3 Ways to Spy on Your Competitors

James Bond would never have been the greatest secret agent on the silver screen if it weren't for his super-awesome gadgets. Fortunately for you, there are some great secret agent link gadgets that can make you a top notch linker.

Most of the best link gadgets you'll find are of the intelligence collecting variety. Intelligence is the secret weapon of any super-spy, or any SEO. The more you know, the more successful you'll be. Today, I'll hook you up with three of the better intelligence gathering tools available for link building.

First, a warning about automated link-getting gadgets: while they'll promise you everything under the sun, they rarely produce meaningful results. This is because an automated link request invariably sounds like you've never been to their Web site and you don't know anything about what they do. Which is all true.

The number one way to get links is to keep an eye on what your competitors are doing. If you know what your competitors are doing when it comes to link building, you may be able to do something similar -- or maybe even do the exact same thing. The Web gives you the opportunity to easily examine what your competitors are up to.

Link Gadget No. 1: SeoQuake

SEO campaign.

You can see what the plug-in looks like here:

seoquake

It tells you a tremendous amount of information:

  • How many pages are indexed in Google. This helps you understand what you're up against with sheer amount of content. Content is king in the SEO game. If your competition has a lot more content than you, you'd better get busy creating some of your own.

  • How many links Yahoo knows about that point to that specific page, and also the overall domain. When it comes to spying on your competition, Yahoo is better at displaying total number of links than Google. This is the place you want to go for that information. The quality and the number of links will give you a quick understanding of how you rate in the link building world.

  • How a site compares on social media sites, such as del.icio.us, Technorati, and Digg.

  • The list of features goes on and on.

Another great feature of SeoQuake: it displays its results in a search query. So you can instantly see all of the SEO metrics for each SERP. Like so:

seoquake-search-results

Link Gadget No. 2: Google Advanced Search

Perhaps you've seen a little tiny text link to the right of the search box at Google that reads, "Advanced Search." There are some hidden gems of spying gadgets in that area.

Within that page, there's a dropdown area titled, "Date, usage rights, numeric range, and more." Within that is a parameter you can pick called, "Where your keywords show up." This area gives you a dropdown selection where you can pick, "inlinks to the page." You can use this parameter for all sorts of sneaky things.

google advanced search

The best use of this slick gadget is to search on your competitor's name with the "inlinks to the page" dropdown box selected. This will show you links that have your competitor's name in the link. For added sleuthing, play around with the "Date: (how recent the page is)" dropdown. This will show you links that have been added to the Google index within a certain time period.

Link Gadget No. 3: Google Alerts

This tool is often used to keep an eye on what people are saying about you in the Web world. Don't stop there. Set up alerts for your competitors and important people within your competitors companies. You very well might find some announcements or recognitions that you could also get.

Master these three gadgets and you'll be one step closing to being the secret agent link sleuth you always wanted to be.

About the author

Sage Lewis started his online marketing company, SageRock.com, in 1999 during a time when most Internet companies were failing. SageRock, however, has thrived under Lewis’ direction -- growing an average of 30% every year, while also being recognized as one of the top ten search engine optimization firms in the U.S. by a third-party resource in the industry, Marketing Sherpa.

Regarded as a web marketing expert, Lewis speaks regularly to business organizations like NEOSA and COSE, serves as a resource for press about industry trends, and teaches a recurring class on search engine optimization at Cleveland State University.

Lewis has created a unique company culture that values the individual employee and client, and he has built SageRock around one principle, “The concern, respect and empathy for the individual people we come in contact with at SageRock is our single core value.”

Lewis lives in Akron with his wife, Rocky, and son, Indiana.

Read more of Sage Lewis's columns at ClickZ.