How do you decide what tactics to use for your business? It’s a good idea to try checking in on your competitors in your industry and see what they’re using. For instance, set up Google Alerts for each of the companies you want to keep your eye on.
When Google finds something new as it travels through the Internet it will e-mail and let you know. Set up a spreadsheet for each competitor that includes tabs for links, blogs, directories, industry publications and other facts about each. You can easily see how companies are talking about your competition and find other marketing opportunities.
As a small business owner you also want to be sure that your business is mentioned in the right places online. Get your competitors saved as search terms and like Google Alerts you will receive e-mails from Social Mention detailing who is talking about your competition, what they are saying and whether the sentiment is good or bad. You may also want to check out Icerocket, Addict-o-matic, Seesmic, or TweetDeck to be kept up to date.
Another idea is to use Open Site Explorer to get details about the sites that link to your competition. Other options are the SEOmoz tools: Competitive Link (Link Analysis), Research Tool, Keyword Analysis and Crawl Test.
If you are running or thinking of running a PPC campaign for your business then you should think about getting SpyFu. This allows you to download keywords that your competitors are using and borrow and improve ideas for your own successful campaigns.