These digital analysis tools are some of the best free digital marketing tools. They offer some of the main ways you can get actionable insights that will shape your digital marketing strategy.

Using this guide to digital marketing tools will get you:

  • More traffic
  • Targeted traffic
  • Better SEO
  • A better click-through rate
  • A digital marketing strategy targeted towards your customers’ needs and preferences
  • An astonishingly comprehensive idea of how your competitors are using keywords, SEO, backlinks, website design and content marketing

Just some things to note:

The digital analysis tools which benchmark or monitor competitors’ websites work best with websites that generate a lot of traffic. If a website doesn’t generate enough traffic then some information will be unrealistic, incomplete or completely absent. E.g. if one tool tells you that 100% of the traffic comes from mobile devices, you can assume its incorrect information (Unless it’s a mobile specific app). Struggling to find info about your direct competitors? Use national competitors instead. In fact, you should be benchmarking against national competitors anyway. These should be the thought-leaders in their industry and have the marketing budget to really know what works with digital marketing. These are the ones to monitor and get tips from.

Personas

Make My Persona by Hubspot

Before you start with keyword planners and competitive analysis tools, it’s prudent to find out who your competitors are, and have a few personas for your target market. Don’t have personas yet? Hubspot has a great step-by-step guide on how to create a persona. Don’t know the socio-demographic information of your target customers? Use Alexa and Similar Web below to give you an idea of your competitors’ customer’s traits.

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Digital Analysis Tools for Websites

Alexa

This online marketing tool will give you some basic analytics of competitor’s sites: bounce rate, average page views per visitor, and average time spent on the website. You can also find out how the website ranks globally and nationally.

This marketing tool will also give you an idea where traffic to the site comes from, the percent of traffic from different countries, and the top 5 keywords bringing in traffic by percent.

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To get the most data use this digital tool in conjunction with Similar Web.

 

Similar Web

This digital analysis tool is best used in conjunction with Alexa to give a better overview of traffic to a website. This is the best free digital analysis tool I have found to display how traffic flows through the websites and where exactly this traffic is from. Also displayed in user-friendly graphs.

This includes:

  • Top referring websites (think backlinks) and the % of referral traffic they bring
  • % of traffic made from search engines and the top 5 organic and paid keywords that bring in this traffic
  • % of traffic from social media and top contributors to this traffic
  • % of traffic from display ads and top publishers of these ads

This site will add to your demographic information from Alexa, and add some sociographic info too: Audience interests.

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As well as metrics Similar Web shares with Alexa, this tool will show you:

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Top Tips:

  1. Use this digital analysis tool to gain an idea who your competitors are with the function ‘Similar Sites’
  2. Get an idea on where to focus your digital marketing efforts: E.g. if 90% of your competitor’s traffic is from ‘Search’ then it’s likely customers will also use search engines like Google to find your business. This means you need to focus on SEO.
  3. Not sure who your target audience is? Use this to find the socio-demographics of users to your competitors’ sites.

Digital Analysis Tools: Keywords

These keywords planners and digital analysis tools will show you which keywords will get you the most traffic, the highest click-through rate, and the least competition. You can also find out what keywords your competitors are using, and which ones bring the most traffic to them. Therefore, you can compete for the same words, or avoid ones which are too competitive.

Google AdWords

Google AdWords Is one of the best free keywords planners to start your keyword search. Find the amount of traffic a search term is likely to bring, and the level of competition you can expect on these keywords. Using the keyword suggest tool you, Google will show you different combinations and suggestions of keywords you can use and the traffic they bring.

Google has plenty of guides on how to use Google AdWords to make a PPC campaign. Bear in mind these are not just useful for PPC, but also to bring organic traffic to your site. Here’s a video by Google which explains long-tail keywords and gives you some advice on how to create your keywords and use their keyword planner to your best advantage: 5 Tips for Choosing the Right Keywords in AdWords 

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Top Tips:

  1. For businesses that rely on local customers, use the geolocation tab to look at search terms local to your area. A good digital tool for geolocations and targeting specific areas to find how much traffic keywords bring.
  2. Use the toolbar to view search terms by the least competition and then check this against average monthly searches.

