SMX West: Competitive Research
Yank out "The Art of War" or just use common sense; either way, it’s plain to see that knowing about your competitors can help your business. At a session titled "Analyzing the Competition," speakers suggested areas to research and acceptable ways in which you can do so.
(Coverage of the SMX West Conference continues at WebProNews Videos. Keep an eye on WebProNews for more notes and videos from the event this week.)
Christine Churchill, the president of KeyRelevance.com, started with the basics. She recommended looking at how well competitors’ sites are optimized, and checking into their background through the use of various domain tools. Archive.org is a site that got mentioned by name.
Churchill then advised looking into several aspects of competitors’ backlinks – how many there are, what sort of linking relationships are in place, and what anchor text is used. This should give you an idea of how strong they are in SEO.
Next, some of the tools for providing insight on traffic came into play. Use Compete, Hitwise, Alexa, and/or comScore – there’s no such thing as too complete a picture.
Use things like Google Alerts, Google News, and Yahoo News to keep an eye on everybody’s reputations. Churchill suggested visiting forum boards, online discussion groups, Epinions, and the Better Business Bureau for the same purpose.
At this point, you’ll hopefully have gained some insight into your strengths and weaknesses, and identified some opportunities for improvement. You’ll definitely have gotten your data from public sources, and not done anything that even hints of corporate espionage.