How to research your competitors using free SEO/SMM tools

Everyone wants to know why a competitor ranks so highly on Google. Researching competitors may be a good idea before starting a new site or business because any under-estimation of potential competitors may cause serious financial losses for a new business.

The following aspects may be researched:

  • Number of backlinks to competitor sites

  • Number of pages on their websites

  • Amount of words on main pages

  • Amount of traffic to their sites

  • Top traffic sources

  • Usability metrics like time on site or bounce rate

  • Social signals (likes or shares)

How can you gather all of this information without paying a lot of ££ (or $$)?

Here’s how:

Register on Ahrefs and use it during 14-day free trial to examine competitor back links:

Register on Ahrefs

Knowing which backlinks are pointing to a competitor’s websites and the amount they have is a good way to understand what to do to rank highly as well. During the trial period, you can download competitor backlink profiles to use in the future.

Even if you have a free account, you may check up to 10 sites (and their backlinks) daily.

Use this simple request on Google command line to know the number of pages of the site indexed:
(use for any site’s URL).

Using this request will let you know if your competitors have a lot of pages. If they do have it means they may get more traffic to them or their site has been established years ago.

This free and useful tool checks number of words on each page (up to 10 pages at a time):
Your own website pages should have at least 200 words to be ranked high, so it is good to know your competitor’s results.
word count check
You can use Similar Web to identify the traffic to the site, top traffic sources, and usability for any site.
similar web

For example, for the BBC website the data is the following:

Understanding the traffic to each website is important to know the market in general and estimate business goals for your own website.

Onsite optimisation competitor research

Each page should be optimised well for SEO (Title, Meta description tags, keywords, etc.) so understanding competitors SEO optimisation is important. You can check onsite SEO of any page using this WooRank free tool:
Read this report carefully before optimising your own pages, and try implementing the best practices (like Title tag length and other).

You can check your competitors’ Facebook pages for free using this Fanpage Karma site:
Fanpage Karma
You can obtain the following information about your competitor from Fanpage Karma:

  • Number of fans

  • Posts per day

  • Engagement and iteration rates

  • Post history

  • Top and weakest posts

  • Most frequently used words (keyword cloud)

  • Number of likes and comments on recent posts

Use Twitonomy to analyse your competitors’ Twitter activities.
You can log in to Twitonomy using your own Twitter account to research the following:

  • Date the Competitor’s Twitter account was created

  • Number of tweets per day

  • Number of shares, comments, retweets

  • Most retweeted and replied by users content

  • Most retweeted and favorited tweets

  • Who they are following and who are their followers


As you can see, there are many ways to analyse your competitors online. If you know any other free tool for SEO competitor research, drop me a mail or comment on this post.

Download SEO Competitor research checklist here.

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