How to Keep Tabs on Your Competition Online

by Eddie Reeves on

Every smart business makes it point to pay attention to the competition.  While you should never spend exorbitant amounts of time dissecting every minor move nor murmur that your competitors make, you do need to know broadly what they are up to.

Are they launching new products or services?  Are they entering new markets or exiting old ones? Have they established a new business alliance or partnership?

The good news is that the Internet has made keeping tabs on your competition easier than ever.  Here are some great ways to do so:

Start with Google. You can find treasure troves of competitive info on this 800-pound gorilla of web search.  Start by doing Google searches such as: “companyname” filetype: doc.  Change the file type to .pdf, .xls, or .ppt to find information in other forms, such as a pdf file or a Powerpoint presentation.   And don’t just focus on the company name. Google the names of their key people as well.

Explore LinkedIn. LinkedIn is hands down my favorite social network, and its utility for competitive analysis one of the main reasons why.  Sign up to follow a company and you will get notices when they post updates to their LinkedIn page. Those updates run the gamut from new clients to new products to new hires. You also can search a company’s name on LinkedIn to find current and former employees who have LinkedIn profiles.

Troll Twitter and Facebook chatter. If members of your industry hang out on Facebook, monitor their conversations. Many events have a Twitter hashtag that people use to chat and post speakers’ comments live. If a competitor is speaking, “listen” in, and you will often find out great early info. And don’t forget to monitor their key employees and/or partners.

Peruse job sites. Job portal Indeed ( is a great place for digging out job postings because it aggregates listings from many online job boards. Watch the skills a company may be hiring for; they’re a leading indicator for new initiatives, or they may indicate that a key employee may be leaving soon.

Check out Quora. Popular with technology crowds and venture capitalists, Quora ( holds a huge database of interesting competitive questions on such topics as a company’s future plans. Often, company employees provide the answers, and they generally reply using their true identities, which is often no the case on other social Q&A sites.

These are just a few of the ways to keep tabs on your competitors online. Get cracking on a couple of them today!

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