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5 Competitor Analysis Tools You Should Be Using

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5 Competitor Analysis Tools You Should Be Using


It probably feels as if you need tens of marketing tools to get a complete picture of the competitor landscape. I’ve certainly tried too many of them throughout my career.

But the truth is just a few right tools will cover most of your competitor analysis needs. And they don’t need to break the bank. In fact, some of the most powerful ones are free.

In this article, we’ll go through five competitor analysis tools you should be using:

  1. Ahrefs – SEO, PPC, and content marketing
  2. Brand24 – Brand monitoring
  3. SparkToro – Audience insight
  4. BuiltWith – Tech stack checker
  5. Visualping – Webpage monitoring

Let’s get into them.

1. Ahrefs – for SEO, PPC, and content marketing

Most companies consider organic and paid search traffic to be some of their most important traffic sources. Having reliable and insightful data about what your competitors do in this space is crucial—and that’s where Ahrefs comes into play.

Ahrefs provides data about your competitors’ content, backlinks, keywords, PPC ads, and much more. With its help, you can develop an SEO, PPC, and content marketing strategy to outsmart your competition.

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My favorite functionality: Finding content gaps between you and your competitors

Ahrefs’ Site Explorer provides an in-depth look at both organic and paid search traffic, including backlinks of any website. There are lots of use cases for competitor analysis, so I’ll just explain my favorite feature: Ahrefs’ Content Gap tool.

It shows keywords for which your competitors rank, but you don’t. These content gaps can quickly give you many new ideas for your content planning.

In Site Explorer, enter your own domain and then click “Content gap.” Your domain will automatically be prefilled in the “But the following target doesn’t rank for” field. All that’s left now is to list a few domains that are your organic traffic competitors:

Text field for competitors. Below that is text field for your domain

Hit “Show keywords”:

List of keywords and corresponding data (volume, KD, CPC, SERP)

You’ll get a huge list of keywords. Now it’s all about playing with the provided filters.

To increase relevance, let’s choose the option where at least two competitor websites rank for every keyword. You can do so by selecting it in the intersection filter. Then filter for the best keyword opportunities by setting a minimal search volume and relatively low maximum KD score:

List of keywords after filters applied

I’m certain you’ll find some great keyword opportunities this way.

Pricing

Free to see technical SEO recommendations and backlinks to the websites you own using Ahrefs Webmaster Tools.

For competitor analysis tools and features, you’ll need a paid plan starting at $82 a month. There’s also a seven-day trial for $7.

Check out Ahrefs here.

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2. Brand24 – for brand monitoring

Using social media as a communication channel is a must for the vast majority of companies. But seeing what your competitors do and how their audience perceives them across a huge variety of platforms isn’t something you can easily do by yourself. But no worries. Media monitoring tools, like Brand24, have got this covered.

Brand24 tracks mentions of keywords that you want to monitor across the whole web with a focus on social media. For competitor analysis, it’s used to identify and analyze online conversations around your competitors’ brands and products.

My favorite functionality: Spying on competitors’ brand mentions

Brand24 revolves around setting up a project with keywords you want to track. These keyword mentions can then be segmented, filtered, and analyzed to gain actionable insights. You’ll definitely want to track your own brand and product mentions. But we’re here to talk about your competitors.

So set up a separate project (or projects) with the name of competitor brands and products. You’ll encounter keywords that also have other meanings. You can either leave them out or apply the required and excluded keyword filters along the way to keep the irrelevant ones out of your reports:

Project settings to add main keyword, add/remove other keywords

This competitor mentions monitoring allows you to:

  • Adjust your communication based on what works best in your industry.
  • Get product insights based on how people react to the development of your competitors’ products.
  • Assess how people perceive your brand and your competitors via sentiment analysis.
  • Benchmark your media reach and share of voice against your competitors.

I’m sure there are even more use cases. Here’s an example of data from a summary dashboard:

Summary data above. Below that are line graphs showing mentions and social media reach, respectively

Pricing

Plans start at $49 a month for tracking three keywords. Tracking your brand and your competitors will require a higher plan for $99 a month that offers seven keywords.

Brand24 also offers a 14-day free trial.

Check out Brand24 here.

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3. SparkToro – for audience insights

Doing market research to understand your audience is essential for your marketing success. Chances are, the research also contains competitive analysis data like brand perceptions, estimations of competitors’ marketing funnels, and market shares across segments. Those are all great.

But seeing what the audience of your competitors actually does on the internet is a rather new thing that tools like SparkToro allow us to get in seconds.

SparkToro is an audience research tool that provides information about what any audience reads, watches, listens to, and follows. Those insights can be retrieved based on keywords, social media accounts, websites, or hashtags. Needless to say, all of those inputs can be used to better understand your competitors’ audience.

