How to Spy on Your Competition | Ep. #426

In Episode #426, Eric and Neil discuss how to spy on your competition. Tune in to discover the tools that will help you see what your competitors are up to, how you can compete, and ways you can replicate their strategies.

Time Stamped Show Notes:

  • 00:27 – Today’s topic: How to Spy on Your Competition
  • 00:38 – Ahrefs is a great tool to use
  • 01:22 – SEMrush will show you phrases your competitors are bidding on for pay-per-click
    • 01:40 – It will give you an idea of whether you should also be bidding on those keywords
  • 02:14 – Adbeat goes deeper on ads and spend trends over time
  • 02:41 – BuiltWith will show you everything that your competitors are using
  • 03:07 – SimilarWeb will show you top categories, traffic trends and the breakdown of the traffic of a website
  • 03:45 – SpyFu and iSpionage are great tools
    • 03:50 – iSpionage shows the keyword efficiency index
  • 04:42 – Marketing School is giving away a free 1 year subscription to Crazy Egg which is a visual analytics tool
  • 04:59 – That’s it for today’s episode!

3 Key Points:

  1. Leverage the tools that will help you become BETTER than your competitors.
  2. Track to see if your strategies are working or if you’re just wasting your money.
  3. Spying on your competitors is healthy for a business.

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Full Transcript of The Episode

Speaker 1: Get ready for your daily dose of marketing strategies and tactics from entrepreneurs with the guile and experience to help you find success in any marketing capacity. You're listening to Marketing School with your instructors Neil Patel and Eric Siu.

Eric Siu: Welcome to another episode of Marketing School. I'm Eric Siu.

Neil Patel: And I'm Neil Patel.

Eric Siu: Today we're going to talk how to spy on your competition. I'll kick things off, actually I'll take this one from Neil. I suggest Ahrefs. Ahrefs is a great tool we talk about over and over and over again on this podcast. Really from a competitive perspective, even when I'm talking to clients, prospective clients about SEO, I basically show them Ahrefs, I show them, "Hey, here's what's going on. Here's what you're ranking for. Here's what's within striking distance of getting a top three position." Then nothing pisses them off more than seeing their competitor's rank for more keywords and the keywords that they want to rank for, then looking at their strategy from SEO perspective. Also, being able to look at keyword difficulty and who's ranking top 10 for a keyword and how many referring domains are going to each result. I just like looking at that. That's something, again, Neil and I look at it every single day. Ahrefs, my number one tool.

Neil Patel: SEMrush is another amazing tool. With it, you can put in any competitor URL and you can see all of the phrases that they're bidding on for pay per click. It's really cool because you can see ad copy. It gives rough estimates on what they're spending for that position. This will give you a good idea on if you should bid for some of those keywords. Because what I'll do is I'll take like four or five of my competitors and if they're all bidding on some of the same terms, that means that term probably converts and I should consider also bidding on it.

Eric Siu: Both of these tools, Ahrefs and SEMrush, they'll show you ad copy, keywords that they're bidding on. I actually think SEMrush is better when it comes to different ad copy.

Neil Patel: I don't think Ahrefs does paid, do they?

Eric Siu: No, they do paid. They'll show you the keywords that are bidding on. I'm not sure if they show you the actual ad copy. I know SEMrush does, for sure. What I will say is when you look at a tool like Adbeat for example, Adbeat actually goes a little deeper. It will show you how long that ad's been showing, different types of ads like display ads, things like that. I actually think SEMrush shows some display ads too, but Adbeat will show you the spend trends over time. Adbeat, you can also look at different categories too. You can look at, not just Google, but it shows different publishers as well and you can have different competitive reports. Adbeat's great as a third tool.

Neil Patel: Then you can also check out BuiltWith. BuiltWith will show you everything that your competitor's using, like tools, like Google Analytics, is it built on word price, are they using Crazy Egg or optimized to be running AB test. It'll give you insights on the tools they're using. If you're seeing that all your competitors are using AB testing software, then you may want to consider being conversion optimization. It'll just give you some ideas on some tools you should be using for your marketing related activities.

Eric Siu: Great. Then there's also SimilarWeb as well. SimilarWeb will show you if a site has a mobile app, for example, similar websites. You can also look at top categories as well. SimilarWeb will also show you traffic trends and also what the break down of traffic they have that's going into the site, so organic, referral, paid, it's going to show you that break down. That's fairly accurate. It also shows you outbound where the traffic is going to as well. SimilarWeb, that's like the fifth one. Do you have any more?

Neil Patel: Alexa similar to SimilarWeb, but I don't have too many more than that to spy on competitors.

Eric Siu: Okay. I'll give you two more. These are kind of the same. I mean you have SpyFu and then you have iSpionage. iSpionage is a little more interesting because it shows you the keyword efficiency index and also the ad efficiency index too. What those basically mean is that efficiency index is going to show you how long that ad's been going up and how effective it's been. The keyword efficiency index is just how efficient that keyword is too.
From there, you can basically say, okay, well, competitors bidding on these keywords are clearly ... that keyword had been showing up for a really long time. It's clearly working for them. Just like you look at a billboard, right? The same billboards that you see over and over, a, they're either really dumb and they have money to spend, or b, it's working really, really well. It's probably b. Sometimes it could be a too.

Neil Patel: Then WhatRunsWhere, they specialize just purely in banner ads. That works really well too.

Eric Siu: Great. So that's enough tools around it. I mean just use one of them if you haven't heard about it, if you really want to look at your competition. There's others that we can name too. I can just keep rattling off more, but I think that's good enough for today.
Before we go, we have a one year annual subscription of Crazy Egg, which is a heat mapping tool to give away. You can actually get multiple entries to this. We're giving away one of these every single week for the next year. If you want to learn more, just go to We will see you tomorrow.

Speaker 1: This session of Marketing School has come to a close. Be sure to subscribe for more daily marketing strategies and tactics to help you find the success you've always dreamed of. Don't forget to rate and review so we can continue to bring you the best daily content possible. We'll see you in class tomorrow, right here on Marketing School.

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