I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been tempted to check the results of a Competitor Tool and then give up when it says that they’re ranking higher than us. Yeah, I know that sounds like a pretty lame excuse for not completing a task, but hear me out: As marketers, we need to remember that there is no single source of truth when it comes to ranking in Google. There are only estimates based on flawed data sets and algorithms developed by imperfect humans who don’t have access to all the information about your competitors’ websites (or your own). So why should we trust those tools? Let’s look at some reasons why not:
It’s pretty tough to get data from a competitor tool.
The first thing to understand is that most competitor tools are paid services. They require you to have an account with them and log in before they’ll let you use their tool. This means that if you want to get data from a competitor tool, you’re going to have to pay for it—but only if the tool even allows third-party access at all!
Competitor tool data is no better than your own estimates.
Competitor tools are not an easy source of data. You can try to get the raw data from a tool, but it’s usually hard or impossible to do this. Even if you do manage to scrape the data out of their website, it may be incomplete or inaccurate. It’s far more reliable to use your own estimates for your competitors’ metrics because…
- They won’t always have accurate information available.
- Their datasets will often be limited in scope and depth compared to Google Analytics’.
Competitive tools have a limited dataset.
Think about it: if you want to find out how your website stacks up against your competitors, you’ll need data. Data is what helps us make decisions, and when it comes to SEO, the most important thing we can do is to understand our own rankings and those of our competitors.
There are many ways for you to get that data—you could use a tool like SEMrush or Ahrefs (or another tool like them) that will provide you with more accurate results than any other competitor analysis tools. But there’s one big problem with using these tools: they don’t have access to all of their competitor’s websites’ search results! That means their datasets are missing out on a lot of information that could be useful for tracking down the best keywords for your site.
So if you want accurate information about how well each website ranks in Google Search Console (and its other search engines), then this might not be right for you at all times because some sites might not even show up at all due their lack of popularity (or just being new).
The results you’re getting are either wrong or irrelevant.
If you’re using a competitive analysis tool, you aren’t getting all the information you need. This is because many tools simply don’t include every metric that can be useful for comparison.
These metrics might include:
- Your unique visitors and/or pageviews per month
- The number of single-page visits (i.e., people who visit only one page) per month
- The average conversion rate from visitors to customers
- The average order size based on customer value, not just revenue
The competition is working too hard for you to get the scoop so easily.
A competitor tool is a website that will show you data about a specific industry. For example, you can sign up for an account and search for your company’s name, then get all kinds of information about the company’s social media accounts and SEO keywords.
But should you trust this data? The answer is no, for several reasons:
- Most people who use competitor tools are looking for information on their competitors—not necessarily all of their competitors. If somebody is doing research, they probably have some kind of strategy in mind already and don’t want to give away any hints about what that strategy might be. They’ll be less likely to share their plans with someone who has access to their entire industry through a simple internet connection.
- Even if they did want to share the details of their plan with someone else who wasn’t currently working on it themselves (and trust me when I say this is extremely rare), using a competitor tool would still put them at risk because its accuracy depends entirely on how well it tracks everyone involved in your industry overall rather than just one individual business at any given time (and even then there could be errors). That means that even if A really does know B inside out right now… by tomorrow C might be coming closer than ever before thanks to D…”
Not all competitor tools are created equal.
There are many different kinds of tools. Some, like Google Analytics, are very accurate and useful. Others, like SEMRush and SpyFu, are more expensive but less accurate and useful. And then there’s a tool that’s mostly useless: Moz vs Ahrefs vs SEMRush (an example).
If you use one of these tools alongside another competitor tool to measure your site’s organic search traffic performance, don’t trust the results or make decisions based on them.
Competitor tools only tell you so much, so don’t sweat it if your competitors are outranking you on them.
Competitor tools are a great way to get an initial idea of what your competitors are doing, but don’t treat the results as the end-all-be-all. There’s a lot more to be learned from competitor research than just what you find through these tools.
- Look at keyword rankings: While this is only one part of your overall analysis, it can give you some insight into how your competitors are positioning themselves on search engines and other sites where you’re trying to rank well for keywords related to your business or product offerings.
- Find new opportunities: If there are keywords that aren’t currently being used by any of your competitors, see if they have high commercial intent and could be something worth targeting in future campaigns (or even right now).
If you’re looking for a quick way to see how well your competitors are doing, the best thing to do is use your own common sense and knowledge of the industry. If they’re ranking high on Google, then that means they’re doing something right. Now it’s your turn!