When you’re setting up a marketing plan, wouldn’t it be nice to know what all your competitors are doing so you know how to set the bar higher?  That’s what I look at today. I’m going to show you some very easy ways to spy on your competition.

Spying on competitors is not a new game in the marketing industry. For as long as I’ve been working in digital marketing and online marketing, there’s always been the “let’s check out what the other guys do and who’s kicking ass on their website?” 

Do you see them in search results all the time? Well, why is that guy so much more prolific in the ranking than you are? Well, what I suggest we do is let’s do a little bit of spying. My third book Marketing Espionage is really about turning the tables, looking at what they’re doing, so that we can then make a more educated progressive plan for ourselves. 

We’re going to talk about spying on your competitors in the best possible way. Nothing underhanded going on here. The first thing I want you to do is set up a Google Alert for all of your competitors, okay? 

First thing I want you to set up is Google Alerts type in google.com/alerts I want you to keep tracking and really keep a finger on the pulse of what your competition is doing. They’re spending money on that. I want you to take advantage of the money they’re spending and put it to good use for your business, would that be nice? 

Keep an eye out for what they’re saying. What new products are coming out? When they have a new website launched? Keep in mind that you can really take a hard look at that and you can keep track of what they’re doing. 

The next one is spying on your top-5 competitors. Take a really hard look at those top 5. What are the colors they’re using? What’s their call-to-action and what’s their offer. So, as you’re taking this assessment, I want you to really be thinking about how we can look and see what they’re doing and how we can use  that to our advantage. 

The next is social media. I want you to follow them or just watch them. Up to you. Now, social media, I want you to find out what their Twitter handle. Are they on Twitter? Are they on LinkedIn? Facebook? YouTube? Pinterest? Reddit? Find out where they’re at because there’s a good chance if they got into social media early or SEO early, then they’re already probably eating your lunch in this space. 

I find that a lot of businesses don’t get social media. Social media is just about sharing pictures of cats and kittens and funny blooper videos. There is real business hang happening here. and I’ve heard a thousand zillion million times, “We don’t get business that way.” 

Well, I always ask have you really tried to get business that way? Or have you just decided because that’s not your comfort zone that you’re not going to do it at all. But if your competitors are doing it, that should be a very good indication that you should be doing it as well. 

We’re going to then Google your top 5 competitors. Visit their websites. Make notes about each thing that may be slightly different or the same across all those top 5. Then I want you to Google a keyword that you know everyone is fighting over. 

Everyone has what I call an ego keyword. And your keyword is you don’t know if anyone actually searches it or not but you want to be number one under that phrase and every business owner has that ego keyword. Write that down first and foremost, Google that. 

You have to be really careful about how you put yourself out there is not necessarily how you see the business. It’s going to be how others are searching to find what you do. But it’s a very big distinction between I want to be findable for financial banking Denver and then you going “Look, we’re number 1 under financial banking Denver, yay!” and then you go in and look and there are no searches for financial banking Denver is actually financial advisor Denver. 

You used your own phraseology which made you unfindable, by sticking close to what is already in play, by checking out what those ego or competitive keywords are. Therefore, it’s important to understand what the human wants in this situation and not necessarily what you want as the business owner, very, very important. 

Remember, it’s hard to see the label when you’re inside the bottle. You have to get outside the bottle and take a look and see what’s going on that I had nothing to do with creating. One of my clients a long time ago, it was actually when I was working at Yahoo. Bunch of mesothelioma lawyers. Do you know what mesothelioma is? It’s cancer from asbestos. 

We had a bunch of lawyers I would speak to that day. And they were all fighting over the same keyword phrase which was mesothelioma lawyer. Now, that has driven the cost per click up to $100 per click. And they’re just fighting for those because they knew that that was their ego keyword. 

That was the keyword they wanted number 1. What was interesting is that there were only 10 searches a month at that time for a mesothelioma lawyer. 10. That’s 120 over the course of a year and they’re all paying for that.

