How to Spy on Competitor’s Keywords, Ads, Backlinks, and More

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Curious what organic keywords your competitors rank for? How many backlinks do they have? What is the sentiment around their brand? You can easily check it. Actually, you can check much more information about them. So, let’s spy on competitors!

Before diving into analysis, it’s crucial to identify your main competitors. These businesses target the same audience and operate in the same or similar niche.

Start with direct competitors, but also consider indirect ones that may target slightly different markets but still compete with you for consumer attention.

Also, you can use SEO software like Semrush or Ahrefs. Those tools, based on keywords, detect top competing domains.

01 Keywords

To spy on competitor keywords, we need to dive into their search engine optimization strategy.

There are several tools available that can help you uncover the organic and paid keywords your competitors are ranking for. Semrush and Ahrefs are the most popular ones.

Let’s discover how many keywords the SHEIN brand rank for.

Organic keywords

Use the “Site Explorer” tool and enter your competitor’s domain. Then go to the “Organic Keywords” section to see the keywords they rank for, search volume, position, KD, CPC, traffic, and more.

What’s interesting is that you can filter data by location, position, volume, word count, URL, and more.

Now it’s time for analysis. Look for your competitor’s top-performing keywords that bring traffic to your website.

In addition to high-volume keywords, also pay attention to long-tail keywords. Implementing them to your own content strategy can be a game changer.

These are more specific and often have lower search volumes, but they can be valuable for targeting a niche audience.

Also, pay attention to the keyword difficulty (how hard it is to rank for a keyword).

I wanted to find high-volume keywords with low keyword difficulty that bring traffic to the SHEIN website.

With the “Site Explorer” feature, you can also check the keywords of specific URLs. For example, the SHEIN online store’s homepage ranks for over 28,000 related keywords, and 940 of them are in the top position on Google. That’s impressive!

Paid keywords

Let’s discover paid keywords your competitor wants to rank for. I’m sure they will be very valuable for your business. Again, we can use Ahrefs or Semrush for this purpose.

Go to the “Paid Keywords” section. The SHEIN brand has advertisements for more than 1,500 keywords:

You can filter the data to discover the top high-performing paid keywords. These are the keywords they are likely investing the most in.

Also, look for keywords that your competitors are targeting in search engines, but you are not.

Remember that competitor analysis is an ongoing process. So, continuously monitor your competitor’s organic and paid keywords.

02 Mentions

You can monitor online conversations and mentions of any competitor on the internet. That’s a great way to spy on your competitors. 

you can track mentions across social media, blogs, forums, podcasts, newsletters, news, forums, and review sites.

Such a tool will deliver lots of valuable insights you can implement into your marketing strategy. Also, it will help you conduct an advanced competitive analysis.

You can use brand monitoring tools to:

  • Detect the main source of competitor mentions,
  • Find the most popular mentions,
  • Measure the reach mentions brings to competitors,
  • Check whether mentions are positive, neutral, or negative.

In the last 30 days, the SHEIN brand was mentioned over 157 000 times. Thanks to the chart, you can easily identify any sudden increases or changes in mentions and reach.

What’s interesting, Twitter is the main source of mentions. Instagram is the second source and has a strong presence of admiration emotions. Although TikTok is the fourth source of mentions, it is the most reach-efficient social media channel.

03 Ads copy

SEMrush provides a comprehensive overview of your competitors’ ad copy, including headlines, descriptions, and display URLs.

You can click on your competitors’ ads to visit the landing pages directing users. By analyzing the messaging, design, and user experience on these pages, you can improve your ads strategy.

Also, the tool shows domain ads history. So you can track whether your rival made any ad changes.

04 Google ads

Spying on competitors’ Google ads is relatively easy. Type your competitor’s name in Google search. Find the ad and click three dots. You’ll discover the ad report with insights about an advertiser. Then click “See more ads this advertiser has shown using Google.”

Then you will be redirected to the Ads Transparency Center. It will show you a preview of ads. You can sort the data by time range, localization, and formats.

After clicking on a particular ad, you will be able to view the date it was last displayed.

05 Facebook ads

You can check the Facebook ads of your competitors quickly. All you need to do is to go to Meta Ad Library and type your competitor profile. The tool will show you ads and sponsored posts published on Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and Audience Network.

You can sort the data by the time range, keywords, language, platform, and media type.

06 Social media

The easiest way to spy on competitors’ social media is to follow their official accounts. You can identify posts with high engagement, such as likes, comments, and shares. Then analyze what elements make these posts more engaging to their audience.

The second way is to use social media analytics tools to track your competitors’ follower growth, post reach, engagement rate, and other relevant metrics.

