Keeping an eye on the competition is the smart thing to do, if you want to know how are they climbing the SERPs so that you can alter your marketing strategy to combat that. The good thing about online businesses is that spying on the competition is made very easy, in fact like child's play with the plethora of online tools available. Some of these are paid while many are free, that you can use to know what your competition is up to. These free Spy tools tell you:

  • The keywords that work for your competition
  • What features they have been carrying on as they have become popular with the users.
  • Know the kind of tools your competitors are using to generate the excellent returns on their pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns
  • Know how they are going about with their SEO initiatives

Listed below are the top five free spy tools that can help you in keeping a very close watch on your competition.

  1. Google Alerts– Any thing, any time, anywhere on the web, that your competitor does will be known to you if you use Google Alerts. All you have to do is set up searches for your competitors and keywords to monitor their activity. In fact while using Google Alerts, you can also monitor what is being said online about you and your company too, along with your competition. You will get an email alert when the keywords/competitor's name you mentioned shows up anywhere on the Web, Google News, and Google Blog search. See the image below to get an idea of the comprehensive detailed alert you will get.

    Spy Tools- Google Alerts

    You will get daily updates on the terms you are tracking from a particular industry or your niche. You will get a notification email when new links start pointing to your website, or when your articles are picked up or any one in the blogosphere discusses you. Enter the competitor's name and you will get an email the minute someone talks about them-their new offer etc.

  2. Compete Search Analytics– This tool will tell you the number of unique visits to the site, over a period of time, and the rank of the site based on the number of unique visits. See the image below to see, how you can know when the traffic to the competitor's site is increasing and what caused that.

    Spy Tools- Compete

    The tool also gives you detailed information about the keyword information of your competition. Simply enter the competition's URL , and the tool will furnish the results, that display the keywords driving traffic to the competitor's site. The tool will also tell you the share of search referrals, and the share of paid referrals.

  3. SEMRush– SEMRush is a free tool that comes in very handy for handling PPC advertising. As you will enter the competitor's URL, you will get detailed information about the popular keywords, volume, position and CPC for every keyword. See in the image below, how the keyword and the percent of traffic it drives and the competition it faces is displayed.

    Spy Tools- SEM Rush

    The tools will also let you know the Google Adwords key phrases that drive the most traffic for the site.

  4. KeywordSpy– Keyword Spy actually lives up to its name by letting you know the organic keywords that are working for your competitor. It is a Google-focused keyword tracking tool. Not only this, you also can search for domains, and destination URLs among others. See how in the image below, the top 10 keywords driving organic traffic are listed with positions, CPC and traffic details.

    Spy Tools- Keyword Spy

    This is an excellent spy tool as you gain a deep insight into your competition. It’s free version will give you a lot of useful data on the specified geographical location. is also an interesting alternative that lets you research your competitors marketing campaigns. While the tool gives you the number of clicks, average ad position and the keywords, it does not tell you the position of a keyword.

  5. OpenSiteExplorer– This tool from SEOMoz is one of the most popular online tools to check up on the competition. You can in a single go compare up to 5 competition sites. See the image below how the comparison box opens up.

    Spy Tools- OpenSite Compare

    The tool then further gives you a lot of data, to study. One thing that you will appreciate is that it tells you the Anchor text of the competition. What keywords are they using for inbound links.

    Spy Tools- OpenSite results

    And furthermore, you can also know the domains that are linking to your competition. This way you can approach those authority sites too!

To Conclude:

Use these free tools to gather what your competition is up to, however, keep following industry trends and more importantly visit the forums, and actually sample what the competitor is offering to make changes in your business.

Here is a list of a few paid spy tools, that will give you deep insights into the competition's modus operandi.

Are there any other tools you use? Do share your views.


Navneet Kaushal is the Editor-in-Chief of PageTraffic Buzz. A leading search strategist, Navneet helps clients maintain an edge in search engines and the online media. Navneet is also the CEO of SEO Services company PageTraffic which is one of the leading search marketing company in Asia.