When you’re on top everyone is always gunnin’ for you. Whether it is in business, sports entertainment or online in the Search Engine Results Pages, if you are on top you can expect to find your competition working to knock you off of your perch. Remember in Rocky III when Clubber Lang wanted a title shot to take on the Heavyweight Champion of the World Rocky Balboa? Clubber (played by a young Mr.T) made the most of his opportunity and knocked out Balboa. Rocky lost his manager, his confidence and his competitive edge. He wasn’t prepared for the fight. He goes on to enlist the help of former champ Apollo Creed. (Cue the “Eye of the Tiger” theme music). Creed goes on to train Balboa and Rocky goes on to defeat Clubber to regain his title. The competitive edge was back.
In the online world, competition for keyword visibility and clicks from Search users is fierce. One day you’re at the top of the SERPs for your main keywords the next day your on page two of results. The vastness of the Internet and ease of creating content through a blog or a website makes online competition even more intense. The need to keep on top of your competition becomes all that more important.
Of course there are a lot of tools that companies can spend a lot of money and resources on to track their competition, but there are also a number of free resources that you can use to gain competitive intelligence. Here’s a look at seven forgotten sources of free online competitive intelligence.
7 Forgotten Sources of Free Online Competitive Intelligence
1. Google Alerts – setting up Google Alerts for your competitors can provide you with competitor insights that you may have otherwise overlooked and not been aware of.
2. Yahoo Alerts – ditto with Yahoo Alerts.
3. Google Finance – if your competitor is publicly traded, you can perform a search in Google Finance, where you can review income statements, latest news stories and blog posts about the competitor.
4. Yahoo Finance – ditto with Yahoo Finance.
5. The Free Library - http://www.thefreelibrary.com/ is a great source for articles and information on your competitors. You can browse by date, author, category and name.
6. Wikipedia – while not as trusted as other resources, Wikipedia can be a great place to acquire competitive information.
7. Comparison Shopping Sites – sites like Price Grabber can be a great source of competitive intelligence for retailers and B2C business owners.
Think about Microsoft (MSFT) and their attempts to learn more about Google’s (GOOG) attempt to acquire ad firm DoubleClick. A great source of competitive information for the Microsoft folks would be the Google Finance page itself. Microsoft could then set up Google and Yahoo Alerts on Google and DoubleClick to monitor the latest activity and news stories.
I am a firm believer that you cannot have too much information about your competition. In this day and age you really need to establish a unique online competitive advantage over your competition. Leveraging the free tools and resources that we mentioned above is a great way to monitor your competitors some of whom may be online or offline. In time, you may want to pursue more robust competitive tracking tools, but as a starting point places such as Google Finance or Wikipedia can provide additional insight that you may have otherwise overlooked.
Labels: competitive intelligence