Today we’re going to look at a range of competitor benchmarking tools.
Our SEO clients would often ask us to take a look at their competitor’s digital activity however this cannot really be fully done as we haven’t got access to their analytics to go and look at the data.
There are however lots of tools out there that allow to us take a bit of a sneaky look at what your competitors are up to, do some analysis on it, and really start to understand the results they’re getting so you can benchmark yourself against it.
A lot of these tools because they’re not really first-party tools, i.e., it’s not the actual data taken directly from your competitors, we’ve got to understand the limitations of those tools as well and look at the different aspects when comparing SEO metrics.
The best way to approach it is to look at it channel by channel.
Meaning you look at search, look at email, you look at social media, and you do some analysis, and you benchmark that against yourself.
I am going to go through a range of tools and showcase the benefits of them:
Seranking.com – Paid / Free with limitations
Seranking.com is a tool that allows you to look at your own rankings. It does some analysis of your website to work out how well optimized you are. It allows you to track your positions in various search engines. But it does some great competitor analysis.
Competitor wise you can tell it who your competitors are, or you can just give it a particular keyword phrase, and it will analyze what the top sites featured within that phrase are and give you a nice breakdown of some benchmark metrics.
One of our favourite features is that you can actually see what keywords / Phrases your competitors have tried and came back to time and time again but for one reason or another it hasn’t worked out, It can act as a guide of what to avoid and what to go for when choosing your keywords.
The limitation of seranking.com comes when trying to work out much the specific phrase is worth to the competitor as it does pick up all the keywords only the ones that the tool can find easily. Therefore working on spent data can prove difficult.
Link Explorer (comes with MOZ toolbar) – Paid / Free
Moz Link Explorer or Open Site Explorer basically it allows you to look at any particular website and see the quantity and quality of people linking through to that site. And essentially what that’s doing is simulating part of the Google algorithm and that’s the part of the Google algorithm that cares about how many people are linking to you from the website and talking about you.
The main concept behind this is if you’re publishing something useful or interesting or engaging, people are quite likely to link through to it.
So it’s always been a signal in Google we’ve been very keen to understand but Link Explorer is fantastic for doing that for yourselves, so benchmark yourselves, benchmark your competitor but see where they’re getting links from and actually get ideas from that.
We believe this is one of the really, really great tools for competitor analysis because you can see how well they’re doing and what kind of content they’re creating. What’s popular, what are people linking through to, and it will give you some direct ideas of where you can go with this as well.
There’s an additional tool they have as well, the Moz toolbar. If you sign up for a community account on MOZ, which is free, you get access to a few more metrics. But basically, you can look at any page on your own website or on your competitors and get some really useful on-page analysis.
It can be used to see exactly what is the title tag and what’s the meta-description, and what H1s, and H2s, and H3s are in there. It’s got some great kind of on-page metrics like that you can see how the images have been tagged.
It also attempts to give you some link analysis as well and gives indication on how widely linked to a particularly piece of content is, and some propitiatory scoring that they have.
It shows Domain Authority and particularly URL. Domain Authority is useful as it allows you to see how trusted really that page is based on the quality and quantity of people linking through to it. It is a useful way to benchmark yourself.
In most cases the one with the highest domain authority almost certainly ranks higher in Google. The more trusted your website is, the higher that score is going to be. So you want to beat your competitors on that score.
Google Display Planner
Display Planner is part of the Google AdWords system. It allows you to look at the kind of topics and what people are interested in for a particular domain.
Edit: This seems to have been updated as part of the new ‘Google Ads’ service, see here.
This allows us to go and put my domain name in, my competitors domain name in, It will then go through and essentially look at how many people, how many views are available in the Google Display Network in terms of the number of ads that are showing up in regards people interested in that topic.
It is useful to put your own website in and see what google thinks your business is all about, if not this can act as a guide for how to improve it.
One of the tools for social media that we always recommend is Klear.com. Klear allows you to enter in a particular social platform, and it will give you a load of scores and measurements around that. There is a paid version that gives you huge power. But if you get the plugin for Google Chrome for Klear.
It gives you all sorts of insights, most popular content, influence, where they’ve been influenced, how it compares against other people.
If you get the plugin for Google Chrome, and you look at all the insights it gives you, you can search on a topic, search on a brand, look at your competitors and see their scores, what they’ve done that’s popular, tell you what levels of engagement they’re getting on all the different social platforms.
In a practical setting the first thing I would do would be to benchmark myself and just look at what level of engagement, it gives you a score of 100. Say you are 50, and your competitor’s a 56, You then need to get more engagement and try and beat them in terms of just getting higher levels of quality engagement.
Email is channel that is very easy to do badly in, an easy way to see how you competitor is doing email, is by simply signing up to their newsletter reports, this seems simple but it can show you what they are doing and what they are focusing on.
Companies like Mailchimp also compile together their stats on a very regular basis and will tell you the average open rates and click-through rates for a particular industry. And as a baseline, you just want to be benchmarking yourself.
These are the tools we think are really going to help you with benchmarking against your competitors.
Do let us know if there are any tools you’re using and we’ve missed, we’ll be really happy to list those.
Thanks for reading and for more useful information check out our other blog posts.