If you’re not systematically researching your competitors activities you know less than your customers. This is a dangerous place to be. The following techniques will help quickly find out what your competitors are doing to make money online. And it gets better, all the techniques described are free.

It’s all about the keywords.

When it comes to competitive research, keywords are the most important area you should look at. Discovering keywords that make money for other people means you find profitable keywords without any heavy lifting. If you already have your own keywords, you will discover keywords your competitors haven’t thought of. And this is great information to have up your sleeve.

There’s a handful of keyword software out there, some good, some bad, but the goal is to get a general idea of keywords they’re targeting. SpyFu is a great (freemium) browser based service where you can spy on both your competitors organic and paid keywords. If you want something a bit more in-depth, Market Samurai offers a trial of their powerful keyword analysis software for free. Use these tools and you can uncover the keywords your competitors are targeting.

It’s also about the backlinks.

I just said keywords are the most important part for competitive research. I lied. Shame on me.

Back links (combined with keywords) are probably the biggest factor in achieving rankings. To get an idea where you stand you need to know how many backlinks your competitors have. If you only have a small fraction of links you have your work cut out for you.

Seomoz’s great—and free—Open Site Explorer tool lets you do just this. If you want the full set of stats, open a free trial account & you can access the full suite of tools offered by SEOMOZ for a month. Cancel your account before the month ends and you don’t have to pay a dime.

And it has something to do with the rankings.

Rankings in the search engines aren’t everything. Hey I said it. Rankings are a means to an end. You want to get rankings to get traffic. Not the other way around. Don’t get caught up on who ranks for what.

Saying that, there’s a handful of free and paid you can use if you want the lowdown on the search engine rankings your competitors have achieved. SEODigger is fast and free and gives you a brief overview of rankings. If you want a more powerful ranking research tool you can upgrade to a paid version of SEMRUSH which has no limit and will literally give you a report on thousands of rankings your competitors have.

And traffic is pretty important too.

Wouldn’t you love to sneak a peek at your competitor’s Google Analytics. Unfortunately you can’t. The closest you can get is creating estimates using software. And most the software available gives estimates so inaccurate they’re not worth using at all.

Enter Doubleclick’s Ad Planner tool. This tool is FANTASTIC for estimating traffic. Presumably because it’s getting data from the Google network somewhere.

If you enter a web site into the tool and it returns no results, that’s a good sign—it means your competitor doesnt get enough traffic to create an estimate.

Don’t forget about the prices

Competitive pricing isn’t always the most profitable strategy. If you and your competitors continually drop prices you’ll eventually lose your profit margins! This doesn’t mean it’s okay to be ignorant about who is entering your market. Set up Google Alerts to notify you each time someone gets a new ranking in the search results for your products. Now you will always know when someone is selling a competing product in your market and for what price.


By all means use these tips. But remember only focusing on making a bad world for your competitors isn’t a sustainable strategy. Focus on making a better experience for your web site visitors and you will always come out ahead.

By ecommercemarketer