It's certainly easy to start an online business these days. With platforms such as Shopify, Etsy, and Squarespace you can start selling within minutes if you're tech savvy and have your content ready. Over 500,000 new businesses are started in the U.S. every month, and 52% of them are run out of the home. (More cool small business stats here.) All you have to do, it seems, is 'go live' and watch the money roll in, right?
Well, if you read the popular tech pages, you might get that impression, but the reality is that it takes time to get your website humming at the calibre of the big guys... and growing your online business requires a great deal of experimentation into platforms, plugins, and APIs that can help you scale.
So with your website up and running, and getting traffic and conversions, how do you keep the momentum building and work your way onto the Unicorn Leaderboard? Well, luckily, there are a myriad of Google Chrome Extensions out there for friendly spying on what your competitors are up to while you browse. Here are a few of our favourites to answer some of the top questions:
Who are my competitors?
Similar Pages - You probably have a pretty good idea of who your main competitors are, but the Similar Pages Chrome Extension is a great way to find out who Google thinks your competition is. Still in beta, it's intended for web users to find sites or research similar pages to what they are looking at by clicking on an address bar icon. As an entrepreneur, the drop-down of sites that have similar characteristics to your site is a great way to discover competitors you may have missed in your searches. Use it regularly to find newcomers to your industry or see what Google knows that you don't.
How can I rank better than them?
MozBar - Looking for ideas on boosting search engine optimization for your site? This handy Google Chrome Extension from Moz displays a bar with SEO stats for a site or search query when enabled. Everything from page and domain authority, to a spam score and quick social stats. You can dig deeper by comparing link metrics, keywords, and show elements on pages. If you aren't familiar with the work of the Moz team, you should check out their tools and blogs, a must for anyone looking for answers about how the web works or with information to share.
What platforms are they running?
Ghostery - You could spend a lifetime investigating all the platforms out there for advertising, social, behaviour tracking, and analytics. Many of these are useful, and worth the effort of getting to know what they can do for your website, but where to start can be overwhelming. The Ghostery Google Chrome Extension is meant to help surfers know what tracking sites are using on them, but it's also a great way for you to see what tools your competitors have invested in. A query of the Extension on any page will give you a list of everything installed on the site, which might help you narrow down your search for the perfect social sharing app or analytics platform.
How'd they do that?
What are they charging?
Scraper - Finding out if your pricing is competitive can take a lot of time, especially if your products price fluctuates regularly. With the Scraper Chrome Extension you can easily extract data from a competitors site into a spreadsheet quickly. This tool requires a bit more than basic click and go, but if you're versed in XPath, or don't mind doing a little self-learning online, you'll find Scraper to be indispensable in keeping your pricing up to date and competitive.