15 Ways to Spy on Your Competition

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

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.

Whois

DomainTools.com

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 examples…

IceRocket.com

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**

Google News

Search for a keyword in Google News. Then click on the RSS link on the left side of the search results page.

Blog Lines

Search for a keyword in Blog Lines. Then click the RSS link on the right side of the search results page.

Blogdigger

Search on Blogdigger and then click the RSS link on the right side of the search results.

Yahoo News

Jeremy Zawodny of Yahoo put together a great RSS builder tool for Yahoo News. Just enter your search phrase and click go. It automatically builds an RSS feed of the results.

Digg.com

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 out…

Google.com

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.

Comments

17 thoughts on “15 Ways to Spy on Your Competition

  1. Reconicense on competition is major part of learning how to stay ahead of the competition. I like the revision of RSS (Real Simple Spying). It is surprising to me how many people/businesses don’t pay to much attention to what the competition is doing or how to stay two steps ahead. Good List for people!

  2. Hello Brad,

    What you are enabling with this information is what is taught in the Real Estate industry in Gary Keller’s red book: “The Millionaire Real Estate Agent” — don’t reinvent the wheel; rather, do the (legal and ethical) things that the successful agents are doing.

    Thanks!

  3. Great post.

    My only feedback is that Compete suffers from many of the same drawbacks as Alexa although it is a bit more expansive.

    From what I gathered from thei website, a visit won’t be counted by Compete if:

    – the visitor is international
    – Your ISP doesnt participate or the visitor doesnt have the toolbar

    Since they dont count international visitors, I’m guessing that the toolbar is only in English.

    There are some really great resources outlined here. Days and days of fun ahead…

    Tony

  4. Excellent post! I wasn’t aware of compete and found it quite interesting. Some of these tips are currently in use but a few will be added to the plan!

  5. Wow!! This is what I call spying – I will have to learn some of this stuff…..but will need to start on working on my site’s deficiencies.
    thanks!

  6. This is terrific information, Brad. I have been doing quite a bit with RSS but need to do more, as well as look at your other suggestions. I know I have work to do, both on my website and my blogs. Thanks a bunch.

  7. Brad – I was on Michael Russer’s “Online Dominance” webinar last night. You left me babbling to myself. So much stuff – so little time! I’ve been doing this Blog: http://www.PalmCoastUnplugged.com and people seem to like it. My website: http://www.RealEstateForHeroes.com, is also starting to get some legs. I’m considering signing up for your Blogging Boot Camp. Thanks for all the challenging info! Frank Zedar, RE/MAX Oceanside, Palm Coast, FL.

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