Ultimate List of Competitor Research and Spy Tools

We wrote a post on researching your competitors earlier this week.

To supplement that, we put together a comprehensive list of 40 free and paid tools to help you dissect your competitor’s search, advertising, conversion, content, and social media strategies.

For each tool, we’ll cover the following:

  1. Break down it’s pros and cons.
  2. Show you how you can to use it.
  3. It’s pricing.

So you can make the best decision for your online store.

Here is the list, enjoy!

Tools for a high-level view of your competitors

1. Website Review from WooRank – WooRank is a goal-based tracking tool that makes intelligent suggestions based on what you’re trying to achieve. You can set your goals by creating a project, then track your progress versus your competitor’s progress based on the goals you’ve set.

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Pro(s): It’s goal-driven, which means you are not just getting general feedback.

Con(s): You have to pay for the service and sometimes the suggestions are a bit cookie cutter; make sure you take the suggestions and put it in the goal’s context.

How should you use WooRank for competitor research?

  • Use it to spy on your competitors’ progress in context of your goal.
  • If you are not marketing savvy, you can use WooRank for basic suggestions, so you can save money on consultants for the basic stuff.

Pricing: There are 2 plans available.

  • Pro Plan for $49/month: with 1 advanced review, unlimited website reviews and no PDF download.
  • Premium Plan for $149/month: with 5 advanced reviews, unlimited website reviews and white-label PDF download.

Both plans are available with a 7-day unlimited free trial.

2. SpyOnWeb – SpyWeb is a tool that provides you with backend information such as IP Address, pagerank (Google’s way of ranking your site’s authority), other domains under the same IP, and DNS servers.

Pro(s): It provides you with advanced site information.

Con(s): Most of the information provided is not actionable.

How should you use SpyOnWeb for competitor research?

  • Use it to spy on the traffic source of your competitors; find out how many visitors come from direct, search or referral traffic.
  • Check out competitors’ pagerank and Alexa rank.
  • Use it to find additional domains that are used by the same owner; sometimes you can find landing pages hosted on separate domains.

Pricing: The tool is available for free; however, for deeper research on your competition you’ll need to use Similar Web.

3. Alexa – Alexa, which is owned by Amazon, is an analytics tool that provides commercial web traffic data. The tool is known for ranking websites based on traffic volume. Alexa ranks well for providing deep analytics of websites such as bounce rate, daily pageviews per visitor, time spent on site, demographics, etc.

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Pro(s): One of the best tools to understand the traffic and the customer audience of your competitor.

Con(s): The free account is very limited and for the best data you’d need to pay.

How would you use it for competitor research?

  • See Alexa rank of your competitor and position in terms of traffic.
  • Tap into competitor’s data such as bounce rate and engagement metrics, like daily page views per visitor and time on site.
  • Find out Competitor audience’s demographic – things like gender, education, browsing location.
  • Learn your competitor ranks in search engines, what his search traffic volume is and which keywords send traffic to his site.
  • Learn which sites link to your competitor’s site.

Pricing: There are 4 plans available.

  • Basic for $9.99/month – very limited plan, lacks traffic sources, organic and paid keyword insights, keyword research, SEO audit, full sites + SEO audit. Designed for websites with up to 10M pageviews/month.
  • Insight for $49/month – limited plan, lacks organic and paid keyword insights, keyword research, full sites + SEO audit. Designed for websites with up to 50 million pageviews/month.
  • Advanced for $149/month: all features. Designed for websites with up to 200 million pageviews/month.
  • Advanced high traffic for $799/month: all features. Designed for websites with up to 1 billion pageviews/month.

All plans except Advanced high traffic include a 7-day free trial.

4. SimilarWeb – SimilarWeb is a freemium service that helps you analyze any website’s traffic data. When you type a website’s URL, it will give you a comprehensive list of data of any site you put in such as global rank, estimated traffic (w/ data range), engagement metrics: time on site, page views and bounce rate, visitor demographic (gender, education, geography, etc.), and  traffic sources (search traffic, social media traffic, referral traffic, and display advertising).

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Pro(s): SimilarWeb provides a very thorough list of traffic data points for any site you want.

Con(s): SimilarWeb has two main downsides. First, all data are only estimates and are therefore inaccurate. Second, you have to pay more for data such as keyword traffic and inbound links.

How should you use SimilarWeb for competitor research?

Based on SimilarWeb’s features and limitations, it’s a great tool to get a high-level view of your competitors’ traffic health. However, don’t count on anything actionable.

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The first thing I do for competitor research is to make a list of all my competitors and put them through SimiarWeb in order to get a good idea of which traffic channel(s) they are doing well in.

Once I determine the traffic channel(s) they are doing well in, I will then take a deeper dive into those channels (using other tools on this list), so I won’t waste my time looking at every part of every competitor.

Pricing: There are 3 plans available.

