Internet Sleuthing: Gathering the Intelligence Required to Beat the Competition

Internet Sleuthing: Gathering the Intelligence Required to Beat the Competition

19th October 2011

Morning sinners, your friendly neighbourhood State of Search panda here… I’ve made it back from the other side of the Atlantic then popped up to the Norf and I’ve now jetted back so I can be here (with you) at A4U, Day 2.

First up for me today is watching three of my fellow State of Searchers up on the block – we have Martijn Beijk,  Sam Crocker,?Kelvin Newman and David Sottimano up to talk about internet sleuthing and that all important beating the competition.

And here’s Kelvin… I have it on good insider information authority that before this live blog post even sniffs a hint of being freshly posted, you lucky people will already have a second post written by Kelvin himself that details everything he is talking about. So I won’t try to take the words out of his mouth and will let him speak for himself, go read his post!

Next up is Sam talking about How to Discover, Distract and Destroy..

So how to find your targets? Firstly great data is expensive… Tools like Comscore, Nielsen, Hitwise, Linkdex are very expensive. Don’t forge the cheaper options such as ad planner or Google insights. And here are some of Sam’s examples of what you can go out and do on a low budget, with a little bit of flair:

  • Meta keywords – sometimes competitors provide information right in front of your nose! Or tools like SEMRush/Spyfu
  • Scrape all the title tags using tools like Screaming Frog/80 legs and analyse this.
  • Use Google Alerts, get more focused… find out who they use for their Press releases and subscribe to this feed then be prepared to steal their thunder!  Tools like If This Then That can make this really easy for you.
  • It can be ‘shady’ but distractions can be very effective – e.g. create fake mobile sites/fake dev sites, install their analytics code on your site, send in head hunters as though you are interested in their staff.

Up next is Martijn talking more onthe web analytics side… Here’s some top tips from him:

  • In order to do business effectively on the web, you need to refine and optimise. Always store your e-commerce transactions within your web analytics package not just through you affiliate network/tracking system.
  • Get to know your audience: on-site survey, email newsletter profiles etc.
  • What are your competitors doing? Use tools like WASP and Ghostery so you get a clearer picture of what your competitors are doing. This can even be used simply for GA by looking at their source code and seeing what sort of custom things they are doing with their GA.
  • Test your page speed loads, and your competitors too with tools like Compare how you are performing within your vertical.

And finally up is Dave Sottimano from Distilled focusing on competitor analysis and looking it from a slightly different angle.

  • Firstly there’s reactive competitor analysis but there’s also pro-active analysis.. Reactive can be useful but it can also become dangerous when it is fuelled by panic or fear.
  • Focus on one or two competitors in your market that you really do care about.. don’t focus on what they’re doing now, find out the future.
  • Being proactive is about getting insider information and staying ahead of the curve, i.e. beating the competitor not copying him. It can get dangerous if your tactics stray too far.
  • Set up a site totally unrelated to your main area of work and optimise it for people to find it when searching for guest blogging or link opportunities. You will be contacted!
  • So what is staying ahead of the curve? It’s looking beyond SEO, it is the wider scope. We know what is coming a lot earlier than most of the wider population. What are we doing with it?
  • Mobile,, Chrome experiments etc…. we know about it but are we actually doing anything with it?
  • There is no one tool that will allow you to beat your competitors… but you can learn from other and reverse engineer. Here’s the link to a tool built by Dave:
  • His learnings? Don’t worry about failing. Try stuff! Set up a satellite site. Test stuff. Try!

(With thanks to wedetectives for the image).

The coverage of A4U Expo on State of Search in part made possible by a sponsoring from Majestic SEO who have the largest Link Intelligence database in Search. To get your free trial, give a card to this blogger or Bas van den Beld in person at the conference or drop us an e-mail.


Written By
Originally from the UK via France and Malaysia, Annabel Hodges is a digital marketer with long experience in the industry now residing in Sydney. She heads up the Digital Marketing at Next Commerce, working across an array of products, channels and brands.
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