DecAnil Kumar T The secret is out: In Internet marketing, getting a sneak peek at your competitor traffic and even predicting who gets his foot in, is no more under wraps, with a range of SEO tools that can predict and monitor this invaluable information that can take your online marketing to a high almost overnight. At the top end of SEO services and search engine marketing for this prediction monitor, are Alexa, Com Score, Google Ad Planner, Google Trends for Websites, and SEMrush, to name some of the prominent tools. Alexa reveals the general traffic trends in your competitor site (up to 5 sites at a time), has a useful interface, does specific data crunching such as number of unique visitors, visits, etc, and presented in a cogent way and all this for free! The catch is traffic charts for sites ranked outside of the top one lakh are beyond the catchment area of Alexa, and its accuracy has been questioned in some quarters. Dig a little deep and you will discover that while the data on bounce rate is fairly accurate, the trends for bounce rate seem less accurate vis-Ã -vis the corresponding data in Analytics. Also, it seems to be skewed in favor of sites within the search engine marketing and online marketing space. SEO gurus say Alexa is best used to compare similar sites within an industry, and to distill insights for audience demographics, critical inputs for search engine optimization and search engine marketing. Com Score offers a number of reports and insights on online marketing including internet marketing, and info on important keywords in an industry. However, not much can be said on its accuracy quotient. Google’s Ad Planner milks reliable data on sites also visited, and audience interest, but the catch is its lack of data for small sites. This could be a blow for SEO services related to the market at the bottom of the pyramid. On the flip side, while the metrics reported on these two are pretty useful, the traffic data is not particularly meaningful. The best way to use Google’ s Ad Planner is to extract data on sites permitting Analytics to publish the data, a boon for SEO services providers. Like all Google products, Ad Planner comes free, has the tried and trusted brand name and scores high on accuracy as it can access more data than anyone else on the Internet. Suppose you want to identify the difference between site A and B, and compare multiple sites, including regional info, Google Trends for Websites is another progeny from Grandpa Google. Google Trends paints a fair landscape to meet the needs of search engine optimization and the dynamics of internet marketing, though the reliability of the data seems to be more accurate when only trying to compare traffic from search. When comparing websites with drastically different traffic numbers the rough visual estimation seems to correspond quite well with the observed analytic data. If broad data gathering is your need, Google Trends is the right fit, and it is hard to find better comparative data elsewhere without direct access to your competitor’s analytic account. The problem with Google Trends is that it does not give you hard numbers, and you have to settle for guess work informed and insightful though it is, of the numbers that your competitor is pulling in. The analysis gets murkier in a situation where two sites are similar in size: Google Trends cannot always be relied upon to pick the winner correctly in terms of say, monthly traffic. Another SEO tool, Quantcas, offers uncluttered design and display of data, traffic numbers that are easy to comprehend, and also breaks down the data into demographics, but the major flaw is lack of reliability of data and lack of data on small-medium trafficked sites. SEMrush provides data only for Google traffic, but covers sites of all sizes, but again accuracy is an issue. On the plus side, the tools add-on options and ability to see the keyword lists and how the competitor ranks for these terms has special appeal for internet marketing. Summing up, SEO services are pure play. Play by the rules of the game, but learn to find your own way. That’s the simple, but open secret of all successful internet marketing strategies.