Moz Tools

Moz is an authority on digital analysis tools, keyword planners and SEO. Like AdWords, this keyword planner shows you the volume of users searching for a keyword, and the level of difficulty you can expect against others using the search term. However, several tabs will give you extra insights that Google AdWords doesn’t. ‘Opportunity’ tells you the estimated click-through rate for your term. ‘Priority’ combines all the metrics (volume, difficulty, and potential) to produce which is Moz’s suggestion whether you should try and rank for this keyword.

Suggested Keywords: Like AdWords Keywords Suggestions, this will give you ideas for keywords and expected volume of traffic searching for this term.

SERP Analysis: A competitive benchmarking page showing you the top 10 websites ranking for your search term and their authority. This can give you an idea how much chance you have of ranking higher than them.

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Top Tips: Use the tool in this order:

  1. Use the suggested keywords first and write down a few of the most appropriate suggestions for your business.
  2. Go back to the overview page and assess the volume, difficulty, opportunity and pay particular attention to the priority.
  3. Then switch to the SERPs analysis page, assess the competition and see how much of a chance you have on getting to the first page of Google.

Remember longer keywords will have less traffic searching for them but there’s also several advantages. People searching for longer phrases are more likely to be at the buying stage. Think ‘big dogs’ against ‘big dog grooming in London’. Additionally, there will be less competition for these longer phrases.

I’ve selected a quick video of how to use Moz from YouTube, but there are plenty more in-depth ones. How to use MOZ Keyword Explorer Tool by Wavemakers.co

Spyfu Keyword Planner Tool

If you only use one keyword planner and competitive analysis tool for keywords, I recommend Spyfu. Very well laid out tables and graphs that make all the information very consumable. This tool has everything you could want to know about your competitors’ keywords.

Some of the things this will show you:

Overview Tab

  • How many organic and paid keywords your competitors have
  • What the top keywords are
  • How many of these are on the first page of google (which gets 95% of clicks in UK) and how many clicks they get
  • Top organic and paid competitors for these keywords
  • What paid words competitors have used and when did they have these campaigns
  • Recommendations for keywords

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SEO Tab

  • Very in-depth look at how many organic keywords your competitor has, and whether they are on the first page of Google or just fell off
  • How many keywords your competitor has compared to their main competitors
  • Which keywords are bringing the most traffic
  • Which keywords are newly ranking, increasing or decreasing in rank
  • Competitor analysis – how many of the same keywords they share and with whom

PPC research

  • What are your competitors’ paid PPC phrases
  • How much are they spending on these per click and monthly
  • When were these campaigns ongoing

Keyword Research

Great port of call if you’re thinking of starting a PPC campaign – this will give you suggestions on similar keywords, cost of click, competition, click-through rates, and what kind of search volume you can expect when using this term.

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Top Tips: 4 ways competitor keyword research can help you adapt your strategy

  1. Steal your competitors’ traffic by ranking for the same keywords as them.
  2. Find any keywords your competitors haven’t thought of and rank for these.
  3. Discover long-tail keywords you hadn’t thought of. Either copy the same ones or adapt them slightly.
  4. Find out why your competitors are ranking above you for certain keywords: if you cannot rank higher for certain keywords then change the ones you aim to rank for.

A quick video guide on using Spyfu: How to Spy on Competitors Keywords and Ads using Spyfu (2016) 

Digital Analysis Tools: Keyword Planner and Backlinks

SEM Rush

Domain Analytics Tab – Overview: Use SEM Rush to find the quantity and quality of backlinks your competitor has. Also, find the paid and organic keywords they rank for. This is also a good keyword planner and competitive analysis tool to see how your competitors are advertising themselves: what platforms they use and what the adverts look like. This ranges from Google AdWords to social media boosts.

