How to spy on your competitors?
Model the best practices from your competitors
As you know, I’m a big fan of modelling successful people and businesses.
Why invent the wheel again if you can learn from results and mistakes from others?
In this article, I will show you all kinds of tips, tricks and tools that you can use to know exactly what your competitors are doing with respect to their online marketing.
Read further if you want to know:
- Who is the owner of an URL and what other websites does he own?
- What WordPress Plugins and Themes your competitors are using?
- How is your competitors sales funnel build up – what are the up- and downsells?
- What ad campaigns are your competitors running, and what are their results?
- How much traffic are your competitors getting and from what sources (backlinks)?
- What keywords are your competitors targeting for SEO and SEM?
- What are your competitors doing to rank their videos on YouTube?
- How and what are your competitors publishing on social media?
- How to get all the stats from any bit.ly or goo.gl shortlink?
- Ecom Spying. How to spy on Shopify and Etsy Stores, find the best-selling products (on Shopify, Etsy, Ebay, Wish, and Amazon), and how to find out where your competitors source their products from?
Who is the owner of an URL?
There are many websites to research domain ownership. Just enter “whois domaintools” into Google and you’ll easily find them.
The first result (in my browser – international Google settings) is whois.domaintools.com.
If you enter my review blog GeorgesReviews.com, you’ll see these results:
Hence, with one click, you can find my name and business name, the number of registered domains on the registration platform (I use GoDaddy and don’t use privacy protection), that I use Cloudflare for my CDN hosting, see some history details, and you can see my IP address and how many other sites are hosted on the same server.
If you are a paying member, you can see do a reverse lookup and can find out what the other 39 sites are.
However, you can get this information for free by using, another free lookup service SpyOnWeb.
Or use Bing.com and enter ip:IP-Address in the search bar (you’ll get more results).
Main disadvantage about this method is that you can get a huge list of domains that belong to others – using the same IP address – but are not owned or managed by your competitor.
Of course, these methods will only work if your competitor is using either AdSense or Google Anylytics.
What WordPress Plugins and Themes are your competitors using?
By right clicking on any web page you want and selecting the “View Page Source”, you can try to find the WordPress Themes and Plugins someone is using.
Matteo Duò describes this process into more detail on this blog post How to Find Out What Theme And Plugins a WordPress Site Is Using.
In this blog post, he tested 6 free online services where you can enter any page URL you want to see what Theme and Plugins are used.
BuildWith also gives you the mail service provider of a domain, the advertising partners, the tracking widgets that are installed on a website and some other extra info (see example).
Matteo also tested 3 browser extensions, but he didn’t like them (and found them performing badly).
A browser extension that I’m using myself since 2014 is SpyBar ($12.95). Very handy, and most of the times it does the job.
Wanna know what Theme and Plugins I’m using?
Go to my resources page, where I show you all the themes and plugins I use.
How to spy on your competitors sales funnel?
Probably, you don’t want to buy all the products of your competitor and go through their whole sales funnel to see exactly how they setup their funnel.
It costs you money and unless you want to try out the products, you probably don’t need the products yourself.
Fortunately, there is a simple way to find all the sales pages URLs in the funnel by just entering the main front-end sales page URL.
FunnelSpy (what’s in a name?) automatically search the web and finds all the subpages on that domain including the up- and downsell sales pages. It’s a tool I use often and only costs $37.00.
What ad campaigns are your competitors running?
Of course, it depends on what paid traffic sources your competitors are using, but there are several tools that you can use. Let’s start with Facebook…
For each FB Page, Facebook allows you to see which advertising campaign is running across Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and their partner network. Even if those ads aren’t shown to you.
Just log into Facebook, visit any Page (f.e your main competitor or a well-known brand in your niche) and select “Info and Ads”. Now you’ll see the ad creative and copy!
This free spying method can be used if you know which Page(s) to analyze.
But what if you don’t know what Pages to analyze?
Or if you want to find high-converting “hidden” FB advertising campaigns in your niche/market?
In that case, you can use these apps below…
Social Sleuth is a Google Chrome browser extension to find in real-time the latest Facebook (Promoted) Posts and Ads (including Dark Posts). Just enter a domain (URL) and keyword. Select what kind of Posts you want (Text, Photo or Video) and all relevant posts and ads will be shown in your timeline. Perfect spying and campaign idea generating tool.
If you want to see just sponsored posts inside your Facebook Timeline, use Turbo Ad Finder, a free Chrome Extension.
