Competitor research is a crucial part of not just SEO but of marketing in general. While you hope that you are doing better than them, and you certainly do not want to copy them – imitation is rarely considered great flattery in business, more like copyright infringement – you do need to be aware of what they are doing and what’s working for them, and not.
By taking advantage of doing the things they do well better and pouncing on things they are getting wrong that you can do right, you can get ahead of them in general. The hardest part of it all is finding the time to ‘spy’. Or finding good software to do it for you.
What is Hexowatch?
Nothing to do with witches, or watches, Hexowatch is software that keeps an eye on your competition’s website – or any use to your website – at all times, monitoring it for changes and alerting you when it notices something new. It can also, however, keep an eye on your site too, to ensure code changes, hacks, and other weirdness (that goes on all the time) is not affecting your website adversely.
Hexowatch is AI-powered, and it lives in the cloud. It is a browser-based software that can be used across all browsers and all operating systems. Although it is a paid offering (more on that in a moment), you can try out the basic features free to get a taste of what you can achieve before actually investing any money in it.
What Hexowatch Can Do
Hexowatch – which was recently a Featured Deal on AppSumo (a great place to find cool new marketing toys) – can do a lot, including all the following:
You can choose any page on the web and monitor it as often as you prefer (daily, weekly, monthly) to watch for changes and be notified if and when they occur.
A filter can be set that allows you to monitor any page for the mention of set keywords or keywords that are in any way similar.
The Hexowatch AI can keep an eye on your competitor’s blog when you don’t have time to.
The AI can be set to monitor HTML changes on your site or any other site you choose.
Getting started with Hexowatch, as we discovered, is pretty easy. You can begin with a free basic dashboard simply by entering a name, email and password or logging in with a Gmail account. When you do so, this is the dashboard you are presented with.
The first step, logically, is to begin adding the URLs you will be monitoring. For this example, for this Hexowatch review, I added a client website along with a close competitor that is usually monitored in the standard, low tech way (by physically checking up on it.)
In free mode, the AI will automatically monitor the visuals as seen from a large laptop. Unlocking premium features allows for smartphone and standard desktop views as well. The former is especially useful as such a heavy importance is being placed by Google and other search engines on a website’s mobile performance, and if you are used to seeing your site from a desktop, it’s easy to forget to check what it looks like on mobile (or vice versa)
To set up content monitoring for a competitor, simply set their blog’s URL in your dashboard, like this:
You can then rinse and repeat to set up for other functions, like HTML monitoring. This is a more complex option that will be of great use for the technical members of your team, so they should be the ones taking care of that!
The good news is that the Hexowatch interface is clean and easy to use. The better news is that once you have set your monitoring parameters, you can stop doing much with it yourself at all, beyond waiting for the emails to come in. You do not have to wait, of course, as your results are offered, in real-time, on a separate section of the main dashboard:
What Can Hexowatch Be Used For?
Monitor Your Own Site
Your website is working 24/7 (hopefully), but you are not watching it while it works. Who has the time? However, at any given time, users and search bots are.
Things go wrong and break on websites all the time, even the best of them. Perhaps the best use you can put Hexowatch to is watching your site when you can’t. It can be set to alert if a page is loading too slowly if a link breaks, if an image breaks if there is an unusual site traffic surge (often an indicator of a DDOS attack) and more.
The importance of this is hard to stress enough if you are serious about SEO. Far too often, businesses set up their website and then almost forget that it exists, except to, perhaps, head there once a week to blog. By the time you notice that something has broken – and this can be particularly true of WordPress sites, which can easily be broken by a rogue plugin, theme or even WP update – you may have already frustrated users and lost ground in the SERPs as your site was not functioning as it should when the search bots came to visit.
In the premium version of the software, you can be notified when mobile changes affect your site’s function, even if they do not impact the desktop version, and whatever level you use Hexowatch at, you can get as granular as you choose, depending on how closely you want to monitor what’s going on.
Another potential problem arises if tracking pixels go missing, which, again, happens more often than you might realize. Setting Hexowatch to monitor them can help prevent you from losing the precious data they provide.
Monitor Your Backlinks
You work hard to get backlinks placed on high-quality websites, hoping to gain all kinds of SEO benefits from them. Except the links are taken down, foe whatever reason, and will need to be replaced. How are you supposed to know if that happens, though? Using Hexowatch, you can monitor external backlinks and be notified if they change or disappear.
Keep an Eye On Industry Trends
In an ideal world, you would be able to devote the time you need to stay up to date on industry trends and news by spending an hour or two browsing relevant digital publications and websites. Except who really has the time to do that? You can, however, set a keyword triggered monitor in Hexowatch to alert you when news and development you need to know about occur, saving you mindless scrolling time and ensuring you only see the useful stuff.
Streamline e-Commerce Business Efficiency
If you run an e-commerce business of any kind, there is a lot to keep track of. Hexowatch can help and save you a lot of time here. e-Commerce business owners can set up price alerts at their suppliers, so they can score deals the second they arise, monitor their competitors to help ensure they are not undercut and even watch delivery service sites so that they’ll know when certain services are experiencing delays and they, as a business, can brace for the customer complaints bound to start coming their way when and if that does happen.
If the functionality we’ve described in this Hexowatch review sounds good to you, then you are no doubt wondering how much all this AI-powered goodness if going to cost you. You can, if your needs are very basic, choose to remain a free user for life. This might be a suitable option for a small website that wants to keep a basic check on-site uptime and maybe occasionally check what the competition has been blogging about recently and/or have updated their website in general. It’s also fine for keeping up with basic industry news.
For anything more complicated, you will have to pay up. However, as you can see from the tables below, with plans starting at $14.99 per month and only ever going as high as $99 per month for power users, those costs are very reasonable for single business users, and even the agency plans are well priced.
Hexowatch: The Pearl Lemon Take
What is our final take in this Hexowatch review? It’s not hard to see how useful it could be. Having experienced unexpected site outages and slowdowns ourselves – yes, it happens to even the best of us – being able to detect such things as soon as they happen can only be a (very) good thing. Missing and broken backlink monitoring is very helpful, too, in our case, especially as it relates to client websites, as placing high-quality links for them is one of the things we really pride ourselves on. The same is true of trend monitoring. Making use of Hexowatch, we can stay up to date with what’s going on at important to us, sites like Search Engine Land without wasting too much time scrolling through the fluff.
We can also see how useful Hexowatch would be very useful for e-commerce businesses too, especially third-party marketplace sellers who face heavy competition in marketplaces that often change, such as Amazon and Etsy.
Finally, this software may be a must for a small business site on a budget. These businesses rarely have IT departments, or a lot of staff, to monitor what is going on with their website. However, downtime can be a business killer. Say, for example, you run a pizza place. Much of your business – especially since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic – likely comes from orders placed online. If your website is down, it’s unlikely that hungry pizza lovers will be too bothered about taking the time to try to let you know; they’ll just move on to the next name in their Google search. Having a utility like Hexowatch in place would be a huge safeguard.