As you will learn when building and promoting a website, the internet is extremely competitive. In fact, the World Wide Web is probably the most competitive industry in the history of mankind. And it’s not because big companies spend big money; to the contrary, it’s more the fact that anyone can start up a website with little capital and use common sense methods to market within their respective niche.

This means that the internet is also a cutthroat place, where some pry, lie, steal and cheat in order to get ahead. At the very least, you will have to put on your detective hat to do a lot of research on the competition if you hope to succeed in your chosen marketplace.

To research your competitors out there, WHOIS is undoubtedly the strongest resource you have at your disposal. WHOIS is a free-to-use database that catalogs every single legally registered domain in the world. By searching for a domain via this directory, you can learn a lot of details about the site. Needless to say, this information can be vital to your own campaign; learning details about your competition can help you propel past them.

Let’s take a look at the ridiculously easy steps involved in using WHOIS, and the subsequent details to look for in order to gauge your competition.

Step 1: The Search

Simply visit and enter the domain you wish to check in the site’s search box. You can search with or without the www prefix; just make sure to include the dot-whatever at the end of the name. Yes, it’s really that easy.

Step 2: What to Look For

Here’s where things get interesting. Reading the information provided, you will learn some details about the domain’s registrant, various technical contacts, the date of creation/renewal, the web host housing the domain, a description of the site, a list of the common keywords used, whether or not it has an SSL certificate, its DMOZ listing, an IP address, software used, and more. What you choose to look at and how you choose to use it is up to you.

Using the Info to Your Advantage

There are a few different ways you can go about using this information to your advantage. If you wanted to emulate the site’s functions or host a site on the same sever, you can find information about the site’s software and its web host. If you wanted to run your site with similar yet fresher, more search-friendly keywords, you can quickly access a list of competitors’ keywords with WHOIS.

Some information, like an SSL certificate and an IP address, will probably be completely useless to you. But for finding out a few key ingredients your competitor has used to create a successful website, you can use WHOIS to help you emulate the formula and to provide competition.