  • Basic for $199/month: covers 6 months of data, 50 results per website metric, traffic source and engagement metrics, full website comparison.
  • Advanced $499/month: covers 12 months of data, 500 results per website metric, traffic source and engagement metrics, full website comparison, industry analysis.
  • Ultimate $799/month: covers 18 months of data, 1000 results per website metric, traffic source and engagement metrics, full website comparison, industry analysis.

5. Compete Digital Marketing Solutions – This is a tool from Compete, and it works just like SimilarWeb and Alexa. You can use it to analyze a wide array of site information.

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Pro(s): You can connect your analytics for more accurate information on your site.

Con(s): Unlike Similar web, the free version barely gives you anything worthwhile, which means you have to pay. Any data from competitors are estimated, so it may not be accurate. It’s also very expensive.

How should you use Compete for competitor research?

  • Use it for a high-level view of data from any domain.
  • You can also use it to compare multiple site’s data side by side.

Pricing: There are 3 plans available.

  • Intro for $249/month: includes 1 user, detailed traffic data, compare sites, unlimited reports, export functionality, phone support, on-demand training videos.
  • Advanced for $649/month: everything included in Intro + Paid vs Organic Keywords, visitor demographics, incoming & outgoing traffic, custom dashboards.
  • Enterprise with custom pricing: everything included in Intro & Advanced + unlimited users, category data, enterprise training session, competitive landscape report, enterprise reporting tools, custom marketing share category & conversion measurement.

Unfortunately, no free trials are available.

6. Marketing Grader  Marketing grader is a free tool created by HubSpot. It diagnoses your inbound marketing health in the following categories: blogging, social media, SEO, lead generation and mobile. It’s a lead generation tool for HubSpot’s software. However, you can just fill in the URL tab and leave the email blank, and it will still run the analysis for you.

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Pro(s): It provides you information on more in-depth areas of your marketing.

Con(s): The information provided is very limited; for example, under blogging you can only see tweets and Facebook shares from your last 5 blog posts.

How should you use Marketing Grader for competitor research?

  • You can get a basic understanding of how well your competitor’s marketing is performing; each website is ranked on a point scale from 1 to 100.
  • Analyze competitor’s blog and how well it’s doing.
  • Analyze competitor’s social media presence.
  • Analyze competitor’s efforts when it comes to SEO – finding data about image & title tags, meta descriptions, backlinks, indexed pages.
  • Analyze lead generation efforts by finding pages with opt-in forms.
  • To check for mobile site.

Pricing: The tool is available for free.

7. QuickSprout Website Analyzer – QuickSprout website analyzer allows you to understand if your competitor has difficulties getting enough traffic to their website. Allows you to see competitor’s missed opportunities that you can take advantage of.

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You can compare data with your website or with several other competitors at once.

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Pro(s): It gives you key insights on what your competitors are doing right or wrong.

Con(s): The data is a bit inaccurate and not so in-depth.

How would you use this tool for competitor research?

  • SEO analysis – find out how well the competitor’s website is optimized for search engines. Are there any issues with tags, dynamic URLs, meta descriptions, etc.? Which keywords are they using? How many backlinks and indexed pages do they have?
  • Social media analysis – get important statistics like social media shares and engagement.
  • Find out how fast the website loads.
  • Review if they are placing important elements above the fold.
  • Get recommendations for their site that you can use for your own.

Pricing: The tool is available for free.

8. Simply Measured – Simply Measured is a leading social media analytics platform, providing complete measurement and reporting for serious marketers. With these free and premium tools, you can easily analyze the social media presence of your competitors and how well they’re doing.

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Pro(s): Complete solution for analyzing the social media presence of your competitors.

Con(s): Too complex for beginners to use.

How would you use it for competitor research?

  • For in-depth measurement across your owned, earned & paid social media.
  • For analyzing and getting insights on the profiles & social media audiences of your competitors.
  • For analyzing performance of specific campaigns of your competitor.
  • For Cross-Channel Analysis.
  • For Competitive Analysis & Benchmarking.

Pricing: There are 3 plans available.

  • Social for $500/month: includes individual & multiple profile analysis, cross-channel analysis & benchmarking, hashtag & keyword monitoring, customer service effectiveness.
  • Professional for $800/month: everything included in Social + social traffic & web analytics report, Facebook advertising analytics, Facebook global page reports, Twitter audience analytics report for last 100k users.
  • Enterprise with custom pricing: everything included in Social + Professional + Twitter audience analytics report for last 500k users.

Free trial is also available upon request. 

Tools for analyzing competitor’s search strategies

9. Google Keyword Planner  Google Keyword Planner is a tool, part of Google AdWords, created to help advertisers get data about average monthly searchers, competition and bid prices for keywords. The search volume data is based off of the average of last 12 months.

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Pro(s): Allows you to easily identify and implement the keywords working for your competitors.

Con(s): Not useful for finding semantic keywords.