Now, you’ll see all the ads specifically targeted to your FB profile and interests.
Don’t want to see current Facebook campaigns but get some inspiration?
Search the free database of about 130K Facebook ad examples on AdEspresso.
You can search by keyword, placement, industry, objective, and attribute!
Probably the most advanced application to spy on Display Advertising is WhatRunsWhere ($299.00 p/mo but you can start with $1.00 trial).
WhatRunsWhere allows you to see exactly where any given advertiser is buying ad space, what ads they’re using, what’s working for them, and what’s not. You’ll get access to campaign data from 150,000 sites, 500+ classified ad networks, and 7 different countries (plus additional sources for mobile ads as well). If you can afford it, definitely worth your money.
Native Ad Buzz allows you to specifically spy on your competitors Native Ad Campaigns. It covers 10 ad networks (see image above), 5 million plus ads, 42K+ advertisers, and 12 (tier 1) countries. You can start with a 7 day trial for just $7.00.
What keywords are your competitors targeting for SEO and SEM?
As Google Adwords (Search Engine Marketing) and SEO (Search Engine Optimalization) are one of the most (and longer) used organic and paid traffic sources.
There are many services that you can use. Most of them have free basic features, a trial period, and paid advanced metrics and insight data about your competitors.
Below the links to the main services:
- SEMRush. Visit the homepage and type in a competitor’s website (completely free) and immediately get information regarding organic keywords and rank, ad keywords, and traffic with easy to understand graphics.
- SpyFu. A paid tool for both in organic search and in AdWords.
- SimilarWeb. Get traffic insights for any website as global/country/category rank, weekly number of visitors in the last 6 months. You can see how many leads come from social, search, referrals, display ads, and many more. Plus you can add competitors and SimilarWeb even gives you suggestions on who you may want to watch.
- Ahrefs. An easy tool to see what backlinks your competitors are getting. This tool is free if you want only 3 different competitor reports and you’ll get maximum 10 results.
- Open Site Explorer – MOZ Research Tool (you know from the free SEO Toolbar). Finds backlinks info with extra info as PageRank, authority/domain, and anchor text.
- Alexa. Famous for its ratings. But this tool also gives all data for spying on your competitors (linking, traffic, keywords, and more).
- Majestic SEO. “The planet’s largest Link Index database” – a backlink analyzer tool. (Limited free search)
- iSpionage. A keyword monitoring tool. Just enter your competitor and see the best performing keywords and ad spends for both organic and PPC (Google and Bing). Plus you get insight in your competitor’s most effective ad copy!
All services above offer great (free and paid) services but if you don’t want to subscribe to several of these services and have to login over and over again, maybe you can consider Data JEO?
Data JEO is a web-based Market Research platform to get insider “Traffic” data about your competitor’s products, advertising, traffic sources and essential Customer Data as keywords usage, similar websites and YouTube Channels they visit, Social Media they use, Geographical & Demographic statistics, popular Facebook Interests and Groups, and how they browse the web (via which device, referring web pages), and so much more…
All the data is up-to-date and extracted from (expensive) services as Alexa, AdBeat, Brand Creative and SimilarWeb among others.
All data is combined together in an easy to use dashboard.
Data JEO can even (automatically) create your Ideal Customer (aka Avatar)!
Read my in-depth review to see exactly how Data JEO works.
What are your competitors doing to rank their videos on YouTube?
As you probably know, you can’t see the tags (i.e. keywords) anymore that your competitors are using to rank their videos.
The manual way is to look inside the source code of the video URL page and look for this line of code that starts with:
meta name=”keywords” content=”KW1″, “KW2”
A very boring task that can only be done for one video at a time.
Luckily, there are tools that will find all the keywords and ranking factors with one click of a button.
Tuberank Jeet 3 is the latest version and totally revamped Windows desktop App that helps you to assess the ranking potential of a keyword (phrase) and to optimize your YouTube video for it. The software shows all your main competitors data and suggest tips and improvements to optimize your video details as video title, description, and tags. Now with one-click YouTube, Vimeo and Dailymotion video upload feature. A very handy and simple to use “ranking” tool (for both complete newbies and experienced video marketers).
How are your competitors using social media?
Or Facebook Graph Search, or any other search function inside all the social media networks…
Or you can use SocialMention – another great free tool for real-time social media search and analysis…
But you probably want a tool where you can manage your social media monitoring from one central dashboard.
