Keeping an eye on the competition

Here are some surveillance tricks to suss out which companies share an office, whose business is successful or not and how to check up on your competitors.

Just a quick snippet this week, on what I think is a clever use of a search engine for some competitive intelligence.


So a friend rings me up and says, “This company has a job going that I’m interested in and, if I remember rightly, you know the owner”. I say, “I haven’t spoken to him in years, but I would be surprised if his business was big and successful, as he was strong technically, but weak at sales”.


So here’s the trick:

  1. I go to the company’s website (or Yellow Pages listing to find its address)
  2. I go to Google
  3. I type in the address, enclosing it with quotation marks so I don’t get a million hits that are irrelevant
  4. Checking the results, I have a quick look if there is any other businesses at that address and whether they share any of the same characteristics, such as telephone number, staff, etc.


Sure enough, there are four other businesses that share the same address and phone number. A reasonable guess is that the company is either very small and using serviced offices, or a couple of interrelated businesses are lumped in together. Nothing wrong with this, but it’s not what my friend is looking for so he won’t waste time applying.


10 seconds of Google-based reconnaissance. Lovely.


It’s also interesting to do the same thing with small businesses’ published client lists. I have noticed that plenty of small web developers and SEO businesses will publish a list of clients. A quick search shows up that half of them share the same address. Marketing via the web is a double-edged sword.


As a side note: when I enter “Level 5, 400 Collins”, Google also returns results for other obvious variations on that address, such as “Level 5/400 Collins” and “Level 5: 400 Collins”.


NB: This wasn’t the actual address; I changed it to protect the innocent.


Brendan Lewis is the founder of two IT service firms, Edion and Verve IT, and executive director of the Churchill Club.

To read more Brendan Lewis blogs, click here.




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