 

Some things you’ll discover:

  • Top 5 organic and paid for keywords they are ranking for.
  • Top 5 competitors that are using the same keywords for both organic and paid.
  • How many of your competitors’ keywords are ranking in the top 100 search results of Google.

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Organic Search

Click on ‘Organic Research’ for the top 10 organic keywords they are using. To get more access to more than 10 keywords you can subscribe for a free trial of their services.

A subcategory of this, ‘Position Changes’, will also give you an idea of which search terms your competitors rank for that are currently trending. Also, whether search terms they are ranking for are losing or gaining rank. Use this to bounce on keywords they are failing on, or surf a keyword trend.

‘Competitors’ is well worth looking at: want to know who your keyword competitors are? This will show you which competitors are ranking for the same keywords as you so you can keep an eye on their position changes. You can also find out how many keywords they have in the Google’s top 100 organic searches, and the amount of traffic this generates for the website. Click on a competitor to enter the ‘Domain vs Domain’ function.

Domain vs Domain

Compare up to 5 websites to see how they compare for important organic keywords; the average volume of traffic that search term generates per month; and ‘KD’ (Keyword Density) which tells you how difficult it would be to rank for that keyword.

Phrase Match

This gives you suggested keywords with additions to the search term that you originally searching for. Find the volume of searches per month, cost-per-click, competition and whether the keyword is trending.

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Related Keywords

Like phrase match, but instead of adding words to your original search term this will give you variances of the search term. E.g. if I was looking at ‘Digital Marketing’ one suggestion will be ‘digital market’.

Keyword Difficulty:

Once you have drawn up a shortlist for your keywords – use this tab to analyse your top 10 related keywords to compare the competition level of the keyword and search term popularity.

Top Tips:

Notice the tab with the devices on it. This allows you to switch between desktop and mobile devices which will show you results for each device. Focus on the device where you gain the most traffic (Google Analytics will tell you this). The results on Spyfu tend to be similar between the devices but there are some variances.

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A Quick guide on using SEM Rush: How to use Semrush.com for Free SEO Research

Digital Analysis Tools: Content Analysis

Buzzsumo

Buzzsumo Pro: Content Research

Note this first one is only available on Buzzsumo Pro. However, you can get a free trial, with no obligations to use bank card details, to access Buzzsumo’s Pro account. This will let you analyse up to 25 competitors or search terms. This tool is my personal favourite. You will get access to the function that impressed me most ‘Content Analysis’. Perfect to find out what kind of content you should produce and when to distribute it. This information is easily consumable in graph formats and will show you:

  1. Average shares by network (which social media platforms to use to get maximum content engagement.
  2. Average shares by content type, e.g. video, infographic, how-to articles etc.
  3. Average shares by content length: how many words your content should be to get the most shares.
  4. Average shares by date published: your audience may be more active on certain days than others, the results of this can be surprising with posting on a certain day of the week sometimes doubling the number of shares.
  5. Finally, average shares by topic on all networks. This graph doesn’t always work well depending on what website you are analysing but when it does it will show you what topics get the best results (on all the major social media platforms): e.g. the number of shares ‘Marketing Trends’ gets on all social media platforms compared with ‘Marketing Strategy’. This will let you know what topic to create or curate which will resonate best with your audience.

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The Pro account will also give you access to the ‘Backlinks’ which can show you which websites link to your competitor’s site and add traffic and authority. This can be used to get an idea which backlinks you should try and gain. I like Entrepreneur’s article on getting backlinks:10 Smart Ways to Earn or Build Backlinks to Your Website

Monitoring

Use this function to monitor a competitor or topic to get instant updates on when content is released by or about them.

Buzzsumo Free

After your Pro account expires (assuming you don’t re-apply with another email address and phone number) you still have access to Buzzsumo’s free account. This will give you access to:

‘Trending Now’ – what social media posts and topics are currently trending so you can quickly make your own content to surf the trend.

