6 Tools to Help You Steal Competitor Ideas

Tami Briesies 5 years ago

Creating consistently brilliant ideas that resonate with your digital audience is one of the biggest challenges of modern marketing.

We write regularly about this challenge, covering everything from our ideation process through to looking at an understanding of audience search behaviour and science. But one of the most rewarding of all techniques involves stalking; and theft!

It may sound clandestine and even slightly illicit but in reality it is very important for you to constantly monitor your market and understand what your competitive set is up to. And most importantly of all, to understand what is resonating with your audience RIGHT NOW.

To do that we rely heavily on a handful of tools and we’ve skimmed through our favourites to highlight just what you can implement into your process, depending on what your desired outcome needs to be!


  1. Determine your current position

It’s always best to first check where your client lies in terms of paid and organic search traffic. What’s great about the graph, is that you’re able to determine exactly where rankings might be improving, what keywords you are ranking for, as well as backlink data. A great example of this sort of data can be seen below.


The client shown is fairly popular, with a reasonable amount of backlinks pointing to the site. When you are faced with this image for your own site, try to highlight exacts:

What is my traffic?
Is my paid traffic picking up traction?
Have I got any keywords ranking at a decent number?

Although the information might be relative to you, it’s always important to note these down to compare with the competitors we’re looking to essentially overtake with this data.

  1. Keyword analysis

Particularly when you’re looking to surpass competitors, one of the most vital things you can do in this process is to do a small keyword analysis to see where the competition are flying.


In the example above, we’ve decided to look at the keywords that AO.com are ranking for. In SEMRush you are able to do a comparison of your client’s ranking keywords and their competitors under ‘ORGANIC COMPETITORS’. It’s important to note that high monthly search volume is a treasure-trove purely because it means traffic and in turn, conversions go with it.

Low competition keywords can present itself as a brilliant opportunity for your client to climb the rankings through relevant content; this could be the perfect chance to shine your client in the right light when it comes to the written word online, as well as link building opportunities, should this be your aim!

  1. Pin pointing competitors

The competitor positioning map is a quick fire way to see exactly where your competitors lie in terms of organic search and organic keywords. What this enables you to do is pin point your top 3 competitors to focus on.

What is great about the positioning map is that the domains provided may not necessarily be direct business competitors. The example below shows this well. With over 22,000 competitors, many shown to be banks, parent related and branded car sites. They are seemingly competitors on an SEO level, but what needs to be remembered is that their products or services might completely differ.


The Domain Vs Domain tool in SEMRush is also an efficient way of determining what keywords you and your competitors are ranking for, as well those that you’re not targeting, that they might be covering already.

As shown in the example below, three extremely popular brands cover over 2000 of the same keywords, but New Look holds the most, that H&M and Topshop are not covering. You are then also able to view these specific keywords in table view, with an average amount of searches for these keywords in the last six months.

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With this great tool within SEMRush, you’re able to determine what you aren’t targeting, and content or general work towards these keywords can begin to ensure you’re covering all your bases.

  1. What is working for your competitor? (including ads)

Ad history in SEMRush is a great way of seeing actual examples of the type of adverts that your client’s competitors have been running. In the blue box, as shown below, you can see the amount of keywords that trigger the ad in a paid search.


Not only does this allow ad managers to run ads based on the same structure as their competitor, but it also allows you to construct content that will work just as well for whomever you may be representing.

  1. Backlinks

Referring domains with great power is important when looking at the impact of your site. This is true for your competitors as well, and an old but great way of building links is looking at your competitors’ backlinks to see where their power is coming from.

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If the backlinks that your competitors are looking at are decent, there is no reason why you’re not able to use them yourself, as well as targeting sites that boast similar content.

Majestic is a similar tool that you’re able to use to extract this data. What is great about SEMRush is that an overview can show you exactly where Follow and No Follow links are coming from, filtering the data for you to go to straight to what you need for a client.

This tool presents so much actionable data that is required, ensuring you are fully informed of your competitor’s digital marketing capabilities and allows you to be on top where your clients are concerned. Once you’re able to match their success, there is no reason why the work you set up will not fly.


This tool is ideal for looking to where competitors have built new links. What is great about this is that it’s an indicator for how sites are accepting of link building efforts and where you’re able to build new relationships for future projects. There are two aspects with AHREFS that stand out, particularly from a content to PR standpoint.

1. Content Explorer

The section shown below is off the tool that enables you to gather the most shared pieces of content, depending on its social impact at that particular time. With writing new content and ensuring that you’re up to date with what site owners might be after, it serves as a reminder for marketers to keep on trend with what the biggest sites are featuring. The columns on the right ensure that you know exactly how popular the content is, and highlights that if you were to share similar news items, it should be equally as well received.


2. Site Explorer

Checking ‘NEW’ inbound links of your competitors in the Site Explorer allows you to specifically see where they may have started to link build for a new campaign or just to generally up their rankings. What is great about AHREFs, is that you’re able to filter up to 60 days to gather a substantial amount of sites to contact to build relationships from.



Hitwise is said to be the most accurate and detailed form of working out traffic for a website. You’re able to see Internet users, searches and the amount of visits to a particular site. What this allows is for you to effectively understand what sites would be suitable for use in your campaign.

The world of SEO has moved on a long way since the days of Page Rank and Domain Authority; as much as they make an impact in some sense, the traffic that websites cover are also a pivotal aspect now you are looking to build relationships, and links, on these said sites. As a general rule, aim to use sites with a Hitwise traffic of 1000. In the grand scheme of things this may not seem like a lot, but dependant on the campaign that you’re working on 1000 HT should, in theory, be your minimum.

Google Alerts

Setting up a Google Alert for every time a competitor is mentioned, whether this is just a regular mention or a link, allows you to see what they are doing, so you’re able to action it better. Monitoring keywords as well as social data from this platform is incredibly helpful in learning your competition’s successes and shortfalls.


Alerts are specifically designed for you, whatever your needs, you’re able to set up an alert. The amount of alerts are totally down to you as well, whether it’s daily, weekly or fortnightly, it is entirely down to what you require for your campaign.


Grabbing data from your social circles dependant on industry, this tool is able to specify exactly what is trending amongst different audiences. This is a great platform to adopt when you’re looking to create accessible and engaging content for clients.

Described as identifying “crowd sourced Social Intelligence” it really is a tool that stands at the forefront of social relevancy. Infinigraph works through real-time interactions to aid brands in finding influencers and content for their desired niche. Again, to ensure the response you’re looking for behind your client name, there’s no better way than delving deep into your social platforms to find the content information that really grabs their attention.

Google Keyword Planner

Considered to be one of the ‘best’ out there, and although it is technically designed for analysis on your own site, you are able to search for your competitors and target their data to integrate better aspects into your client’s work.

As with SEM Rush, you’re able to find the best keyword data for your competitors, to ensure that your clients are on top. Of course, highlighting where your competition is coming up trumps is a vital part to pinpointing the keywords that could be adopted for your campaigns.

Although this tool is a great resource for those specific keywords, SEM Rush is something that should be hailed as a front-runner. With the ability to combine the information of up to three competitors and eject information that will be carried over to influence the way you devise your client’s campaign, it’s takes a lot less time to dig deep into what will work and what won’t.

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