Social Media Commerce: Search the Competition through Alexa
You can use social media sites to research your competition, their employees, and their customers. If you’re online, you can bet your competition is as well, as are their employees. When researching the competition, don’t forget to check out their key employees by searching for them on Google to see if they are on Facebook, Twitter, and other social sites.
Be sure to seek out and follow industry colleagues as well. Many an opportunity is mentioned via news bytes on social media sites and missed completely because it wasn't posted on the company main account.
A great way to personally check in on the competition is through LinkedIn.com. If you know your competition personally, invite them to connect with you on the site. After they are a connection, you can click the company name in their Experience area, which displays everyone on LinkedIn from that company, whether you're connected to them or not. How far you choose to take this investigation is up to you!
If your competition has a website, they will be working hard to bring visitors there. Website monitoring is where Alexa comes in. Alexa is a subsidiary of Amazon and provides traffic data, global rankings, and other information on thousands of websites. Alexa states that 6 million people visit the website monthly.
Alexa also chronicles the history of the web through The Wayback Machine, where you can see visual snapshots of almost every site since its inception on the web.
Sites are ranked on tracking information from users of the Alexa browser toolbar (or the Alexa Chrome extension). The data is aggregated based on the last three months’ of browsing behavior. (Note that the data represents only a sample of Internet users, so it’s not as accurate in ranking less-trafficked sites.) This figure shows the traffic data of the blog of Chris Brogan.
For a small to medium-sized business site, you will see the following data (the most visited sites reflect more data):
Global rank: Ranking based on page views and visitors from the entire world during the last three months.
*Rank in headquartered country: Ranking based on page views and visitors from the website's home country during the last three months.
Reputation: Number of sites that linked the visitor to the site (updated monthly). Clicking here gives you a list of sites that may be related to your industry.
Traffic stats: Unless the site is in the top one hundred thousand, you will not see stats. Note the subtabs that appear in the Traffic Stats tab in this figure. Just below the chart area, you can type the names of four other website URLs. The stats for those sites appear on the chart, so you can compare your competitors.
Search analytics: The search terms people used to get to this site. This information might give you some good suggestions for topics on your site.
Audience demographics: How the site’s visitors compare to the demographics of the general Internet population.
If you agree to install the Alexa toolbar on your browser, you'll have access to advanced demographics and search analytics data that identifies search keywords and indicates which keywords drive the most traffic to your site. You can use these metrics to plan a pay-per-click (PPC) marketing campaign to drive visitors to your site through Google AdWords.
Regularly compare your website to your competition’s websites, noting who they are reaching and the keywords that drove people to their sites.