How would you use Google Keyword Planner for your competitor research?

  • Understand which keywords your competitors are using.
  • Check your keywords search volume, competition and potential for your business.

Pricing: The tool is available for free.

10. The Search MonitorA keyword tool that allows you to see every organic listing appearing in the Universal Search Results. You can track keywords and locations.

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Pro(s): Automates the process of finding effective keywords.

Con(s): Very hard to use and understand by beginners and intermediates.

How would you use it for competitor research?

  • Automating the process for generating new keywords from your competitors.
  • Find brand + keywords that you can replicate for your campaigns.

Pricing: When it comes to keyword research there are 4 plans available.

  • Compliance for $249/month: includes 100 custom keywords, SEM & SEO monitoring, SEM compliance monitoring, shopping & PLA monitoring, geo-targeting.
  • PRO for $499/month: includes 250 custom keywords, SEM & SEO monitoring, SEM compliance monitoring, shopping & PLA monitoring, geo-targeting.
  • Shopping Monitoring:  includes 500 custom keywords, SEM & SEO monitoring, SEM compliance monitoring, shopping & PLA monitoring, geo-targeting.
  • Display Monitoring:  includes 500+ custom keywords, SEM & SEO monitoring, SEM compliance monitoring, shopping & PLA monitoring, geo-targeting.

Free trials are currently not available.

11. iSpionageA keyword research and rank monitoring software for both organic and paid search. It allows you to spy on competitors’ keywords and ad copy.

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Pro(s): A great way to size up competing websites and their search marketing efforts.

Con(s): There is only a paid option.

How would you use it for competitor research?

  • Develop profitable keywords lists.
  • Drop CPC by spying on your competitors.
  • Learn how to improve your copy.

Pricing: There are 3 types of plans and pricing depends on if you want to pay yearly or monthly.

Annual plans:

  • Silver for $49/month for yearly subscription: 1,000 searches/day for keyword and domain research for PPC/SEO/Social, alert for up to 5 competitors, 10,000 daily export limit.
  • Gold for $59/month for yearly subscription: 3,000 searches/day for keyword and domain research for PPC/SEO/Social, alert for up to 10 competitors, 50,000 daily export limit, 125 keywords monitored daily.
  • Pro for $79/month for yearly subscription: unlimited searches/day for keyword and domain research for PPC/SEO/Social, alert for up to 20 competitors, 100,000 daily export limit, 250 keywords monitored daily.

Monthly plans:

  • Silver for $59/month for monthly subscription: 1,000 searches/day for keyword and domain research for PPC/SEO/Social, alert for up to 5 competitors, 10,000 daily export limit.
  • Gold for $89/month for monthly subscription: 3,000 searches/day for keyword and domain research for PPC/SEO/Social, alert for up to 10 competitors, 50,000 daily export limit, 125 keywords monitored daily.
  • Pro for $129/month for monthly subscription: unlimited searches/day for keyword and domain research for PPC/SEO/Social, alert for up to 20 competitors, 100,000 daily export limit, 250 keywords monitored daily.

Limited features are available for free.

12. SEMRush – SEMRush is a set of advanced competitor research tools for organic and paid keyword positions, keyword research, and backlink analysis.

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Pro(s): A good package of tools for the price.

Con(s): There are better solutions for backlink analysis.

How would you use it for competitor research?

  • Find out which position your competitors are ranking for certain keywords.
  • Find which keywords your competitors are using, how much search traffic they get from them, and how much their average CPC is.
  • Find out which websites link to your competitors.

Pricing: There are 3 plans available.

  • Pro (1 month payment) for $79.95: 10,000 results per report, 3,000 reports per day, API access 200,000 units, 1 simultaneous session, display advertising research, tracking of 500 keywords and 5 campaigns.
  • Pro (recurring) for $69.95: 10,000 results per report, 3,000 reports per day, API access 200,000 units, 1 simultaneous session, display advertising research, tracking of 500 keywords and 5 campaigns.
  • Guru (recurring) for $149.95: 30,000 results per report, 5,000 reports per day, API access 500,000 units, 3 simultaneous session, display advertising research, tracking of 1500 keywords and 50 campaigns, branded PDF reports, historical data.

Limited features are available for free.

13. SpyFu – SpyFu is a software that allows you to track and download your competitors’ profitable keywords.

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Pro(s): Offer great analytics for keyword research.

Con(s): Finds fewer keywords than other tools.

How would you use it for competitor research?

  • Understand how much your competitors are investing in SEO vs PPC.
  • Get the list of all keywords your competitors bought on AdWords and how they are performing.
  • Get the list of all keywords for which your competitors are ranking.

Pricing: There are 3 plans.

