E-media Strategist: 3 Favorite (and Free) Online Competitive Analysis Tools
There are a myriad of sites and tools, both free and paid, that can help you track how well your Web site is performing versus your competitors. Here are a few of my favorite, free online competitive analysis tools.
1. Web Traffic Comparison—Compete.com
We all know our own traffic numbers from our analytics system (and we at least hope that our IT staff set things up properly so that the data is accurate). But what we really want to know is how much traffic our competitors are generating and how we stack up against them. There are a host of free players in this space (Alexa, Quantcast, Google Trends) as well as several paid services. All have different methodologies, different strengths and weaknesses, and all vary in their accuracy.
My favorite free tool for Web traffic comparison is Compete.com, and my favorite report is the Unique Visitor report. The actual reported traffic numbers are under-reported (compare them to your own analytics to see the difference), and don’t get hung up on a single month’s data point, which also has a margin of error. However, the trends and the relative comparison to your competitors are where the real value lies. It does a good job of showing whether your traffic is growing versus your competitors’ and annual cycles in your overall market to help put your own analytics in perspective. By the way, none of the traffic-comparison tools do a good job with small sites (fewer than 20,000 unique visitors per month). There’s just not enough data to draw accurate trends.
Sign up for a free account at Compete.com, and you’ll be able to compare up to five sites at a time and create saved portfolios of up to five sites each. This is handy when you have multiple sites in different markets and need to look at the competitive landscape of each market quickly. Of course, there are paid services available on Compete.com that offer a greater depth of information, keywords that drive traffic to your competitors, and what sites people come from and go to after visiting your competitors, but I find that the free traffic-comparison tools provide great baseline data.