3 Powerful Competitive Intelligence Tools

In the latest episode of Hack My Growth, we’re going to discuss three powerful competitive intelligence tools and how you can leverage them to stay in front of all your digital marketing activities. We’re going to talk about some great tools that will help you build better campaigns, better strategies, help you better understand your audience, and really give you an edge to put you ahead. 

Video Transcript:

In the latest episode of Hack My Growth, we’re looking at three competitive intelligence tools and how you can leverage them to stay in front of all your digital marketing efforts.

 We’re going to be discussing three powerful competitive intelligence tools that you can leverage to really take your marketing efforts to a whole new level. This is going to help you build better campaigns, better strategies, help you better understand your audience, and give you that slight edge to put you ahead. So let’s go.

Learn About Your Competition With SEMrush

One of my favorite competitive tools is SEMrush. We’ve got a number of tools within this workspace here, but they also have a traffic analytics add-on.

This is super cool, because it can help us see behind the scenes a little bit of one or more of our competitors. For instance, if we want to choose a domain like Search Engine Land, we can see an overview of their visits, their page visits, the average duration of their end user, as well as some of the other things. What are the sub-domains they have? What’s the share of their traffic? We can take a look at audience insights. This is really helpful if you’re looking at competitors in your space and trying to understand some of those other websites that people are looking at? What are some of those other places that they go to, to find information? We can also see things like their traffic journey. When they come to this website, what do they do? Where do they actually come from? And then after this site, where do they go?

This can allow us to see how traffic flows in and out of our competitor sites. Now, these are things that we use quite a bit when we’re trying to understand, is organic going to be a good strategy or do we need to try something else? If we can see a lot of traffic coming in and then maybe a lot of people leaving and going back to Google, maybe we’ll say, “Okay, maybe this site actually wasn’t matching that user’s intent.” This isn’t going to be perfect. They’re scraping data and putting it together, but it is going to give us meaningful insights that we can use to start setting up a good strategy. It allows us to see the top pages of our competition. We can see which content drives traffic to their site. We can see where this traffic is coming from, as well as doing a bulk analysis, where you can put in a number of domains and see what’s going on. These are some pretty helpful tools when we’re looking at building a strategy and really understanding what is happening behind our competitors’ sites.

What’s nice about this tool is we can put a number of sites here. You can put your site here or a number of the competitors and see how they each stack up to one another.

For instance, we can have Search Engine Land, and we could also do SEO Roundtable, and we can compare these sites. And one thing we want to make sure is that we’re comparing them equally and the root domain here as well. And then hit compare, and we can see the difference in traffic, we can see the difference in visitors, where those visitors are coming from, what’s the different sources. And, again, it gives us a little deeper insight on what’s going on in between these two different sites, understanding who the traffic is, how they flow in and out of the site. I like this tool because it really gives me an idea of who we’re coming up against and some of the metrics behind that site.

Now, they also have a number of great SEO tools in here when it comes to keyword research, advertising, content, PR, all of that. But really, when it comes to competitive research, this is where I like to spend some time and get that good intelligence behind these websites that I’m either competing against or trying to understand the audience, because they might have a similar audience as myself. Again, right here, we can see how common these audiences are.

Using SparkToro to Understand Audiences

For the next tool, we’re going to be looking at SparkToro. Now, this is a pretty cool tool, because this allows us to understand our audiences at a much deeper level. It helps us know what they read, what they watch, listen to, and who they follow. And you can sign up for a free account at sparktoro.com. Once you’re inside your dashboard, you’re going to get 10 free queries every single month. And you can ask questions like, what does your audience frequently talk about? What are the words they use in their profile? What do they follow on social? Who do they visit? What websites? What hashtags are they using?

You can also analyze a specific website or a social media account. These are really helpful pieces of intelligence because it allows us to see more about the audience we’re talking about. I can see my audience frequently talks about SEO, and we can go ahead and search that. You can see they found quite a large database here of people talking about SEO. We’ve got a large size. We can see the top phrases within their bios and the hashtags that you’re using. If you’re doing social media, you want to understand the hashtags that are most common within your space. SparkToro is going to help you with that. They’re also going to give you social accounts to look at and follow, people that you should look at some, hidden gems.

So what is this? These are smaller accounts, but highly related and they engage really well. You can see a site like Moz is a big brand, Search Engine Land, a big brand. Screaming Frog, awesome tool, great SEO tool, something we use all the time. Pretty well known in the SEO community, but maybe not as big as some of these other ones. We can also see the websites that they engage with over here.

