Free Internet Marketing & Search Engine Marketing Competitive Research Tools
Overview: These are free and paid tools which will help you determine how large a competitor's traffic stream is, and which search terms are sending them the most traffic. Watch this video for a brief introduction to using the following tools.
Competitive research tools can help you find a baseline for what to do & where to enter a market. Before spending a dime on SEO (or even buying a domain name for a project), it is always worth putting in the time to get a quick lay of the land & learn from your existing competitors.
- Seeing which keywords are most valuable can help you figure out which areas to invest the most in.
- Seeing where existing competitors are strong can help you find strategies worth emulating. While researching their performance, it may help you find new pockets of opportunities & keyword themes which didn't show up in your initial keyword research.
- Seeing where competitors are weak can help you build a strategy to differentiate your approach.
Enter a competing URL in the above search box & you will quickly see where your competitors are succeeding, where they are failing & get insights on how to beat them. SEMrush offers:
- granular data across the global Bing & Google databases, along with over 2-dozen regional localized country-specific Google databases (Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States)
- search volume & ad bid price estimates by keyword (which, when combined, function as an estimate of keyword value) for over 120,000,000 words
- keyword data by site or by page across 74,000,000 domain names
- the ability to look up related keywords
- the ability to directly compare domains against one another to see relative strength
- the ability to compare organic search results versus paid search ads to leverage data from one source into the other channel
- the ability to look up sites which have a similar ranking footprint as an existing competitor to uncover new areas & opportunities
- historical performance data, which can be helpful in determining if the site has had manual penalties or algorithmic ranking filters applied against it
- a broad array of new features like tracking video ads, display ads, PLAs, backlinks, etc.
While their tool is a paid service, the above search box still allows you to get a great sampling of their data for free. SEMrush is easily our favorite competitive research tool. We like their tool so much we also license their data to offer our paying subscribers a competitive research tool powered by their database.
Our Competitive Research Tool (Powered by SEMrush)
SEO Book Competitive Research Tool - What keywords are competing businesses ranking for? Which of them get the most search volume? Which of them has the greatest value? Should you target those keywords as well? Find out with our competitive research tool, which comes as a free bonus when you join our SEO training program.
SEO Toolbar - Add useful marketing data (like link details, site age, site size) right at the top of your browser.
SEO for Firefox
SEO for Firefox - Import useful marketing data (like link details, site age, site size) right into Google and Yahoo search results.
General Competitive Research Tools
- Alexa - shows traffic trends for competing websites. Alexa has a heavy webmaster bias that is nowhere near as noticeable at Compete or Quantcast. Here is an in-depth Alexa review & you can download a list of their top 1,000,000 websites.
- Quantcast - shows site traffic and demographic trends and details. Also allows you to download a list of their top 1,000,000 websites.
- Google Trends for Websites - free tool from Google showing traffic estimates, visitor country location, top 10 related websites, and top 10 related keywords. Only returns data for fairly high traffic websites though. Google also offers an Ad Planner, but it only shows data for sites in the Google display network.
- NetPeak Checker - desktop software which pulls in market research data from various 3rd party sources.
- URL Profiler - a similar service to NetPeak, which is a paid product & pulls in more data sources.
- SeoTools for Excel - free Excel spreadsheet with many SEO-related features baked into it.
- 90 DataGrabber - Excel spreadsheet which interfaces with the Majestic & SEMRush APIs to pull in competitive research data. Overview video here. While it is free, it requires you to have paid accounts at Majestic or SEMRush to fully use it.
- SEOGadget for Excel - another Excel-based suite of SEO tools.
- RankTank - a collection of Google Drive / Google Docs spreadsheets for common SEO functions like rank checking. There is also a simple SEO audit tool based on Google Docs.
- Archive.org - see how old a website is & what it looked like in the past.
- DomainTools - see Whois data and how many times a domain has changed hands.
Paid Competitive Research Tools
- SEMRush - competitive research tool covering both AdWords & organic search results, adding data like keyword value and keyword volume to ranking data. In addition to tracking Google's global search results, they also track Bing & about a dozen different regional / country specific Google result sets. Full SEM Rush review here & we also secured a free 2-week trial code you can use here.
- SpyFu - shows terms that competitors are buying or ranking for in the organic search results. Some of their best features are: a visual SERP snapshot for keywords going back for nearly a decade (so you can visualize how the search result layouts have changed as Google has entered more verticals), unlimited data download (many tools cap your depth) & AdWords ad copy tracking. They track the US & UK markets. Here is an in-depth SpyFu review.
- Compete.com - competitive research tool showing keywords that send competing sites the most traffic. Rather than scraping search results to track rankings, it looks at US clickstream data from ISPs, a panel of users & those that have their toolbar installed. Here is an in-depth Compete review.
- SimilarWeb - newer start up similar to Compete.com, tracking a global data set. competitive research tool providing upstream & downstream traffic data for websites with data on numerous international markets.