  • Basic for $79/month: includes unlimited keywords and domains results, unlimited data export, tracking 400 keywords, 250 sales leads & domain contacts.
  • Professional for $139/month: includes Basic + full access to UK data, tracking 800 keywords, custom branded reports, includes API access.
  • Agency for $999/month: includes Basic + Professional + unlimited custom reporting, unlimited keyword rank tracking, 10 user login.

Limited features are available for free.

14. Google Alerts – Google Alerts is a tool for monitoring keyword mentions and how the search volume for them is changing with time. You can use it to set up alerts, so you’ll receive an email every time someone mentions your competitor online.

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Pro(s): Very simple to use.

Con(s): Not enough practical value and big delay in response.

How would you use it for competitor research?

  • Monitor mentions for all competitors. Track their company names, brands and products they sell.
  • Find out who links to competitors.
  • Analyze what the media thinks about your competitors.

Pricing: The tool is available for free.

15. Screaming Frog SEO Spider – Screaming Frog SEO Spider is a small desktop program which allows you to quickly analyze, audit and review a site from an onsite SEO perspective.  The tool allows you to export key onsite SEO elements to Excel. Things like: URLs, page titles, meta description, headings, links, etc.

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Pro(s): Allows you to quickly analyze, audit and review a site from an onsite SEO perspective.

Con(s): You need to download the program to use it.

How would you use it for competitor research?

  • Analyze the level of onsite optimization for your competitors.
  • Find out new keywords and ways to improve your copy.
  • Find out ways to optimize your code.

Pricing: There is only 1 plan available.

  • A licence to use the program costs £99 per year: includes unlimited URI crawl, ability to save, re-upload crawls and to search for anything in the source code of a website.

1 licence is for 1 website. Discounts are available for more than 1 purchase.

  • 1-4 bulk licensing: £99 per licence.
  • 5-9 bulk licensing: £89 per licence (10% discount).
  • 10-19 bulk licensing: £79 per licence (20% discount).
  • 20 or more bulk licensing: £69 per licence (30% discount).

16. Domain tools: WhoIs – Who is part of Domain tools and allows you to find out the contact information of the domain owner – both registrant name and organization. You can find data about the hosting provider, name servers, domain age & expiration date, IP address and location, and SEO score.

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Pro(s): Allows you to quickly find information about any domain owner.

Con(s): The information is not actionable enough.

How would you use it for competitor research?

  • Find out who stands behind your competitor’s website.
  • Find out information about hosting provider.
  • Check out SEO score.

Pricing: Most of the functionality is available for free.  The premium features are available when signing up for Domain tools. Currently there are 2 plans available.

  • Professional for $49.95/month: including features like whois lookup, screenshot history, historical lookups, domain monitoring tools, etc.
  • Enterprise with custom pricing: this plan also includes reports and API access.

17. Traffic Travis – Traffic Travis is a desktop software that allows you to track how well your competitors are ranking for certain keywords and if their rankings are improving or decreasing with time.

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Pro(s): One of the best tools for spying on how well your competitors rank in search engines.

Con(s): You can use it only as a desktop software.

How would you use it for competitor research?

  • Perform a full SEO health check on your competitor’s website.
  • Understand why your competitors outrank you.
  • Spot and steal keywords from your competitors that work .

Pricing: There are 2 plans available.

  • Free: includes tracking for 5 projects, 500 words, 50 top ranking listings, keyword suggesting tool for up to 200 words.
  • Professional edition: includes tracking for unlimited projects, unlimited words, competitor analysis, 200 top ranking listings, keyword suggesting tool for up to 2000 words.

18. Site Comparison – Site Comparison allows you to compare your site with your competitors’ sites using multiple SEO aspects. You can compare title tags, meta descriptions, top word phrases, internal links & outgoing links.

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Pro(s): Instantly compare the onpage optimization of your competitor with your own site.

Con(s): The data is not really actionable.

How would you use it for competitor research?

  • Search for keywords in title tag, meta description, headlines.
  • Research internal link structure of your competitor.
  • Find out to whom your competitor links the most.

Pricing: The tool is available for free.

19. Web CEO – Web CEO is a SaaS and Desktop solution that allows you to spy on your competitors and monitor their SEO strategies. Understand how well they are ranking for keywords, analyze their backlinks, social media activities, traffic, etc.

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Pro(s): In-depth actionable data that allows you to see what works for your competitor so you can utilize the same strategies on your site.

Con(s): With so many available tools, it might take you some time to learn how to use them.

How would you use it for competitor research?

  • Understand how well your competitor is ranking for keywords you’re targeting.
  • Get backlink ideas from your competitors.
  • Monitor who mentions and shares competitor content.

Pricing: The tool is available both as an Online SaaS and Desktop solution.

There are 5 plans available for WebCEO Online.

