Competitive Intelligence

Dec 6, 2007 - 3:42 pm 0 by
Filed Under PubCon 2007

WebmasterWorld PubCon 2007 Las Vegas Competitive Intelligence

Moderator: Jake Baille Speakers: Jake Baille, Managing Director, STN Labs Andy Beal, Internet Marketing Consultant, Marketing Pilgrim LLC Larry Mersman, Vice President, Trellian

Andy Beal

FIrst, I like to look at their background. So I go to a service like where I can see if a site is in Yahoo Directory, Open Directory, registration details, etc. It also tells me all the different sites that are on their IP address. This is a great way to see who all of their client sites are or what their other properties are.

I also like to look at their keyword density. What I like about this tool is it breaks things up into 2, 3 and 4 word phrases.

For backlinks, I use Yahoo Site Explorer. What's especially nice about this is that Yahoo generally puts their most important backlinks at the top of the list.

I also like to use the to check my competitors page strength. I can see how many bookmarks they have in, how many times they've been popular on digg, etc.

I like to see my competitors growth.

For tracking site changes, I use I can see when my competitors are hiring, releasing press releases, etc. Anytime they update a page, you'll know about it. You can set special alerts for particular words, phrases, links, etc.

Watch to see if your competitors are mentioned on blogs or other media.

Also, set up Google Alerts to watch for your competitors activity. Google does a good job monitoring traditional/main stream media. You can set up an RSS feed or email alerts... whichever you prefer. will let you see which keyphrases are driving significant traffic to your competitors website. will show you visually how link clusters look. You can see where the major hubs are.

If your competitor is a public company, you can monitor their SEC filings. If someone sells stock, if someone's being investigated, if a financial officer leaves... they have to report all of those things.

Youc an also use Google to keep an eye on their patents., a classifieds aggregator, will help you follow job postings at your competitor's company.

Keep an eye on your competitors employees. If you can find any of their blogs, follow them. Especially if the company isn't aware the employee has the blog, they might let something important slip.

Larry Mersman

The definition of competitive intelligence can mean manu things depending on the channel we're dealing with. For the most part, it's the gathering of data on your competitors.

Without going into the log files of the competitor, several forms of information can be gathered by different means. Info can be collected several ways and from many sources. The most typical data pools are: Internet Service Provider, User Panels (User Installed Software) and Website Search Patterns/History.

Who is your competition? More than likely, you already know who most of the platers are in your market. Find your online competition using services like HitWise or comScore, or you can do your own research by going into the SEs to see who is bidding on your kws.

Now that you know who is in your space, find out how they got there, and where ther traffic is coming from...

Referring Domains/Backlinks: Who is sending traffic to your competitor?

Keyword Data: What kws are actually being clicked on to get the user to your competitor?

Knowing what kws your competitor is targeting is important, but knowing which kws are performing best for them will help you understand their strengths and weaknesses.

Many companies will optimize their website around kws they think they will be found under, or where the end user will find a link to their site.

Jake Baille

The best webmasters already investigate their competitors. SEO is a game: know more than your competition, and you will win Most novice webmasters have no idea -- use this to your advantage.

Novice webmasters are by and large idiots. They do idiot things like putting sensitive data on their web servers and thus they get indexed by search engines, and even use competitive research tools from their own company IPs.

"WHOIS" My competitor -- Designed in the 80s -- Originally intended to be contact point for technical issues -- Evolved to be the "legal documentation" of internet domains.

Using WHOIS -- Novice webmasters will enter their real contact information -- Intermediate webmasters will use an "anonymizing" service -- Advanced webmasters will just forge their info.

If the domain is forged, you can report the owner to the registrar. The owner has a limited amount of time to correct this.

Regional IP Databases... you can use nslookup to find the IP address of a given domain. Plug the IP into a regional database IP and see what company that IP is registered to. At worst you'll at least find out who the ISP is.

Social Engineering Targets -- ISP employees -- Spouses, significant others of employees or ex-employees. -- Marketing departments/sales people -- PR firms

The Script for Getting Information Out of People 1. Introduce yourself as somsone you're not. 2. Be friendly. People love friendly people. Never become confrontational. 3. Thank them for their time, and move along.

"allinanchor" is your friend. Returns all the webpages linked to with that target term. It's good for discovering networks.

Google Them! Where are their links from? You can pretty much tell an SEOd site these days by visual link inspection. Also just remember to search the damn internet. Search Facebook, follow people on Twitter, search MySpace.

Watch for unnatural traffic. People who type in "allinanchor" in Google are not your target visitors. People who come from the same search engine 20 times in 2 minutes aren't your target visitors. People who come in from aren't your target visitors.

Tracking and Logging: Track their referrer and do something cool with competitors via mod-rewrite: 1. Send all incoming traffic traffic from that specific referrer to a porn site. 2. Serve that traffic a 403 forbidden message. 3. Make them think the site is down.

Defend against social engineering: 1. Instruct your employees they are to talk to no one about your site. 2. Find a trustworthy ISP - most intelligence is gathered at this point. 3. Tell your S.O. to not take business calls at home.

Remember... If you can track something, you can do something about it.


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