When evaluating and planning your own direction, knowing your sector's finer points is mission critical. It's difficult to look at your competitors without leaving tracks. It can be a challenge, but is extremely important to manage your own reputation. This panel will look at a number of issues surrounding competitive intelligence being probed by the competition and probing the competition yourself.
- Jake Baillie
- Jake Baillie, Managing Director, STN Labs
- Andy Beal, Internet Marketing Consultant, Marketing Pilgrim LLC
- Larry Mersman, Vice President, Trellian
First up is famed Marketing Pilgrim, Andy Beal of Marketing Pilgrim LLC. Andy wants to discus tools for spying on your competition (Sounds great!).
- DomainTools.com: Gives a great deal of background information. It tells whether the site is listed in Yahoo Directory, Open Directory, registration details, etc. It also gives information about other sites in the same IP.
- ranks.nl/tools/spider.html: Great tool as it breaks up keyword density into 2, 3 and 4 word combos.
- sitexplorer.search.yahoo.com: Yahoo! places the most important backlinks at the top of the list.
- seomoz.org/tools: Great way to find out about competition's page strength. Gives information on how many times they have been in del.icio.us/digg etc.
- SoloSEO.com/tools/indexRank.html: This is great to find how many pages Google has indexed in the last year and how far they have grown.
- copernic.com: Use to track site changes. Anytime your competition has an update you will be aware.
- Technorati.com: Find out about the kind of feedback people are giving about your competition.
- google.com/alerts: Use this to alert yourself on competition activities.
- searchanalytics.compete.com: Lets you know which keywords are bringing in significant traffic to your site.
- touchgraph.com: Show you competition's link clusters. Know where the important links are coming from.
- google.brand.edgar-online.com: Shows you your competitor's SEC filings.
- seekingalpha.com/transcripts: View transcripts.
- google.com/patents: Information on your competition's patents.
- Oodle.com: Shows whether your competition is hiring or not.
Keep a track on your competition's employee blogs. Especially if the company has no inkling about the blog. Who knows what you could stumble upon.
Next up is Larry Mersman, Vice President of Trellian.
Competitive intelligence can mean many things depending on the channel we are dealing with. For the most part, it is the gathering of information about your competitors.
Sources of information:
- Online articles
- Internet Service Provider
- User Panels (User Installed Software)
- Website Search Patterns/History
How to find your competition?
- Use search engines
- Find out who is bidding on your keywords
How did your competition get there?
- Referring Domains/Backlinks. Who is sending them traffic?
- Keyword Data: What keywords are actually being clicked on to get the user to your competition?
- Where is traffic coming from? search engines, banner ads, blogs, etc.
- Knowing which keywords are performing best for your competitor will help you understand their strengths and weaknesses
- Know the performance of both paid and unpaid keywords (helps in optimizing your site around proven data, possibly streamline your spending and increase your ROI)
- Many companies will optimize their website around kws they think they will be found under, or where the end user will find a link to their site
Finally, itĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s the users who make the choices that drive the traffic and the money to your site.
Last speaker is Jake Baillie, Managing Director, STN Labs. The best webmasters already investigate their competition. Search engine optimization is a game. Know more than your competition and you will win. Most novice webmasters have no idea. Use this to your advantage.
Mistakes made by novice webmasters:
- Put sensitive data on their web servers
- Use competitive research tools from their own company Ips
WHOIS (www.whois.sc) my competition:
- Designed in the 80s
- WHOIS was originally intended to be contact point for technical issues
- Evolved to be the Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“legal documentationĂ˘â‚¬Âť of internet domains
- Forge-abe with very little technical knowledge or even anonymized
Regional IP Databases:
- Use nslookup to find the IP address of the domain
- Plug the IP into a regional database IP and see what company that IP is registered to. Worst case scenario, you'll find the ISP
Social Engineering Targets:
- ISP employees
- Spouses, significant others of employees or ex-employees.
- Marketing departments/sales people
- PR firms
Next, Jake has a script on how to get information out of people!
- Introduce yourself as someone youĂ˘â‚¬â„˘re not.
- Be friendly. People love friendly people. Never become confrontational
- If you donĂ˘â‚¬â„˘t get what you want the first time, hang up and call back to talk to someone else.
- Use it to return webpages linked to with that target term
- Good for discovering networks
- Google the links: Search Facebook, follow people on Twitter, search MySpace etc
- You can pretty much tell an SEOĂ˘â‚¬â„˘d site these days by a visual link inspection
- Keep an eye on unnatural traffic
- Users who come in to your website after using allinanchor are not your target visitors
- Those who come 20 times in 2 minutes through the same cache aren't your target visitors
- People from whois.sc are competitors
Tracking and Logging:
- Track their referrer and do something cool with competitors via mod-rewrite:
- Send all incoming traffic from that specific referrer to a porn site.
- Serve them a 403 access forbidden message.
- Make them think the site is down.
Defence against social engineering:
- Instruct your employees not to talk to no one about your site.
- Find a trustworthy ISP – most intelligence is gathered at this point.
- Tell your Significant other to not take business calls at home.