5 Web Tools for Understanding Your Competitive Landscape

Dana Notman / 18th July 2019 / Comment / Analytics

Diving into a deep analysis of your competitors has never been easier. Get a head start with Wheelhouse’s 5 recommended web research tools that allow you to see what your competitors are up to.

Why Competitive Research is More Important than Ever

Modern marketing has become an ever-evolving strategic challenge of competing for audience attention – whether in the form of organic traffic, number of followers, or sales numbers. That’s why rock-solid competitor analysis is at the core of any good digital marketing campaign. Just observing what worked for your competitors, and then formulating a step-by-step strategy to fire up your campaigns is a sure-shot plan.

One way to do that is decoding their digital marketing campaigns and SEO plans…. and that’s never easy. Even with a large number of web research and analytics tools available today, it’s not easy to pick the right tool to get fast and valuable insights, but that’s exactly what we’re going to help you with in this post.

Here’s a short list of 5 valuable tools that you can use to compare your online assets with your competitors. Hopefully, you can choose an instrument to fine-tune your strategy to make their successes your own and learn quickly from their failures.


Ahrefs defines itself as a unique SEO tool that can help you grow your search traffic, research your competitors, and dominate your niche. While that’s a tall claim, it’s not a false one, given the massive value Ahrefs offers. It is undoubtedly among the leading digital marketing competitive analysis tools in the market today.

You receive robust site performance metrics and insights for domains by looking at the critical backlink data, organic search rankings, paid search rankings, and engaging displays via charts, graphs, tables and other data visualizations. All these features highlight what’s changing in your niche and what is making an impact. Trusted by top SEO consultants in the world, Ahrefs allows users to see what could be improved in a matter of seconds.

How It Works

Utilizing the site explorer feature, a user can input a domain, and immediately get a report with the domain’s backlink profile and search engine rankings for both organic and paid search.

  • Backlink Profile Report
    You get the backlink profile for the input domain, including total referring pages, total referring domains, referring TLDs, backlink composition (dofollow, text, image, etc.), anchor text, global distribution, which links have been lost or gained, and of how much value each link is. Each report can be looked into deeper for specific analysis. These reports will help provide direction into how your competitors have been building or earning links in the past and can identify linking opportunities for your client’s site.
  • Organic Search
    This report estimates the organic search traffic based on search volume, and position of keywords for which the domain is ranking. The report can be filtered by country, and also shows which other domains are ranking for those same terms. More in-depth reports will show the exact keywords that are ranking and the position in which they are ranking, as well as which pages on the site are achieving top rankings. These reports will help identify how competitors are optimizing and performing on organic search, and you can identify optimization targets in gaps where your competitors are not ranking.
  • Paid Search
    This report shows how many keywords “paid search ads” are resulting for, which countries are resulting in those rankings, and examples of top ads, and top paid keywords. These reports will help identify how competitors are optimizing their paid search campaigns and how they are targeting keywords on their landing pages.

Other Key Features

For competitive analysis, key features include:

  • Site Explorer
    You can use it to view domain and URL level performance relating to backlinks and search engine rankings. This includes:

    • Backlinks and domains
    • Anchor text
    • Organic keywords (including SERP features filters that make it easy to identify opportunities for Featured Snippet Optimization)
    • Top pages, subfolders, and subdomains
    • Competing pages
    • PPC keywords and top landing pages
    • Ads
    • Top content
  • Content Gap
    To identify keywords for which competitor’s sites are ranking but for which the client’s site is not ranking at all.
  • Link Intersect
    To identify links achieved by competitor’s sites but not achieved by the client’s site.


Moz offers a variety of SEO tools to analyze the performance of any site, whether for a client or a competitor. Depending on what is to be researched, Moz likely has a tool available to help find important competitor information. What also makes it different from other tools is the simplest interface and a powerful MozBar browser extension.

