Henny Maltby, Pink Elephant Media
What would it mean if you could use your competitors passing trade like it was your own, effectively use their advertising budget to your advantage and learn from all of their mistakes?

Do you want to know how they are driving their traffic and from where?  Well, now you can.  We have compiled a list of tools in which to help you achieve this.


AHREFS – Backlinks

Price: Free trial – $99 – $999

Type: Website 

This will give you advanced backlink profile for any website or URL. You can view what anchors they are using and how each backlink is performing. Ahrefs will allow you to see what keywords are working for your competitors in terms of organic traffic as well as paid for, show you the ads they are running, what keywords they are paying for within these ads as well as where that traffic is being sent.

In terms of content marketing, it will allow you to see what content is resonating with your audience which will allow you to build a winning content marketing.

Alexa – Web ranking / SEO

Price: $9.99 – $149

Type: Website

Owned by Amazon this tool has been ranking websites for some time.   Alexa, however, is a very powerful tool for spying on your competitors.  It allows you to see how you stack up on things like SEO, link building, keywords.  You can then use this information to increase your leverage across these areas.
Built With – shows you what technologies your competitor’s websites are using to grow

Price: Free – $995 per month

Type: Website / Chrome Extension

Built with is pretty much what you would expect, it gives you information on behind the scenes technical tools used to build your competitors website.  This gives you so much free information on what your competitor’s sites are using from the type of platform it is built with, what extensions they have added, what tracker software they are using and so much more.  This is a must have in your spying arsenal. – SEO/Website Traffic / Advertising

Price: Free – $297

Type: Website / Chrome Extension

This will allow you to gain a high-level insight into your competitors traffic, SEO, if they are display advertising, affiliate marketing, their demographics and who owns the site, IP addresses and follow your competitor so that if anything changes on their site you can be kept up to date so you can react quickly.   With this information you can react quickly to your competitors, improve on their failings and see what is working for them so you can do the same.
Ghostery – shows you what tracking tools your competitors are using to grow

Price: free

Type: Website / Chrome Extension

I love love love this tool.  This is one of my ultimate spying tools as it allows you to dig behind the scenes of what tracking tools your competitor utilises on their website to help them grow. It allows you to see what analytics packages they are utilising, advertising and social media trackers i.e do they use Facebook connect, google analytics, hot jar etc.  By getting under the skin of your competitor you can really start to understand their business model and what works.
Google ALERTS – Monitoring tool for keywords, competition, websites

Price: free

Type: Website / Chrome Extension

If you want a tool that will allow you to see trends of what people are talking about when your competitor is mentioned online or yourself this is the tool for you. See your competitors backlinks, monitor social mentions of your competitor or you so you can join the conversation, monitor keywords, and trends in conversations.
INSTAPAPER – Saving web Pages

Price: FREE

Type: Website / Chrome Extension

This tool allows you to save web content to read later on.  Great for saving examples of your best content so you can build up a view of what is resonating with your customers. This can also be used to build up a bank of your competitors best content so you can start to use it to increase your visibility.  Use this in conjunction with other spying tools like SEMRush you can see what content your competitors are having the most amount of traffic through and save these to build up a picture and to create your own similar
iSpionage – Keywords

Price : Free trial / $29 – $299

Type: Website 

This tool lets you look up a competitors website and view all their best performing organic and PPC keywords in both google and bing.  It will show you an approximate monthly spend as well as let you view your competitors best performing ads.  As well as all this it will allow you to compare yourself with two other competitors simultaneously.  Great tool to get a quick overview of which competitors are doing what best.  This, in turn, will allow you to cherry pick which competitors are best at what, allowing you to exploit their weaknesses as well as building up your strengths.
Majestic – SEO / backlinks

Price: Free (limited daily use) – £29.99/$250 per month

Type: Website / Chrome Extension

This tool enables you to see all of your competitor’s backlinks, referring domains and anchor text.  You can export the link profile so you can use it as you see fit.
MOZ  – backlinks

Price: Free (5 searches a day) – $149 per month

Type: Website

Open site explorer tool from Moz allows you to check out all of your competitor’s backlink building.  This will then allow you to start to compete with them.  You will also be able to view their PageRank authority and anchor text.   Very useful for driving relevant traffic through to their site.
Ontolo – Content Marketing / Backlinks

