7 of the most effective tools you’ll use to spy on competitors in 2019 - Social Media Explorer
7 of the most effective tools you’ll use to spy on competitors in 2019
7 of the most effective tools you’ll use to spy on competitors in 2019

Having too many options in life can lead to problems. At least, that’s what psychologist Barry Schwartz theorizes in his book, ‘The Paradox of Choice’. When it comes to marketing, there is an abundance of choice. Nowadays with more competition than ever, it’s become increasingly important to use the best tools for the job.

Which software should I use to analyze my new website? How do I get my knitted wool beanie business to the top of the SERPs? Is there a service that sends a group of talented artists to recite classic 20th-century Australian rock music, right on the doorstep? I hope the latter exists but for now I’ll answer the former.

You might’ve heard of the big names in the game. We’ve done our homework to narrow down the best of the best software, so you can sniff out your competitors. 

For more on choice and it’s associated psychology, have a peek at this article to get a better understanding.

We’ll start off with a familiar name in the SEO sphere, however, many might not know of its full potential.

  1. SEO PowerSuite including SEO SpyGlass, Rank Tracker and WebSite Auditor tools

Free evaluation version – unlimited projects on all tools, can assess the software’s features thoroughly with minor limitations

The Professional version is available for a one-time payment of $299, and after six months, a small monthly fee to keep those search engine algorithms updated

Purpose: To identify competitor link-building strategy, keyword competition, and on-page SEO techniques 

With an arsenal of tools available in the suite, you’ll be able to analyze your competitors in almost every way imaginable. The first stages of competitive analysis will be a breeze with the keyword rank checker software, you’ll find out how keywords rank in a particular country, down to individual states. This feature will be used to find who you’d be competing with, in your region. With the WebSite Auditor, you’ll rip apart competitor web pages and get the lowdown on their on-page SEO tactics.

You’ll find the best backlink opportunities in the intuitive ‘Link Intersection’ module, found in SEO SpyGlass. It can find where multiple competitors receive backlinks from the same source, useful for finding potential new influencers.

Living up to its name, the SEO PowerSuite software might be the only one you need. With the trial version, try the free audit tools to get a good understanding of competitor on-page SEO tactics and approaches. Using the TF-IDF module, you’ll know exactly which words to use on your own website based on competitor word frequency.

An interesting quirk in the product, the ability to install the full suite and use offline. Without having to use browser-based software, you’ll worry less about the reliability of their hosting service, and there’s the capability of a faster, more thorough search that far exceeds what’s possible with browser-based offerings. You’ll find it much easier to keep your rankings up to date, with an automated scheduling process that effectively has no limits on the schedule.

With the exhaustive SEO keyword tool, you’ll soon know exactly which keywords to target, how to optimize your website for your keywords and where to get high-quality backlinks from.

Bottom Line

  • Combined tool functionality not offered anywhere else
  • Seamless user experience
  • Installation for desktop-based usage

Ideal for; – Business Owners, Marketing Researchers, Bloggers, Content Researchers, Everyone in SEO

For more on one of the best tools for the job, find about the suite and what it will do for you right here.

2. Awario

7-day trial available for Starter Package

Starter Package available from $29 per month

Purpose: To research your niche on social media platforms, find new influencers, gather customer opinion and understand competitor social tactics

This brand monitoring tool takes all the best tools you need to investigate your competitors. Best of all, it proceeds to combine it all into a user-friendly interface. You’ll identify which social media platforms your competitors are actively targeting. 

To improve your own marketing strategy, you’ll dig deep using Awario in order to identify what kind of content your competitors are producing. Factors such as patterns in their posts or articles will give useful insight into their marketing efforts.

Most useful of all, you’ll find out what kind of content is the most impactful in your market, giving plenty of ideas for your own project. You’ll soon know exactly which platforms you should target with your content.

Including the ability to track up to 50 competitors at once using the Enterprise edition, you’ll know every move that your competitor makes. You’ll be tracking hashtags and campaigns in order to keep an eye on all the activity within your niche. 

Using the ‘Alert Comparison’ module, you’ll understand the tactics of your competitors from different angles. Use this insight to find out who the most effective influencers are, and where you could adapt from their strategy. With a good understanding of these metrics, it’ll be easy to have an idea of the techniques your competitors use to find success in the market.

Including everything you would need for analyzing competitor activity on the social platforms, Awario is one of social media monitoring tools not to be missed.

Bottom Line

  • In-depth analysis of all social network metrics
  • Cost-effective plans designed for all budgets and needs
  • Easy to use interface, tailored for a better user experience

If you’re after a comprehensive tool that will return actionable insights, we can’t recommend Awario enough. Sign up for a free trial here.

3. Buzzsumo

Free 7 day trial for Pro Version – all features available

Pro Version available from $99 per month

Purpose: To understand the content in your market and what resonates best with the audience

One of the most well-known tools used by almost all content marketers, Buzzsumo provides its users with an easy way to track the most popular trends all over the social networks and understand performance. 

The unique Evergreen score rates posts that continue to get high social engagement over time. Using the ‘Influencers’ tool will let you see who is sharing the content the most and give some ideas on who you can reach out to.

A different angle not available in other tools, the ‘Question Analyzer’ module scours the web to find questions on a brand or topic. You’ll find what people want to know about your competitors or industry, with the potential to find gaps in your competitor’s marketing strategy.