My favorite functionality: Discovering where competitors’ audience engages

SparkToro is easy to use and navigate. Let’s do an example analysis on the SparkToro audience itself by plugging in its Twitter profile:

Text field to add Twitter profile

It will return a lot of data regarding the demographics of the audience. But in this case, we’ll focus on social media accounts, websites, podcasts, and YouTube channels the audience follows and pays attention to. Here’s an example of a report after filtering for personal social media accounts with fewer than 50K followers:

List of social media accounts with corresponding data (percent of audience, SparkScore, social followers)

With data like this, you can easily spot new advertising and sponsorship opportunities across many different channels. Just put together all the insights by plugging in your competitors’ social profiles, websites, keywords, and any “owned” hashtags.

Price

SparkToro is free for five searches a month with limited report capabilities. Paid plans start at $38 a month.

Check out SparkToro here.

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4. BuiltWith – for checking tech stacks

Today’s marketing heavily relies on all sorts of tracking codes, pixels, and using the right technologies in the background. Some areas of marketing like SEO are even directly intertwined with website development. Choosing the right tech stack can often be the first step to success.

BuiltWith is a tool that puts together all detectable technologies any website is using, e.g., tracking pixels, payment systems, web servers, and CDNs. You can create a picture of tech stacks your competitors are using. Then either take inspiration from it or choose superior solutions. 

My favorite functionality: Checking advertising technologies

BuiltWith is the easiest and most straightforward tool to use on this list. Just look up websites of your competitors and take notes of any technology that stands out.

For marketing purposes, you can quickly scan all of their detectable marketing technologies. Since most advertising platforms use tracking codes and pixels for remarketing, analytics, and attribution purposes, you’ll see which platforms your competitors are present on.

Finding out that your competitors use Google, Facebook, and Twitter ads isn’t a surprise for anyone, though. But you can find some niche platforms or display networks that may be worth looking into. Here’s an example of what BuiltWith can reveal in its “Analytics and Tracking” section:

List of websites. Below each are links to see stats and download list of websites that use the site

Pricing

BuiltWith is free for the use case I depicted above. I’ve never felt the need to consider its paid plans, which start at $246 a month. Those plans seem to go way beyond the basic functionality and may be worth it for businesses that need a deeper dive into what tech stacks their target audience and prospects use.

Check out BuiltWith here.

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5. Visualping – for monitoring webpage changes

Website design and copywriting convey tons of information. They’re also constantly in development, testing, and changing. And whether you admit it or not, every website takes a bit (or a lot) of inspiration from competitors and other websites in the industry. You need to know what’s going on in this area.

Visualping is a tool that keeps track of changes on any webpage. You plug in a competitor’s URL, set up alerts, and will be updated on any website changes.

My favorite functionality: Getting inspired by UX and CRO tweaks on competitors’ websites

I’ve made a lot of decisions based on website monitoring. Generally, the most common use case for any marketer is getting inspired by how your competitors try to squeeze more out of every visitor to their website.

In other words, we’re looking for user experience (UX) and conversion rate optimization (CRO) tweaks that we can adopt on our website without having to do all the research and A/B testing.

All you need to do is to set up the tracking of your competitors’ websites, and you’ll get alerted whenever there is any noteworthy change. For this use, it’s enough to set up the checking frequency to occur daily or even weekly.

You can also opt in for “any change” or “tiny changes,” as those tweaks can range from small changes in copy to just changing CTA button positions and colors:

On left side is website that you want to track changes. On the right, job settings to tailor preferences

Keep in mind that you shouldn’t blindly copy whatever your competitors do. Those changes may be for the worse. Ideally, the change has to make sense for you, and you should know that the competitor does A/B testing (checking with BuiltWith is a good start).

Pricing

Visualping offers a free plan with up to 65 checks a month, which would probably be enough to cover the homepage, pricing, trial, and other important pages of your competitors on a weekly basis.

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If you’re more serious about keeping track of your competitors’ websites, then do try out the paid plans. Those start at $11 a month for 1,200 checks. “Price per page” checks naturally get cheaper as you scale up the monitoring.

Check out Visualping here.

Final thoughts

You may be wondering: “So this is it? Just five tools to get a complete picture of the competitive landscape?”

Well, yes and no.

I only covered the essential tools that everyone can and should use without breaking the bank. I deliberately didn’t list tools that have a niche use (e.g., analyzing YouTube or mobile app landscape). I also avoided “overkill” marketing intelligence platforms like SimilarWeb that provide tons of competitive data but mainly target enterprise and agency customers.

Also, keep in mind the tools I listed here are the ones I have experience with and like the most. Almost every tool has a solid alternative that you may like more.

