Marketing Espionage: How to Leverage Online Competitive Intelligence to Dominate Your Industry

Shoe phones, cones of silence, British sports cars, and intelligence gathering are not just for James Bond and Mr. Gadget. Let’s put on our trench coats, grab our briefcases and start to SPY. This mission is yours if you choose to accept it.

Know Your Customer

CEOs and top executives are pulled in a thousand different directions to oversee and build your business. However, when customers or clients search for your products or services, they may not necessarily know them specifically by name. Instead, they seek a solution to a problem. With a sea of competitors and so many variables, potential customers turn to Google for answers. Your greatest marketing challenge is to know intimately what your customers or clients need, what keyword phrases are important to THEM and also how we see your company.

After working with many CEOs and top business executives for years, I can tell you that there are countless ways to search for the very same thing. Your company often creates a website, blogs and social content based on how YOU see your business and not what problem the client needs resolved. They are turning to a robot for solutions. You need to appeal to the robot AND the human to be truly findable. I call this “Findability” or industry experts call it SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

Taking Your Customers on like an Internet Marketer

I want to challenge you to think differently. It’s time to take a proactive approach to marketing and see if you can figure out what is inside the mind of your IDEAL online searcher. You often guess at what might work for online exposure and guessing is expensive! The ONLY way to STOP guessing and to know for sure what your customers are doing is to SPY on them.

Don’t worry, all the tools and tricks I will show you are ethical, legal and everyday practice for Internet Marketers. These tools have been my secret Spy Tool Kit to outsmart the competition online and win new business. I am thrilled to share with you the best Findability tools anyone can use…no geek knowledge required.

OK, let’s get to work. Use the tools below to see your recommendations. You can also use the fields to fill in your data as you implement the recommendations you receive.


Spy on Your Own Website to Establish a Baseline.

Your Website:

MARKETINGGRADER.COM: This tool will give you a WIDE perspective of your current website and a quick assessment of the key attributes search engines expect of an authority web presence. Remember that search engines covet their search results. They only want to put the best of the best under keyword searches based on blogging, social engagement, lead generation and other key factors. NOW RUN YOUR SCORE. Once you write your score down, scroll down the page for detailed recommendations on how to improve your score.


WOORANK.COM: This is my biggest secret weapon. This site is a real “nerd” moment as it provides a free 15-page SEO report on all the improvements you can make on your site for better Findability. Run this report, save it as a PDF and give it to the webmaster in your life. Walk through the report with your team to see how much of the “red” they can eliminate from the report.


EXTRA CREDIT: Check out WORDLE.NET OR TAGUL.COM. This word cloud tool is nothing special – there are a million of them online. However, if you use it correctly, you can tell how search engines interpret your site and what keyword phrase is most relevant. Copy and paste ALL your homepage content into and run the tool.

The BIGGEST word on the word cloud is the MOST REPEATED keyword on the page. Search engines want to rank the pages that are most relevant by keyword phrase. Circle the biggest keyword on the page, the second biggest and so forth. Now you can see how search engines interpret what your homepage is about. If the biggest word on the page is your company name, you may want to consider other phrases (besides the name) for which your homepage should rank. Or you can do this with a competitor’s site too.



COMPETITOR #2: This is a great tool to see exactly what keywords your company currently ranks under in search engines, as well as your how your competitors rank. Go ahead and run a report for your website. You will get a treasure trove of data on your business including keyword positions on a search result page, searches per month and any trending for that phrase. Warning: This tool will let you run a single report before asking for your credit card. You can get around this by using different browsers to run more than one report. You are going to love this tool since it offers tons of great insights in a format that’s easy to understand. This tool is free and you can run as many reports as you like. I have used it for years to perform competitive analysis. Type a competitor’s domain name into the tool to discover what keywords they rank for and exactly what they are doing to achieve this rank. This is like reverse engineering what your competition is doing and you can glean a strategy that is either aligned with them or different. Remember, just because you think they are competitors offline, does not mean they are a competitor online under a particular keyword phrase. You want to become findable to prospective customers that DO NOT know your company but should. EXTRA CREDIT: Check out which is another great intelligence tool.


ADWORDS KEYWORD PLANNER: Some of you may know this tool if you run a paid search campaign (PPC). If not, this is the best tool by far to get keyword ideas. Visit, setup an account, and use the keyword planner. Even though you have to enter a credit card number, there is no fee for opening the account and you do NOT have to start a campaign. Just use and abuse the keyword planner to discover your ideal keywords.

Remember, you want keyword phrases that are two – three keywords long. Try to be as specific as possible. Create a list of all the keyword phrases you would like to rank for in search engines. Then your team can consider creating content based on these keyword phrases for blogs, social media, or web pages. This tool gives you monthly search volume for each keyword phrase. Pick keywords that have over 250 searches per month to gage if writing content based on the phrase is worth your time.

SPYFU.COM: This is a great intelligence gathering device. They have a number of valuable tools such as the Kombat tool to “fight” with your competitor (your domain versus their domain), and it breaks down the websites piece by piece. They also have a keyword tool called SmartSearch. Here you will get search engine data from Google, Yahoo and Bing search engines. Play around and run some reports to get helpful keyword ideas, as well as understand why that pesky competitor ranks for a particular keyword phrase and you do not. They have so many great offerings, it’s worth setting up a free 30-day trial.

Keep this article handy for the next time you see a competitor ranking under a sought-after keyword phrase. Use this Spy Tool Kit to dive into what they are doing, discover what keywords they are using and how you can compete with them in search results. This message will self destruct in 10 seconds.

Heather Lutze, CSP is the widely acclaimed speaker, trainer, and consultant who literally wrote the book on search engine marketing. Two books, in fact—The Findability Formula: The Easy, Non-Technical Approach to Search Engine Marketing and Thumbonomics: The Essential Business Roadmap for Social Media & Mobile Marketing. Her writing and in-demand keynotes and Findability University workshops are delivered with the same witty, “No Geek-Speak” style that has managed to demystify Internet marketing for countless CEOs, top executives and business owners. Her new book Marketing Espionage: How to Leverage Competitive Intelligence to Dominate Online is due out in 2015.


  1. Heather – this is amazing! Thanks for sharing these great tools to help me get a jump on my competitors. Who knew so much info was available to help me improve my online presence? I cannot thank you enough or wait to get my hands on your official spy tool kit!.

  2. Thank you for creating this fun way to improve my website AND learn the steps necessary to rank over my competition! I just checked my score on WooRank score and wow! Not only do I have my WooRank score as a baseline for future reference, I have a thorough report outlining what areas I need to improve! I look forward to using the other tools you mentioned to make my website better!

    PS- What is a good WooRank score? My website score was 52.

  3. Incredible amount of information packaged in one post! I’m not a techie, but the suggestions and tools you offer are leading me to a greater understanding of the subject! Thanks!

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