  • Free: includes 2 active projects, 5 keywords tracked, 3 pages for SERP scan, 200 pages to check and optimize, 40 backlinks analyzed, 4 keywords monitored by social buzz
  • Silver for $69/2 months: includes 5 active projects, 100 keywords tracked, 3 pages for SERP scan, 5000 pages to check and optimize, 5000 backlinks analyzed, 7500 competitor backlinks analyzed, 25 keywords monitored by social buzz
  • Gold for $149/2 months: includes 10 active projects, 300 keywords tracked, 3 pages for SERP scan, 10,000 pages to check and optimize, 30,000 backlinks analyzed, 25,000 competitor backlinks analyzed, 100 keywords monitored by social buzz
  • Platinium for $349/2 months: includes 25 active projects, 750 keywords tracked, 5 pages for SERP scan, 25,000 pages to check and optimize, 125,500 backlinks analyzed, 62,500 competitor backlinks analyzed, 500 keywords monitored by social buzz
  • Pro for $99/2 months: includes unlimited active projects, unlimited keywords tracked, 10 pages for SERP scan, unlimited pages to check and optimize, unlimited backlinks analyzed, unlimited competitor backlinks analyzed, unlimited keywords monitored by social buzz

WebCEO Desktop is available for $499/copy.

Tools for off-page (backlink) analysis

20. SEO Book – SEO Book has a set of SEO tools which allow you to spy on your competition. The SEO Book Competitive Research Tool is like a white-labeled version of SEMRush but only for organic search.

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Pro(s): It has a great community and training modules.

Con(s):Each tool is separate, and they are not united under 1 backend.

How would you use it for competitor research?

  • Get ideas for keywords by analyzing title tags, meta descriptions, keyword density, etc.
  • Analyze who links to your competition.

Pricing: Premium SEO tools are available for all members.

Membership costs $300/month.

Some tools are available for free.

21. Open Site Explorer  backlinking analysis tool

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Open site explorer is one of the most famous tools of Moz created to analyze and access data about your competitors’ backlinks.

By plugging in the link to your competitor’s site, you will see a list of all links, their PR rank, Moz rank, inbound and outbound links and other important data.

Pro(s): One of the best tools for backlink analysis.

Con(s): The tools can’t be used stand alone; you must purchase Moz Pro.

How would you use it for competitor research?

  • Check out who links to your competitors and find new backlinking opportunities.
  • Analyze the value of the links your competitor is getting.
  • See to which websites your competitor is linking.

Pricing: To use the tool, you’d need to purchase Moz Pro. 

Limited functionality is available for free.

22. MozBar – MozBar is another tool from Moz, which acts as a free plugin for both Chrome and FireFox.

It allows you to see key metrics like page authority, domain authority, link counts, root domains, social shares and keyword difficulty score as you’re browsing your competitors’ sites. When you type a keyword in Google, you’ll get data in the search result about which pages are ranking for it.

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Pro(s): One of the best tools to quickly analyze competitors as you’re browsing the site.

Con(s): Doesn’t allow you do deep analysis.

How would you use it for competitor research?

  • Check domain and page authority for competitors’ web pages.
  • See how many backlinks your competitors’ pages have earned.
  • See how many social shares your competitors’ pages have.

Pricing: The tool use to be available for free. Now it’s freemium, which means the features are limited for no PRO members.

23. SEOquake – SEOquake is a toolbar that allows you to analyze your competitors both in Google search and on their websites. It provides you with statistics about pagerank, number of inbound and outbound links, Alexa rank, keyword density per page, etc.

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Pro(s): The easiest way to spy and learn how well your competitor is performing in terms of SEO.

Con(s): Deep analysis of the links is available only if you’re a SEMRush user.

How would you use it for competitor research?

  • Analyze important aspects of competitor pages like inbound links, page rank, domain rank, etc.
  • Obtain keyword ideas from your competition.
  • Understand how much effort your competitors are putting into SEO.

Pricing: The tool is available for free.

24. Ahrefs – Ahrefs is a professional backlink analysis tool that allows you to see and understand who links to your competitors and how valuable these links are. You can use the data to find new opportunities for your link-building efforts.

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Pro(s): Provides better backlink analysis than OpenSiteExplorer.

Con(s): Can be used only for backlink analysis; doesn’t have all the other tools of Moz.

How would you use it for competitor research?

  • Find and analyze all backlinks pointing to your competitors’ sites.
  • Find and analyze all outbound links going out from your competitors’ sites.

Pricing: There are 5 plans available.

  • Free for $0/month: very limited but free account. Includes 1k data rows/day.
  • Professional for $79/month: for sites with up to 100k backlinks. 20M data rows/day.
  • Elite for $179/month: for sites with up to 1M backlinks. 60M data rows/day.
  • Enterprise for $499/month: for sites with more than 1M backlinks. 200M data rows/day.
  • Gigarows for $1,299: for sites with up to 1 billion backlinks. 1000M data rows/day.

25. Monitor Backlinks – Monitor Backlinks, similar to Ahref and Open Site Explorer, is another tool for analyzing competitors’ backlinks.