And yes, there are many tools to analyze your competitors behavior on social media. So, let’s start with a few affordable solutions, you maybe never have heard of…
Social Page Analyzer is a desktop Research Tool for either PC or Mac to easily analyze Facebook Fanpages, Posts, and Comments. The software has 4 main modules:
- Fanpages Module that extract 27 metrics via Facebook’s API and comes with 3 sub modules:
- Check for FB Interests (for your ad campaigns) with easy copy/page for export.
- Calculate Page Score, i.e. an engagement measurement score.
- Page Report. A detailed PDF report for Fanpage analyzing and optimizing purposes.
- Posts Module. Preview the (top) posts in a beautiful post layout preview window.
- Comments Module. Extract thousands of comments from a selected number of Fanpage posts in just seconds! Great to find ideas and often used sentences or questions.
- Word Analyzer Module. Instantly uncover all the most common word-combinations across thousands of user comments or page posts.
Learn from others, get new ideas, and improve your Facebook marketing with highly-engaging content, and give your fans exactly what they want and like. Especially with Facebook’s new threshold on (organic) News Feed content from Pages, this is a must have tool.
Also, this software is a huge time saver. Find the most engaging content with ease and spy on your competition like never before without having to scroll down through all Facebook News Feeds.
RepWarn is a web based application to easily get notifications about new mentions of your keyword (phrase) mentioned almost anywhere on the internet. You can use RepWarn for reputation management, damage control, finding leads, improving user engagement, spying on your competition and anything else that you want to monitor and get alerts/warnings about new online mentions (i.e. on the web, social media posts on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Yelp, TripAdvisor, blog posts, forums, YouTube, videos, images and more). Read my review to learn more…
How to get all the stats from any bit.ly or goo.gl shortlink?
Well, by just clicking on that link and adding the + sign (for Bit.ly) or adding .info (for Goo.gl) right behind the URL (and hit enter), you’ll see all the stats!
Want to see an example?
The only time I run http://bit.ly/2pPUMrL
Posted by Cosmopolitan on Monday, July 10, 2017
So, click on http://bit.ly/2pPUMrL+ to see all the stats for this link.
BTW I don’t know what Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Nachos (The Cosmo blog post) has to do with running or Tom Hanks’ Forrest Gump 😉 But people do click on the link!
How to spy on other people’s Stores?
You can do this manually by using Google Search. Just use the following query:
“Your Niche” “myshopify.com”.
Google will now display all Shopify stores in the niche you are interested in.
If you found an interesting store, you can dig deeper and add the following string to the end of the store URL:
This works with Shopifiy stores with their own domain too. Again just add the same string as http://domain.com/collections/all?sort_by=best-selling.
A simple to use and fee Chrome Extension is Shopify Inspector.
It allows you to spy on any Shopify store and you’ll get some useful data as start date, new products recently added, bestsellers, and traffic stats.
If you don’t want to use Google search or the Chrome extension, there are several easy to use tools for Shopify spying…
A great cloud-based app that I can recommend is Intelligynce ($197.00).
Intelligynce Platinum (formerly ShopySpy) is a powerful app to spy on Shopify Stores and Amazon, Ebay and Shopify products. You can analyze thousands of Shopify stores and products and filter the search results in a number of ways to find products that are in-demand and actually selling.
You can also use Intelligynce to find the supplier(s) for the selected (dropship) products on AliExpress with just one click.
But you’ll probably prefer the bonus desktop software Ali Inspector. With this software, you can not only source these products but it also allows you to easily download product details (description, images, reviews, etc.) directly from AliExpress that you can upload to your Shopify store with just a few clicks. Read my Intelligynce review.
Another great application to find top-selling products is Wish Inspector.
Wish Inspector ($77.00) is a desktop app to easily research and find top-selling eCommerce products offered on wish.com, and to quickly import selected products (with all details, images, variations (sizes/colors), and reviews) into your own Shopify or WooCommerce eCommerce store.
Or check out…
Dropified ($47.00-$99.00 p/m, or $997.00 lifetime) is a powerful software combo that allows you to manage and scale all your Shopify stores from one place. Not only you can automate the research, selection, sourcing and product import processes for all your products from 53 sources (including AliExpress, Amazon, Etsy), but it’s also comes with automated features for the fulfilling of your customer orders. A huge time-saver and must have application for any serious Shopify store owner.
I hope this summary will help you with modelling your competitors’ best practices. Any comments or questions? Use the comment section below.