You can see the podcasts and the YouTube channels that are highly influential in these spaces. These are the overview metrics, but we can also get more information about our audience. Who are they? What are the words that they use in their content? What are some of their demographics and understanding who they are and where they line up here politically and as well as geographically, as well as, where do they spend their time and how often they’re using social channels? We can look at social media specifically. We can look at websites, podcasts, YouTube, and the like.

There are a lot of cool things that SparkToro is going to do, and especially if you’re leveraging both social, but also content marketing and weaving that in with SEO, this is a great tool that’s going to help you really understand your audience, where they’re at, who are the people that they’re engaging with, who are the people that they trust, and then allowing you to build some strategy to better target them using the right keywords and the right hashtags and all of those other things that you need to do when you’re building your strategy.

Competitive Intelligence and Morphio

The last tool we’re going to look at is a tool called Morphio. Now, Morphio has a number of different features and they’ve got a 14-day free trial if you’re interested in this tool. One of my favorites is the competitive intelligence that’s offered within this tool. Not only does it help you with your ROI and helping you understand what’s happening with your website in real time, it’s also going to give you some pretty cool Competitor Intelligence.

Right off the bat, Morphio is going to allow you to track things like your bounce rate, your conversions, your new users. It allows you to set a goal, and you can see whether or not you’re on track. Another cool thing about Morphio is it allows us to track anomalies, and not only when it refers to our websites. We can put our competitors’ sites into this tool and it’s going to tell us how they’re performing and some of the things that may have impacted their site.

In the past, we could make changes to our site and we see if that had a positive or negative impact. Over here, working on this term, we went from 24 to 29. We went down a little bit. We need to take a look at this to see how we can improve this. We can also see over here, we saw this site, our competitor site, that we just have tracking in here, and they went from 48 to 33, so they increased their visibility.

We can see that, all right, what happened? They changed this in the SERP results. We can see these pull out in real time exactly what’s going on. It’s going to give us different warning cards based on the different things we’re seeing here. Again, this is a competitor going up. We go up here if it’s green. Obviously, reds are things that we want to look into and then yellowish-orange is a mid-level, and then green is a positive thing that we’re seeing. Every once in a while, you’ll see that there are some insights here on these specific pages. For instance, we can see that Impulse Creative here, there’s an insight on the page. I can look at it. What it’s telling me is that Impulse actually made these changes to their website during the time period that they saw their rankings increase. This is a way for us to look under the hood of our competitor sites and go, “Okay, they added these pages or these links on their site. This looks like new blog links. They’ve also changed some header tags, and they removed some header tags.”

As a result, we saw the changes go from 43 to 37. Now, it doesn’t mean that we have to do these things, but what it does say, “Okay, they’re publishing new content it looks like.” It can give us an advantage and allow us to see what our competitors are doing and how those changes are influencing their rankings. Not only are we knowing what’s happening on our site, we can see under the hood what’s happening with our competitors’ campaigns as well.

Morphio is a very cool tool that allows us to see behind areas that we don’t normally get visibility to and really help us to improve our strategies because of that.

Use Competitive Intelligence to Your Advantage

Competitive intelligence is extremely important. Whether you’re doing things on the front end, when you’re building a campaign, you want to see how the site is performing and who the audience is. Whether you’re using metrics and looking into your audience scores or the social accounts or trying to understand where they hang out online, or whether you’re tracking the changes in your competitors’ sites, these three tools will help you do that.

We’ve got SEMrush and specifically their Competitor Intelligence add-on package. We’ve got a SparkToro with their great tool, and then we’ve got Morphio with their suite of awesome tools as well.

There are some free options, like SEMrush has some free options. SparkToro gives you 10 free searches per month. And then Morphio gives you a 14-day free trial. These tools are extremely helpful when you’re building up your Competitor Intelligence and making sure that you’re on the front edge of all of your campaigns and strategies.

If you’ve got any questions on any of the tools that we’ve talked about today or anything else digital marketing related, please comment below. We’d love to continue that conversation with you. And until next time, Happy Marketing.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on January 18, 2021, and has been updated with fresh content. 

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SMA Marketing Global Digital Marketing Agency Ryan Shelley Founder and CEO Headshot
Ryan is passionate about helping companies make a more personal connection online with their customers and prospects. He is a regular contributor to Search Engine Land, the largest and most popular SEO news site on the web. His works have also been featured on the HubSpot Blog, Business2Community and by LinkedIn Marketing Solutions.

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