Get to Know Your Competitors Using Alexa

By: Megan Corwin

All great marketers know that in order to be the top in your field you need to know your competitors. But researching each one can be time consuming and a treasure hunt at best. Using Alexa (www.alexa.com) can be an invaluable tool for you to find out what your competitors are up to on the web.

What is Alexa?

Alexa is an Amazon.com company that maintains information about website traffic.

You can find out the most popular sites in a variety of categories such as business, sports, recreation, and shopping.

How do I use Alexa?

To access this tool, simply go to http://www.alexa.com. From there you can browse the topic of your business or type in a specific website in the 'Search the Web' box.

Let's use the gift basket business as an example. First, go to Alexa's home page and type in 'gift baskets' as a search.

When your search results appear, look at the end of the description for the link titled 'Site Info.' This is where you will find your research gold.

What can I learn about the top ranked site?

When you click on the 'Site Info' link, lots of valuable information is displayed. The first thing to note is the traffic ranking of the website. The top gift basket site is ranked 119,370. Not bad considering there are millions of pages online at any given time.

Other useful information listed on this site info page is other websites that visitors also went to and the number of sites that link to this website. Other sites that link to the site can be very valuable - what search engines is the site listed in? Where are they advertising?

Next, click on the 'See Traffic Details' link near the top of the page. Look at the traffic for the site and note that in the last week the number of visitors has increased by almost 100,000. Wow! What could be the reason? The holidays? A contest? Their keywords and titles? An advertising campaign? Take a look at the site and see if there is a spectacular giveaway or something very attractive going on.

Summary

Alexa is a very powerful tool for researching your competitors. Also, be sure to look at your site's listing to find out how well it is doing compared to others in your industry. As you analyze your competitors, look for their strengths so that you can emulate them and also their weaknesses so that you can set your business apart.

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