How It Works

This is a tool that lets you monitor backlinks, authority (page and domain), anchor text, and linking domains for your competitors. Here are a few unique features for reviewing and monitoring your competitor’s SEO performance:

  • Link Explorer
    Previously called open site explorer, this tool allows the user to analyze a domain, and compare those metrics against other domains. This is useful for looking at a client’s site performance and comparing it with a handful of competitor domains. Metrics that can be compared include domain authority, spam score, total links, external and internal links, and linking domains. Each metric can be looked at in more detail for more specific information.
  • Fresh Web Explorer
    This report allows the user to input a domain, brand name, or key topic, and see the trending online mentions for those topics over time. This can be used to view peaks in the competitor’s brand awareness (which is very useful for tracking known competitor strategies, sorting out questions of seasonality and consumer awareness, and many other possible strategic use cases).
  • Rank Tracker
    This report allows the user to input keywords and a URL, and see where that URL is ranking to the input keywords. This can be used to monitor changes in a competitor’s rankings over time.

Key Features

  • Link Explorer
    • Inbound Links
    • Linking Domains
    • Anchor Text
    • Top Pages
    • Compare Link Profiles
    • Link Intersect
  • Fresh Web Explorer
    • Mentions
    • Only those in Google News
  • Rank Tracker
    • Ranking URL
    • Rank
    • Track History


SEMrush is a website analysis tool that allows users to view website performance metrics relating to keyword rankings and backlinks for an input domain, whether it be a client’s domain or a client’s competitor’s domain. The extensive reports utilize charts, graphs, tables, and data visualizations to report on trends over time and against domain competitors.

How It Works

SEMrush is almost a complete competitor analysis tool. With the ability to produce reports containing the search volumes from 115+ countries, SEMrush can utilize domain vs. domain comparisons, identify content gaps, and observe the competitors as you strategize to determine whether it’s competitive or not.

There are many views a user could take into the SEMrush tool to view website performance metrics, but some of the most used for competitive analysis are listed below:

  • Domain Overview
    This provides access to multiple reports for the input domain or subdomain in the system. From here, the user can see information relating to organic, paid, and display performance, as well as backlink data. The user can also look at which keywords the domain is ranking for, where those rankings are positioned, and which other sites are ranking for the same keywords and how often. Deeper reports show brand vs. non-brand search rankings breakdowns as well, so users can understand the prevalence of non-brand keyword rankings earned by competitors. Users can also dig into paid search performance, and view domain paid search keyword rankings, and ad examples.
  • Top Organic Keywords
    This report can be very powerful in understanding domain performance for your competitors. It not only shows which keywords a competitor’s domain is ranking for, but can be filtered into to identify keywords that have increased or decreased recently, as well as which keywords are resulting in various SERP features including Knowledge Graph, Images, or Local listings.
  • Backlink Analysis
    This report shows the backlinks earned by the input domain, so the user can see how many links the competitor’s domains have earned, as well as their anchor text, referring IPs, unique domains, and which links are from text, images, or other elements. The tool also allows the user to compare link metrics with other domains, to see which domain is earning the most links.

Key Features

Many of the reports include essential (and unique) features to be considered for competitive analyses:

  • Competitive Positioning Map is a powerful tool to understand the overall picture.
  • Top Organic Keywords report including the option to
    • Filter by SERP features
    • View keyword trends
  • Backlink Analysis
  • Keyword Gap
  • Backlink Gap


SpyFu is a competitive assessment tool which can offer an extensive report of your competitor’s search performance. Top metrics available include estimated clicks from organic and paid search, which keywords are ranking for the competitor’s domain, and how many social shares the domain has received. With a few clicks, you can immediately download a list of the most profitable keywords that are working for your competitors.

How It Works

This is a reasonably popular tool when it comes to in-depth competitor analysis and is well-known in the market to provide reliable SEO competitive data. The SEO overview dashboard in SpyFu is a total hit among digital marketing managers and experienced marketers. A user can dig into each of these reports against the domain’s performance to view a variety of metrics and performance-related data.

