Chances are, you probably have a list of other companies that have similar offerings and operate in the same geographical space as your business. If you hired a digital marketing agency and they asked for your biggest competitors, you’d rattle off a few names from the top of your list and ask for help outdoing them online.
However, when it comes to paid search advertising (PPC) and search engine optimization (SEO), your usual competitors aren’t your only competitors. And in some cases, they aren’t even your biggest competitors!
While consumers determine who your direct competitors are by comparing products and services across similar companies, search engines determine who your competitors are organically by comparing content across pages. As a result, your online competition can vary widely based on your industry.
These are the top competitors you should be aware of, as well as tips for outranking them online:
Professional articles, knowledge-base articles, public forums, and other informational resources get a lot of search engine love. These resources may be well funded and highly popular, which makes them strong competitors for your website.
Offering helpful and actionable resources is the only way to compete effectively against informational pages. Giving self-promotion a backseat to genuinely helping people will not only allow you to compete online, it can also improve brand recognition and brand sentiment.
Local map listings are sure to appear prominently in search results, which poses a problem for businesses that don’t have a local presence but still want to compete.
While you can’t have a map listing unless you have an office or store location in an area, you can describe the areas you service or primary areas you do business. By including this information on your website, it increases the chances that your site will appear for people doing localized searches for products and services.
For instance, we offer digital marketing services nationwide, but we tend to have clients clustered in certain regions of the country. We could work on improving our organic presence in those regions by listing them on our site under areas that we service if we wanted to have a stronger local push.
People love lists – best of lists, checklists, to-do lists, and more! Consumers have a serious fear of missing out, which causes them to gravitate towards lists because lists and charts make it easy to remember everything.
Harnessing the power of the list with your own content creation efforts is a good way to capitalize on this popular trend. Find ways to create your own lists to attract traffic, and integrate your products/services where applicable. Look for opportunities to list-ify your existing long-form content to make it more readable and more sharable as well!
Additionally, your products/services or even your organization itself may already be a on a list someplace. If this is the case, link to these existing lists from your site and via your social channels to bring more traffic to them.
Some directories are free to be listed on while others have paid inclusion. Either way, popular directories can be a good source of publicity within your industry or local area.
Trying to compete against directories isn’t a shrewd strategy because, unlike lists, it doesn’t make sense to create your own versions. Instead, aim to get your business featured on high-traffic directories. Do your own online searches to determine which directories appear for the terms most closely related to your business and then research which of them charge for listings (and what those fee schedules look like).
Industry news stories and announcements will always be a magnet for traffic because they’re timely and engaging. Major news outlets are usually the ones that get the biggest traffic boost with breaking stories, but they often don’t play in smaller, more niche markets. This means that there’s room for competition, especially when it comes to news articles in less glamorous industries.
While your business might not be the first one to report on breaking news, it can give its perspective and offer unique position on news stories. Weighing in on industry updates and innovations is a wonderful way to capitalize on newsworthy events and trends on your own blog. It also shows consumers that your business is keeping current with the most recent information – establishing it as innovative and exciting.
Most people follow blogs these days – everything from professional and politics to family and faith. People check their favorite blogs almost as often as they do social media to find out what’s been posted recently and stay on top of current events. In fact, some blogs have an almost cult-like following and their updates whip readers up into a frenzy of engagement.
While most small-to-medium sized businesses don’t have the time, resources, and staff to devote to their blogging efforts that professional bloggers do, they can still use “blog frenzy” to their advantage. Every industry has its most popular blogs and the bloggers behind them are considered thought-leaders in their subject matter. Getting on the good side of these bloggers is a key opportunity to capitalize on their popularity. If you can get top bloggers to mention your products/services, it can pay off big in brand awareness and website traffic. It never hurts to ask, but beware of the ethical implications of paying for a mention or giving free products without disclosing that relationship.
There may be times when your business is being mentioned on other blogs already, but without specifically looking for it, you can easily miss it. Setting up a Google alert for your business name is a helpful way to monitor mentions so that you can share them with your customers and social media followers when your business is featured. This also makes it easy to reciprocate the favor by generating more traffic for the resource that’s mentioning you.
Review sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Angie’s List provide searchers with lots of options in their local areas for everything from restaurants to service providers. These sites are extremely popular with searchers because of their unbiased, crowd sourced information, which makes them an obvious choice for search engines.
When it comes to people looking for a crowd consensus, you’re not going to be able to compete with review sites because even if your website contains positive reviews from satisfied customers, you’re certainly not going to include reviews for your competitors as well.
Instead of trying to compete with these review giants, the best thing to do is just monitor your listings and commit to maintaining positive reviews. Thank customers when they have positive feedback, and offer to make it right when they share negative feedback. Your public dedication to uphold customer satisfaction will go a long way with prospective customers.
Mistaken competitors can occur organically and with paid search advertising (PPC). From an organic perspective, sites with old or outdated H1 tags and title tags may be signaling to search engines that the pages they contain are about one thing, when they’re really about something else. This is especially common if the pages are light on readable content. Pages with images instead of text are especially vulnerable to being misinterpreted because search engines can’t “see” what’s on the page.
When it comes to PPC, advertisers using broad-match keywords can end up competing against other companies that shouldn’t be their competitors. Poorly managed PPC campaigns can quickly become stale and ineffective, which is how mismatches in competition occur. This doesn’t just dilute your PPC efforts, it also wastes your budget!
To avoid competing against the wrong companies, ensure that your organic and paid search efforts are well-coordinated and updated frequently. Regularly review analytics data for information on the organic search terms and paid keywords bringing people to your site and then make tweaks as needed to improve your efforts.
Struggling to compete online? We’re here to help! Contact us today to find out how we can help consumers find your business online! We’ll walk you through the services that we offer and put together a custom plan for improving your online visibility.
Kate Pierce is the owner of LionShark Digital Marketing LLC, a West Michigan internet marketing company. Her areas of expertise include Paid Search, Search Engine Optimization, Business Blogging and Web Copywriting. She lives in the Grand Rapids area with her husband and son and enjoys cooking, watching sports, and spending time together as a family. Like a true digital marketing expert (i.e. geek), she loves talking about current marketing trends… so don’t say you weren’t warned!