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10 Research Tools that Every Small Business Should Invest In

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While “mind your own business” is always good advice, it’s not enough when it comes to running a successful small business. Smart entrepreneurs need to always keep an eye on their competitors to stay at least a step ahead. There are many research tools for small businesses that you can invest in to help you with the task of keeping tabs on your competitors.

1. Alexa

Owed by Amazon, Alexa is a tool that helps small businesses better understand commercial web traffic data, both their own and competitors’. Information includes traffic volume, bounce rate, time spent on site, and audience demographics.

2. Google Keyword Planner

Part of Google’s AdWords platform, the Keyword Planner lets you identify which keywords competitors are using successfully (and unsuccessfully). From there, you can make informed choices about your own keywords and easily implement them into an AdWords campaign. Best of all, this tool is free.

3. Google Alerts

Another free Google tool, you can set up Google Alerts so you are notified whenever one of your competitors is talked about in the news. This will ensure you’re one of the first to know when they make a major announcement or receive a press mention.

4. Industry Analyst Reports

Depending on your industry, there are different companies that research and analyze spending and industry trends; examples include Gartner and NPD. You can purchase their reports, which give an in-depth picture of the competitive landscape, on a one-off basis, you can subscribe to them regularly, or you can even engage in a consulting relationship with the company.

5. Rival IQ

Rival IQ lets you monitor multiple competitors on a single dashboard. You can easily compare and analyze things like their SEO keywords, social media post engagement, and updates to the copy on their social profiles or website.

6. Hoover’s

Hoover’s is a data company known for its business reports and lists. Purchasing research from Hoover’s can help you connect with sales prospects and better understand your industry dynamics.

7. Monitor Backlinks

Tools for small businesses that help improve your SEO are almost always worthwhile. Monitor Backlinks is a service that helps you understand what sites are linking to your competitors, which, in turn, enables you to identify potential opportunities for your company in addition to ways to improve your search rankings.

8. WebCEO

WebCEO is a platform that shows you in-depth information about your competitors’ SEO strategies (search rankings, backlinks), website (traffic numbers, keywords implemented), and social media activity. By examining what’s working for them, you can gain strategic insights.

9. LinkedIn

By following your competitors on LinkedIn, you can get a feel for their priorities by keeping an eye on the types of roles for which they are hiring. For example, if they hire several digital media marketing specialists, that might let you know that you need to step up your own digital media marketing efforts a bit to keep on track.

10. Ontolo

Ontolo is a research tool that crawls competitors’ websites to analyze their content marketing. You can use this information to inspire your own content marketing efforts.

Keeping competitive is critically important for small businesses. If you don’t have the cash on hand to invest in these tools, consider seeking free versions or taking out a small business loan or alternative financing method so you can invest in your business appropriately.


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