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Pro(s): The cheapest backlink analysis tool.

Con(s): Not as useful as other tools.

How would you use it for competitor research?

  • Find and analyze all backlinks pointing to your competitors’ sites.
  • Find and analyze all outbound links going out from your competitors’ sites.

Pricing: There are 3 plans available.

  • Start for 15.90 € per month: includes tracking for 2 domains, 2 competitors, 50 keywords.
  • Plus for 39.90 € per month: includes tracking for 5 domains, 4 competitors, 200 keywords.
  • Professional for 78.90 € per month: includes tracking for 10 domains, 4 competitors, 500 keywords.

Free trial is also available for up to 30 days.

26. Majestic SEO – Majectic SEO is a backlink checker and site explorer, similar to Open Site Explorer, Ahrefs and Monitor Backlinks. It allows you to see number of backlinks, referring domains, type of domains, anchor text and analyze trust flow metrics.

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Pro(s): One of the best tools for in-depth and accurate backlink analysis.

Con(s): Not very good for expert data.

How would you use it for competitor research?

  • Find and analyze all backlinks pointing to your competitors’ sites.
  • Find and analyze all outbound links going out from your competitors’ sites.

Pricing: There are 4 plans available:

  • Silver (monthly) for $78.99/month: includes 5M downloadable backlinks, site explorer 5,000 data rows, 60 detailed reports per month, 5,000 depth analysis, 1,000 search explorer data rows.
  • Silver (quarterly) for $49.99/month:  includes 5M downloadable backlinks, site explorer 5,000 data rows, 60 detailed reports per month, 5,000 depth analysis, 1,000 search explorer data rows.
  • Gold (monthly) for $169.99/month:  includes 25M downloadable backlinks, site explorer 15,000 data rows, 300 detailed reports per month, 15,000 depth analysis, 1,000 search explorer data rows.
  • Platinum (monthly) for $399.99/month:  includes 100M downloadable backlinks, site explorer 30,000 data rows, 950 detailed reports per month, 30,000 depth analysis, 1,000 search explorer data rows.

Very limited features are available for free.

27. Ontolo – Ontolo is a great tool for acquiring content marketing ideas from your competitor and finding link-building opportunities.

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Pro(s): Automate the process for searching and finding link-building opportunities.

Con(s): Takes some time to learn how to use it properly.

How would you use it for competitor research?

  • Research your competitors for content marketing ideas.
  • Find link-building opportunities in order to pitch your content.

Pricing: 4 plans are available.

  • Solo for $47/month: includes 250 instant prospecting reports, 10 campaigns.
  • Professional for $97/month: includes 500 instant prospecting reports, 10 campaigns and 10,000 nightly DB Prospects/month.
  • Agency for $297/month: includes 2500 instant prospecting reports, 50 campaigns and 50,000 nightly DB Prospects/month.
  • Free account: 25 Instant Prospector reports and weekly competitor reporting.

28. Link Prospector – Link Prospector allows you to spy on your competition and uncover backlink opportunities to improve your rankings. Their link-target score filters and arranges websites based on content relevance and opportunities.

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Pro(s): Finds you link targets quickly and easily.

Con(s): There are better alternatives, such as BuzzStream, when it comes to features and pricing; the only language it supports is English.

How would you use it for competitor research?

  • Find link-building opportunities from your competitors.
  • Sort these link-building opportunities and find the best for you.
  • Find contact details and outreach.

Pricing: 5 plans are available.

  • Free: includes 1 credit.
  • Pay as you go for $10 per 5 credits: you can also buy 10 credits for $20, 20 credits for $40, 50 credits for $100.
  • Consultant for $27/month: includes 20 credits/month.
  • Agency for $47/month: includes 50 credits/month.
  • Enterprise for $97/month: includes 120 credits/month.

Tools for analyzing competitors’ content and social media strategies

29. Buzzsumo – A content analytics tool that allows you to analyze top-performing content for any topic or competitor based on the total # of social media shares on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+. It’s a great tool for discovering and analyzing the type of content that resonates with your audience.

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Pro(s): It has a simple interface and it’s easy to use, especially for beginners.

Con(s): BuzzSumo has limited insight since it only uses social media shares to judge content performance.

How should you use BuzzSumo for competitor research?

  • Review how competitors’ content is performing online – review the number of social shares and links.
  • Review how competitors’ keywords are performing.
  • Review content mentioning competitor brands.

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If I already know a competitor is generating great traffic from their site, I will type their URL in directly. BuzzSumo will show me the pages getting the most shares from that specific URL, ranking from the highest to lowest “Total Shares.”

Then I will look closely at the specific content to determine why they got the most shares. Based on this information, I’ll have more direction and get inspiration based on what works and what doesn’t, so I’m not wasting time and money shooting in the dark.