With this out of the way, I also want to highlight a few more competitive analysis resources (not necessarily tools) that are super helpful and mainly free:

  • Financial reports of public companies to access a goldmine of firsthand information about your competitors
  • Surveys and focus groups to get quantitative and qualitative data about your market and competitors
  • Ghost shopping to get direct customer experiences from your competitors and possibly uncover their sales tactics
  • Review platforms like G2, TrustPilot, Yelp, or Google My Business to check what your competitors’ customers say

So that’s it. If you’re just finding out about the tools and are not sure what is the right way to conduct the competitive analysis, we also have a simple guide (including a template).

Got a tool that I should mention here? Or just a question? Ping me on Twitter.

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Which Is Better For You?

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Which Is Better For You?

Content marketers are using video content more than ever.

In 2022, 86% of businesses use video as a marketing tool.

Aside from the rise of TikTok, especially during the pandemic, more marketers are creating videos, and 46% of marketers said it was because videos had become easier to develop in-house.

As a content marketer, should you jump on the bandwagon?

And what about the more “traditional” YouTube?

Worldwide, YouTube is part of the Top 3 social media networks. TikTok isn’t just yet, though it’s steadily climbing the ranks at No. 5.

Just because TikTok is the newest kid on the block doesn’t mean you have to allocate all your video budgets to it.

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Choosing between the two requires careful thought and consideration. You must factor in content type, target audience, engagement rates, and influencer marketing spend.

So, which of these two viral video platforms makes more sense for your business?

Let’s dive in.

What Is TikTok?

After Chinese tech company ByteDance acquired Musical.ly in 2017, its technology was ported. Thus, TikTok was born.

TikTok (called Douyin locally) is a user-friendly social media platform that allows users to create short-form videos.

With a free video editor in-app, anyone can add filters, stickers, and text-to-speech for a 15-second video.

TikTok has over a billion monthly users, making it the most downloaded app worldwide in 2021.

What Is YouTube?

With over 2.1 billion monthly active users, the video-sharing platform has been around much longer. Launched in 2005, YouTube has been the mainstay for sharing video content.

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Three former PayPal employees founded YouTube as a way for people to have fun sharing their home videos. (Remember the first few viral YouTube videos?)

Compared to TikTok, YouTube videos are a lot longer.

Factors To Consider When Choosing Between TikTok And YouTube

TikTok YouTube
Audience (U.S.) 50% between ages 18 and 24, 17.7% between ages 12 and 17 95% between ages 18 and 29
Average Content Length 15 to 60 seconds 11.7 minutes
Average Time Spent Per Day 45.8 minutes a day 45.6 minutes a day
Traffic (Organic) 318.2 million 646 billion
Traffic (Paid) 643,600 65.1 million
Successful Niches
  • Dance
  • Comedy
  • Smaller/specialized creators
  • Product must-haves
  • Breakdowns of news stories
  • Makeup and fashion hacks with trendy sound clips
  • Storytime (first person POV)
  • Evergreen content
  • Lifehack and DIY videos
  • How-tos
  • Gaming, people, and blogs
  • Music and entertainment
  • Sporting Events
Cost For Business Accounts $o – free account $o – free account

Audience For TikTok vs. YouTube

TikTok Has A Younger U.S. Audience

If you’re marketing to teens, a.k.a., Gen Z (and by extension, Generation Alpha who are becoming teens next year), TikTok is a strong bet.

As of April 2022:

Almost half of TikTok users in the United States were between 18 and 34 years, making up the largest demographic group for the platform.

TikTok users aged between 12 and 17 made up approximately 17.7% of the popular social video app user base in the United States, while 2.5% of TikTok users in the country were 11 years old or younger.”

This means that TikTok is especially popular with Gen Z while more and more adults are steadily becoming app users, too.

Note that younger children ages 12 and above can access TikTok (the app requires a minimum of 12 years of age to get a profile).

Gen Z And Millennials Are More Likely To Trust YouTubers

If you’re trying to reach Millennials (while keeping older Gen Z in mind) and be seen as more authoritative, YouTube could be a safer bet.

According to Pew Research:

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“In 2021, 95% of U.S. adults between 18 and 29 years of age said they use YouTube (the age demographic with the highest percentage) while only 49% of U.S. adults who are 65+ years reported using it.”

According to the YouTube Culture And Trends Report 2022, 83% of Gen Z watch soothing content on YouTube to help them relax.

Lastly, in a survey by Ypulse, YouTubers were the most trusted public figures (31%) among those surveyed, beating TikTokers by 12%.

TikTok vs. YouTube: Content Format And Length

Keep It Short And Sweet On TikTok

TikTok has a maximum length of three minutes. TikTok recommends an optimal 21 to 34 seconds to keep viewers interested, but average videos last 15 – 60 seconds.

