RSS As Competitive Analysis Tool

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RSS As Competitive Analysis Tool


I posted a blog article this morning on our partner internet marketing blog (Small Business 2.0) titled “Understanding RSS:  A Quick Guide For The Insanely Busy Executive”.  I’m guessing that most of the readers already know what RSS is and are using it daily anyways, so the article will likely not be of that much interest to you.  On the other hand, if you’re not using RSS, go read that article first, because I’m not going to be able to sell you on the concepts of this article if you’re not already using RSS.

So, let’s now assume you’re already using RSS.  Chances are, you subscribe to a blog here and there, a news site here and there and perhaps even a social news site like digg or reddit.  That’s great.  I don’t need to sell you on the utility of RSS for this kind of “keeping up with the news”.

But, RSS doesn’t need to stop with tracking the latest news (both personal and business).  It can also be used as a way to track what is going on with your competitors.

For example, let’s say for whatever reason you were competing with my current startup HubSpot.  Here’s what I would do if I were you:
  1. Make sure to subscribe to the RSS feed for the HubSpot blog.  This one is obvious.  If I’m a direct competitor, you’d want to know every time something new was posted.  You should also track the comments on the blog entries to see what kinds of things are resonating with our target market.

Note:  It is entire possible that your competitor doesn’t have an RSS feed (or doesn’t even have a blog).  If I wanted to be controversial, I’d say that you don’t need to worry about these types of competitors because if they haven’t figured out yet the efficiency of online marketing, they likely won’t be successful anyways.  But, I don’t want to be controversial, so I won’t say that.
  1. Subscribe to a Google search RSS feed.  Basically, this is the equivalent of doing a regular Google search on a specific search term and getting an RSS feed for the results.  You can add a feed URL like this:  (Note:  I’m using the sample search term “startup hiring” on the off-chance that you actually are a competitor.  Don’t want to make things overly easy for you).

  1. Figure out who else is writing about the particular target market segment (other bloggers, analysts, community websites, etc.) and subscribe to their feeds.

So, what are your secret tips for tracking competitors (clearly, RSS is not enough)?  Or, are they so super-secret that you can’t share them?

On a related note, stay tuned tomorrow for a more lengthy (and substantive) article on the issue of competition. 

Posted by on Mon, Oct 09, 2006


I would also have a couple of suggestions
1. Put your company name with the words, sucks,problems and complaints,this heads off any complaints early on and allows you to respond personally.

2. I also have feeds on my top 5 Google adwords for each of my products,this allows me to fine tune.

nice blog I enjoyed it

posted on Monday, October 09, 2006 at 1:55 PM by Pat Phelan

My company is in a pretty uncrowded field, we only have one real competitor, and they don't use RSS on their website. So I built a litlte tool that actually pulls down all the files from their website and checks them into subversion. I have a corresponding tool that allows you to see diffs between the versions so that we can tell what they've changed.

Actually, this sounds like a really damned good startup idea.

posted on Monday, October 09, 2006 at 6:52 PM by Erik

(shameless plug) You can also use a service like to create RSS feeds from sites that don't have any.

posted on Tuesday, October 10, 2006 at 12:09 PM by Ade

Actually, this sounds like a really damned good startup idea.

One of my customers is already doing this. He wrote his tool to do this a few years ago.

posted on Tuesday, October 10, 2006 at 3:26 PM by Stephen Kellett

Look at

or a commercial one at:


posted on Thursday, October 12, 2006 at 12:47 AM by LR

I've created a free tracking tool over at my site for tracking the blogosphere - for mentions of your company name or competitors. Might be of use to you guys

posted on Sunday, October 28, 2007 at 7:18 AM by Paul Anthony

Nice post! Have you looked for custom RSS feed generation.. its much simpler and works really well.

posted on Tuesday, December 04, 2007 at 9:09 PM by j3ss3

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