Here’s a good read on how to look at competing sites and analyze traffic using Compete.com and Google Trends. According to the author of this blog post, the real story is that Alexa is worthless. I’ll have to agree. It’s not very reliable. But for small business owners who want to analyze traffic trends and make decisions for their business based on real, and real helpful, data, I’d suggest the story here is that Google Trends is the tool to use.

One could conclude that it’s an either/or situation: Compete.com, since it is every bit as accurate as Google Trends, is just as viable a choice as Alexa or Google Trends. Except for one thing: Both Alexa and Google Trends are free.

Compete.com has a free version, but it’s very limited. If you want to get the kind of reporting that Daily Blog Tips is referring to then you’ll need to spring $199/month for the upgraded version. Otherwise, you’re stuck with free tools. As a free tool, Google Trends provides enough information for most small businesses to analyze their competition and get a leg up. While the data is never 100% accurate (but neither is Compete.com’s or any other tool’s, for that matter), Google Trends will give you enough of a broad overview that you can make competitive decisions about which keywords are most valuable and compare yourself to your biggest and most challenging competitors. If that’s your goal then you might as well go free.

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