Price: $97 – $297

Type: Website

Ontolo discovers prospects for SEO, link building, content marketing, social media, sales, contacts, commerce, advertising, multimedia and reputation.  It will help you identify people who will link to your content and also assist you in link building.
SEMRush – Keyword tool

Price: FREE – $399.95

Type: Website / Chrome Extensions

This is my ‘I can’t live without’ tool as it is the optimum competitor data analysis tool.  It allows you insight into almost everything you want to know about your competitors from their top keywords in paid and organic searches, Adwords, traffic to their site, internal and external links.  I can’t praise this tool enough.  The free content you get is more than enough for most companies looking to spy on their competitors to start to hack their sales processes.
SimilarWeb – Traffic, referrals, SEO

Price: Free / $99 – $2999 per month

Type: Website / Chrome Extension

This is another favourite tool of mine as it is so easy to use.  Simply enter the website address you want to spy on and it will give you a whole host of information back from traffic, global ranking, referrals etc.  It will also allow you to see how much traffic comes from various sources.  The best part of all is that you can add competitors so you can see how you stack up against each other.
Social mention – Tool for monitoring mentions across the entire web for anything

Price: FREE

Type: Website

Owned by Amazon this tool has been ranking websites for some time.   Alexa, however, is a very powerful tool for spying on your competitors.  It allows you to see how you stack up on things like SEO, link building, keywords.  You can then use this information to increase your leverage across these areas.
SPYFLU – Keyword and ad monitoring

Price: FREE – $299 Per month

Type: Website / Chrome Extension (open in spyfu)

This is a great tool which is really easy to use.  It is not the cheapest on the market but gives really easy to understand information in a way you can actually use it.

All you have to do is type in your competitors Url and you are given access to a whole host of data you can use to help you get ahead of the competition.  Key features include competitor keyword research – what keywords they are targeting for Adwords, Organic Searches, their competition within these keywords, their top keywords, recommendations of keywords, ranking history on their keywords,

Inbound links – which allows you to see where they are listed outside.

What Font

Price: Free

Type:  Chrome Extension

Have you ever wondered what font your competitors are using, well now you don’t have to.  With what font chrome extension you can see what fonts they are using on the blogs, social media feeds, website etc.  Ever thought you had similar content but theirs was being read more, why often it is the layout or font that can make the difference and this can allow you to match everything you are doing to theirs to see if you can increase your conversion or split test your content with things like layout and fonts taken out of the equation.
What Runs Where – Advertisement Monitoring Tool

Price – starting $299 a month or $1 trial

Type: Website 

What Runs Where offers you the chance to see where your competitors are placing their on line ads and how well they are doing.  It will alert you to every time your competitor places a new ad or publishes new content so you can keep an eye.   It will also allow you to see what CTA’s they are using that are gaining leverage so you can improve your click through rates.

This tool also allows you to look back over 5 years of historical data so you can see what has worked in the past and you can leverage this information to your own advantage.  It will also give you insight into new opportunities and how to improve your campaigns.   It is an expensive tool but could save you thousands in bad digital advertising, so if you are a serious digital advertiser this is the highly sophisticated tool.  It tracks Access Data from 120,000 sites, from 500+ classified ad networks, from 7 different countries: seoUSA, Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, Brazil, Germany and France.

WOORANK -Improving site offering

Price: Free trial 14 days offered / £49.95 per month – £249.99

Type: Website/Chrome Plug in

This tool is mainly used for improving your site,  it will give you information on site speed, broken link SEO rankings, allow you to track projects and improve on your current offerings.

The way you can use this tool to spy on your competitors is to look at what they are doing badly and then to ensure that those area areas you are strong in.

This is a great tool if you are a beginner SEO or if you want to see what might be wrong with your site or your competitors, though its expensive for a relatively simple tool and there are a lot of free versions out there.

ZOOMPH – social media tool

Price: FREE – $505 Agency

Type: Website

This is a great replacement tool for Topsy who are no longer on the market although it does have slightly different functions.  You obtain unparalled insights and allows you to optimise the way you track, view, and  leverage social media either for your own purposes or to spy on your competitors.

You have to be at a pretty serious level to want to buy into this tool as it is not cheap but if you are I would say it is worth the investment as the insights you gain will allow you, if they are not using the same leverage, to overtake the competition.

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