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How to use easy tools to beat your online competition

4-minute read

Attracting visitors to your website can be a daunting task, especially if you’re unfamiliar with search engine optimization techniques and search engine advertising.

Without the appropriate guidance and tools, you can find yourself throwing good money after bad in a vain effort to attract more traffic.

So it’s important to have a general understanding of how search engine optimization (SEO) works and how you can use low‑cost Internet tools to improve your efforts.

Why competitive intelligence matters

Free and low‑cost tools such as OpenSiteExplorer.org, SpyFu.com, SEMRush.com and Google Keyword Planner can help you in this process.

Assessing your SEO success

You may have heard the term organic traffic before. It refers to visits to your website that you did not pay for with online advertising.

The more organic traffic your website attracts, the better, because you’re not paying per click or impression. Tools like SEMRush.com and Spyfu.com provide you with a dollar estimate of the value of this organic traffic and the actual keywords that have brought it to your site.

At the same time, you can observe which keywords are driving free traffic to your competitors’ websites and begin targeting the same keywords or identify other high‑value keywords that your competitors have missed.

Below, you can see the performance of Company XYZ’s website, using SEMRush.com. The tool returned 1,176 organic keywords that contributed to monthly traffic volume on Company XYZ’s website. This list also shows the position (Pos) of their website with respect to a specific keyword, the number of expected visits per month (volume) and the cost‑per‑click (CPC) in dollars should we want to pay Google to show up in searches for that specific keyword.

Additionally, the tool identifies competitors who are ranking for the same keywords by showing common keywords that both Company XYZ and the competitor rank for in organic searches. Among other things, this feature allows you to identify competitors you might not have been aware of.

Next, we took the first three competitor websites and used another tool called OpenSiteExplorer.org to look at each site’s domain authority, a prediction (expressed as score out of a 100) of how a website will perform in search engine rankings.

With this tool, you can identify which sites are linking to the websites of your competitors (backlinks). This allows you to contact these linking sites and ask them to link to your site as well.

Backlinks and keywords are the backbone of a strong search engine presence for any website. The stronger and more relevant the backlinks, the better your domain authority is going to be.

Using tools to improve your online ad campaigns

By combining tools like SEMRush and Google Keyword Planner, you can identify who is competing with your paid search ads and which keywords they are using in their campaigns.

You can then piggyback on their keyword selections and be inspired by their approach to advertising messages to create your own marketing communications and ads that are strong and unique to your business.

By using various web tools, you can learn more about your competitors and their online activities. You will save time and money by avoiding keywords that are ineffective for your business, focusing instead on keywords that have already been tested by other companies. This is especially true for keywords used to structure search engine ads.

If you would like to understand more about the importance of website analysis and the steps involved to complete one on your own, see How to conduct a website analysis. And to learn more about how to improve your online marketing, download our free guide Attracting and Selling Online: A Marketing Guide for Entrepreneurs.

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