How to Search Competitors of a Company Ethically

You must search competitors in order to get ahead of the competition and expand your market share.  

Understanding your competitors is essential for refining your marketing, sales, conversion, and retention strategies.

By identifying and analyzing your competitors, you can learn valuable insights into industry trends, common pitfalls, successful tactics, and more. This knowledge can help you improve your own strategies further and avoid mistakes that your competitors had made in the past.

Let’s find out how to find the competitors of a company, including your own, and explore effective tools to assist you in this process.

5 Reasons to search competitors of a company

Understanding your competition is crucial to establishing your position in any market, industry, or niche. The journey to becoming a market leader starts with a thorough analysis of your competitors.

Here are key reasons to focus on your competition:

Opportunities: Competitor analysis reveals market gaps and opportunities. You might discover niches your competitors have overlooked. 

Learning from mistakes: Competitor missteps are learning opportunities. You can avoid their errors and leverage this knowledge to enhance your offerings. 

Risk mitigation: Knowing your competitors aids in identifying and mitigating risks, crucial during market research and strategy development. 

Uniqueness: Analyzing competitors helps you identify what sets you apart. By understanding what others offer, you can craft a unique value proposition. 

Strategy: Observing competitors’ strategies can inspire improvements in your own approach.

Even businesses that seem to have no direct competitors, like a local pastry shop, face competition from supermarkets, delis, coffee shops, and health food stores.

If an initial search doesn’t reveal competitors, keep looking. Identifying competitors or understanding why they are absent is essential for strategic planning.

Types of competition in the market space

Here are the various types of competition:

Direct Competitors: Direct competitors are businesses that offer the same or very similar products and services as you do. 

For example, if you run a coffee shop, another coffee shop in your neighborhood would be your direct competitor. In the tech industry, companies like Apple and Samsung compete directly by offering similar consumer electronics.

Indirect Competitors: These competitors provide products or services that are somewhat similar to yours but not their main focus. 

For instance, a grocery store sells various items, including baked goods. While not primarily a bakery, it competes indirectly with a local bakery by offering similar products.

Replacement (Substitute) Competitors: Replacement competitors offer different products or services that fulfill the same customer needs as yours.

For example, a health food store doesn’t sell pastries but offers healthy food options that satisfy hunger. This can make it a substitute competitor to a bakery, as it addresses the same basic need for food.

New Market Entrants: New market entrants are companies that join a market after it has been established by other businesses. 

For instance, if your company offers accounting automation software for small businesses, and then H&R Block enters this market, they would be considered new entrants. These companies can bring fresh competition by leveraging the groundwork laid by existing firms.

Price Cutters: Price cutters compete by offering lower prices than their rivals to capture market share. This strategy often involves significant risk, as it can lead to unsustainable business practices. 

For example, Amazon frequently undercuts prices of major retailers like Best Buy and Walmart to expand its market presence in various sectors, including electronics and books.

Substitute Competitors: Substitute competitors offer products or services that serve as alternatives to yours. 

If your prices rise or your product quality drops, customers may turn to these substitutes. These competitors often develop advantages that make it challenging for others to compete. They watch for market opportunities, so it’s important to keep an eye on them.

How to search competitors of a company

Some competitors are easy to spot, but others might need a bit more effort to uncover. It’s not necessary to identify every competitor in your niche. However, the more companies you discover, the more data you’ll have for analysis and informed decision-making.

1. Track competitors effectively

Utilize tools like Google Alerts, Moz Open Site Explorer, or Ahrefs to discover websites ranking for keywords relevant to your business. These tools notify you when new content is published on these sites, helping you keep track of your competitors.

Employ tools like Social Mention or BuzzSumo to track mentions of your competitors across the web. This allows you to monitor their public presence and gauge their performance.

Search Google for keywords related to your industry, product, or service to identify similar websites. Explore these sites, analyze their content, and look for opportunities to enhance their existing products or services based on customer feedback and additional research. 

This process can inspire improvements to your offerings and provide insights into what current customers seek from their providers, allowing you to create more value for them in the future.

2. Market research

The first step in finding competitors of a company is to gain insights into their activities, target audience, and marketing strategies. Conducting market research and analysis will help you identify other companies offering similar products and services. 

Additionally, your sales representatives can provide valuable information about the competition they encounter during the sales process.

With a list of these companies, you can then dig deeper to categorize the type of competition and conduct a thorough competitor analysis.

3. Search with keywords

Use Google to search for keywords related to your industry, product, or service. This will generate a list of websites that are similar to yours, possibly even quite similar. 

Examine these websites, study their content, and identify opportunities to enhance their existing products or services through customer feedback or further research. 

This process can inspire improvements to your offerings and provide insight into what current customers desire from their providers, helping you create more value for them in the future.

4. Business directories

If you are seeking local competitors, business directories such as Yelp, Google, and YellowPages are excellent resources. By entering a specific type of service or product along with your location, you can access a comprehensive list of competitors. These directories also feature reviews, which can provide valuable data for competitive analysis.

