If you’re trying to establish an online presence, researching your competitors is often the key to success. It can take years to rank a website in Google, especially if you have a limited SEO budget; therefore, finding gaps in your market is crucial in order to fast track your way to the top.

Simply typing in a keyword or phrase and checking out the top Google results won’t cut it. To have any inclination whatsoever of whether or not you’ll be able to rank highly, you’ll need to know if you can beat your competitors.

In association with Find Your Audience, a digital marketing firm in Toronto, Nathan Yeung, the CEO and I discussed what tools he has used for clients which have proven track record of providing great value.


MozBar is a free toolbar that shows up under each URL in Google when you search for a keyword or phrase. MozBar will tell you the page rank, domain authority and how many backlinks a particular website has (both the root domain and inbound pages). In addition, it will provide a list of where those backlinks are coming from.

MozBar is best used to assess how authoritative a domain is and gives you the opportunity to thoroughly assess the competition and see if you can outrank the domain. As a toolbar it doesn’t have the most attractive design and will slow down your search speed a little; however, it’s definitely worth having as it can easily be disabled when you don’t need to use it.

The best thing about MozBar is that it’s free. The worst thing is that it’s not always stable when installed on Chrome. There is also a ‘pro’ option which charges a small fee. This will not only provide a more in-depth analysis, but will allow you to export your data to an excel spreadsheet.

Long Tail Pro

Created by the infamous Spencer Haws from the world renowned affiliate marketing blog Niche Pursuits, Long Tail Pro is perfect for analyzing the competition of niche websites. The software is specifically designed to locate gaps in the market for certain keywords and will also help you find alternatives that have less competition.

Long Tail Pro is essentially an advanced keyword tool. It will analyze keywords and phrases, check their rankings in Google, suggest suitable alternatives, and present a numerical figure that represents the competitiveness of the keyword. While Long Tail Pro won’t delve into too much detail about competitors, it’s a worthwhile tool if you aren’t sure whether or not to pursue a certain search term.

With a monthly fee of $25 for the Starter Plan, or $98 for agencies, it’s quite pricey. However, what you will receive is a quality product that has regular upgrades from Haws himself – who is a hugely successful online marketer – therefore, it is guaranteed to remain up-to-date and relevant.

Open Site Explorer

One of the hardest things to do as an online marketer is to find websites that are willing to provide a backlink. Open Site Explorer will allow you to assess competitor websites and see where their backlinks are coming from. You can in turn use this information to find suitable websites for your own link building campaigns (this can be particularly  beneficial if you use broken link building).

Open Site Explorer is free; however, it does have its limitations. You are only permitted to view detailed information a certain amount of backlinks, which includes anchor text, page authority and domain authority. In addition, free users can only generate a maximum of three reports per day.

The paid Open Site Explorer service basically eliminates all of these limitations, allowing you to view information on up to 10,000 backlinks and export the data to a CSV file. You can test out the premium version by signing up for a free 30 day trial. Afterwards you’ll have to pay a monthly fee of $149.


The best thing about all of the tools featured on this list is that they give you the chance to try before you buy; therefore, you can determine whether or not they’ll help you achieve results. If you don’t like them, there are plenty of alternative options to choose from.

Internet marketers often understate the importance of competitor research and find themselves unable to rank websites well enough to produce decent conversions. Don’t make this mistake. Research may be time consuming and can sometimes seem unnecessary, but it could literally make or break your business. After all, while certain keywords and phrases may not deliver masses of traffic, they will often yield higher returns.

Adam Manuel (author)

Adam Manuel is a freelance writer and Internet entrepreneur. For more information, visit his blog: adammanuel.com

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