Whether you work in-house or for an agency, you’ll no doubt have been asked “so, what are our competitors doing?” and “how can we get an upper hand?” at some point in your digital marketing career. Traditionally, keeping track of competitor movements has been a bit of a manual affair, but nowadays there are a number of tricks and tools to help you stay ahead of the game.
Here, we’ll look through 3 of the best and easiest competitor analysis and monitoring methods.
Many marketers use Feedly to keep on top of industry news, learn more about topics they’re interested in or to find inspiration. It’s easy to overlook a key function of Feedly that can make sure you’re always on top of what your competitors are up to.
Keyword Alerts, as pictured below, enables you to receive a feed of competitor brand mentions via Google News sources. The best thing about it is that you can get really specific and drill down using search operators to ensure you only see what you want to see.
Feedly search operators
Quotation marks — Search for an exact phrase by adding quotation marks around the word or phrase.
AND — To look for two words or phrases within an article to make your monitoring even more specific, you can add AND between them. The alert will then fire whenever both phrases mentioned in the same piece.
minus — Really useful for weeding out stuff you’re not interested in; add the minus sign (-) to exclude anything after it from the alert. For example: [the crown -jewels]
There shouldn’t be a space between the minus sign and the following word.
OR — Add OR between two words or phrases to the have the alert fire when either of the terms is found in an article.
intitle: — Use intitle: before a word or phrase to limit the alerts’ search to the article headline only. There should be no space between intitle: and the following word or phrase.
Once you’ve previewed your alert and are happy it’ll give you what you want, hit the ‘follow’ button and hey presto – you’ve got a quick and easy competitor spy feed, ready for you to check in on it at your convenience. That’s it, unless you want to tweak, delete or add to the alert.
For additional coverage, set up a Google Alert for the same term and select the “delivery to RSS” option. This lets you take the RSS URL, drop it into Feedly and track the whole of Google for mentions.
If your competitors publish regularly on their own site, you can also track this by dropping their domain into the Website section of the alert setup window, see below.
Whilst Ahrefs has some of the best backlink analysis capabilities in the business, one of it’s more overlooked tools is the Rank Tracker. It’s simple to set up and is a great way of seeing how you perform against your top 5 competitors, without having to switch profiles or track competitor keywords separately.
Being able to track only 5 competitors may seem limiting, but if you’re looking too closely at any more than that, you may be stretching yourself too thin. It’s easy to see, at a glance, how your site competes and how your vertical is shifting.
Setup is quick and easy, just follow the steps below:
- Navigate to the Rank Tracker Tool and click ‘Add New’ in the top left corner.
- Fill in your project details. Hit ‘next’.
- Paste the keywords you want to track. Ahrefs will often suggest keywords based on what you currently rank for. You can also import keywords via csv or lists elsewhere in Ahrefs.
- Click ‘next’, then you can add your competitors’ domains. Again, Ahrefs provides some suggestions here of who your competitors may be. Choose wisely, make sure that you track competitors who target your market, appear for your key terms and preferably compete against you both offline and online. Once you’ve finished adding keywords, click ‘Add to list’ and then add a location.
- Hit ‘finish’ and your new rank project should appear in your Dashboard. Navigate back to the Rank Tracker and you should see your new tracking entry there. It’ll take a little time to populate with data.
Whilst Ahrefs’ other tools are great for on the spot and more in-depth competitor analysis, having the Rank Tracker running means you can always drop in to check on rankings, visibility and SERP features. You can even set up email notifications at intervals that suit you, so you don’t even need to remember to check the stats yourself.
This tool does exactly what it says on the tin, and then some. It monitors your backlink profile compared to two competitors (more on bigger plans), gives the Moz DA and Moz Rank score, Page Speed Score, Spam Flags and Trust Flow. The interface is excellent, the data laid out in an easy to understand and accessible way.
Backlink tracking can be a headache, but Monitor Backlinks can massively smooth out the process. Once signed up, your account is automatically set to send you regular reports so you can relax knowing that you’ve got backlinks and status code monitoring straight to your inbox.
So now you’ve got some easy ways to monitor three key competitors stats: brand mentions, rankings and backlinks. I’d love to hear your suggestions on how to make competitor analysis more simple and less time consuming, feel free to add these in the comments!