Pricing: 4 plans are available

  • Free: very limited account for 1 user
  • Pro for $99/month: includes 5 users, 15 alerts/20,000 mentions, exportable data, content analysis and domain reports.
  • Agency for $299/month: includes 10 users, 50 alerts/100,000 mentions, exportable data, content analysis and domain reports, API access (100 calls/month).
  • Enterprise for $499/month: includes unlimited users, unlimited alerts, exportable data & reports, content analysis and domain reports, API access.

All paid plans come with a 14-day free trial.

30. SocialMentionA real-time social media search and analysis tool. It allows you to quickly scan the web and find mentions of your competitors on blogs, videos, and social media.

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Pro(s): User-friendly and data in real time.

Con(s): You can’t share the results of a search.

How would you use it for competitor research?

  • Search for mentions on social media, blogs and videos.
  • Identify link-building opportunities by finding who publishes materials about your competitors.

Pricing: The tool is available for free.

31. Mention – Mention is a very similar tool to SocialMention allowing you to track mentions of keywords on social media and blogs.

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Pro(s): Ability to analyze your statistics and export your data.

Con(s): Very expensive if you want to monitor a large number of keywords.

How would you use it for competitor research?

  • Search for mentions on social media, blogs and videos.
  • Identify link-building opportunities by finding who publishes materials about your competitors.

Pricing: The following plans are available.

  • Basic for Free: includes 1 user, 1 alert, 250 mentions/month.
  • Starter for 29 € /month: includes 3 alerts, 3,000 mentions/month, 3 users.
  • Growth for 99 € /month: includes 5 alerts, 10,000 mentions/month, 5 users.
  • Company for 299 € /month: includes 10 alerts, 50,000 mentions/month, 10 users.

There is also a custom plan available with more alerts, mentions and users.

All plans are available with a 14-day free trial.

32. TopsyThe best social media analytics tool for Twitter that provides you with real-time data and search filters to find tweets with certain keywords.

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Pro(s): The best way to search for keywords and mentions on Twitter.

Con(s): Very limited analysis with the free version.

How would you use it for competitor research?

  • Find out who’s tweeting about your competitors.
  • Identify link-building opportunities by finding out who’s tweeting your competitors.

Pricing: The tool is available for free.

33. Fan Page Karma – Fan Page Karma is a tool that allows you to measure the social media channels of your competitors. By doing so you can analyze engagement, post topics, best time for posting, etc.

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Pro(s): One of the best ways to analyze and generate ideas from your competitor’s Facebook page.

Con(s): It is expensive and has only a 14-day free trial.

How would you use it for competitor research?

  • Find out what kind of content engages the largest number of your competitors’ fans.
  • Find out when is the best time to post on social media.
  • Find link-building opportunities by seeing who has published about your competitor.

Pricing: The following plans are available.

  • Pro for 49.90 € / month: includes ability to analyze and monitor an unlimited number of pages, Facebook dashboard and benchmarking, 1 user.
  • Premium for 99.90 € / month: includes Pro + premium Twitter analytics & monitoring, share dashboards, 1 user.
  • Business for 149.90 € / month: includes Pro + Premium + Tagging, Shitstorm Alert, extended Excel reporting, direct contact to experts, unlimited archive, 1 user.
  • Enterprise for 199.90 € / month: includes Pro + Premium + Business + corporate design and branded reports, 1 user.
  • Suite for 349.90 € / month: includes Pro + Premium + Business + Enterprise + Advanced Social Monitoring, 3 users.

A 14-day free trial is available with all plans.

34. Twitonomy – Twitonomy is an analytics tool for Twitter that allows you to monitor mentions, retweets, favorites, etc. With it you can easily spot who’s talking about your competitor and what they’re sharing with their followers.

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Pro(s): Ability to extract data in excel or pdf file with 1 click.

Con(s): The dashboard is not really user-friendly.

How would you use it for competitor’s research?

  • Find out who’s tweeting about your competitors.
  • Identify link-building opportunities by finding out who’s tweeting for your competitors.

Pricing: The basic account is available for free. There are also 3 Pro plans available for purchase.

  • 1 month single payment for $20/month: includes all premium features.
  • Monthly plan (save 5%) for $19/month: includes all premium features.
  • 1 year plan (save 17%)for $199/year: includes all premium features.

35. InfiniGraph – InfiniGraph is an enterprise graph database software that allows companies to better understand web content’s performance and how to improve it. With it you can track what content gets action and then you can amplify it in real-time.

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Pro(s): One of the most sophisticated tools when it comes to content data analysis.

Con(s): Too complex and expensive for small companies.

How would you use it for competitor research?

  • Understand how well competitors’ content is performing.
  • Develop content ideas from your competitors based on performance and data.

Pricing: Custom plans and pricing are available only after demo request.

36. Followerwonk – Followerwonk is a tool created by Moz. It allows you to analyze your competitors’ followers, followings and activity on Twitter. You can also compare several profiles with each other.

