Online contentMonitoring the success of your own online content is essential for any organization, but it is also important to monitor the content of your competitors.  Doing so will help you determine what is and is not working for them so you can learn from their mistakes, identify topics areas to address and shape your own strategy.

You can monitor your competitor’s content manually by regularly exploring their websites and paying attention to their social media activity, but tools can save a lot of time.  Content monitoring tools often provide a sampling of the information they provide and/or a free trial.  If you are simply looking for a quick snapshot of one or two competitors, sometimes the free information is enough.  If you wish to do deep or regular analysis, however, you will need to select and pay for a service.

This resource is not intended to be all inclusive, but instead focuses on tools that are affordable for SMBs.  Content monitoring tools vary widely in terms of functionality and pricing, so those presented below include a description of what they offer.  The right tool for you will depend on your unique needs and budget.

BuzzSumo
BuzzSumo is considered to be one of the best products in this category.  It is fully focused on content, offers great functionality and a beautiful interface for a reasonable cost.  Enter any website or topic to see which content is performing best in terms of social shares (broken down by channel) and to identify backlinks.  Compare sites to explore their relative performance, stay on top of trending topics in your industry and set up alerts to monitor the content and links of your competitors.  You can briefly test the product for free by entering a website, but the information provided is limited.  A 14 day free trial is offered with no commitment and pricing starts at $79 a month.

OpenSiteExplorer (Moz)
Moz provides a suite of inbound marketing and analytics software with which you can explore many aspects of your company’s (and your competitor’s) online efforts.  The Open Site Explorer tool provides information on how content is performing, complete with backlink and social sharing information.  The Moz collection of tools is offered starting at $99/mo and provides a wealth of information.  If your interest is purely content marketing this suite might be more than you need and there is definitely a learning curve involved, but if your organization uses Moz for other purposes this could be a good place to start.

Social Crawlytics
With Social Crawlytics you can run a free report on any website to identify which content is getting the most social shares.  The information provided is limited and it is slow in that you request a report and then wait for an e-mail notification of its completion.  If you are on a serious budget or just doing a little light research, however, this might be a completely reasonable solution.

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