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As most SEO service providers know, your competitors are rarely the companies you think they are. With businesses that aren’t Web based, the competition is easier to find; if you sell medical supplies other companies that sell them are your competitors. It’s not so clear-cut with internet marketing, however.
If you’re starting at the bottom as a new website owner, it’s an unrealistic outlook to consider the head dogs – who have been in place for years – as your competition; good SEO service providers will tell you this. When building a web-based business, the competition isn’t necessarily those that sell what you sell.
Instead, you’re competing for placement, with SEO as a main way to wrestle your way to the top of the Google SERP (search engine results page) dog pile; and SEO means keywords. Those keywords are the first step to finding your direct competition.
Finding Your Competition
Although SEO service providers each have their own methods for competitive benchmarking, you can take some basic steps on your own to get an idea whom your competitors are.
1. Put the keyword or phrase in the search bar and see how many results come up.
2. Write down (or copy/paste into Word) the number one site for each search phrase you use.
3. Use the same keyword search with the “intitle:” command and “inanchor:” command.
4. Write down the sites that come up in these results.
The sites in the number one positions and those that come up for the “intitle:” and “inanchor:” searches are your most likely competition. Although there are other things SEO service providers can do to narrow down the list, you now have a broad idea of who you’re fighting for the top position in your field.
Researching the Competition
Now that you know who they are, find out what they’re doing that makes their site more visible. To do this, first look over their content.
Is it informative, interesting and high quality?
Does it stand out?
How is it different from yours?
If content is an issue and writing isn’t your forte, most reputable providers offer SEO copywriting services as well.
Look at their navigation and take in the details. If yours is more complicated, perhaps that’s an issue. You want your navigation to be as uncomplicated as possible, but set up in such a way as to guide your visitors to interesting places on your site.
A word to the wise: While you’re looking over the competitors’ sites, don’t make the mistake of some SEO service providers. Don’t get so stuck on the idea of “I can do better” that you forget the bottom line, which is taking the best of all their sites and forging a top of the line site of your own.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to take notes! That way, when you’re ready to hire your own SEO service providers you’ll actually understand a little bit more of what they talk about and how they do it. I cannot tell you how many times I have had to pull my hair out trying to explain to clients the value of writing SEO copy.
As a matter of fact, you can see successful bloggers Brian Clark, Chris Brogan, and Michael Martine for examples; these guys are on the top of the Social Marketing ladder. They are rock stars in social marketing media. Who do you think are their competitors? When it comes to the Internet – anyone who wants to strive for the top!