5 Free SEO Tools to Help You Analyze the Competition
In recent years, many marketers have come to the sad realization that the effectiveness of marketing tactics such as print ads and trade shows is fading fast. Rather than paying for pricey print ads that their customers will probably never see, many marketers have begun moving their promotions online to generate new sales leads.
According to a 2013 study by the Business Marketing Association and Omobono, digital marketing now accounts for 42% of B2B marketing expenditures. But, digital marketing success requires more than an attractive website. You also have to make sure that customers and prospects can find your company online. That’s where search engine optimization (SEO) comes in.
If you’re just getting started with SEO, the task can seem daunting. From finding the right keywords to locating legitimate inbound linking opportunities (that Google won’t penalize your website for), SEO can be extremely time-consuming if you don’t know how to go about it. Luckily, there are some fantastic competitive analysis tools that you can use to reverse engineer the websites of other companies in your industry – and jump-start your SEO efforts.
If you’re not sure how to begin your competitive analysis, the HubSpot Marketing Grader is a real fine place to start. This free tool will analyze your website and provide actionable insights that you can use to improve your digital marketing. You can also enter the URLs of your company’s main competitors – and receive the same data about their websites! In addition, Marketing Grader assigns each website an overall “grade” (on a scale of 1-100), which is based on a combination of factors, including SEO, blogging, social media, lead generation, and mobile.
Whether you’re brand new to SEO – or an old pro – a picture truly can be worth a thousand words. Especially when it is a picture of the most frequently used keywords on your competitor’s web site! If you would like to see which keywords a competitor is using – and how often they use them – Tag Crowd can help. Simply input any URL, and Tag Crowd will generate a word cloud of the keywords that the site contains. Here’s what the word cloud for www.boomm.com looks like:
The size of each word in the cloud indicates keyword density (i.e., the bigger the word, the more often it is being used on the website).
Alexa offers you a way to go beyond keywords to reverse engineer your competition. Simply enter the URL of any website and Alexa will provide a variety of traffic information and site statics, including:
- The website’s global and U.S. traffic ranking
- Analytic data, including the website’s bounce rate, page views per visitor and average time on site
- Audience demographics, including gender, education and browsing location
- Visits due to search engines, including 5 of the top keywords that bring visitors to the website
If you want to dig deeper into your competitor’s keywords, be sure to give KeywordSpy a try. Simply enter your competitor’s URL, and this tool will give you a list of the organic keywords that their website is currently ranked for in Google – as well as any pay-per-click keywords they have used and the text of PPC ads they’ve run recently. While KeywordSpy does provide some information for free, if you’re really serious about SEO it’s well worth the monthly fee to gain full access to all of your competitor’s keywords.
Open Site Explorer
While keywords are a big part of SEO, the recent Google Hummingbird algorithm update has made off-page SEO more important than ever. Off-page SEO refers to your site’s overall “authority” on the web, which is determined by what other websites say about – and how often they link to – your website. You can use Open Site Explorer to see the domain authority and inbound links of any website. Best of all, if you enter your competitors’ URLs, this site will provide a list of the inbound links to their website (including URLs). You can use this information to request links from the same websites – or similar organizations.