I’m aware it’s not easy to track competitors’ social media channels. You can use a social media monitoring tool for this purpose. It will help you:

  • Monitor competitors’ profiles – You can add your competitors’ social media profiles to the monitoring tool. This gives you a dashboard to view all their activities across social platforms.
  • Track any keyword or hashtag – You can set up specific keywords and hashtags related to your competitors’ brands or industries. The tool will then monitor posts containing these keywords, keeping you updated on relevant conversations.
  • Set up alerts – Setting up alerts and notifications can give you an edge over your competitors by informing you of any increases in their mentions.

07 Emoji

By analyzing emojis, you can gain insight into the emotional tone of conversations about your competitors. Emojis can help you evaluate what emotions your rivals stimulate across the target audience.

Did you know that there are tools like Brand24 that can conduct emoji analytics? According to their analysis, the SHEIN brand mainly receives positive emojis from its audience, indicating their admiration and joy towards the brand.

08 Brand ambassadors

To detect your competitors’ ambassadors, you need to check who is talking about them. The easiest way to do that is to use a media monitoring tool and analyze mentions. For example, Brand24 generates lists of influencers and detects discussion leaders.

09 Online Presence

How popular are your competitors? To answer this question, you need to check their Presence Score. This metric measure brand presence in a given time.

It’s also a useful tool to measure and benchmark brand awareness. Presence Score operates on a scale from 1 to 100. What’s Important 100 is a score achieved by globally recognizable brands.

The online presence of SHEIN is 80, which means it’s a widely recognizable online store.

10 Reach

You can track the social media and non-social reach of your competitors.

Social media reach provides insights into your competitors’ online visibility and engagement on platforms like Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, and more.

Non-social reach encompasses their presence beyond social media, such as blogs, news, podcasts, newsletters, forums, and review sites.

Considering both gives you a fuller picture of their reach across various touchpoints.

Let’s take a closer look at some insights.

In the last 30 days, the total reach of SHEIN was 496.5M, most generated by neutral mentions (314.8M, 63%). The positive reach (160.3M) is over 10,37 times higher than the negative one (15.5M).

The estimated social media reach was 503M, non-social reach was 112M.

TikTok, News, and Podcasts have the highest reach efficiency, with TikTok generating an average reach of 83K per mention, followed by News with 27.1K and Podcasts with 24.6K per mention.

11 Sentiment

Let’s find out what is the sentiment around your competitors. To do that, you need to check whether Internet users write about them positively or negatively.

Fortunately, you don’t have to do it on your own. Tools like Brand24 measure the sentiment around each mention.

The most common sentiment around the SHEIN brand is neutral (66%). There are over 2,56 times more positive than negative mentions (24% vs. 9%). This means the brand has a positive image.

12 Reputation

It can be beneficial to keep an eye on your competitors’ reputation. It will help you to gain insight into how they are viewed in the market. By analyzing their reputation, you can establish a benchmark to compare your own brand’s reputation.

Brand reputation is strongly related to its sentiment. A higher number of negative mentions can result in a lower online Reputation Score.

As you can see, the brand’s Reputation Score is higher than 82% of brands. That’s a great result.

13 Traffic

Understanding how much traffic your competitors receive can help gauge their position in your industry or niche.

By checking which sources (organic search, paid search, social media, referrals, etc.) drive most of your competitors’ traffic, you can identify where you might be under-investing.

Let’s find out how much traffic does SHEIN website have. According to Similarweb, noted 251m total visits. That’s very impressive! On average, users view 8 pages per visit and spend about 7.34 minutes on the website.

Furthermore, if you look closer at the top pages of your competitor’s site, you can discover what kind of content or products resonate with their followers.

This can help you figure out what your target audience might be interested in too.

Finding the top pages of a domain is very easy. All you need to do is to open Ahrefs, type competitor domain, and open the “Top pages” tab.

14 Website

Did you know that you can spy on website changes? Tools like Visualping monitor whether your competitor changed the pricing, updated the pages, or made any important modifications.

If a competitor changes their website design or navigation, it could indicate that they focus on improving their user experience.

This could be a good opportunity for you to assess your own site’s UX and see if any areas could be improved.

15 Backlinks

Backlinks monitoring is a critical aspect of a comprehensive SEO strategy. If a trustworthy website provides links to your competitors, there’s a good chance that they’ll be interested in linking to your content as well.

Let’s discover how to find out competitors’ backlinks. You can use Ahrefs for this purpose. The tool analyzes a backlink profile. So you can check the domain authority, URL rating, the number of backlinks, and the number of unique domains linking to any website.

Want more backlinks to your website? Find unlinked brand mentions and turn them into backlinks.

16 Technology

If your competitors leverage cutting-edge technology, it might be a competitive advantage for them. By identifying the technologies that give them an edge, you can incorporate similar tools or develop alternative solutions.

Thanks to Similarweb and Wappalyzer, I discovered that use PHP, CodeMirror, Element UI, Braintree, Vue.js, Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, Optimizely, etc.

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