10 Free Tools to Peep on Your Competitor's Inbound Marketing Efforts

by Dustin Hall

competitor-marketing-research

Getting "the dirt" on your competitors is an art as old as business itself, yet the tools we use to do this digging have changed dramatically...and for the better.

Some of the methods used to peek in on your competitors are simple - like visiting their websites, following them on social media or even downloading some of their content (tisk, tisk, you data skewing devil, you). But what about tools that can give us a more comprehensive or creative look into our competitor's inbound marketing activities?

Here are 10 free online tools to help you take a peek at what your competitors are up to. Note that almost all of them have some form of a paid version, but all tools listed can deliver serious value in their free version.

1. SpyFu

Used for Researching: Keywords and AdWords

SpyFu is a popular tool that focuses heavily on your competitors keywords - primarily which ones they are targeting for AdWords and organic search over the last 6 years. Pretty powerful stuff! The free version will let you check out the top 5 results for each and the paid version will get you the rest.

competitor research spyfu

2. SimilarWeb

Used for Researching: Web Traffic

SimilarWeb allows you to get web traffic information on any of your competitor's websites, along with some added bonuses regarding visitor engagement and sources. 

3. Google Alerts

Used for Researching: Online Mentions & Keywords

Google Alerts is a super simple tool that allows you to get reports of mentions about your competitors. Just type in their name in the search bar of the tool, set the parameters and let the data flow in to your inbox!

competitor research google alerts

4. Google Keyword Planner

Used for Researching: Keywords

Yet another fine tool from the big brains over at Google, Keyword Planner offers a ton of useful keyword info. It's not something to directly research your competitors, per se, but you can research your competitor's keywords. * Note that this is a free AdWords tool, so you'll need an AdWords account (also free) to use it. 

5. Open Site Explorer

Used for Researching: Backlinks

Open Site Explorer is a product offered by Moz (one of the most reputable companies in the online marketing/SEO space). It allows you pull up fairly granular details on the link building efforts of your competition, which includes Page Authority, Domain Authority and even anchor text.

competitor research moz ose

6. Majestic SEO

Used for Researching: Backlinks

Majestic SEO is a product similar to Moz's OSE above, allowing you to gain insight into your competitor's backlink profile. This includes history, anchor text, backlink type and Majectic's own metrics - Trust Flow & Citation Flow.

7. SocialMention

Used for Researching: Competitor & Keyword Mentions

SocialMention does exactly what it's name implies, show you mentions of your competitor's name or keywords from within social, blogs, videos, images, etc. Use this tool, it's awesome.

competitor research socialmention

8. SEMRush

Used for Researching: Keywords

Another wildly popular tool for researching keywords, is SEMRush. The difference with this free tool is that it is built specifically for competitor research. It covers traffic rank, organic keywords, paid keywords, backlinks and more. A very comprehensive tool for those looking to get a ton of data from a single resource.

9. SpyOnWeb

Used for Researching: IP Address

SpyOnWeb is primarily focused on revealing IP address information, including other domains using that same IP address. It will also show you basic info regarding sources and Alexa traffic rank (covered in #10).

competitor research spyonweb

10. Alexa

Used for Researching: Web Rankings

Alexa is one of the longest standing, most reputable tools out there for competitor research. In fact, many other tools, like HubSpot, Moz and others pull ranking data directly from Alexa. It's a comprehensive resource for traffic, engagement, demographics, backlinks and many other metrics.

Final Thoughts on Competitor Research Tools

The truth is that you don't have to use any of the above tools to perform research on your competition. They simply make it easier for you, scraping together data more quickly and formatting it into a more palatable fashion.

It's also important to note that these aren't the only tools available, either. There are dozens, if not hundreds of them out there. These just happen to be some of the most vetted (and free) resources made available to today's marketers.

Have your own recommendations? Let us know in the comments below!

Related Article: Inbound Marketing & SEO: Their Relationship Simplified

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