What are your competitors doing to get the results you aren’t getting?
Answering that question may mean the difference between accelerated growth and sliding further into irrelevancy.
But you won’t uncover any secrets to their SEO, content, or email strategies by sleuthing alone.
Like any good spy, you need certain gadgets or tools to detect the moves your competitors are making and use that information to your advantage. This is true for any business, whether you’re conducting competitive analysis for software products or any other vertical.
In this post, we’ll show you 9 of the best competitor analysis tools to spy on your rivals across 3 categories:
By the end, you’ll have a list of tools you can start using today to gain deep insights into what’s working for everyone else, and how you can do the same to improve the results of your current marketing.
The following lists cover some of the best tools for competitor analysis we’ve found. It’s not an exhaustive list, but it’s enough to get any business started.
Every business wants to rank higher in search results, so we’re going to look at tools for understanding how your competitors are doing SEO first.
Then we’ll move into tools that let you see the inbound content marketing your competitors are doing, which is closely related to SEO.
We’ll end with a few tools for checking out your competitors’ emails and ads – the “direct” advertising of your competitors to see the messaging that’s working for them and how you can tailor these insights to your marketing campaigns.
Let’s get started!
SEMRush is one of the most popular and widely used SEO tools by businesses in virtually every category.
SEMRush isn’t a single tool, it’s a suite of tools for doing competitive analysis.
Their “Market Explorer” tools lets you see your competitors. You probably know some of your competitors, but this tool lets you many more.
In fact, you only need to know one of your competitors to start. Enter their name in the search bar and SEMRush will generate a list of the top domains for the companies relevant to your industry. Then it will break down the “traffic share” for each of them, and pinpoint exactly where their traffic is coming from.
Using SEMRush’s main keyword research tool, you can find the best keywords that your competitors are currently ranking for and the specific types of content they’re using to rank organically. You’ll even see the search terms real users are typing into Google and other search engines to find that content.
If you need an all-around SEO tool to dominate search, SEMRush should be your go-to.
Searchmetrics is a comprehensive suite of software products that enable you to outperform your competitors in the search engines.
No matter how small or large your operations, Searchmetrics lets you see the local, regional, and global impact of your current SEO strategy and that of your competitors. You can see how you’re performing in 130+ countries, 1000+ locations, devices, and search engines.
Searchmetrics delivers in-depth reports to give you a full picture of your SEO efforts. Tracking your performance like this allows you to identify emerging trends and make strategic decisions. They even show you exactly how each page on your website is performing and how to improve them individually.
Of course, Searchmetrics wouldn’t be on a list of the best competitor analysis tools if it didn’t allow you to monitor your competition. You can track the other players in your space, find new ones you haven’t heard of yet, and benchmark against those you’re trying to outcompete.
SpyFu is a very popular tool amongst top marketers that researches and downloads the most profitable keywords used by your competitors.
SpyFu is unique in that it delivers both organic search and paid ad keywords your competitors are using to outrank you – which you can use to improve your SEO performance.
SpyFu is so easy to use, all you have to do is enter the domain of one of your competitors and you’ll be shown every keyword they’ve ever bought on Google Adwords, every keyword they’re organically ranking for, and every ad variation they’ve tried in the past 13 years.
Or, you could use the “3-way” competitor keyword research tool and see the profitable keywords 3 of your competitors are ranking for and why you’re not.
You also get to see the content that’s organically ranking and the backlinks they have that’s helping them rank so highly.
SpyFu also lets you monitor your SEO rankings in your niche. If there’s any change, up or down in organic rankings, you’ll know. And if there’s a competitor on your heels, SpyFu will find them.
BuzzSumo is the premier competitor analysis tool for discovering the top-performing content from your competition across relevant topics to your brand. It shows you the level of engagement for each piece of content and its total shares across the web.
The most relevant feature from BuzzSumo for you is their alerts.
You can set up alerts for all of your competitors’ content to keep you informed on their latest published pieces after they go live.
You can also set keyword alerts to be alerted when content is published with specific keywords contained inside. Many companies use this to track mentions of their brand across the web or competitors’ brand names.
And you can set link alerts that notify you whenever a site publishes a piece of content that contains a link to a specific domain, yours or anyone else’s.
Setting up these alerts lets you generate reports on your competitors’ content strategies and rework your own to grab more attention from your audience.