- Jumpshot - tool by Avast which leverages their user data to create a similar offering to Compete.com or SimilarWeb.
- HitWise - similar to Compete.com Search Analytics, but costs about $10,000 and up.
- KeyCompete - shows keywords that competitors are buying
- KeywordSpy - similar to KeyCompete, but with more data - including cached ad copy and affiliate data. Here is an in-depth Keyword Spy review.
- iSpionage - similar to KeywordSpy. Here is an in depth iSpionage review.
- SearchMetrics - offers SERP ranking data & link data. Provides historical ranking data, as well. Primarily focused on enterprise-level clients, but has a more accessible lower cost Essentials level.
- Sistrix - similar to SearchMetrics
- GetStat - enterprise focused competitive research tool
- SEMPhonic - tracks keyword rankings and provides competitive reporting
- Trellian Competitive Intelligence - shows keywords that competitors rank for and keywords that send them significant traffic.
Research the Competition's Keyword Strategy
View our keyword research tools section, or use some of the following free tools to get a view of their keyword strategy.
- Keyword Density Analysis Tool - finds common words and phrases on your site, or competing websites.
- Page Comparison Tool - tool compares the page titles, meta information, and most common two and three word phrases between different pages.
- Spider Test Tool - shows the page size, source code, meta tags, page title, textual copy of the page, keyword breakdown by density (including 2 and 3 word phrases), number of words, number of unique words, and outbound links on a page.'
- Buzzsumo - highlights popular & widely shared content on social networks matching a keyword you search for, showing viral stories on Twitter, Facebook & other networks.
Research the Competition's Display Ad Strategy
Research the Competition's Link Strategy
View our link analysis section, or use some of the following free tools to get a view of their link strategy.
- SEO Book Competitive Research & Keyword Research Gadget - use almost every useful competitive research tool from our free gadget. You can place this gadget on your site or on iGoogle.
- Link Harvester - web based tool that allows you to dig deeply through a competitor's backlinks
- Link Popularity Comparison Tool - allows you to quickly and easily compare your link popularity scores to other websites.
- Ahrefs - newer player to the market similar to OSE & Majestic. Combines strong data depth & a great usabile interface deep in features. (click here for 50% off your first month)
- Majestic SEO - link anchor index that allows you to download the link profile for any site...going thousands or millions of links deep!
- Open Site Explorer - similar to Majestic SEO, but with an easier to use interface and perhaps a few less filters. Database is not as large, but it also doesn't have as much outdated data as one would find in Majestic SEO's database.
- Competition Finder - tool looks at how many competing pages there are in Google's index that have your desired keywords in their page title and anchor text.
- SEO Link Analysis Script - extend Yahoo! Site Explorer and Google Webmaster Central using this free script from Joost De Valk. It verifies the link is still on the page, adds PageRank scores, displays anchor text, and highlights if the link uses nofollow.
- Search Engine Saturation Tool - helps you compare how many pages you have in the search indexes compared against competing sites.
- Back Link Analyzer- free Windows based downloadable software allowing you to deeply explore through a competitor's backlinks. powered by the Yahoo! API, so it might be a bit spotty, but it is not bad for free.
Tools to crawl through competing sites.
- Xenu Link Sleuth - Downloadable software which makes it fast and easy to find broken links on your site.
- Netpeak Spider - a Xenu alternative.
- Screaming Frog SEO Spider - similar to Xenu Link Sleuth with a lot more features. Free on smaller sites and has a paid premium version.
- Scrapebox - desktop-based web crawling software
- Deep Crawl - hosted crawling solution.
- 80 Legs - web-based crawling service
- Mozenda - web scraping software
From the Search Engines
- Google Traffic Estimator - estimates the number of Google AdWords ad clicks and bid prices for the top ad position.
- Google AdWords - if you bid broad match on competing brands you can track your ad impressions to see how much traffic they get.
- Google AdSense - if your competitor is running AdSense ads on their site you can run a site targeted ad to see how much traffic they are getting.
- Bing Ads Intellegence is a powerful SEM plugin for Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010 & 2013 which is quite remarkable.
Competitive Research & Keyword Research Extensions
- Browser extensions which make it easy for you to access cool free SEO tools from anywhere on the web.
- SEO Book Gadgets - add free link analysis, competitive research, and keyword research tools to any web page or iGoogle.
- Google Toolbar Buttons - Allows you to add quick links to SEO tools and RSS feeds to the Google toolbar. They only works with the new beta Internet Explorer version of the Google Toolbar.
- Firefox Bookmarks - Links to various useful free SEO tools that you can add to your Firefox bookmarks toolbar.
Companies that focus on the competition too much instead of adding value to their offerings actually end up destroying their own profit margins, but almost any successful & differentiated business can drastically increase its profit margins by leveraging the above tools.
Know Any Other Tools Worth Suggesting?
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