There are few things that are as useful to a smart business owner as detailed information about the actions and behaviors of his competitors and his competitors’ customers. Fortunately, thanks to the wonders of the internet, you no longer need to hire a private investigator in order to get your hands on this type of information. You can get tons of valuable information on your competitors’ sites, customer base, and traffic models for free from Alexa.com.
What is Alexa?
Alexa is primarily a website ranking service. It ranks every site based on how popular that site is. So Google, for instance, is number one. And Facebook is number two. And this continues on down the list. While this information is valuable in and of itself, the site goes ahead and gives you even more detailed metrics. It breaks down the visitors into regions, tells you where most of the visitors are coming from, which percentage visited via search engines, and what the most popular search queries were. Additionally, it will estimate a bit of information about your audience, based on local and national internet trends.
How to Use It
This is a lot of information. However, it only really becomes valuable if you know how to use it to the advantage of your own business.
First off, you can build a list of your competitors, and then break it down based on each competitor’s market position. So say you have 4 major competitors in your industry niche. You can look at their monthly page views and determine how much of a threat each one poses to your business. Perhaps the competitor you thought was the biggest threat actually has a very limited internet presence.
Beyond this, you can get into more detailed metrics, such as which search queries led to the site, and how different sites are trending in popularity over time. These are both invaluable pieces of information, as they allow you to glean a lot of information about the company behind the numbers. Take search queries, for example. You can look at which search queries are leading to your competitors’ sites. So if you see one search term popping up again and again, you know that it is doing its job well, and is probably leading to a lot of conversions. It might be worth making a bid on AdWords, even if it’s an expensive one.
And how about popularity trends? Suppose that you notice one of your major competitor’s site visits going through the roof. What is causing this? What are they doing that you’re not. Take a look at their recent emails and newsletters (don’t tell me you haven’t signed up for all your competitors’ newsletter already), and see what they’ve been pushing.
Site visits plummeting? Do the same thing. Now you know which marketing moves are working in your market without spending a dime. And all thanks to the good people at Alexa.
This is valuable information that you’ve got in your hands – use it wisely.