During your search, you can gather information such as:

  • Types and variety of products and services offered
  • Their pricing strategies
  • Distribution and delivery methods
  • Marketing tactics
  • Innovation approaches
  • Number of employees

This information can be instrumental in further analytics and can reveal valuable insights into overlooked market opportunities.

5. Monitoring paid media

When determining how to find a company’s competitors, the Google Ads platform is an excellent starting point. Utilize the Google Ads Keyword Planner tool to discover which keywords are driving traffic to your website and other businesses in your industry. 

This can help identify companies excelling in their SEO or PPC campaigns and understand their ranking on Google.

Additionally, use tools like SEMrush, Moz, and Google Trends to monitor paid media data for your target market and industry. 

These tools provide valuable insights into other brands’ advertising expenditures and targeting strategies, offering a comprehensive view of the competitive landscape.

6. Review websites

If you’re trying to find competitors of a company, the final step is to examine review websites. Look at these sites to see if there are any links to your competitors. If not, try searching directly for their websites.

Review sites like G2, Capterra, and Trustpilot are excellent resources for identifying competitors. By searching for your product or service on these platforms, you can discover similar businesses in your industry. 

These sites provide detailed customer reviews and ratings, offering insights into the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors. This information can help you refine your strategies, improve your offerings, and understand market trends based on real user feedback.

Additionally, you can perform a Google search for “competitor analysis” along with the name of your target company. This should yield articles with tips on conducting competitor analyses.

7. Know their buying process

Subscribe to one of the company’s services or purchase one of their products to experience it firsthand. Pay close attention to any issues or obstacles you encounter during the shopping or subscription process.

Additionally, make a note of the aspects that the company excels in for future reference.

8. Discover their sales tactics

Gather more insights into the company’s sales tactics by considering the following questions:

  • Does the company offer promotions or discounts?
  • Do they attempt to upsell additional services or products after a sale?
  • Were there efforts to encourage upgrading to a more expensive product or service? How was the sales pitch delivered?

The information collected will be invaluable for both sales and marketing teams to enhance revenue generation.

9. Perform a SWOT analysis

After completing all the tests mentioned, compile the data by conducting a SWOT analysis.

A SWOT analysis is a straightforward yet powerful tool for developing a company’s business strategy. It stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

Strengths and weaknesses are internal factors within the company’s control. Strengths highlight the advantages of the company’s product or service compared to competitors, while weaknesses list the disadvantages.

Opportunities and threats are external factors that occur in the broader market. Opportunities represent potential areas for growth, while threats are challenges that could impact the company. Both are outside the company’s control but can be strategically managed.

The SWOT analysis organizes all gathered information into an easily understandable format, providing a solid foundation for a reliable business strategy.

10. Ask your customers

Engage with your customers to understand who else they consider when making purchasing decisions. Their insights can reveal direct and indirect competitors.

11. Check social media

Monitor social media platforms to identify companies that offer similar products or services. Pay attention to discussions, mentions, and ads related to your industry.

12. Check online forums (Quora, Reddit)

Browse forums like Quora and Reddit where discussions about industry-related topics often reveal competitor names and customer opinions.

13. Google dorking

Use advanced search techniques on Google (Google dorking) to uncover websites and information related to competitors. Refine your searches using industry-specific keywords and filters.

Useful tools to search competitors

In addition to the previously mentioned tactics, there are various tools available to help you identify your competition. 

Many of these tools are already part of your tech stack or can be found online at no cost.

1. Google Maps

Google Maps can be a valuable resource for locating local competitors. Simply enter your products or services along with your location, and you’ll receive a list of nearby direct and indirect competitors.

2. Ahrefs

Ahrefs offers a range of tools essential for competitor research and analytics. It enables users to analyze organic and paid search traffic of competitors, identify content gaps, and scrutinize their backlink profiles effectively.

3. Meltwater

Meltwater facilitates competitor identification through comprehensive media monitoring and analysis of online news, social media, broadcasts, and various other sources. It captures pertinent content and discussions, providing valuable insights for competitive research and analytics.

4. Crayon

Crayon identifies your digital competitors and monitors changes in their strategies, products, pricing, and other critical elements necessary for thorough and high-quality competitive analysis.

SpyFu

SpyFu enables you to identify your online competitors by analyzing the overlap in keywords between your domains. By identifying which domains rank for similar keywords, you can uncover both indirect competitors and potential substitutes.

Additionally, SpyFu can identify emerging competitors who may not yet have strong organic search rankings but are leveraging Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising to attract customers.

6. STAT

STAT analyzes website rankings to assist in identifying established and emerging competitors. It tracks market leaders and provides insights into their behaviors and strategies across different periods, aiding in competitive analysis.

7. SimilarWeb

SimilarWeb assists in identifying websites closely competing with yours by analyzing both organic and paid search traffic. This tool is instrumental in discovering direct, indirect, and substitute competitors across the online space.

8. LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a powerful tool for finding competitors of a business. By searching for your industry or specific keywords related to your business, you can identify companies offering similar products or services. 