While it leaves little room for all-out explainer videos, you can still create quality content on the go and turn it into a non-chronological series.

TikTok favors short-form videos with an aspect ratio of 9:16; it is vertically optimized for mobile devices.

The platform also has TikTok LIVE, a feature for creators to connect in real-time with their audience (think Q&As or concert experiences).

Leave The Longer Videos To YouTube

Verified accounts on YouTube can run up to two hours of video, while unverified accounts can only upload 15 minutes. The average length for videos is 11.7 minutes.

While YouTube videos are popular on mobile devices (49.3% are watching on mobile YouTube), the number is expected to decrease as YouTube continues to be available on desktop and TV devices.

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Keep a 16:9 aspect ratio in mind since YouTube apps are becoming more popular with smart TVs, gaming consoles, and other gadgets.

YouTube launched its livestream feature for creators back in 2011.

The platform is famous for its gaming livestreams, the Superbowl, the Olympics, and more.

Moreover, YouTubers can curate content playlists, allowing viewers to enjoy music streaming and related content for hours with an autoplay option.

Note: The average time per day for both channels is around 45 minutes, with TikTok winning by a hair at 45.8 minutes compared to YouTube’s 45.6 minutes.

Comparing TikTok vs. YouTube Algorithm

There is content that works well on both platforms (consider product reviews and reaction videos).

Nevertheless, here are the types of content for which each channel is better known.

To dig deeper into TikTok’s powerful search algorithm or how YouTube’s search results recently changed, we recommend further reading up on them in the links provided.

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TikTok: Niches That Succeed

Screenshot from TikTok, September 2022

Bite-sized content has never been more digestible, with creators using TikTok to spread straightforward content in memes, educational content, lip sync, and dance videos.

These often include specialized content series, like Random Amazon Finds That Just Slap, Things I Just Found Out In My 30s, or professionals connected to a particular hashtag with content usually dedicated to one specialty. (Note: That could be an opportunity for your business’s industry or niche.)

Small and big brands can work with influencers to create simple, engaging, potentially viral content. See how Clinique’s Black Honey Lipstick sold out because of TikTok videos spreading awareness.

TikTok Creator content tends to be relatable and authentic; you can use the TikTok Insights tool to see what works for each generation in what industry.

Niches That Work On YouTube

Popular content on YouTube includes how-to videos, product reviews, music videos, comedy skits, and much more.

Your brand can benefit from collaborating with YouTubers (the most trusted figures, according to the survey above). For example, NordVPN frequently has sponsorship arrangements with tech gadget reviewers, like Techmoan.

YouTube can be better for products that aren’t as easy to show off in short formats. Additionally, YouTube tutorials tend to have a more serious tone.

TikTok Ad Formats

For TikTok ad formats, you have the following options (see TikTok Ads For Beginners: A Complete Guide & Steps To Success to learn how to use them).

  • TopView: An attention-grabbing, distraction-free, 60-second video format.
  • In-Feed Ads: A native-inspired ad type that will integrate seamlessly into a viewer’s “For You” page.
  • Branded Hashtag Challenge: A UGC (user-generated content) using your brand’s hashtag campaign.
  • Branded Effects: Branded stickers, filters, or special effects.

YouTube Ad Formats

For videos that have ad monetization features, these are the following video ad formats available for YouTube business accounts.

Read The Complete Beginner’s Guide To YouTube Video Advertising for a comprehensive guide on how to use them.

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  • Skippable video ads: A video ad with an option for viewers to skip after five seconds.
  • Non-skippable video ads: These ads don’t allow viewers to skip this typically 15-20 second video.
  • Bumper ads: Up to six seconds long, these ads need to be watched before a video is viewed.
  • Overlay ads: Only seen on desktop, these ads take up the lower 20% screen of a video.

YouTube videos can be monetized and can earn shared ad revenue.

Setting up business accounts is free on both platforms. Keep in mind that TikTok has a $50 minimum for an ad spend, while YouTube Ads offers $100 in free credits when you spend $50 on video ads.

Conclusion

Should you favor one over the other?

On the surface, TikTok.com has 318.2 million organic traffic, and YouTube.com has 646 billion.

For paid, TikTok traffic is 643,600, while YouTube reaches 65.1 million.

YouTube and TikTok are here to stay, and while YouTube’s traffic seems bigger, TikTok’s fast rise to the top is one to look out for.

Typically, both are ideal for marketers who invest in video marketing; 87% of marketers say video has helped them increase their traffic, and 82% on dwell time.

The best platform depends on your brand and the type of content you have the resources for, the customer purchase cycle, your social media goals, and your budget.

When used wisely, whichever of the two you choose will help benefit your business in the long run.

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More Resources:


Featured Image: Daxiao Productions/Shutterstock

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