This book is about getting a complete picture of every website that affects your business. You will know the most about websites and communities you run, and you can learn a significant amount by moderating and joining communities. You can also gain important insights into your competitors through many of the techniques we’ve seen so far.
You can use community search approaches to eavesdrop on your competitors and see what people think of them.
You can use synthetic testing to compare your competitors’ performance and uptime to your own.
You can use search and ranking tools to understand how well your competitors are viewed by the rest of the Web.
Some usability tools may even let you analyze how test users interact with competitors’ websites, helping you to improve your own.
Before you embark on any competitive analysis, you need to consider whether you care if your competitors know what you’re up to. If you perform competitive research from your own domain, their analytics will show your visits. What’s more, they may have specific terms of service on their websites that prohibit things like synthetic testing or crawling by others.
Let’s look at how you can keep an eye on your competitors.
If you haven’t already done so, review Chapter 14. All of the approaches we describe there apply equally well to competitors.