11 Powerful Tools to Spy on Your Competitors

“If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles” - Sun Tzu

We all know the quote “keep your friends close and your enemies closer”. Whatever field you are in, the first move in beating the competition is a close analysis of their actions. In online business, innovative tools have made the battlefield much more transparent.

Business can learn a lot from ancient military wisdom. Armies have been using spies for thousands of years to report on the other side's strategies, weaponry, supplies, morale, and general's hangover.

While binoculars and a fake moustache may have been the most important tools for most of spying history, the internet age has provided us with somewhat more advanced tools to keep track of our competitors. Take a look at the following list of free(mium) tools you can use to unravel the actions and underlying strategies of your competition.


screenshot of moat search tool landing page website

Moat is a free ad search tool that allows you to fill-in your competitors’ names and it will show you the ads they’ve been putting up lately as well as the locations where these ads appeared.

Google Alerts

This easy-to-use Google tool sends periodical reports to your e-mail pointing out all the mentions on you competitor’s brand name. This tool also allows you to monitor specific keywords of your choice.

Open Site Explorer

screenshot of website landing page opensiteexplorer

Open Site Explorer describes itself as a search engine for links, backlinks, mentions, linking domains the anchor text used and much more. It allows to you take a in-depth look at your competitor’s linking strategy and understand when, where, how and why are they linking and improving their own popularity.

Alexa Traffic Rank

This tool allows you to rank your website and/or competitors’ in global rank of visitors traffic. As they say “information is power” and thus Alexa is one of the must-have tools to transform data into meaningful insights which may translate in competitive advantage for your business. On the other hand side, Alexa is only able to count visitors with who have their toolbar installed and therefore, for certain cases, data outcomes might not be that relevant. It is also possible to falsely influence the ranking, which is sometimes done by websites depending on ads to drive up the price.

Social Searcher

screenshot of website landing page social searcher

This platform allows you to look into your competitors’ latest social actions (on Facebook, Twitter and Google+). Additionally, on Social Searcher you can have a look at the analytics from their social interactions and subscribe e-mail alerts.

Social Mention

Similarly to Social Searcher, this tool tracks your competitors’ behaviour on the social media. However this tool as a slight twist, apart from only listing all the mentions on social networks it also analysis several other sources such as Blogs, Microblogs, forums and different communities crawling for the tiniest appearance and movement on the web.


screenshot of website landing page ahrefs.com

A super complete tool to analyse your competitors’ inbound strategy. With power and useful graphs, tables and in-depth insights into their accurate backlink footprint. Take a look and be astonished by how much information this free tool can provide you.


This research tool helps you discover your competitor’s IP Address and further domain information. One of the coolest uses for this tool is to discover all the resources who belong to the same owner.

Simply Measured

screenshot of website landing page simply measured

From Simply Measured there’s a new set of Freebie tools which may help you increase your efficiency in analysing your competitor’s social media. One of the most popular and curious ones is the Free Twitter Customer Service Analysis which tells you how well you and/or your competitors are responding to customer enquiries on this social platform.

Klout Score

Klout is a tool usually used to understand how influencial a certain individual is through its networks (usually social networks). However, if you and your competitors are active on different social networks using and analysing their Klout Score might also be helpful in understanding how well you are performing regarding your social engagement.


screenshot of website landing page mention.com

Mention is a real-time monitor that lets you track millions of sources in 42 different languages. If you want to make sure you are able to control everything being published in the web and social networks with comprehensive reports and a unique team feature that lets you assign specific tasks and alerts to different members while comparing data from you and your competitors you should try out this tool.

The following tools were suggested by our readers:


screenshot of website landing page similarweb

To have a semi-detailed overview of your competitors’ website performance SimilarWeb free tool is a great starting point. In this platform you can observe a website’s global metrics such as ranking, visitors, bounce rate, traffic sources among others. Some of the most useful insights this platform gives you include website’s most relevant organic and paid keywords, top referring and top destination sites.


This tools was specially designed for SEO and SEM practitioners to analyse competitors’ efforts. With SEMRush you are able to monitor your competitors’ live traffic (organic and paid), main paid and organic keywords and most relevant ads competitors. From SEMRush it’s important to highlight its visual graphics and flexibility provided to suit in-depth data according to your research goals.

Virality Score

screenshot of website landing page virality score

If you are concerned about measuring your competitors’ real-time virality this might well be one of the best tools out there. In this website you can compare your website to your competitors’ and generate a virality average score for each followed by a ranked list of content for given domains.

Unruly Viral Videos

For some of you, measuring virality of your competitors’ videos is among your highest concerns. To help you with this task Unruly brings you this chart tool real-time updated with the most viral videos out there. Additionally, you can check most viral videos by region or source. Complementary, Unruly offers a paid analytics solution for measuring virality in your own videos.

Final Considerations

Reading your competitors’ strategies is just the beginning. To use this information productively you will need to compare with your own strategies and understand in which way can you improve your operations. Implement a system of constant improvement where monitoring competitors is only part of the process and include customer feedback as an unavoidable complement.

What works for one doesn’t work for all. Don’t become a copycat, but use the insights about your competitors to create your own strategy to find your own space in the market.