  • SEO Overview
    You get a detailed dashboard showcasing a range of organic search performance metrics for the domain, including current ranking positions. You get to know if the selected keywords have gained or lost rank, what type of inbound links the domain has, and which competitors are also ranking for the same keyword phrases and most valuable keyword rankings.
  • Organic Search
    This insightful report shows which keywords the domain is ranking for (in organic search), the search volume of those keywords, and what the ranking change has been since the last time the domain was checked, among other metrics. From here keywords can be added to SpyFu reporting for the domain as well.
  • PPC Overview
    Another detailed dashboard showcasing a variety of paid search performance metrics for a domain, including monthly paid search visibility reports, top paid search competitors for the terms you’re ranking for, most profitable paid search keywords, and samples of paid search ads.
  • PPC Keywords
    Similar to the organic search report, this report shows which keywords the domain is ranking for in paid search, the estimated bids on each of those keywords, and where ads are ranking.
  • Kombat
    This tool allows the user to input multiple domains (the client’s and the competitor’s domains), and view which keyword rankings the domains share.
  • Matching Pages
    This report shows which pages have been identified for the input domain, and their social share metrics, including Facebook shares, Pinterest Pins, and LinkedIn shares.

Key Features

Probably the most important feature here is the ability to produce a pretty accurate picture of keywords that your competitors are targeting. You can also keep track of almost every website in your niche and a complete AdWords campaign history of your competitors. Here is a quick snapshot of a variety of features available within the top reports that can be used for competitive performance assessments.

  • SEO Research
    • SEO Overview
    • Competitors
    • Kombat
    • SEO Keywords
    • Ranking History
    • Backlinks
  • PPC Research
    • PPC Overview
    • Competitors
    • Kombat
    • Keyword Groups
    • PPC Keywords
    • Ad History


Here’s a lesser-known tool which is one of our favorites when it comes to keeping a tab on the important website changes made on the client’s or competitor’s website. Stillio is a web tool that automatically takes and files screenshots of website pages at regular intervals. This is a powerful feature that can be used to keep an archive of page changes over time. Stillio can also be used to track SERPs over time as well.

How It Works

When a user logs in, they will be brought to the screenshot grid view. From here, there is a button that states, “Add Webpage.” Once clicked the user can input the URL of the webpage they want to be tracked. They also can give the screenshot tracker a title and can tag it with related terms for future reference. You can also include how frequently you want the screenshot to be captured.

Key Features

The key features for this tool are in understanding what can be captured and how to use it. Our team at Wheelhouse DMG uses Stillio to capture, archive, and share screenshots the “smooth way” and save ourselves time. As mentioned a key feature here is that you can capture specific SERPs for specific queries, to show to the client how SERPs change over time. This, along with monitoring competitor’s site changes, is important results of this awesome tool.

  • SEO Tracking
    Keep a track and get a complete picture about how your webpages rank on search engines(…and automate our SERP rank monitoring process.)
  • Know Who Your Recent Competitors Are
    Your recent competitors who are presently investing in paid ads might compete with you on organic traffic tomorrow. Stillio helps you keep a track on every move they make.
  • Monitor Relevant Keywords that Matter to You
    Gain complete control on your SEO strategy by tracking every spike, and sudden drop in the keyword rankings.

Diving into Competitive Research

The nature of SEO and digital marketing is extremely competitive. So it’s imperative that you should know where your website stands with respect to your competitors. There is also zero doubt that quality competitor data can help you make better decisions. Whether it’s a routine competitor analysis or a plan to redesign your website for optimum performance, you have to know what your competitors are up to.

In fact, snooping on the competition is never a bad idea. You give yourself a great head start, which is going to prove beneficial at a later stage. Some of the tools listed above had helped us identify and correct our mistakes before the real damage happened. After all, your competitor’s SEO strategy is a result of massive trial and error (and in most cases thousands of dollars.)

The end goal is always to improve the overall marketing strategy by fine-tuning your own processes and focusing on your efforts. Here is an important word of caution. While it’s recommended that you invest in multiple web analytics tools, try to stay focused and avoid the shiny object syndrome. It’s crucial to understand that new does not mean better, and you have to see past the hype. What’s great for others may not be suitable for you… and ultimately, it always comes down to selecting a tool that works for your performance goals.

With that in mind, what’s your favorite competitor analysis tool that has proven to be most effective for your campaigns? Do let us know in the comments below.

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By Dana Notman