SimilarWeb is a powerful analysis tool that approximates how many unique visitors your competitors generate from their content each month. This is extremely difficult to accomplish, but SimilarWeb delivers some of the most accurate insights of any other tool like it.
Like other tools on this list, getting started is a matter of inputting a competitor’s URL and letting the software do its magic. Plus, you can compare traffic stats from two or more competitors.
But SimilarWeb does more than just tell you how much traffic a site gets, it also tells you from where the traffic is coming. Is it organically from search? Maybe social media? Or perhaps from paid ads?
If you operate a similar business or sell similar products, knowing the best place to market and grab attention is critical for long-term growth online.
SimilarWeb can even drill down even deeper into the demographic data of the traffic flowing to your competitors’ sites and your own.
If you want to understand everything you can about your audience, then SimilarWeb can help.
Feedly is a content aggregation platform that tracks, records, and organizes content as it is published from virtually any content producer across the web.
As a competitor analysis tool, you can use it to track the content published by your competitors and industry trends all in one easy-to-see dashboard. This includes their Google keyword alerts tool to get news updates on specific brands, products, and even your clients.
But aggregating content is far from the only feature Feedly provides.
You can do deep research on competitors’ content, save the most important articles to private “boards,” and annotate them with notes and highlights to save.
If you’re tracking content with a team, you can integrate Slack and email notifications to comment and discuss the content you gather.
Feedly works on everything: phone, tablet, or laptop through apps or the cloud.
And if you’re browsing the web or doing your own research and see a piece of content worth saving, the Feedly Browser Add-on lets you grab it and store it.
Owletter is another aggregation tool, but instead of published content, it organizes your competitors’ emails in a user-friendly dashboard.
Before Owletter, many companies would create dummy email accounts to spy on the email campaigns of the competition.
With Owletter, you can see all the emails sent from a website to their mailing list. The software screenshots the email, stores it, and alerts you if it’s important.
Seeing what your competitors’ are doing well – or failing to do well – gives you the advantage. You can fill in the gaps with your own email campaigns and mimic their best practices.
You’ll gain a ton of insights about your competitors:
Plus so much more.
And every email you capture from your competition is stored forever so your entire team can access and analyze what you’ve aggregated.
iSpionage is easily one of the best competitor analysis tools on this list. In a nutshell, it lets you spy on your competitors’ paid ads.
It analyzes many different aspects of a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign, including the number of keywords being targeted by a competitor in AdWords.
iSpionage lets you see who is competing for PPC ads for a certain topic and provides an estimate on their monthly budget.
iSpionage gives you access to 7 years of PPC and SEO keyword data from the top search engines, Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Combine this with their “Keyword Effectiveness Index” (KEI) and you can add the most profitable keywords to your campaign in minutes.
With these insights, you have a much higher chance to improve your click-through-rate (CTR) and cost-per-click (CPC).
Plus, iSpionage does track the SEO terms your competitors are ranking for, and you can use this data to improve your SEO and ad spend efforts.
Mailcharts is another email marketing aggregation tool that tracks campaigns from competitors you can use to improve your own.
Mailcharts is unique in that it features its own growing library of email marketing campaigns and instructs you on best practices regarding times to send, how often to email, the length of the subject line, and so on.
It also gives you insight into competitors’ segmentation strategies.
You can compare the targeted messages you’re sending to theirs and get a better understanding of how to segment and custom-tailor email campaigns to different groups of subscribers. Along the same lines, you gain access to transactional and triggered emails that help you understand how your competition drives higher conversion.
What’s the end goal of spying on your competitors?
To grow your audience and gain more market share.
But that comes from creating superior content and marketing it better than your competitors.
The tools on this list will tell you the topics and keywords for the content you should be creating, along with the types of content your audience wants.
They’ll also give you insights into how to better market your content.
But what kind of content should you create?
If you want to create content the majority of internet users prefer, then we suggest doing visual content marketing.
How do you create visual content?
That’s what we’re here for.
CloudApp brings annotated screenshots, a GIF creator, and a free screen recorder to the cloud in an easy-to-use, enterprise-grade app so you can quickly create and share visual content.
We help you:
Plus, CloudApp has been ranked by G2 Crowd as one of the top sales enablement tools.
Discover why CloudApp should be combined with some of the best competitor analysis tools on this list today.