Look, the first rule of the Internet is: Don’t be a creep. Buuuuuut… doing a little competitive analysis with tools like iSpionage and SimilarWeb isn’t really being a creep. At the very least, it’s being a creep for good.
It’s easy to fall down a rabbit hole of figuring out who your competitor’s VP of Communications dated in high school, but without the access to years of personal Facebook posting, it can be difficult to do the same level of sleuthing on an organization’s digital presence. We have some recommendations for tools that will help you do a quick and easy analysis without accidentally double-tapping on an Instagram that was posted 2 years ago (not that that’s ever happened to us).
Why we do this
Let’s talk about iSpionage and SimilarWeb. These are two of our favorite websites to kick off keyword research and allow you to see how your competitors are indexing for both paid and organic search terms (along with a slew of other goodies). Without services such as these, we often make best guesses as to how our own content strategy matches up to that of our competition. And since writing website content can be time consuming, why not make sure we’re making the best decisions driven by data?
While iSpionage and SimilarWeb both have paid pro versions, there are also free versions that can give you a jump-start on keyword research without going really in-depth. And sometimes just a few keywords will be what you need to start considering how you’re going to build out your own keyword strategy.
Note: Whole Whale does not receive any promotional consideration from either iSpionage or SimilarWeb, we just like them a lot — both for AdWords and content strategies.
How to use iSpionage
With iSpionage, you’ll be prompted to sign up for a free account to see any competitor data — no credit card required. Once you’ve signed up, enter in the website you’d like to research and you’ll see options to view data for both pay-per-click ads and SEO content for your competitors.
When do you do keyword research with iSpionage, you will also see your competitors’ average search volume, average position within search result, and the first- and last-seen dates for their related keyword content. With any third-party resource, we recommend gauging the accuracy by searching for your own site and comparing their data against your own for keywords in Google Analytics and Google Search Console.
How to use SimilarWeb
Our other recommended site, SimilarWeb is… well… similar to iSpionage. One of the main differences here is that they don’t require you to sign up for an account to test drive their free version.
Enter the website here and you’ll see the site’s global ranking as well as its ranking within any given country and its ranking with SimilarWeb’s categorization for your site. If the site you’re looking up has enough data, use the left-hand menu to toggle between sections that cover everything from referral traffic and social traffic to audience interests and competitor links. The competitors section can be especially useful if you’re stuck on where to start for competitors — especially within your weight class.
In search keywords, the free version of SimilarWeb displays the top 5 keywords for both paid and social, and includes the percentage of traffic that comes from those keywords. For example, with WholeWhale.com, we see that 79.3% of our traffic comes from search, and 3.55% of that traffic comes from the term “Facebook ad grant”. Click on the magnifying glass next to each keyword to test that search, see how it looks in real-time on Google, and view what other landing pages index for that keyword.
The best way to become familiar with these resources is to start exploring — check out our SimilarWeb and iSpionage review and walkthroughs if you haven’t yet. Already a master of these SEO spy tools, and feeling ready to get into the real nuts and bolts of content marketing? Our Whole Whale University course will teach you more than just the theory behind content marketing and SEO. Discover how to decide what to write and how to write it in order to increase engaged, organic traffic to your site and walk away with clear steps to immediately implement, track, and measure this strategy at your organization.