Let’s be honest. We have all wondered about it. “How does my real estate website stack up against my competition’s site?” The Real Estate Market is fiercely competitive and it’s vital to keep track of your competition. No, I am not suggesting that you become a Private Investigator. It’s actually much easier (although probably not as exciting). By making use of a few online tools, you can turn your computer into a virtual Sherlock Holmes. And yes, everything is perfectly legal and ethical. In fact, your competition may already be doing the exact same thing on you.
Get Emails Directly From Google
Google Alerts allow you to receive a notification every time Google finds new information on a particular subject. Just sign in, setup the keyword and select how often you want to be notified. Google will then send you an email when it spiders new content related to your alert phrase.
DomainTools.com is so much more than a website that just tells you who owns the domain. It shows you meta information, Yahoo Directory and DMOZ listings, server information and a SEO Score. Simply enter in your competitor’s domain name for a full report.
Really Simply Spying
Okay, RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication” but if used creatively, you can easily turn RSS feeds into “Really Simply Spying.” This is a powerful way to quickly and easily keep an eye on your competition. The real value is because of the automation. Your RSS feed will automatically update every time new results are found. Here are a few examplesâ€¦
IceRocket.com is a popular blog search engine. It can be used to keep an eye on other bloggers that may be writing about, and linking to your competitor. Just search for a keyword (such as the Realtor’s name) and click the “Subscribe to RSS feed” link on the right side of the page. You now have an RSS feed of any activity your competitor receives in the blogosphere. **evil grin**
Search for a keyword in Google News. Then click on the RSS link on the left side of the search results page.
Search for a keyword in Blog Lines. Then click the RSS link on the right side of the search results page.
Search on Blogdigger and then click the RSS link on the right side of the search results.
Search on Digg for a keyword (such as your competitions name). On the search results page, click the small RSS icon on the right.
Just Open Up Your Browser
Conduct a Critical Review
I know it sounds simple, and you have probably visited your competitor websites many times. But this time, go back and look at it again from a different angle. Look at their title tags, anchor text, headlines, menu items (and order of menu items). What type of MLS Search do they use? How much information do they have about the community? Simply looking at your competitor’s website through a critical eye will usually reveal some interesting gems.
Watch Someone Surf their Site
Grab a friend and ask them to go to your competitor’s site. Try to give them as little instruction as possible. After all, you don’t want to influence their click habits. Look over their shoulder as they click through the site. Where did they click? What features were important? After they have clicked through the site, ask a few questions to get their opinion on the website. Granted this is not a formal study, but getting someone else’s perspective could be very valuable.
View Your Competitors Statistics
We all know that hard solid data such as unique visitors, page views and conversions are the ultimate standard for statistics. The problem is that I doubt your competitor is going to be willing to just hand over this information. The good news is that there are a few metrics that can give you some ballpark figures. Take these measurements with a grain of salt. They are not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but they are better than nothing.
After seeing the latest from TechChunch about Alexa, I only feel comfortable recommending you use www.compete.com. This is a great resource to see website traffic trends and to compare it against other websites. You can read more about how they gather that data by visiting their FAQ page.
Who is Giving Link Love?
Strategic linking is a big part of a successful online strategy. Because of this, it’s important to see who is giving your competitors “link love.” Here are a few ways to find outâ€¦
Simply go to Google and enter in “link:anydomain.com” (without quotes) to see who is linking to your competitor’s website. While this doesn’t show you every link, it does show a few of the more important ones.
Yahoo Site Explorer
Yahoo Site Explorer is a great tool for finding out a more exhaustive list of pages that link to a particular website. Simply enter in the website address and then click on the “inlinks” link.
Let Technorati Keep an Eye On Things
Technorati lets you keep track of your competition via their free “Watchlist.” Just sign in, click on the watchlist page and enter in your competitor’s name.
Spying on Yourself
While it may be fun to spy on your competitor, it’s also important that you use these same tools for your own website. After all, the findings can be just as enlightening.