Every time someone would see someone in their search results, they would dig on another penny and another penny. And pretty soon, the only people they’re competing with is themselves and they drove that number up because they all had this mindset that mesothelioma

The lawyer was the only word they needed. But the search volume didn’t justify the competitiveness of that phrase. So, it’s a great example of making sure that you’re not just going after the keywords your competitors are doing. You’re taking a survey of all the keywords and then you’re going to make a decision on which ones you’re going to use. 

When you’re looking at spying on competitors, there’s a couple of other nuances I want you to think about. The first one is what hashtags are they using? Now, I get a lot of eye rolls when people talk about hashtags. They’re like, “Oh if I hear someone else say hashtag again, I’m going to throw up.” 

Because they don’t really get what it means. So, let me give you the crash course in hashtags. It’s just a club. Let’s say I like rose gold, I like Earl Grey tea, and I like search engine marketing. Those are the hashtags I will follow. Now, the nice thing about it is I can follow #rosegold, #EarlGrey, #SEO. 

When I follow those hashtags, they’re going to show up in my feed. And hashtags thank goodness work across all social media. They work in Facebook, Linkedin, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram. 

They work everywhere, so when you can tap into the kind of hashtags that are in play, you’re going to be able to get in front of those audiences faster. But guess what? Your competitors have probably already done that research for you. So, go in. Go to their social media profiles. 

Check what hashtags are using and see if those are ones that are congruent for you as well. This is fun. I love spying. It’s so cool. All right. The next thing we’re going to do is we’re gonna do a Google yourself sort of moment. But we’re going to do it in 3 different ways. 

We’re in Google your competitors’ name and you’re going to look at their web results. I like to think of this as taking inventory. So, this was 6. What shows up there? Do you see LinkedIn? Do you see Glassdoor? Do you see Yelp? You want to make sure you understand. 

If they are hiring, what does their glassdoor.com profile look like? What does their Yelp profile look like? Maybe they have an account on indeed. You really want to take a deep look at their hiring practices if you’re looking to get employees that they would also want, you got to take a look and see how we look.

If an employee is going to apply for a job, goes to this site, then goes to this site, does it look like a place you want to work? Or is it all empty photos and no ones there? We call those ghost town photos. 

Just pictures of empty classrooms and pictures of empty conference rooms and empty reception desks. Make sure that you really are trying to convey how great you are over your competitors. The next one is going to be web results, now we’re going to look at images. 

Whatever just comes up under their name? And why? Take a look at their images and see what they’re doing to represent their brand. If it is all logos, forget it, they haven’t done the images work. 

Do a careful assessment of what is their YouTube strategy? YouTube is the number 2 search engine on the Internet. A massive amount of time is spent here looking for solutions to problems, vendors and of course there’s a lot of fun elements on the video for you as well. 

Take a moment. Step back from your own marketing mind and look at your top 5 competitors. Go through the things that I’ve pointed out here and do a real study on what your competitors are doing. 

When you look at your marketing budget for this year or for next year, you would get to understand that “Yeah, they got their a-game on going to social.” They got their A-Game going on the blog every single week. 

They have a YouTube channel that’s thriving. They do all kinds of maybe Instagram videos. If you’re going to figure out what is going to put me ahead of my competitors, you’ve got to think bigger and you got to think strategically. 

By looking at what your competitors are doing very methodically, you’re going to be able to set up a strategy that’s going to elipse them. It’s going to over outrank them and it’s going to get the clients that you deserve and pull them away from your competitors. 

Ooh! I love a good spying tool. Hopefully, you enjoyed some of the recommendations I gave you today on how to spy on your competitors. Reverse engineer that content so you can go far and beyond what they’re doing today. 

If you are interested in learning more about how we can help you use the link below to book your FREE hour call with me Book Heather Lutze: Empowering Businesses To Dominate Online!


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