Making use of the alerts for yourself and competitors, you’ll always be up to date on your niche and its mentions.

Bottom Line

  • Simple but powerful design
  • Advanced fine-tuning of search terms
  • Evergreen score

Ideal for; – Content marketers, Content researchers, Copywriters, PR Agencies

For more on the content marketers’ weapon of choice, check out the website.

4. Google Trends and Keyword Planner


  1. Purpose: To Provide the groundwork for competitor keyword research and trend analysis

An effective, free tool made by the folks over at Google, Trends will give information on search term popularity over time. You’ll use this insight to spot opportunities in your market. With the simple term comparison tool, you’ll compare brand competition and track down related search queries and using the ‘interest by region’ module, it’ll provide some perception into popularity from all over the world. 

Using the Keyword Planner tool is a great way to get a rundown on keyword competition, and background figures on advertising costs. It might look basic but know that with good knowledge of its use, you’ll pull some very insightful data on your competitors. Using tools made by the masters themselves will no doubt report some of the most accurate information, after all, it’s coming from their servers.

Bottom Line

  • Very simple to use
  • Integration with other Google AdWords account to tie-in with potential ongoing marketing campaigns

Ideal for; – Content Marketers, PPC advertisers, small business owners

For those just starting out, or looking for a simple tool to get the job done, try them out here.

5. Social Animal

14-day trial available for All Editions

Blogger Package available from $49 per month

Purpose: To identify competitor marketing tactics and give deep insight into competitor content on social media

Named after a new breed of 21st-century human, this tool will do the heavy lifting needed for social marketing research. 

It can scrape content (such as articles) down to individual words, from a variety of different sources to get insight into word count, keywords and engagement figures, making it a breeze to analyze your competitor’s tactics. It’ll gather all the information you need and give you expert opinion as to if the content is worthwhile targeting. 

Using the ‘influencers’ module, you’ll easily find the best publishers or creators in your niche to work alongside. With deep Facebook integration, you can monitor competitor activity, including their posts and engagement. This insight will help you work on your Facebook marketing strategy.

Personalized reports can be sent to your email every day, keeping you updated without the need to check the application.

Bottom Line

  • Thorough insight on content mentions from all over the web
  • Integration to make Facebook marketing a breeze

Ideal for; – Content marketers and Researchers, Graphic Designers, Bloggers

For all the latest gossip in your niche, try out Social Animal right here.

6. SimilarWeb

Free Version – most statistics provided on search data, can view traffic data from up to 3 months ago

Premium pricing available by quote

Purpose: To reveal competitor strategies, understand the market and evaluate competitor strength

Used by those in the know, SimilarWeb proves useful for analyzing all there is to know about competitor engagement. Providing useful metrics such as graphs displaying visits over time, total visits, and pages viewed per visit, to help you better understand competitor strength.

Featuring a variety of innovations such as ‘Dashboards’ mode, you’ll be provided with custom graphs and visuals, tailor-made for whatever field you’d like to analyze.

The in-depth suite includes tools for website analysis, mobile app and category analysis (useful for mobile developers) and ‘funnel’ analysis. You’ll get the lowdown on conversion rate, converted visits and identifying the best converting channels for any niche. 

Bottom Line:

  • Custom Dashboards make customization a breeze
  • Thorough analysis of mobile platforms
  • Browser integration with the free extension

Ideal for; – Digital Marketers, Market Analysts, Business Analysts

If you’re after an insight into the lesser-known competitor tactics, see how SimilarWeb can get the job done.

7. Spyfu

Free version – allows all features with limitations on statistics 

Basic Plan from $39 per month

Purpose: To give insight into competitor keyword targeting, find effective words for PPC marketing

Combining a host of tools for competitor keyword analysis, this adequately named program will spy on all of your rivals. Most important of all, it’ll tell you their most profitable keywords.

The ‘Overview’ page gives you all the information you need at a glance, with other tools available in the submenus. You can look at the history of individual keywords and see a history of paid targeting, giving you an idea of potential competition. 

A notable feature is the ‘Kombat’ keyword intersection tool. You’ll see the keywords targeted by all your selected competitors in an easy to understand visual.

Included with a handful of other advisory tools, you can try their Keyword recommendations. You’ll see all the words that your competitors are targeting but aren’t targeted by yourself. A very useful feature to spot gaps in your own campaign.

With every tool a PPC advertiser could dream of, it’d be hard to go past Spyfu for the ease of use combined with in-depth analysis.

Bottom Line

  • Innovative interfaces to better understand keyword competition
  • Thorough tutorials available to better understand the market and features of the tool

Ideal for; – PPC Advertisers, Content Marketers, and Copywriters

For a reason to dress up like a British spy and peer on your rivals, try out SpyFu here.

To conclude, I hope you’ll find the right tool for your marketing efforts. As you’ll see through time, each tool has benefits and weaknesses, which is why it’s important to try and see what suits the best for your strategy. To find real success requires a lot of trial and error. The process will be made so much easier by looking at competitor activity and learning from their strategy.

Leigh Enright is a Marketing Specialist with SEO PowerSuite, known for their software for in-depth keyword research, site auditing, backlink research, and link building tools. He writes objectively to highlight the most effective techniques for use in the SEO industry.

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