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7 Ways Small Business Can Check Out the Competition

At this very moment, your competitors are more than willing to provide you with lots of competitive intelligence that you can use to improve your small business marketing and search engine advertising. All you need to do is know where to look for it.

Here are seven ways that you can “spy” on the competition:

1. Scope out their website

Your competitors’ websites probably offer newsletters, white papers, and other freebies. If you subscribe, you’ll get a close look at how they follow-up with buyers and prospects, or woo people for testimonials.

Ken Summers, a marketing consultant and website designer, suggests you also look at your competitor’s metatags – the hidden codes on a website that give instructions to search engine spider robots.

Metatags are easy to find: In the Microsoft Explorer Web browser, just click “View” on the toolbar, and then select “Source.” A text box will open up; search the word “meta,” and you will see all the keywords your competitor is using to position itself. Find keywords you want to appropriate or find ways to differentiate yourself.

Taking it one step further, you can go to a service that analyzes websites called Alexa. It can provide data about the website’s visitors, affiliate programs, and other tantalizing tidbits of information that allow you to scope out what is working for the competition.

2. Let them present to you

Millions of people use Slideshare, an online portal for sharing presentations, as well as documents, PDFs, videos, and webinars. And many people forget to take the presentations down afterwards; these left-behinds can provide you with information about your competitor’s finances, forecasts, and new projects. Go to the site, search competitors’ names, and find out what they’re saying to investors, prospects, and their own staff.

3. Combine Google Alert and LinkedIn

Google News Alerts is a free service that allows you to insert a key word—like your competition’s company name, your competition’s executives’ names, and keywords that prospects are looking for—and be alerted every time an article or website appears that features those keywords.

“You can see where your competition is getting featured, quoted, or published,” says Kristina Jaramillo, a LinkedIn marketing expert and founder of GetLinkedInHelp.com. “You want to be found by everyone your competition is being found by so they don’t steal your limelight.”

She says once you get notified by a Google Alert, “you should see who the reporter, editor, media professional, or influencer is, and look them up on LinkedIn. Let the media inside your social media community so they can see your value and why they should feature you too.”

4. Check out LinkedIn groups

Your competitors may be adding content to LinkedIn groups, which are forums devoted to specific topics. “Just by looking at their content, you should be able to see who they are trying to attract—and what their marketing messages are,” Jaramillo says. “You can also follow your competitor’s company pages on LinkedIn and see what executive moves they are making, new products or services they are launching, and who’s becoming their clients.”

Also take a gander at who is checking out their LinkedIn page. You might find some prospects or business partners who will be interested in talking to you, as well.

5. Uncover their Links

LinkedIn isn’t the only connection you want when scoping out your competitors. The links that connect to a website from other websites are becoming an even more important component of how they come up in search listings. Open Site Explorer is a free search engine that can tell you what links are pointing to your site and your competitors’ sites. This can provide valuable guidance about their search engine optimization (SEO) efforts and point you in directions you should go to improve your own.

6. “Spy” on their advertising campaigns

When you see software with names like SpyFu, you can pretty well guess what they’re going to be able to do with the technology. With SpyFu, you can search for any domain and see every place they’ve shown up on Google, every keyword they’ve bought on Adwords, every organic rank, and every ad variation in the last six years. This allows you to find profitable keywords, eliminate bad keywords, and increase your Web traffic. It’s a great way to boost your own SEO and Pay-Per-Click campaigns.

7. Reach for Tweets

Lots of individuals and companies send out tweets – those 140 character messages that alert you to sales or provide a thought of the day. TweetReach is a service that analyzes the impact of Twitter conversations; it can help you learn who’s talking about a competitor’s campaign and measure the scope and impact of their social marketing.

“If you want to find out about a competitor, there is no end of tools to help; it just comes down to how much money you want to invest and how much time you want to spend on it,” says Lauren McCabe, a consultant for small and medium-size businesses. “Start with the free, easy tools, like Google Alerts, and go from there.”

Power past the Competition

Search engine marketing might be one way to keep tabs on the competition, but it can also be your best tool for surpassing them. Search engine and online marketing programs from YP℠ Marketing Solutions help you maximize leads while optimizing your advertising dollars. Using the business categories and geographic locations you want to target, you get estimated lead ranges and costs to suit your campaign budget.

Comprehensive and cost-effective

ypSearch℠ focuses on getting your business the most from your online campaign so you can focus on your business. Your complete and customized online marketing campaign includes keyword selection, strategic search and online ads, ongoing campaign monitoring, custom URL, website proxy, video and photo gallery integration, monthly email reports, and access to a secure 24/7 online reporting center to see your marketing activity and track performance.

Learn more about ypSearch℠

 

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