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What are your reasons for keeping track of your competitors?
Mostly reasons are roughly the same as you already stated such as keeping track of what the competition is doing that works better or worse than what I'm doing in terms of search engine positioning.
Sometimes you find out your competition isn't playing fairly such as a big old domain park pushing one of their own brands with thousands of IBLs to the site, or someone with dozens of sites creating their own authority hub to outrank everyone, both playing games by manipulating the SE's that could put a dent in your future without a timely SPAM report. ;)
In our niche it's mostly to see if they are stealing from us. Most of our competitors are work at home moms who don't take their business seriously, so their sites are composed of borrowed images and Front Page monstrosities.
What's kind of flattering is when we implement a new idea, say, a new line of products due to customer demand, suddenly our competitors begin offering similar things.