along with the ability to export the reports for further drilldown. You can also view the month over month trends of multiple domains over organic traffic vs ad traffic giving you an overview of how your bran is faring in organic traffic. Search for a particular keyword to get a monthly volume along with the probable CPC value under ‘Keyword Research’. You can get only the top 10 suggestions for a particular keyword along with its volume for a free account.

SEMRush for Competitor Analysis

Ahrefs

Ahrefs is a must have tool when you want to analyse backlinks of your domain compared to other domains. You need to create a free account to access some of the free features of the tool and can always upgrade to view the full functionalities of the tool. Similar to Open Site Explorer, you can compare up to 5 domains (2 for free accounts) to view the information on backlinks such as:

    • How many backlinks to the website?
    • How many ‘DoFollow’ vs ‘NoFollow’ links to the domains?
    • What is the Domain Rank (Ahrefs metric) ?
    • How many authoritative websites (including .edu or .gov websites) citing the domain?
    • Monthly trend of Referring Pages to the domain

Ahrefs Competitive Report

You can also request SEO report for domains (up to 3 free reports) for a period of last 30 days. The report crawls up to 1,000 pages of your website and gives you basic information about Page titles, meta description, headlines and the internal/external links to individual pages. This can certainly be a pretty effective feature for a website audit. There is a backlink report which you can use similar to the SEO report for analysing your website’s backlinks in detail (3 Free Reports).

In addition to Ahrefs, you can also try Majestic SEO which works similar to the above mentioned tools with providing additional metrics known as ‘Citation Flow’ and ‘Trust Flow’ indicating the Page importance and it’s likeliness to be referred by other domains as an authoritative page.

Social Media Competitive Benchmarking:

Social Media benchmarking is also an integral part of any social media strategy to regularly check your social media presence against your competitors. We can use some of these tools to get started with competitive profiling on social media to determine their earned and owned presence.

Simply Measured

Simply Measured lets you access some cool FREE social media reports if you don’t have the budget to spend heavy on competitor’s data. Some of their Free Offerings include:

Free Simplymeasured Reports

Twitter Follower Report:

Gives you an overview of the audience of the Twitter account you specify including the location & follower distribution. A report which can do an audience comparison of your brands vs the industry and if you need to change your audience building strategy. Also, gives you the most influential followers of the specified account with their most talked about topics and Klout score. Handy? Definitely!

Facebook Competitive Analysis Report:

Want to check your Facebook presence in terms of content and engagement? With this free report you can have a first level view in minutes. You can do a competitive check of 10 Facebook pages (including your own) who have less than 250,000 likes for the last 2 weeks. Engagement Comparison & Top Content breakdown are some of the highlights which we can get from the report.

Facebook Insights Report:

Got a Facebook page and want a readymade dashboard for Facebook Insights? You can connect your Facebook page with this tool to get a template dashboard with last 2 weeks data for your page. The report contains the ‘Engagement Megaphone’ breaking the major components of your page and showing it in a visual manner along with engagement drilldown and top contributors to your page. Really Helpful!

Google Analytics Traffic Sources Report:

Authorizing with Google Analytics lets you uncover the traffic sources report which will help you gauge the evergreen question ‘Which traffic source is the most beneficial to my website?’. A detailed report available for the last 30 days for your website.

There are similar reports for Google+, Vine, Instagram and LinkedIn Pages which are available for you. And you can download the same in excel/PowerPoint to make it presentation ready for your Boss!.

SocialBakers

SocialBakers lets you monitor your competition in terms of audience growth for Facebook/Twitter. The paid version offers a lot more in-depth analytics available on a page level to measure the impact of a campaign or a content in general compared to other Brand pages. Helpful For:

    • Audience Regional Distribution [Facebook]
    • Audience Growth [Last 6 months]
    • PTAT/Engagement [Facebook]
    • Video Views [YouTube]
    • % of Fake Followers of Twitter Account [Fake Follower Check]
    • Social Marketing Reports [Region Wise]
    • Socially Devoted Brands [Compare your Brand with the industry]

Use SocialBakers for Competitive Analysis

We list down some more notable free tools which can help you with your social media audit:

WildFireApp : Social Media audience growth for Facebook, Twitter and Google+

TwitterCounter: Basic Twitter stats like Followers, Following, Tweets for any Twitter account

FollowerWonk: Another Moz gem which analyses Twitter profiles along with audience level analysis and comparison feature of upto 3  Twitter accounts.

CircleCount: Helps you with the statistics of Google+ Brand pages i.e: Follower growth

Topsy: Check earned and owned mentions of your brand viz a viz your competitors to judge the overall chatter & sentiment around the Industry

Topsy Mentions

Twtrland: Check out activity and engagement activity of Twitter accounts with an additional search and tag functionality for influencer identification with Twtrland.

Also, check out the review of the Professional version of Twtrland

Web Ranking Tools

These tools provide you competitive intelligence on websites for companies to help in consumer segmentation.

Alexa

Alexa is the most popular website benchmarking tool used for browsing through the popularity of a website. The estimated numbers on Traffic, bounce rate are a fair indicator of a website’s popularity compared to other. You can get a ‘Global’ and Country based rank of the website along with demographics information around a website.

Alexa Competitive Intelligence

SimilarWeb

SimilarWeb goes a step beyond Alexa to give traffic sources along with the top referring domains to the respective website. The Traffic sources are given in detail (which keywords work for the website) along with the social referral traffic estimation. The interface is also a lot cleaner and attractive than Alexa.

SimilarWeb competitor analysis

Bonus Tools

  • Marketing Grader: Try Marketing Grader by Hubspot measures your website for parameters related to blogging, SEO and social media giving an overall score to your website URL.
  • Mention: Mention can be used for monitoring the web including blogs, forums and social networks with results delivered to your inbox depending on the frequency selected by you. The free alerts can be used for monitoring any new mention of your Brad vis a vis your competitors to always keep a tab on the real time results.
  • Google Alerts: Google Alerts lets you set up an alert and have the latest news about the keyword delivered to you inbox. Works similar to Mention but covers a wider range of content on the web.

There are tons of other tools whether free or paid which you can use for your competitors audit besides the ones listed above. Any tool which I have missed and you would recommend to be included in this list?

Let me know in the comments

Featured Image Source: Flickr

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A Social Media Junkie and a ‘So Called’ Guitarist.Loves to read content related to Music & Digital Media. Manchester United Supporter. Social Media Manager by Day and Batman by night.

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