The internet is big, massive, gigantic… well, you get the idea. The sheer size of the net means you can find a potential customer base for even the most obscure products or services. Unfortunately, the internet’s size also means there’s always room for competition, too.
With a physical store, you might be the only source around for your products or services. But an online store has to deal with competitors from all over the world. Let’s take a look at how online competition will affect your business – and how the right SEO strategies will help you stay on top of the search results!
The Value of Competition
Unfortunately, competition is a simple fact of business. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The benefit of competition is you have a clear benchmark for your SEO efforts. If you can rank higher than your competitors, you’ll get more potential customers.
Of course, there’s a right way and a wrong way to get ahead. You want to avoid so-called Black Hat Techniques. These are practices like keyword stuffing, paid backlinks and so on. Not only are Black Hat techniques dishonest, but they’re also likely to result in a ban from the search engines.
Here are some of the right ways you (and the SEO pro you hire) can ethically and effectively stay ahead of the competition:
Understanding Your Competitors
The phrase “know thy enemy” might be a bit overdramatic but understanding your competition is key. Start by googling the keywords used to find your site. Hopefully your brand appears near the top of results. But what other brands also show up? That’s your competition.
You’ll want to understand your competition as in-depth as possible. This usually requires fairly extensive SEO knowledge, which is why having an SEO professional on your side can be a big help.
Use Local SEO
Competition for your online business can be located anywhere in the world. Naturally, many businesses forget to focus on local. After all, how can local SEO help you if your competitors aren’t locally based?
The truth is local SEO can be incredibly powerful – even if your business isn’t locally based. The name, address and phone number (called a NAP) of your business help boost your presence on the search engines.
You’ll want to make sure this information is written in exactly the same way every time. Doing so helps search engines connect with your brand across multiple online locations.
Check Out Your Competition’s Local Efforts
You (and your SEO pro) will want to run an honest SEO campaign. But your competitors might not be as ethical. You’ll want to check out their SEO practices for any violations of search engine terms of service.
Don’t worry. Thisn’t as underhanded as it may sound. Violations of service terms will almost always be discovered and penalized by the search engines. But they have a big job. Reporting violations is simply a way to get the same result quicker.
One great place to uncover violations is on your competitor’s Google My Business page. While this page is an important part of a successful local SEO campaign, the rules for the My Business page can be pretty strict. Unscrupulous businesses will attempt to include prohibited materials in an attempt to boost their rankings.
Common Violations to Watch Out For Include:
- Spamming keywords throughout the various sections
- Using a different, keyword-heavy business name on their profile
- Using a virtual address or P.O. Box
Reporting a violation is easy. Simply click the “Suggest an Edit” button on the Google My Business page. Violations hurt the legitimacy of Google My Business for everyone. So, reporting violations does more than just punish shady businesses. Reports also help brands who play by the rules, too.
No matter what product or service you provide, there’s likely to be a lot of competition online. Fortunately, that’s not necessarily bad. Learning about your competition plays an important role in improving your position in the search results.
Are you up to speed on your competitors? Do you know how to stay ahead? Post any questions you have below: