Small businesses have a lot at stake concerning their online marketing strategy. Most of us would agree that startups and small businesses don’t have the marketing budget or extra working capital lying around to afford a lot of wiggle room with marketing efforts. As such, most small businesses need to make the largest impact with digital marketing while still spending as little as possible. And even though most small businesses can take advantage of affordable website, SEO, and social media marketing channels, there’s a lot more to consider than money alone.
Just about every competent business owner and leader knows how to value their time, and they need to make sure that their marketing efforts are producing efficient results. But part of gauging the efficacy of your campaign is by tracking and analyzing statistics and comparing them with other competitors in your niche or industry. You might be inclined to use one of the many free SEO competitive analysis tools. Even though they are the only viable option for some small businesses on extremely tight budgets, the free tools are often watered down versions of superior tools.
So, today we’re going to take a look at the best paid competitive SEO analysis tools.
SEM Rush has long been a darling of the SEO world, and their tool was designed to focus on analyzing competitor’s websites and online profiles. Not only can it pick apart the details of the competition’s website to help make a comparison and ranking of your own site, but it can also track performance and rankings of all your competitors.
In addition, it will help you develop better advertising strategies and perform site audits to make sure your pages are up to scratch. It is fairly pricey, however, and costs between $69.95 and 149.95 per month.
This tool was designed by Screaming Frog, and basically allows you to crawl a competitor’s website just like a search engine bot would. It will help any small business owner or website administrate pick apart the competition’s website by analyzing their back-end code, back-links, on-site link profile, tags, meta data, redirects, images, headers, anchor text, and so forth. You can even use the tool to create a sitemap using XML.
Though it does have a free version, it is dumbed down compared to the paid version, which costs $160.00 for a 1-year subscription. I like this tool because it’s fairly cheap, especially when you consider that the subscription lasts a whole year (many other tools charge monthly subscriptions of $99 or more). It’s well worth it if you really want to dig into the nuts and bolts of competitors web sites to look for ways to improve your own site to fill any gaps.
Cognitive SEO has plenty of useful tracking features, and you can use it to monitor and track standings and rankings of keywords. However, I wouldn’t advise people to use it solely for tracking keywords, as it can get a little addicting. Furthermore, keywords alone aren’t necessarily indicative of a successful digital marketing campaign.
Nevertheless, this tool has useful keyword tracking features, and it can also compare and track shifts in the SERP rankings. However, this tool can set you back a pretty penny, depending on which level of subscription you opt for. There is a 14-day free trial, but their monthly subscription rates cost $99, $199, $499, and $999 per month depending upon the level of service you need.
Moz Pro Open Site Explorer
Moz has been a very influential voice in the SEO world for years now, and they have a whole suite of tools to help improve your SEO campaign. One of their tools is called the Open Site Explorer, and you can even use it for free on a limited basis. In addition to a smattering of different filtering tools that will help gather statistics about a competitor’s site, it will also help track inbound links, external links, page authority of back-links, and stats on individual pages (home page, individual pieces of content, etc.).
Though the full version of their suite of tools is likely too expensive for a small business with a tight marketing budget, their subscription starts at $99 per month, which is feasible. I do think that price offers a lot of value considering all the tools and information it provides you with. You can even export all of the data you collect into spreadsheets and CSV files to better analyze your competitors.
Last but not least is Ahrefs, which is another useful utility designed to explore and crawl sites to generate statistical data that will help you improve your site. They actually have a whole suite of tools that help compare domains, explore sites, generate SEO reports, compare back-link profiles, and other useful tools.
The Site Explorer program is likely the most popular tool in their suite, and all you need to do is point it at an IP address or domain name to gather tons of useful information. Plus, they even update all of their data continuously in 15 minute increments. Last but not least, they’re not too pricey. The free version will allow you research up to 10 back-links, but the lowest subscription option permits 5,000 back-links per query, and it costs $79 per month.
Two Free Ways to Get Started
If you're not ready to spend money on some SEO analysis, consider my free SEO Score tool - it will do an analysis of your site and give you an overall score, plus a PDF with a list of things that you should fix. And yes, of course, we can fix them if you can't.
Secondly, check out a Mozilla extension called SEO Doctor. This free tool gives you a very high level tool that tells you what's right and wrong with each page of your site by indicating a flag color. Green means you're good, yellow means you've got a few things to tweak, and red means there are several major problems with that page. I love this tool, and use it as my very first step when someone calls me asking for SEO help. This tool will tell me what's been done, and what hasn't.
My Final Thoughts
Paid competitive analysis tools usually have more features and functionality than free alternatives, and can really help the effectiveness of your online marketing campaign. However, if you don’t know what the various stats mean or what the metrics are measuring, they’re not going to help you out at all.
If that’s the case, then I’d recommend one of two alternatives. Firstly, you can take advantage of free tools. Secondly, it may be better to reach out to a web design and SEO marketing professional to help you reach your target audience.