‘Most Shared’ – a highly useful function to find out what kind of content will get the most shares. This is important as shares will naturally distribute your content on social media, and increase your brand reach. This function lets you see what search terms are most likely to be shared, and content your competitors have that are sharing well. Meaning, you can either copy the trend and produce your own content to get the traffic in the same area, or see what gaps your competitors are missing and create content around that. You can filter these results by:

  • Date
  • Language
  • Country
  • Domain – include domains you want to specify (e.g. direct competitors) and exclude domains that aren’t relevant to you
  • Content type e.g. videos, articles & infographics

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Buzzsumo Influencers

This will show you who the top influencers are in your area or by topic. Influencers can be paid or persuaded to promote your business, blog, service & product. Influencers have a lot of authority and followers in an area and getting them to promote you can generate lots of traffic and conversions. Kiss Metrics can tell you more about influencers here: The Definitive Guide to Influencer Targeting

Top Tips:

When choosing competitors to benchmark against it’s a good idea not to just choose direct competitors (say the hair salon across the street), but the analyse the competitors that are most successful. (say Rush, a national hair salon chain in the UK). These are the competitors which should have the innovation and marketing budget to know what works best.

The best quick guide I found. I like the way they present this: How to Track Trending Topics and Influencers with BuzzSumo

Digital Analysis Tools: Competitive Analysis of Technology

Built With

Use this tool to see what software your competitors are using. This will give you an idea of software and plugins that you should be using in your website and marketing.

Some things this tool will show you:

  1. Email services
  2. Website builder used
  3. Online advertising services
  4. Analytics
  5. Audio & Video Media
  6. Widgets and Plugins

This is a snippet of the advertising software used by the BBC.

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Sign up for a free account for more detailed information.

Top Tips:

Use this tool to analyse global and local competitors. Global competitors will probably have advanced software but are more likely to pay for it. Local competitors are more likely to use free tools.

Digital Analysis Tools: SEO Audit

SEO Site Check Up

This is one of the most in-depth free SEO website audit tools I have seen. This will give you an overall SEO website score and will then break down the different subcategories of SEO in great detail. There are also some suggestions of how to improve these areas. This includes the general SEO issues like meta titles but also things like Site Speed Optimisation and Mobile Optimisation.

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Top Tip:

This tool is best used to analyse the SEO performance of your website. To get SEO services that will improve your website click HERE.

Digital Analysis Tools: Competitive Analysis of Social Media Content

Social Searcher 

Social Searcher analyses the social media posts from all major social media platforms. This lets you type a search term and see what people are saying about it.

Filter by sentiment to find negative, neutral or positive feedback (not always reliable) or by post types or networks to target specific types of post. Advanced options also let you specify the language used.

social media, social. twitter, facebook

The analytics tag gives you a wealth of free information such as sentiment percentages over various platforms and keywords most associated with your original search term.

Quick note: for businesses that have names associated with well-known products, foods or places etc. use the minus button on the left-hand side of the screen to omit posts with irrelevant words. E.g. if your business is Banana Boats in Florida, you can minus words like ‘fruit’ to minimise irrelevant comments.

social media

Top tips:

  1. Use the digital tool to monitor your competitors, if they have bad reviews on posts you can respond with something like: ‘Hey, I’m sorry to hear about your bad experience. We sell ice-creams too! Next time you want an ice-cream pop in and see us and we’ll give you 20% off your purchase with the code ‘cool-ice’. And we guarantee a cool experience. Hope to see you soon :)’
  2. Protect and improve your brand image by finding out what people are saying about your business and respond to positive or, perhaps more importantly, negative comments.
  3. If you’re thinking about expanding your range or services, type your new idea into social-searcher and see whether your service or product is viewed positively by people. You can also get an idea of the main issues or best most liked bits about products similar to yours. Say you’ve got an idea for selling leather cushions type it in, see what people say. You may find people prefer circular black leather cushions – now you have an idea what will sell well.

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