What are your competitors up to?

Far too many marketing managers overestimate the capabilities and resources of their competitors. On many occasions I’ve said to people: “I know that company, and they’re not doing things as well as you are” …and been met by complete surprise.

However, keeping tabs on what other people are doing can reveal some interesting opportunities. Here are a few free tools which you might want to take a look at.

The “Most Shared” tool at Buzzsumo (limited free uses) may prove to you that it’s possible to get widely-shared content even for quite technical terms. You might be surprised at the competitors who’ve managed to do this.

SEMrush (free, registration required) monitors paid and organic appearances in Google and offers fascinating insights into what competitors are up to. I’ve tested it with some of our clients, and its reports on what we’re doing can be very close to reality. SpyFu (free) does something similar, and is also well worth a look.

Google AdWords can provide some interesting data about competitors too, through its Auction Insights tool. Most people don’t realise this information is available: just look for the ‘Auction Insights’ tab, which is more prominent in the new AdWords interface. Not only will this report show you impression share and average ad position for competitors, you can also see how often your ads are displayed alongside the competitor’s and how often you were outranked by them.

Finally, take a look at Wordstream’s Keyword Tool (free, registration useful). Primarily this gives you lists of related keywords which you can investigate to see if competitors are making the most of them. But it can also work by domain name, giving you lists of keywords associated with a website.