10 Steps to Researching Your Competition Online - Create a spreadsheet...
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5. Create a spreadsheet to track your results. You'll want to track your research over time, so create a spreadsheet in which you keep track of all the information you discover about your competition. Compare how both your company and the companies of your closest competition evolve throughout a year.
6. See how your competition stacks up. Determine how popular your competition is. Download the Google Toolbar and determine their Google Page Rank and visit Alexa.com and determine your competitor's Alexa Traffic Ranking. A higher Google Page Rank (on a scale of 1-10), indicates more relevance and higher traffic. In Alexa, the lower your ranking (under 500,000 means your site is fairly well visited; under 100,000 means your site is a big contender in your industry), the more relevant your site is deemed. In addition, with Alexa, you can see the other websites owned by this company, see related sites visited from this website, as well as other sites with inbound links to this site. You can use this latter information to create a list for potential link exchanges or future strategic alliances. A tool you can use to get both rankings simultaneously is Rank Alert: http://www.rankalert.net/siterank.php
7. Complete an analysis of their websites. What meta tags are being used on your competitor's websites? How are their websites optimized for keywords or keyword phrases? How many inbound links do your competitors have? From what other sites are the inbound links coming? Two tools you can use to scope out this information on your competition are Keyword Density Analyzer: http://www.ranks.nl/tools/spider.html, and Link Popularity Checker: http://www.freewebsubmission.com/link-popularity.html
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