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Pro(s): In-depth analysis of your competitors and their activity on Twitter.

Con(s): Premium features are available only if you purchase Moz Pro; reports of large accounts are limited to subscribers.

How would you use it for competitor research?

  • Find out who follows your competitors on Twitter and analyze their demographics.
  • Find out who your competitor follows on Twitter and analyze their demographics.
  • Find out when your competitor is most active on Twitter.
  • Compare your social followings with that of your competitors.

Pricing: Most of the features are available for free. For more advanced features, you’d need to sign up for Moz Pro.

37. InstapaperInstapaper is a tool that allows you to save web content, such as blogs and articles, to read later. To do this, you just need to sign up for an account and add its icon to your address bar. This tool is especially helpful when you’re researching your competition more deeply and you’d like to save content for future reading and research.

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Pro(s): The easiest way to save competitor content and access it from all devices.

Con(s): Little practical value.

How would you use it for competitor research?

  • Bookmark competitor content that’s performing well in search or social media.
  • Bookmark content to be analyzed for link-building purposes.
  • Bookmark posts or articles talking about your competitor.

Pricing: There are 2 plans available.

  • Free: with limited features.
  • Premium for $2.99/month or $29.99/year: with premium features.

38. Feedly Feedly is a news aggregator application that allows you to subscribe to your competitor’s rss feed and get notified every time they upload new content. It also allows you to search by topic in the news feed.

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Pro(s): The easiest way to get notified when your competitors publish new content.

Con(s): No way to gather and analyze data.

How would you use it for competitor research?

  • Analyze how often and when competitors publish new content.
  • Analyze topics they cover in their content.
  • Find link-building opportunities by determining who is publishing content about your competitors.

Pricing: The tool is available for free.

39. What Runs Where – What Runs Where is a tool that allows you to analyze the performance of your competitors’ advertising and to learn from their effective campaigns.

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Pro(s): Intelligent technology with actionable insights.

Con(s): Only useful for banner ads.

How would you use it for competitor research?

  • Research where your competitor is advertising.
  • Understand which of your competitor’s campaigns are performing best and why.
  • Gather data to improve the ROI of your campaigns.

Pricing: The following plans are available.

  • Mobile awareness for $150/month: including single user, exportable data, basic support, 3 saved ad groups, 5 trackable domains and company contact.
  • Display awareness for $249/month: including single user, exportable data, basic support, 3 saved ad groups, 5 trackable domains and company contact.
  • Display + mobile for $299/month: including single user, exportable data, basic support, 3 saved ad groups, 5 trackable domains and company contact.
  • Enterprise plan with custom pricing: including Basic + premium features.

3-day trial is available for $1.

40. Wayback Machine (from Archive.org) – Wayback Machine is a digital archive of the World Wide Web and other information on the Internet created by the Internet Archive. The service enables users to see archived versions of web pages over time.

You can use this service to monitor your competition and to check how often they’re making changes to their website and what changes are being made.

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Pro(s): Opportunity to see how competitors’ websites looked before.

Con(s): Lack of actionable data.

How would you use it for competitor research?

  • Gather data on website changes made by your competitor.
  • Get ideas for A/B testing campaigns that you can run to improve your conversion rate.

Pricing: The tool is available for free. However, you might choose to make a donation – from as little as $5 to as much as you’d like.

Conclusion

All these tools are very helpful when it comes to gathering data about your competitors. Of course, it is possible to do a good job without them but using them will definitely speed up your process.

You will instantly know what works and what doesn’t. You will easily identify great opportunities for link-building, keywords or content. It just depends on you how you are going to use the data.

Which are your favorite tools to spy on your competition?

  • http://pinkmacaron.weebly.com/ Patricia

    Fantastic post and excellent topic. It makes me very happy to see Mention among the monitoring tools you listed 🙂

    • http://shopifynation.com David Zheng

      Thanks Patricia!

      I love Mention. It’s a great social media spy tool.

  • Ken Barber

    Thanks Shopify for putting this list together, and including TheSearchMonitor.com.

    We are still surprised to hear that marketers don’t know these tools are available. They think they need to conduct time-intensive research, or pay companies lots of money to learn these insights. There is a TON to learn about competitors, industry leaders, and your partners/affiliates.

    This last group is important, since your partners have an incentive to break the rules (to make more money) so you need to keep close tabs on how they behave in their online marketing.

    An important note about The Search Monitor. We don’t just do SEO analysis for advertisers. But we monitor paid ads, shopping ads, mobile ads. And we do it across every country, in every language, and even down to the city level. Our software lets our clients see how their competitors advertise differently in SF versus Houston vs. Boston, and everywhere in between.

  • https://www.xpo-online.com/ xpo-online

    Great Post. I didn’t knew these tools are available. As this article is old so a lot more tools would be inactive or may be too old to use. Can you share latest tools. just the updated version of this article.