What is the best way to asess how competitors are getting top 10 ranking in google, yahoo search rankings

I have been looking into how to get our website into the top listing on google for 3 or 4 specific keywords. After some research and getting quotes from SEO companies here locally in Ireland and from India, all in and around €1000 minimum, I figured Id have a stab myself first (I used to program until .dom crash dashed my dreams, figure this will be a useful skill). After some more research I see two main approaches to improve the ranking, content/keywords use on the site and inbound links. In order to do this effectively, it seems logical to look at what the competitors are doing and try and emulate it too. That has led me to backlink analysis programs such as SEO Elite and Spyglass. Reviews tend to be positive reviewed for both but many reviewers seem to think they are not worth the money. I would have thought this bizarre if a company can get a high ranking then mission accomplished and money earned.

Anyway the reviews were all 4  years old so am wondering are these still the best ways to achieve this? Am I way off the mark? Are there any useful free tools I should look at that can help me easily analysis competitors websites ranking factors?

All comments welcome

Thanks
Will
williery10Asked:
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Tony McCreathTechnical SEO ConsultantCommented:
You can get basic back link data from several free sources. Here's some I use:

Yahoo Site Explorer
siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com
While it's still here you can explore a domain then select the inlinks option.

SEOMoz Open Site Explorer
opensiteexplorer.org
You can search a domain and look at its Inbound Links

The tools your looking at will probably enhance on the data you can get above, making it easier and quicker to analyse it.

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David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
download their site and examine there code.. is their site updated regularily ?? fresh content always helps.. incoming links help as well..
Dave BaldwinFixer of ProblemsCommented:
Before you chase after SEO again, you should look at the advertising your competitors do.
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David H.H.LeeCommented:
hi williery10,
Try Link assistant tool. You can check the competitor ranking via a various of famous search engines in the market today.
http://www.link-assistant.com/
dgofmanCommented:
Hi guys we forgot to ask @ williery10 does he/she wants to pay money for these tools ¿
williery10Author Commented:
Hi guys we forgot to ask @ williery10 does he/she wants to pay money for these tools ¿  
Its for 1 website so ideally if I can avoid paying great. I dont think the competition is doing anything to complex so I major analysis or feature rich programs with high price tags may not be needed. Having said that  €167 for SEO Elite and  €250 Spyglass suite is not a lot of money if they are effective, easy enough to use and we get the hits.  All thoughts on how to proceed welcome-thanks
dgofmanCommented:
You can ask your WebDesigner to apply some tricks how to increase rating on Google Search engine for free

http://sites.google.com/site/tipsandtricksseo/
Jeff PerkinsOwnerCommented:
This question has been classified as abandoned and is closed as part of the Cleanup Program. See the recommendation for more details.
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