Online competitive intelligence tools are fast becoming a popular resource for Internet Marketers, Entrepreneurs and Small Business owners. As the need to stay Number 1 in your field increases, so will the number of people who continue to seek out new ways to snoop on competitors.
I know many of you who read this may be experienced marketers and will probably already have a set of online competitive intelligence tools that you use and that's totally okay. I wrote this article to name essentially my favorite top three tools and online resources for spying on the competition.
1. Altavista - A Rarely Used Search Engine Anymore!
I find it interesting how Yahoo, Bing & Google have practically taken over the entire Internet. Nearly 7 out of every 10 web users have at least one or more of these major engines as their "go-to" starting point for most searches. The others use Ask.com, Aol.com etc.
But AltaVista.com was popular back when I was in 9th grade (I'm 27 now) and I used to love searching for things on there. Now I actually use it a lot more because I discovered something quite surprising.
It seems AltaVista.com brings back results across the entire Internet and not just within it's own network and partner sites. Google and Yahoo are guilty of only returning results that they list in their rankings. Even though it consumes 90% of all the data on the Net, it's not 100% accurate.
And when I'm spying on my competition I want to know 100% what they are doing, what's going on, what's new and how can I mimic them or use that data to my advantage.
So what I do on AltaVista.com is I go to the home page and I type in - link: www.mycompetitorsurl.com - and then hit submit. AltaVista then brings back every website across the ENTIRE world wide web that is linked to my competitor's website. Knowing which sites link out to my competitors is excellent because all I have to do is write a nice link exchange letter and mass submit it to the webmasters of each site in the search results.
Sure I may not get every site I send the letter to to link back to me, but I'll get a lot and that goes a long way in making sure that my site's ranking on Google & Yahoo increases and I grow exponentially more popular.
2. Netmind.com, Now ChangeDetect.com!
I was reading this old book from Streetwise Publishing called 101 Ways to Promote Your Website and in there it tells you to go to Netmind.com and they have this tool that will let you follow your competitors' websites. Well I tried it and it doesn't work anymore.
However after a little research I did manage to find that it used to be Netmind.com and now it's called ChangeDetect.com. They provide a free test drive and a really cool demo that you just have to check out! Basically what this does is allow you to literally keep tabs on any web page within your competitor's website and be instantly notified of any new updates, changes, edits etc.
Let's say for example that you want to know when your top competitor makes a new change to his pricing page, you could simply use ChangeDetect.com to send you an alert when a change has been made so you can go onto that specific page and see what was done.
Having the ability to spy like a Ninja is the fastest way to make sure that you always stay one step ahead of your competition. They'll think that lowering their price will steal your business but when they fail to steal your customers they'll wonder why. It's because you signed up for ChangeDetect.com and are getting notified any time your foes make a change to any of their web pages. Genius huh?
3. What People Are Saying About You!
I forgot the name of this one website you can go to and research something like 280,000 blogs and social forums online just by entering your name or company name and hitting the Enter button, but another one of my all time favorite online competitive intelligence tools is SocialMention.com.
This site is super cool and surprisingly an untapped resource of valuable information. You can go to the main site and type in any name or company or business etc. into the search box and submit. It will run a search across the entire Internet Universe and bring back to you everywhere and anywhere on the Internet that other people are talking about you or the person you are searching for.
Want to know what your customers think of you? Go to SocialMention.com and type in your company name, click Submit and see what results come back. Do the same for your competitors. Be devious, watch exactly what sites and comments people are using to portray your competitors. If they are nice and pleasant, see why and add their appreciation to your website or business to mimic their success.