The Lazy Person’s Guide to Online Competitive Research

Five tips on how to efficiently conduct online competitive research.

Are you interested in keeping tabs on your competition, but just can’t seem to find the time? Here are a couple competitive intelligence time savers we use and frankly can’t live without. Here is a concise summary for those of you who are too lazy to read all five tips: Subscribe to search results using RSS readers. If you don’t know what that means, buck up and read on to improve your competitive research efficiency.

  1. Use Google Blogsearch: Search for your arch nemesis’ name on Google Blogsearch to find the latest dirt on the blogs about him. Here’s an example search for Google employee, Matt Cutts.  (In this case, I’m searching for someone who usually has something interesting to say rather than for an arch nemesis). Imagine if there was famous rugby player by the same name. That would lead to a lot of false positives in my stalking efforts, so I’d add a negative for the term [-rugby] (without the brackets) to the search to filter the other Matt Cutts out of the results. [Trivial side note: As of this writing, Matt Cutts has only been mentioned once on a blog post that incluces the word rugby: 3,173 vs 3,174 mentions.]
  2. Use Persistent Searches: Too lazy to run that search on a regular basis? Subscribe to blog search results by clicking one of the Atom or RSS links at the bottom of the results page. Paste the resulting URL into the RSS reader of your choice. A few popular readers today include Bloglines, News Gator, My Yahoo, and Google Reader. Here is a link to Matt Cutt’s blog search RSS feed’s URL. [Note: If you want to to straight to the source to find out what makes Matt Cutts tick, check out his blog at: http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/.]

  3. Use Technorati: Who is linking to your competition? There are quite a few tests for this, but Technorati is particularly interesting because it reports what blogs have recently (we’re talking minutes here) linked to a given site. For example, this search for www.technorati.com on Technorati reports 118,022 links to Technorati.com as of this writing, including 17 new links in the past 10 minutes. Discovering who is linking to a site, and clicking to read the associated commentary is a great competitive research technique. You can also use it to measure how “important” your site is vs. your competition based on Technorati’s link metric.

  4. Use Technorati Watchlists: Too lazy to run the same search twice? That’s not laziness. That’s a sign of efficiency. Simply click the Add to Watchlist button on Technorati’s search results page to save it to your personal watch list.
  5. Subscribe to News Search: Too lazy to read blogs, but have time for news stories? Search Yahoo News or Google News for your favorite newsworthy term, then subscribe to the results. Google currently lists their subscribe options on the left column of their site, and Yahoo’s are on the right. Yahoo’s recently added blog search results to the right column of their news results page, so they have a 2 for 1 search offering.

Enough already. Congratulations on reading this far. Maybe you’re not as lazy as you thought?

Feeling energized? Give the above tips a try, or share your own online competitive research tips in the comments below.

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