GoogSpy is a free web-based tool you can use to do competitor research.
GoogSpy is powered by Velocityscape's data extraction tool, Web Scraper Plus+, which extracts 500,000 search results a day from Google and loads them into GoogSpy's database.
The most obvious use for GoogSpy is to discover all the keywords your competitors are bidding for on Google's AdWords.
If you buy keywords on AdWords, you'll know how much tedious, time-consuming research goes into finding and testing effective keywords.
Companies often hire pay-per-click specialists to do this stuff for them.
Now you can get your hands on all the results of this competitor research simply by typing in a word or two and making a few mouse-clicks at GoogSpy.com.
Step 1: Go to GoogSpy (opens in new browser window)
Step 2: Click on “Browse by Company”
Step 3: In the search box, type in “cnet”
Step 4: Look among the domain names for “CNet.com”. Click on it.
Step 5: Look for the section of the page that says…
“CNet.com Pays for these Google Adwords.”
You'll find the 7,653 keywords which CNet.com is buying at Google's AdWords. (The number may have changed by the time you do this.)
GoogSpy also shows you some – not all – of CNet's top 10 rankings in Google, and shows you sites which are said to be its top 25 competitors.
Try similar searches for each of your main competitors.
Fun isn't it?
You'll notice that for each site, there's usually a “Top 25 Competitors” list.
Explore it. Allow yourself to get sidetracked. You'll probably be very pleasantly surprised by the gems you find.
Interesting sites I stumbled on
For example, just clicking around, I discovered a site called FunJobsReview.com. It's buying more than 900 keywords.
What's so important about that?
Any site which is paying for hundreds or thousands of clicks must have a good conversion rate. Unless they're throwing money away, you can guarantee it has a successful business model.
Unfortunately, you can't tell from this competitor research how effective any particular keyword will be. However, you are likely to find useful keywords you hadn't thought of.
Here's another site I stumbled on… Free-success-kit.info.
It pays for a HUGE list of key phrases.
I'd never heard of it, but I think it's safe to assume that this site has a successful marketing method which deserves close scrutiny.
How to use this data
Here are a few things you can do with the info you find…
- You can bid for those words on AdWords and pay-per-click search engines. (See the list at PayPerClickSearchEngines.com )
- You can target those phrases in your search engine optimization, creating new pages for phrases that look promising.
- You can use the keywords as the basis for more research. An excellent place to start is Wordtracker.
- You can build new niche websites. For example, try a keyword search at GoogSpy for “buy” or “find”. Then scroll down and scan all the search terms that websites are bidding for at AdWords.
You can search by key phrase, too
Instead of searching GoogSpy for domain names, you can also search for keywords or key phrases.
If, for example, you're interested in music, you can find all the “music” phrases which sites are bidding for on AdWords.
(Note: Try searching with and without hyphens. Searches for “non profit” or “non-profit” yield different results.)
Want to get a little sneaky?
Do an ordinary search in Google and find a “pay-per-click specialist” or “AdWords expert”, find the specialist's site and see which keywords they're buying.
For example, when I looked, AdWords specialist Perry Marshall was buying 78 key phrases for his site.
Some of his interesting keywords included spelling mistakes “overature”, “oveture” and rancking”.
Another AdWords specialist's site: Andrew Goodman's Page-Zero.com.
Want to be even sneakier?
Locate AdWords specialists and look for their client lists. Type the client's domain name into GoogSpy…
Ouch! I can almost feel the pain as marketing secrets are made public.
Want to be nosy?
Overture buys the keywords “clickxchange”, “jimtools”, “netmarketing”, “webdata” and the spelling mistake “search engin”.
Click around. Explore. Have fun.
GoogSpy isn't perfect
GoogSpy is new and it's not perfect.
It doesn't show every website, it doesn't show every page a site has in the top 10 in Google, and you'll probably see a “runtime error” message every now and again.
Velocityscape's founder, Michael J. Roberts, is a former Microsoft employee. I'm not sure yet if that is a good thing or a bad thing.
Want some ideas for more research?
Have a look at the thousands upon thousands of keywords that Pricegrabber.com thinks are worth buying on AdWords.
You can be certain that a company like that is doing very careful research and is tracking which keywords are cost-effective.
For similar results, have a look at some of Pricegrabber's top 25 competitors.
A few more search results:
Art.com 740 keywords
Buy.com – 3,356 key phrases
BizRate.com 18,987 key phrases.
(I used the View/Line Numbers feature in TextPad to count them.)
Brand names and model names
These results are a powerful reminder that people searching for brand names and model names are in a buying mood.
Compare all the keywords that companies buy with “buy” or “shop” in them, compared with the small number of purchased keywords that contain “make”. The reason: People searching for “make…” are usually hoping to locate free information. They're not to planning to buy something.
This research may encourage you to incorporate more of these phrases in your search engine optimization.
Will a fee be charged one day? GoogSpy is not charging a fee for this service. My guess is they'll generate lots of publicity, attract lots of users, and then start charging for the service. So make the most of it now.[UPDATE: GoogSpy has been relaunched as SpyFu, with a large number of enhancements, most of which are free. Some require a subscription.]