LinkedIn allows you to explore company profiles, connect with industry professionals, and join relevant groups. You can also use LinkedIn’s advanced search filters to narrow down competitors based on location, company size, and other criteria. 

Monitoring competitor activity on LinkedIn can provide valuable insights into their strategies, new product launches, and overall market presence.

9. BuiltWith

BuiltWith helps identify competitors by analyzing the technology stack of websites. By entering your website or similar sites, BuiltWith reveals the technologies and services they use. 

This tool provides a list of websites using similar technologies, which often includes your competitors. BuiltWith’s data can help you understand the tools and platforms your competitors rely on, giving you insights into their operational strategies. 

This information can guide you in making informed decisions about your own technology investments and understanding market trends.

How to find competitors’ customers ethically

You don’t always need to hire an agency to discover your competitors’ customers. Much of this research can be done on your own, often at little to no cost. Let’s explore some valuable sources of information you can utilize.

Case studies in websites

The initial step in identifying a competitor’s customers, and for conducting competitor analysis, is to visit their website. 

Many B2B technology companies, such as those we frequently collaborate with, often feature sections dedicated to case studies or customer lists. 

Sometimes, a simple scrolling banner might display a few customer names. More advanced companies may offer video interviews or webinars featuring key customers.

These resources are excellent for gathering company names. For instance, SAP’s case studies page provides numerous customer names through various case studies, videos, and other examples.

While reviewing these case studies, pay attention to the wealth of additional information they contain. Case studies can provide insights into how your competitor positions itself, the ROI of its products, the duration of sales and implementation cycles, the post-sales services offered, and more.

FeaturedCustomers

FeaturedCustomers compiles lists of companies’ customers from various sources such as websites, case studies, and videos. While you could gather this information yourself, FeaturedCustomers conveniently aggregates it in one place.

For any given competitor, FeaturedCustomers might show a fraction of their total customer base, but the absolute numbers can still be substantial.

FeaturedCustomers is not the only aggregator of reviews; G2 is a similar alternative. Both platforms are valuable sources for competitor analysis.

Social media followers

This method sounds useful in theory but is often impractical. The idea is to browse a competitor’s followers on Twitter, assuming some are employees of the competitor’s customers or the customer companies themselves. 

However, this approach is akin to searching for a needle in a haystack. Most people don’t list their employer in their Twitter bios, and even if they do, or if the account belongs directly to a company, it’s hard to determine if they are a customer. 

While there are ways to verify this information, such as using LinkedIn, these methods are extremely time-consuming.

Analyst reports

Analyst reports from sources like Forrester and Gartner frequently highlight key customers of the companies they examine. 

Although these mentions are few, they are valuable insights that competitive intelligence teams often monitor as part of their regular reading. 

Additionally, the analysts behind these reports might possess more customer information that isn’t included in the publications but could be shared if requested.

Company internal sales

One unique source of competitor sales information is your own sales team. While it’s important to approach salespeople carefully and adhere to company policies on such discussions, they offer invaluable insights. 

Salespeople can provide information about incumbent vendors at target accounts and identify which competitors they encounter more or less frequently. 

Despite potential biases and fragmented information, their perspective is crucial. 

Gathering this information is often a goal for competitive intelligence programs, though sales teams might be reluctant to divert time from revenue-generating activities to share these insights with a competitive intelligence team.

Conclusion

Performing a competitive analysis is crucial to understand where your business stands in relation to its competitors and to uncover opportunities for growth. 

Conducting regular searches on competitors helps you stay updated with their strategies, market positioning, and customer engagement tactics. 

By systematically analyzing your competitors, you can identify gaps in the market, capitalize on emerging trends, and refine your own strategies to stay ahead. 

This continuous process of searching competitors ensures that you are always informed and prepared to make strategic decisions that propel your business forward.

FAQs

What is a SWOT analysis of competitors?

Analyzing competitors through a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis provides valuable insights into their operational landscape. This method enables informed decision-making by identifying competitive strengths, weaknesses, potential opportunities, and market trends.

What are the three Cs in competitive analysis?

In competitive analysis, the three Cs—customer, company, and competition—are pivotal. By evaluating these aspects of competitors’ offerings, businesses can uncover opportunities for marketing, innovation, and overall development strategies.

How do you determine who is a competitor?

Begin by laying the groundwork with essential market research. This initial step is crucial for gaining insights into the environment in which you operate, whether you’re navigating a global market or focusing on local competitors. Industry reports, trade publications, and participation in events and conferences are invaluable resources to pinpoint and understand your competitors effectively.

What is one of the methods for identifying competitors?

Market research spans from basic inquiries with your sales team about frequently mentioned competitors to more elaborate unaided brand awareness surveys. These surveys prompt respondents to name competitor brands associated with specific products, offering comprehensive insights into market perceptions and competitive landscapes.

What are the five main competitors?

There exist five distinct types of competitors: direct, potential, indirect, future, and replacement. 

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